Hi All,

After a very hard last week of incessant rain and hurricane winds, Sunday I hope for most was a beautiful day, sunshine, blue sky and a bit of warmth in the light winds. If anything it gives us a glimpse of better things to come because we’re not so far from Spring now, sophoto (29) hold that thought 🙂

Before I go on to talk more about the weather, a quick word of thanks to Sean and his crew at The Oxfordshire for pushing my ‘Vorsprung Durch Stucknic’ Audi out of the mire when I managed to beach it last Friday, putting some trials down, what a plank 🙁

As predicted and contrary to what PM David Cameron is was saying this morning (“Brace yourself for more bad weather”) , because as we all know, politicians are really good at forecasting  the weather aren’t they? Maybe they should stick to their day jobs, oh yeah they’re crap at those as well! 🙂

The jet stream does appear to have taken a hike upwards (temporary or otherwise) and that means the low pressures that are still winging their way across The Atlantic should not hit the same areas that have been worst-affected i.e. the south of England. We’ll still have unsettled conditions, more next week than this week, but it shouldn’t be as bad in terms of daily rainfall totals. The graphic below compares the position of the low that came through on Friday / Saturday, with one projected to come through in a week or so’s time, you can see from the arrow it’s shifted upwards, not much , but hopefully enough to make a difference.


General Weather Information

So a much drier week in prospect for the majority of the U.K. with the exception of Scotland, which as intimated above, will pick up some of the rainfall from a northerly Atlantic low. Further south we’re getting a break, both for Ireland and the rest of the U.K and boy do we need it!

Monday sees a band of rain pushing over Ireland as we speak and into the west coast of the U.K. making landfall in the south-west, Wales and the west coast of Scotland. Through the day, this moves slowly across the U.K mainly affecting western areas, with some heavier rain for the east coast of Leinster and Munster later in the afternoon.  As we go through the afternoon into the evening, the rain shifts along the south coast to affect the home counties, and continues to affect the west coast of the U.K and Scotland. Some light rain may track inland through the middle of the night into Tuesday. Winds will be moderate and from the south primarily with temperatures in the mid to high single figures.

Overnight into Tuesday it’s looking dry for most, with the exception of the north-west of England, west coast and central Scotland, which has the tail of that weak low giving rain throughout the day, possibly heavy over The Lakes. Through into the afternoon, this will dissipate and leave a pretty dry picture overall, with only light rain affecting the west coast of Ireland and the U.K. periodically through the day. Temperatures continue to stay just shy of double figures, with a moderate south-westerly wind.

Overnight into Wednesday, that rain confines itself to the Highlands of Scotland and looks to become wintry in nature, particularly over higher ground. Elsewhere we look pretty dry, except for some light showers affecting the west coast of the U.K and Ireland early doors. Temperatures and wind continues in the pattern of earlier in the week, with maybe lighter winds. By close of play Wednesday, a rain front pushes into the west coast of Ireland and tracks eastwards.

Overnight into Thursday, that rain covers Ireland, with some potentially heavy downpours amongst it and continues to track east into the west coast of the U.K, reaching it in the early hours of Thursday. By morning rush hour that rain is tracking across the U.K. but decreasing in intensity as it does so, except for Scotland, which is closer to the low and where amounts may be heavy. So Thursday looks unsettled with frequent rain showers, but hopefully not the volume that we’ve received in recent weeks.

Closing out the week, that rain fades through Thursday night, again falling as wintry showers over higher ground in Scotland and then what’s left ‘teases’ the west and north-west coast of the U.K. pushing inland across the south coast and into Wales through the day. Away from this rain it should be fine and dry, with a chance of seeing the sun no less. 🙂 It’ll be a little cooler, maybe mid-single figures, but winds will stay fixed from the west.

At this stage the outlook for the weekend looks ok for Saturday with light westerly winds and hazy sunshine for many places after some light overnight rain clears through. Overnight into Sunday a band of rain pushes into the west coast of Ireland and tracks east, so at this stage it may be a wet Sunday start, but the band looks quite narrow, so that means it should clear by lunchtime in the west and central areas, though it’ll be duller for most.

