Hi All,

Firstly, my apologies for sending out a blind link earlier this morning, I published my blog prematurely so binned the link, now I know that when you hit the tab button, it publishes, whoops…….

Wasn’t it nice to feel the warmth of the sun on your shoulders again ?, truly beautiful and a great tonic for the system. I manged to get out for a lovely walk around Uppingham, (should have been there John!) across the rolling countryside of Rutland, though even at the top of this hill, it was very wet…it just shows, we won’t lose that rainfall legacy for a while yet !!

After a truly lovely weekend and the first 4 days that I can recall without rain and with sun, I think we’re into a dry spell for the coming week at least, maybe longer, protected by a stubborn high pressure that’s being squeezed from both sides. Mind you it won’t be a warm high because cold air is coming through to cool us down as the week progresses, but at least for once I can say, it’s going to be dry……:)

Speaking of rain, a big thank you for everyone who sent in their rainfall totals for 2012, Paul in I.T has coerced them into a pdf and it’s viewable and down-loadable by clicking on this link…2012 Rainfall Chart….A big thanks to Paul as well for completing this labour of love….If we’ve missed any off, my apologies, but I’m afraid the map is getting pretty chocker !

General Weather Situation

As intimated above, we have a dry scene set for this week, with just a merest hint of some rain on Monday nipping at the toes of south-west Kerry during Monday morning / afternoon, elsewhere for the whole of the U.K and Ireland, it’ll be dry and sunny, with the exception being the North Sea coast which may hang onto some cloud cover and keep it on the cool side. Cloud from the North Sea is going to be an issue this week as you’ll see. Tuesday follows a re-run of Monday, with light winds, sun for a lot of the U.K, but Ireland will be cloudier courtesy of an Atlantic low and that may push some light showers onto south-western coasts during the day. It’ll be warm in the sun and cool out of it, with mid-single figures the order of the day. Winds will be light and from the south/south-west.

A change occurs overnight on Tuesday as the wind swings round to the east and this will knock temperatures down markedly, leading to a frost early doors Wednesday (some may have had one on Monday / Tuesday in the north of the U.K) The easterly wind will push cloud cover in from The North Sea and this will knock out the sunshine and drop the temperatures for the east and central regions of the U.K, though the west should still stay sunny and dry. Ireland should also be cloudy, but this easterly wind will push that westerly cloud cover away overnight, so going into Thursday expect a frost and clear skies to greet you. Thursday and Friday are pretty much a re-run of Wednesday, that means cool, dull, but dry with overnight frost for many. Ireland and the west of the U.K has the most chance of seeing any sunshine though. Later in the day on Friday, there’s a chance that some snow showers may push in from the North Sea and affect North-East England / South eastern Scotland and these could push down the east coast into Yorkshire…

By the weekend those winds will have moved round to the north-east and that may mean a bit more sunshine around, but still very cold in the wind on both Saturday and Sunday, with a constant threat of snow showers over the highlands of Scotland and higher ground of north-east England.

Weather Outlook

Well at the moment it’s looking like that high pressure is going to stay in charge and as the cold continental weather slips southwards, it’ll begin to pull up some slightly warmer air as we go into next week. The wind will still be easterly though initially and that means it’ll be staying on the cool side for the start of the week. There should however be more sunshine and as we pass mid-week, next week, the winds will slowly move round to the south and that’ll pull up warmer air, still with a dry theme.

Agronomic Notes

This week will provide the first spray applications for many, whether it be light turf tonics to pick up the turf or a fungicide to knock back the Fusarium that came in under the snow 10 days or so back. Monday and Tuesday represent the best days for this application for the U.K at least, but thereafter, the night frosts may cause issues I’m afraid.

As areas dry out, I would be trying to get some air into your surfaces, whether by vertidraining with narrow tines, solid tining or hollow coring to remove some of that surplus organic matter. Bit early you may say for hollow coring ?, I don’t think so, in fact I know of a number of courses that hollow cored in January and early February and they’re looking good. The next few weeks will provide the opportunity for a light dressing to begin to fill those holes and so by March, you’re well on the way to having a good surface, long before the average golfer has switched into Augusta-mode 🙂

Gaseous exchange is key to all these aeration practices, that is venting those gases that have built up over the long period of saturated soil conditions that we have endured. During periods of water-logging, the pore spaces available in the soil become filled with water and since oxygen can only move through water at 1/10,000th of the rate that it can move through air, the oxygen content of the rootzone drops. As it does so the activity of the good microbes that we need to recycle nutrients, break down organic matter, etc declines and the soil population is replaced by anaerobic microbes that do not need oxygen to respire, they utilise sulphur. The activity of these anaerobic microbes produce gases that are ultimately toxic to the grass plant’s root system, carbon dioxide,  methane and hydrogen sulphide, the latter of these you can smell very distinctly (rotten egg gas) when you take samples or after you’ve aerated an anaerobic rootzone.

Ultimately, one of the key benefits of aeration (whatever type you end up doing) is to vent these gases out of the rootzone and replace them with oxygen and this allows the plant to breathe, to uptake nutrients (that’s why waterlogged grass does yellow, it can’t breath and uptake soil nitrogen) and it also encourages the microbial population that we want to colonise the rootzone naturally (saves putting them in from a tea pot)

On one of my courses in San Diego run by David Doherty of the International Sports Turf Research Centre (ISTRC for short), the lecturer showed the benefit of venting greens gases using a back pack blower connected to the clear-out hole of a tile drainage, it literally blew oxygen into the bottom of the green and it diffused up through the green with enough force to keep a ping-pong ball spinning an inch off the surface.

By the way, he also showed us a tine displacement chart (I know other companies have more interactive versions) that allow you to calculate the surface area of the green you’re impacting with aeration. You can download the pdf here

Ok, that’s it for this week, I’m getting a lot of phone calls, texts and emails to say the blog doesn’t work, because I published it prematurely, so I better publish the right one pretty sharpish !!!

All the best..

Mark Hunt