Hi All,

Apologies for the delay this Monday, my computer decided to throw a hissy fit, hence the delay in getting this blog out, still snowing mind….

To be looking out of my office window on March 11th and see the snow showers rattling in from The North Sea, -5.6°C wind chill on my weather station and note that the first Sand Martins reached Leicestershire yesterday after travelling all the way up from Africa, is surreal. Poor buggers, but they wished they had stayed there, not much hope of them surviving this week’s weather… It’s even more surreal when you consider a week ago we were tracking into double figure temperatures and I recorded 17°C, last Tuesday, well that’s a peak and a trough in action folks and no prizes for guessing what we’ve got this week 🙁

Before I go onto the weather, I was in Germany on Friday and picked up a brochure on a plant-growth regulator, produced by a well-known, large German company, no names of course. When you consider the fact that the thrust of the E.U Thematic Strategy on Pesticide Use originates from the German Green Party, and that their intent is to minimise risk to the end-user and the public, I was intrigued to see this picture in the brochure showing the application of said product to turf and the preventative clothing the operator was wearing….a clear case of “Do as I say, not as I do” me thinks….,mmm nice jeans….:)

General Weather Situation

Sometimes it’s tempting to sum this up in one word, but in the pursuit of professionalism, I’ll try to do my best with what is a pretty grim forecast.

For Monday, we have a bitter day all round really, with a north-east wind pushing snow showers in a two-pronged attack, the first stretching along the east coast from the Scottish border to Kent and the second, a front along the south coast of England, stretching from the south-west to Kent, the latter looks the potential heaviest. There’s another band of snow showers tracking along the east coast of Ireland and it’ll affect the high ground of Munster and Leinster in particular through the day. In between the showers, they’ll be some sunshine, but it’ll feel plain bitter. Later on those snow showers will form inland and affect northern England and The Midlands, though they’re likely to push through all day long. For Tuesday, we have more snow for Scotland and the east coast in particular, but as is always the way, snow, like rain, is tricky to predict, so when in doubt check the radar on Meteoblue to see where it is falling, if you’re concerned about travelling…They’ll be more sun around on Tuesday for the rest of the U.K and Ireland and this will quickly thaw the snow despite temperatures being nothing to shout about, barely rising to 3-4°C, but feeling colder in the wind. For Wednesday, a bright, cold start is predicted, but soon the morning sunshine will give way to a band of snow / sleet / rain showers stretching down the east coast from Aberdeenshire to Kent and these will move inland through the afternoon / evening. For Thursday, we have a subtle change on the way as the wind moves from the north to the south-west and pushes milder, wetter air into the picture. So a bright start for the U.K, but that rain will push into Connacht on Thursday morning and sweep eastwards, initially falling as snow where it butts up against that cold air sitting over the U.K in the afternoon / evening. The momentum will be with the westerly airstream, so that rain will reach all parts, preceded by snow, by Thursday night and so a wet, milder start for Friday, with a dry spell in-between, before another heavy rain band pushes across the U.K later in the morning. Ireland will have showers and perhaps a heavier band of rain tracking along the south coast of Munster through the day. Temperatures should be 6-7°C, so mild enough to shift any remaining snow away. By the weekend, this low pressure is well and truly in charge, but because it’s sucking cold air off the northern continent, it won’t be a mild, westerly low, it’ll pull in a mix of rain, sleet and snow over Saturday and Sunday, with potentially heavy rain for Leinster, the south of England and The Midlands on Saturday. (p.m.)

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to be unsettled as low pressure is in charge, so a westerly / southerly air stream, which means we should be out of the coldest air, but it will still be chilly and damp, with plenty of rain showers and no clear signal that Spring has finally started unfortunately.

 Agronomic Notes

With the cold weather arriving overnight and snow falling for many, air and soil temperatures have plummeted. The same day last year, we had a maximum air temperature of 16°C and soil temperatures were approaching double figures, so growth was well and truly underway. This year we’re looking at a soil temperature of 2.5°C, lower than I can ever remember it for mid-March and that means those looking for growth will be kept waiting, unfortunately. At the moment I’d just be kids-gloving it, leaving greens be and waiting for soil temperatures to rise later in the week as the milder rain arrives. We’re going to pretty reliant on low-temperature N forms for growth this month, so ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate, etc will be the order of the day and application rate-wise, I’d be tweaking rates up, as and when you finally get round to applying a granular, because the soil temperature / grass dormancy status is coming from a lot further back. I’d also be relying more on granular fertilisers than liquids because the amount / type of N applied is more persistent in granular form than liquid and if next week does indeed turn out wet and cool, this will suit granular applications, more so than liquids.So again, targeting moss with iron applications will be ideal next week, but I’d leave it be this week because of the high likelihood of frosts.

I expect some disease activity with last week’s milder weather and then moisture, but with the colder temperatures, this shouldn’t be too aggressive. Control-wise, it’s tricky at present because plant uptake of chemical actives will be limited, so I wouldn’t even try to apply a fungicide this week, even if you have some Fusarium activity. I saw more examples of the results of Fusarium outbreak under the February snow last week and again it followed the same pattern, that of hitting the drier greens or drier areas on greens, rather than the more typical, wet, shaded, micro-climate greens.

Lots of Corvid (Crow Family) activity in roughs at present as we see both Bibionid and Leatherjacket activity, right in the surface of the sward, however I’d wait before applying any control because the high rainfall levels anticipated later in the week may take any active ingredient down through the surface and away from the target grubs, so again, hang-fire here…

That’s all for now, wrap up well and like all of us in this industry, we just have to grind it out till the sun arrives to warm our backs…

Mark Hunt