Hi All,

Not sure how accurate my forecast was for Easter, I think most of you in The Midlands and south would have got the rain on Sunday and Monday (p.m.) that I forecast and it certainly was cold in that north-eastery wind (but ok out of it). Sunday for us was a real ‘Haar’ day, courtesy of that NE wind, with clouds down to the ground. The wind really blew as well because I managed to top 40 mph downhill on my mountain bike ! (with a following hurricane behind of course :))

I don’t often mention people in my blog, but on this occasion I will.

Mike Butler, photo (31)as a person, represents one of the longest and most valued friendships I’ve had in this industry, through many guises. He’s the first guy I met and worked with back in the Sierra days of Osmocote in 1989, and he’s set to retire next week.So Mike, (and Sue) have a great retirement, you’ve earned it…Here’s a pic of Mike at his 60th, chatting up a woman, well he thought he was, but actually it’s a man…..

Mike is also the font of all knowledge horticulturally and an all-round good egg. (though it has to be said, a boring fart if you let him talk about narrow boats :)) He sent me this picture over Easter and reminded me of one of the old OakAshcountry sayings..

“If the oak before the ash, then we’ll only have a splash, if the ash before the oak, then we’ll surely have a soak”?

The picture right (allegedly) shows an oak tree in leaf ahead of an ash tree, I say allegedly because tree i.d is not my strong point (as the lads at Elm Green, Dublin know only too well… :)) Apparently oak trees are temperature sensitive, whereas ash trees are thought to respond more to light levels (sunshine). Looking at 2014, we had a mild start to the year, because it was wet, but light levels have been lower, so it makes sense that the oak is ahead of the ash.

Does it hold true that for this year ?, well you know I hate long-term weather predictions, but all I would say is that the jet stream is sitting low and as you’ll feel over the next 7-10 days, is tending to allow cool air down from the north and east, so my take if this is the pattern for the summer, is that it’ll be cooler and wetter, rather against what the old saying suggests. Of course we know that long-term predictions aren’t generally worth the paper they’re written on, so we’ll see if the pattern has indeed set in April for the summer, as it did in 2013 and 2012. (Hopefully not)

General Weather Situation

Kind of cheating because we’re half-way through Tuesday already, but it looks a dull and damp start for many after overnight rain. This rain hasn’t gone away though because through lunchtime and the afternoon those showers reform and look to give a potentially wet p.m. across most of the U.K and Ireland, right through to dusk. Winds will be light easterlies, but they’ll swing round to the south later in the day. Temperatures will be mid-teens at best and they’ll be a little sunshine around, hazy in nature I reckon.

Overnight into Wednesday, those showers will die out over most of the U.K, but a new rain front is set to push into the south-west of Ireland during the wee hours and push north-east, up country into Leinster during the morning. This rain front will reach the south-west of England and Wales for the morning rush hour and push north-eastwards across the U.K during the morning. At this stage it looks to stop around the west Midlands, so it may not reach the north-east of England at all. West and south of this however, right up to Scotland, it will mean a wet day is on the cards.

Overnight into Thursday, that rain band pushes north-eastwards, originating from a cool low that’s pushing in, so the east coast gets a drop as well. That rain takes until late morning to finally clear the east coast of the U.K. Elsewhere we’ll have a cloudy day, winds from the south / south-west and largely dry save for some rain still affecting Connacht, Donegal and the north-west of Scotland. Temperatures will be low teens and won’t dip much at night either, so that’ll have an effect on greens growth for sure.

For Friday we have some rain over Munster and Connacht to start the day, but elsewhere it looks dry, cool in a south-easterly wind, but as the day progresses, it’ll warm up and the sun could break through late afternoon. Enjoy it while you can though because by late afternoon a new heavy rain front from that low is pushing into Kerry and the south-west of England. By the evening and overnight into Saturday, it’ll develop into a very unsettled picture with heavy rain in parts, notably the north-east of Scotland, Ireland, the south-west of England and Wales, but all areas can expect rain. Winds will be from the south-east and again temperatures will be low to mid-teens.

The outlook for the weekend continues unsettled with this overnight rain making Saturday look a very mixed affair, with rain popping up in most parts of the U.K and Ireland, some of it heavy, but maybe the south-east and north-west of England may miss the worst. It’ll feel cooler on Saturday than of late, as the jet stream pulls in cooler air, so not great. Sunday looks the better day of the weekend, except for the south-west of England and Ireland where you may just catch the edge of a rain front early doors. It’ll be milder, but that wind is still south-east originating so not great for a lot of heat, though it will feel better than Saturday.

