Not the sight I was expecting to see first thing this morning, but with the pattern of high pressure dictating the weather of late, these big swings in temperature are to be expected, especially when skies clear. This coming week will be another of temperature contrasts with very warm temperatures till mid-week, then a significant change in temperature and wind direction.
Before I move on to the weather, a big shout out to Sam Lowes and Danny Kent, our grand prix riders in Moto2 and Moto3, who both took wins in the MotoGP World Championship yesterday in Texas. It’s the first time since the mid-seventies that we’ve had 2 British winners at the same G.P, and Sam’s debut win. Add to that Lewis Hamilton’s processional win in Formula Snore (Can you believe Rosberg’s whining?…”Lewis drove too slowly”, so why didn’t you overtake him then ????) and Johnny Rea and Chas Davies sharing the spoils in World Superbike, it was a brilliant weekend for British Motorsport and something to be truly proud of. If anyone saw Sam Lowes highside crash in practice, he went into orbit, but picked himself off the ground, got his head straight and pinned it, so cool, and a maybe two future world champions in the making ? Of course there was no acknowledgement on the Beeb as usual.
OK, onto the weather…
General Weather Situation
As intimated above we have high pressure calling the shots this week so Monday looks to start cool, calm (after yesterday’s winds !) and dry for most. The only fly in the ointment is some light rain moving up through Connacht / Donegal this morning and pushing into the north west of Scotland by the afternoon. Further south and east of this, temperatures will pick up into the mid-high teens with warm sunshine and light, south westerly winds.
Moving onto Tuesday, a much milder night will mean we carry over temperature into Tuesday, so a warmer day in prospect. That rain will continue to sit in a band across north Connacht, Donegal and north-west Scotland so here it’ll be cooler and of course damper. Away from this it’ll be a cracking day, warm, bright and temperatures pushing right up into the twenties I think in the south of England. Winds will be moderate to strong and from the south-west / west.
By mid-week we still have that rain affecting the north-west of Ireland and Scotland, but again further south after another mild night we see temperatures cranking up for what will be the hottest day of the week with temperatures set to peak in the low twenties I think. Winds will be lighter for Wednesday and that north-western rain will eventually fizzle out as we close out Wednesday.
By Thursday we have another of those big contrasts in the weather as the wind changes direction to the north-east and pulls in some much colder air from Scandinavia over The North Sea. Of course any mention of north-east winds and The North Sea means ‘Haar’, i.e. cloud cover, so a cooler, duller day on Thursday after Wednesday’s heady heights with temperatures probably a full 10°C lower ! Now we have a possibility of rain drifting over on that north-east wind from the continent to affect the east side of the U.K and possibly The Midlands Thursday late afternoon / evening. This as we all know is really tricky to predict, so it’s best to keep an eye on your Weathercheck forecast closer to the time to see if it’s heading your way.
Closing out the week we are set in a pattern of east winds, cool and dull, but largely dry, so temperatures in the low double figures, lots of cloud cover courtesy of The North Sea and that north-easterly wind. When we have north-easterlies, it’s the other side of the country that often benefits so the west looks to have the better ‘rub of the green’ so to speak with more in the way of sunshine and in that sun temperatures will climb to the mid-teens.
The weekend looks set to follow this pattern, that is dry and cool, however we lose those north-east winds, so temperatures will start to pick up on Saturday and without the Haar, it’ll be brighter, still with an easterly wind flow, but these winds will be light. Sunday looks milder than Saturday with more in the way of sunshine for most areas and remaining dry.
Well you’re going to hear the term ‘Blocking High’ a lot over the next 7-10 days as it neatly channels rainfall above us and into Scandinavia. It’ll also mean we keep that easterly wind flow, so cool and dry is the order of the day for next week, though the early part of the week will keep that warm end to the weekend theme going. It’ll probably mean we’ll have a repeat of the air pollution concerns we had at the end of last week as well, though I tend to think this is more of a ‘London Phenomenon’.
So the question will come “Is there any rain on the way ?”, especially for outfield areas that aren’t irrigated. Well at present I can’t see any on the long-term forecast, but because we’ll be easterly in terms of winds there’s always the chance of some continental rain popping out of nowhere and nipping across The North Sea. So next week looks cool, dull on the east coast particularly, but brighter and warmer across the west. Like this week, temperatures will be better at the beginning of the week than the latter part and winds should remain on the light side.
