March 20th

Hi All,

Sign on verge in Breckenridge, Colorado asking people not to walk on the grass !

Just back from my Best Man jaunt to Breckenridge, Colorado and all in one piece, despite a very steep learning curve on the skiing front…..spent a lot of my time doing the splits or on my backside, but by the end I was doing the Blue runs, albeit with some trepidation. On the way back I spent nearly the entire flight watching the in-flight map to see whether the pilot used the jet stream to hitch a quicker ride home (which he did) and I can report at 7 miles up, it was providing a 110mph tail wind to our 757 !. Emerged into bright, warm sunshine at Heathrow and spring has definitely sprung !.

General Weather Situation

Well, it’s high pressure remaining in charge for the foreseeable and at the same time, this pressure system is beginning to build up some heat, so dry and warm, particularly over the weekend, with no rainfall in sight for most areas. So a pretty straight-forward forecast with the only rain looking like a weak front that may skim across the south-west of England and Wales on Thursday morning / afternoon, before pushing into Munster and Connacht by early evening. Cloud cover will decrease as we approach the end of the week and that’s what will push the temperatures up, so a cracking weekend in store, but not ideal I know, for those of us short of water. It wouldn’t surprise me if we hit the low 20°C’s from Sunday onwards as well, I bet record temperatures for March will be the headline on the Beeb !.

Outlook

That high pressure is providing a blocking effect that looks firmly stuck in place, so even at this stage I see very little sign of change for next week, maybe varying amounts of cloud cover during the week, but dry and warm on some days, particularly early on in the week. If this weather looks like breaking I’ll do an update before my normal Monday blog.

Agronomic Notes

Not much feedback because I’ve been out of circulation for the last 7-10 days, but obviously with the weather as it is, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to deduce that moisture will be the main issue. I expect the irrigation companies are flat out opening up systems and if they’re not, they will be pretty soon. If I look back at my previous posts this year, I mentioned on the 27th February, that it was worth kitting yourself out for dealing with low moisture conditions. That means getting irrigation systems optimised in terms of coverage particularly and fine-tuning run times, sprinkler settings, to take account of greens that require more or less moisture, depending on their aspect / location. A bit of time spent here will pay dividends later in the spring and during the summer, when E.T rates really start to ramp up, by optimising the water you do have available.

Wetting agent usage is and should be on the cards because a good product will maximise moisture availability to the grass plant, firstly by allowing the water that you do put on to penetrate surface fibre layers and secondly by optimising availability in the soil profile. If we’re talking stress management, they’re an essential tool and particularly when combined with a good quality biostimulant.

Colin Fleming did a talk at Harrogate this year and amongst the slides was some very good data showing the effect of applying biostimulants on gene expression in a lab plant (Arabidopsis) under stress (in this case salt stress). There were nearly 50% extra genes ‘turned on’ in the plant after applying biostimulants and many of these gene functions were linked to maximising plant growth under stress. So combining a good quality wetting agent with a good quality biostimulant will pay dividends in combating stress and particularly when applied in a preventative, rather than a curative manner.

Nutrition-wise, foliar feeding is the order of the day for the time-being, combining light rates of urea, potassium nitrate and ammonium sulphate with chelated irons and seaweeds. Aim for applying 5-6 kg / N / hectare on a ‘little and often’ basis and monitor longevity from clipping yields.

If you have your irrigation system up and running, then I’d be using it to wet up the surface of the profile and prevent it crusting up, but only light syringing is required. Again monitoring soil profile moisture levels across your greens will be the best way to determine how accurate your irrigation is being applied and whether you need irrigation at all. You can do this the old fashioned way with a knife or if you have the budget, get hold of a soil moisture meter.

All the best and apologies for missing last week’s post.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

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