Weather Outlook

Well not great really, if you look at the Unisys loop at the top of the page, you’ll see that the low pressure that’s due to bring rain to many places this week and over the coming weekend, stays sat in place, so that means we have a slow-moving jet stream. It’s also sitting low, so that means cool air can push in from the north and north-west and that’s what’s set to happen, so cool and unsettled is the outlook for the run into May. So an unsettled start to next week is on the cards and a pretty unsettled end to it as well as that low reforms to bring south-west winds and mild, wetter air into play for the end of next week. The only positive is that the unsettled outlook means less risk of night frost because of cloud cover, so night temperatures should hang on well.

Agronomic Notes

Ok first off we have a Headland Weathercheck service update on the Headland Weather Logo (artwork) rgbway. Weathercheck is our location-based forecasting service we provide (in conjunction with Meteoblue) for a good number of end-users and features a number of weather modules that you can click on to see your localised forecast.  We’re updating the service, improving the graphic output and detailing on the site as well as adding a longer-term forecasting module. You’ll shortly be receiving an email from Paul in I.T to which you’ll need to respond to in order to keep using the service, that’s all you have to do. If you’re not on this service and are interested, drop an email to weather_uk@headlandamenity.com with your details and we’ll get it sorted. (Well Paul will :))

Disease Activity

I’m getting a good few reports about various disease activity around and abouts with Microdochium outbreaks the most common, originating from that mild, wet weekend we had in early / mid-April. The up and down nature of the weather this month has really affected fungicide A.I uptake and in turn control of the disease. With very little greens growth due to low GDD, growth away from any scarring has also been slow.

I’ve also had reports of some Fairy Rings / Superficials / Thatch Fungus, but if you’re looking at something like this (below) where you have darkened green areas colonised by bentgrass, it might actually be from plant parasitic nematodes. (PPN’s)  Endoparasitic species, like Heterodera, Sub Anguina, Root-Knot nematode species tend to ‘get out of bed’ much earlier in the spring (because they over-winter more effectively inside an egg or cyst) than the ectoparasitic species (which tend to cause problems later in the year) and so you’ll often see symptoms from ‘Endo’ species occurring first.

Heterodera1 Heterodera2

The bottom line is to maintain adequate, balanced nutrition, good use of biostimulants and not subject the plant to stress. Also you’ll want to try and generate new root development, so light spiking, sarrell rolling, solid tining will all be beneficial. If I was in a PPN situation I wouldn’t be using PGR’s as a matter of policy because PPN’s restrict plant growth, so you don’t need a PGR to further exacerbate the situation.

Growth outlook and nutrition

I think we’ll see reasonably good growth over the next week or so because the projected GDD’s are hovering between 2.5 – 5.0, depending on how warm it is during the day and how mild it stays at night with you. An unsettled outlook tends to mean we get rain and we stay mild at night and that means fine turf areas where Poa has been reluctant to grow up until now will push ahead and seed of course. Outfield areas, be they fairways, sports pitches, etc will also tick along more than ably, with a bit of a growth flush due to the combination detailed above. So it’s a good time to make an iron + PGR application and peg back that growth, particularly on shaded areas as we rapidly head towards ‘canopy close’ (the point where leaf growth on trees obscures light from turf surfaces)

Nutrition-wise, you have a choice depending on your objective and the amount of growth you wish to generate. If you’re staring at some scarring and want to get it grown in quickly, I’d be going with a granular application in conjunction with some localised over-seeding and topdressing (in the scarred areas)

If you just want to tick things on, then light foliars with iron using a mixture of N sources should work well at the moment. I say a mixture because both cool-temperature forms like ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate and warm-temperature forms like urea and slow-release N will give a response, but I’d be mixing the two for consistent results because we’re not at summer yet.

Herbicide sprays will also be well-timed at the moment, providing you can find a spray window, but as I mentioned last week, uptake will be slow, so if the product allows, mix in a bit of N to stimulate uptake. You may not see a response (Epinasty) for a week maybe, but it will work.

On the lawncare side, because I know a lot of lads click onto this blog, you’ll no doubt be seeing plenty of Ant activity with the rainfall of late. Personally I don’t like treating Ants on lawns because they form the bottom of the food chain for many bird species, not least Sparrows, Starlings and quite often Woodpeckers. (particularly Green Woodpeckers). I know however they can make them unsightly, but a bit of work with a Besom broom and topdressing hides the worst in many cases. (But not all)

I’ll leave you with a nice picture of spring, take at Coton Manor Gardens, Northamptonshire at the weekend (a lovely place for a bite and a walk if you appreciate classic gardens) where the Bluebells (Old English, not Spanish) are just heading up to their best !


All the best…

Mark Hunt