Hi All,

Well that was Easter, instantly forgettable from a weather perspective.

Everything looks so dull out in the country, kind of brown-grey and round here, the snow is hanging on in the hedgerows. I’ve just watched the council cut the rec behind my house, this time last year it looked like they’d been cutting silage, this year you can’t even see the mower lines, such is the lack of growth. The conditions we now have, dry and cold, are probably the most challenging I can remember and I don’t think we’ve ever seen so little growth potential in the first 3 months of a year. Tomorrow I’ll post a pdf showing soil temperature comparison, growth-degree-day comparison and rainfall vs. E.T for the first quarter, so you can see why we are, where we are.

The question I know you all want answering is….. “Is it ever going to change ?”, I’ll stick my neck out here meteorologically and say “Yes, I think it is ” 🙂

 General Weather Situation

Tuesday sees a lovely day really, across the U.K and Ireland, lot’s of sunshine and warm out of the wind, but bloody freezing in it, as those easterlies / north-easterlies of last week, seek to re-establish themselves. Most places had a sharp frost overnight, here, we were -4°C, with a windchill of -8°C, at 3 a.m. this morning. (don’t ask, but not a well lad at present) and I expect a similar pattern for Wednesday, bright, dry and cold in the wind, but warm out of it. Thursday sees more cloud cover, pushed in fro The North Sea, so a duller day, but that might negate the severity of frost overnight. There’s a risk of some snow showers on the north-east coast of Scotland / England, but elsewhere, dull, cold and with strong north-easterly winds. Friday follows a similar pattern with strong north-easterly winds, perhaps a little more in the way of sunshine and as we move into the weekend, that’s when the subtle change should, I say should, start to take place. Saturday looks to be a brighter day, still with those easterly winds, but temperatures start to pick up a bit and later in the day, overnight, the wind begins to change round to the south and a band of rain pushes into Connacht, Munster during Sunday morning. Slowly this band of rain pushes south east into Scotland, the north of England and eventually the west, south-west and Wales, reaching all areas overnight into Monday.

Weather Outlook

I pray on the alter of the weather gods that this comes to pass as this industry needs a break :)…but at long last it looks like the jet stream is taking a hike northwards, our way, after its long sabbatical down in The Med (1 year actually). So if everything works right, Monday starts cool and wet, but gradually the winds swing round to the south-west and push showers, heavier bands of rain through on Tuesday / mid-week, but on the back of reasonable (10°C+) temperatures, that begin to climb later in the week pushing up to mid teens by the end of next week. Now that should give you something to smile about, I’ll update my blog on Friday just to confirm whether it’s still on track, but let us hope so, I have 3 different weather models in agreement, so the odds are good on this one, that said, I thought it was changing two weeks ago and it didn’t, so I have to advise caution, lots of positive vibes please…

 Agronomic Notes

As mentioned earlier, I’ll post a full 1st quarter comparison tomorrow to summarise growing or more precisely, lack of growing conditions. Let’s look forward and talk about this week, we have strong easterly winds / north easterly, so good drying weather and many might think it’s a good time to aerate, (hollow / solid tining) however we have to be sure that the weather is going to change first, else you’ll just end up with more problems, so I’d keep my powder dry on this front if possible. That said, if this week is the only date available, then I would go for it because the combination of temperature and moisture will provide excellent recovery, as long as it arrives. What I wouldn’t be doing is Gradening, verticutting, scarifying until growth has commenced and we’re well on the way.

We are in unchartered territory a bit here because we have a very dormant grass plant, soil temperatures lower than they have ever been in recent memory, at this time of year (1-2°C typically) and therefore I expect it’ll take some time for growth to commence, even with the arrival of good, growing conditions, particularly on greens. Last Thursday, I set a low-temperature fertiliser trial with granular products and you can see how low the soil temperature was !.

For me, nutrition has to be granular-orientated because I don’t think you’ll get enough bangs for your buck with a liquid, we’re coming from too far back and rather than a quick hit of nutrient, the plant is going to need a concerted push and that’s where granular’s come in. Quickly-available N forms in the shape of ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate, ammonium nitrate will be the order of the day I feel, so my plan would be to fertilise at the back end of this week as long as that moisture is on track to arrive early / mid next week.

I’d advise caution with high iron applications, particularly in the drier regions (Midlands, East and South-East of England) as the wind, night frosts and lack of moisture is desiccating the grass plant at present and again I’d only go if I could see that moisture arriving next week.

I’d expect to see an increase in Fusarium activity if the temperatures do rise, but hopefully if the grass plant is looked after nutrient-wise, it should be possible to push recovery and grow away from disease, rather than having to spray a fungicide, we’ll see.

OK, that’s it, I’ll update later in the week and let us hope the change is still on track and life for everyone gets a bit easier.

Mark Hunt