Weather Outlook

Ok, next week is looking very unsettled with the return of stronger winds and heavy rain, BUT at this stage the centre of the low is projected to pass north of the U.K, so although no consolation for Scotland, the south of the U.K and Ireland should miss the worst, though it’ll still be pretty windy and unsettled, with some heavy rain about, even in the south and particularly for the end of next week I think. Not great I know, but at least we’ll have had a breather for rivers to drop and the water table to settle a little.  I’ve got a feeling that after this next low, we’ll get another breather as high pressure starts to exert itself in the mid-Atlantic.

Agronomic notes

GDD Downloadable Excel Spreadsheet

Ok, first off Paul has put together a natty Excel sheet that allows you to enter your daily maximum and minimum temperature. It then automatically calculates your GDD and Growth Potential (which I know some of you use) for the month and charts it below, so that’s cool. You can download it here

Rainfall Stats

Last week I mentioned we’d have our downloadable pdf 2013 rainfall chart finished and Paul has duly obliged so thanks to you all for submitting the data and to Paul for collating it. It’s available to download here

The 2013 trend appears to be similar in some ways to 2012, in that the east coast of England is the driest area, the south-west and north-west, amongst the wettest, but in 2013 the south of the country received less rain, before of course the deulges that started just as we finished recording 2013 data at the end of December. Ireland is similar to the U.K, the east of Ireland correlates well with southern England and the west of Ireland, similar to the south-west of England. Who knows what 2014 will bring ?

Current Conditions – Synopsis

I guess it’s a good time to take stock and look at a number of different aspects of turf management at present.

Firstly, it’s clear to many that the heavy rains, high water table and low light conditions are beginning to make the turf suffer, perhaps over the last week or so I’ve had quite a lot of reports of areas going off colour and I think this is linked to two factors – the first is a lack of oxygen in the rootzone caused by high levels of moisture. I started doing some work last week with a moisture meter (Delta-T HH2) and was amazed at the variability across a green in terms of % moisture content. Now don’t all email in and say yep we all know that because I’m just getting started, so be patient please :). I used a plotting Add-In to Excel called Dplot Jr to graph out a 6×6 grid of plots taken across a green. Here’s how it looks….


You can see the % moisture content varies from 25% right up to 70% and so it’s likely that in the areas where the moisture content is high, the grass plant will have little oxygen available to the roots due to waterlogging.

So as I said last week, the first time you can get a machine out onto your greens without causing more harm than good, I’d suggest a small solid tine, down to 4″ depth to let the roots breathe.

Thereafter I think it’s a good time once oxygen is forthcoming to move greens on and take advantage of the so-so temperatures. You could squeeze in a liquid this week on most days, but if you can’t get a sprayer out there, then a light-rate granular fertiliser will do nicely. Nothing heavy, just 25gms/m2 of a 5-6% N product will work grand.

It’s also a good time to treat moss, so either high rate ferrous sulphate sprayed on or a granular moss treatment. Now after attending the class at the GIS show in Orlando, it’s clear to me that moss is an extrenely persistent plant, despite the fact it doesn’t have a root system as such and probably never gets to the point of producing spores on lower cut amenity turf, it still manages to out-compete grass very effectively and that’s because firstly it can grow better at lower light levels (Oct – Mar) and secondly it can stand extreme dessication, so you’ll often see it coming in on weaker, high points. I think it’s main mode of spread is by movement of vegetative matter and for sure, there’s plenty around at present, so if you’re looking at a lot of moss, you’re not alone I can assure you.

I mention light because it’s also very obvious to me that not only have we had lots of rain, but it’s been dull and so we’ve had pretty much low light levels since mid-December. That’s holding back growth as well, despite milder temperatures, however the days are really stretching out now and that extra light and higher sun position will help to get the plant photosynthesising. This is particularly a problem on high content bentgrass greens, be they Colonial or Creeping, these grasses need light to push on and grow and a dry surface. Neither of which has been forthcoming recently, so Poa (and Moss) has had the upper hand for the last 8 weeks or so.

Lastly, the mild winter has been great for over-wintering grubs and I’ve had a good number of Leatherjacket activity reported as well as Chafrer Grubs, so keep an eye out on past-affected areas.

That’s it for today’s blog, must get packed as I’m off to give a talk in Germany at a greenkeeper’s meeting.

All the best everyone and remember Spring isn’t far away now 🙂

Mark Hunt