So let’s talk turf management when it’s cool and dry….
Root development and maintaining it….
The very low shoot growth we’ve experienced to date has some very positive benefits as intimated in earlier posts to this blog. One of them is root development, because if the grass plant isn’t utilising carbohydrate reserves producing leaves it tends to channel its efforts into root growth. Just this morning I had a WhatsApp (Cheers Chris) showing enhanced rooting on what traditionally is a poorer rooting green.
So if you’ve aerated early and have a healthy grass plant, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing the same. The trick now is keeping them.
When we have cool, dry conditions in spring, what we see is that the surface of the rootzone dries out. If you remember my diagram from a few weeks back, it is typically the L1 area and the upper region of L2 that dries out first.
Now if you have a grass plant with a healthy root system it is imperative to try and maintain it through the next few weeks till we receive consistent rainfall. As we know L1 is high in organic matter so when and if this dries out it’ll be very difficult to re-wet because it is naturally hydrophobic. The roots will desiccate and you’ll lose them as quickly as you gained them. That’s why I mentioned last week that it’s a good time to apply your wetting agent so moisture is distributed evenly through the profile and so it is used more efficiently by the grass plant.
All this is grand of course if you have irrigation up and running (or irrigation full-stop) because you’ll need this to move the surfactant into the profile and also wet up the dry areas in the surface with just enough moisture to maintain consistency through the depths of the rootzone. We aren’t talking flooding the turf, just enough to maintain adequate moisture levels in the surface before you start to lose roots.
If you’re lucky enough to have a moisture meter I’d be monitoring this area and checking to make sure you’re not sitting below 10% in the top 0-20mm of the rootzone surface. Of course one of the issues with moisture meters is that the probes are much longer than this, so if you push them in to the full depth (as you’re supposed to) to get an accurate reading, you’re sampling past the surface. One way to get around this if you’re managing golf greens is to check the moisture levels when you change holes and have the hole plug removed. You can simply push the moisture meter in laterally from the side of the hole plug and monitor different depths down the rootzone.
Now it’s often said that the grass plant benefits from going through drying cycles before the summer so it’s attuned to low moisture levels and therefore I can’t stress enough I’m not suggesting irrigating for the sake of it. Rather you keep an eye on the plant, especially after the first 3 days of this week and make sure that the rootzone doesn’t get so dry in the surface that you risk losing all the good root development you’ve gained. A tricky balance for sure.
This time last year we were much further on in the growth cycle of Poa annua and looking back at my notes from 2014, by yesterday we’d reached a cumulative GDD figure at The Oxfordshire of 187.5, whereas in 2015 y.t.d, we’re only at 93.5. Now I think that annual Poa on greens tends to start to seed at 150GDD, whereas on outfield it’s often earlier (120 GDD last year). Looking at the week coming up we’re due to get roughly 25 cumulative GDD because of the warm weather at the start of the week, so that puts us around 120 cumulative for the end of the week. I’d expect therefore to start to see Poa seedheads on annual biotypes in longer height of cut areas off green and on sports field turf by the end of the week.
As for the perennial Poa biotypes, I think we have a good way to go yet because once we go dull and cool in those easterlies, the weekly GDD total isn’t going to be anything to shout about (maybe only 13.5 for the whole of next week for instance)
Nutrition / Growth Characteristics
With these warm days it’s not only the temperature that is rising, it’s also customers expectations.
With The Masters just finishing, we’ll all get that comparison floating over the air waves “Why aren’t our greens true like Augusta, why are they bumpy ?”. Well regardless of the fact that at Augusta they utilise undersoil heating, lights and fans to produce their own weather :), we are a long way behind the growth curve vs. last year. As I attempted to explain last week, even though we have warm days, it’s the cold nights that act as the handbrake to growth and you can see this in the stats below. Even when it’s very warm in the day, it has precious little effect on the soil temperature because it takes soil much longer to warm up so the daily growth potential is low.
Nutrition-wise it’s definitely still foliar’s that are the order of the day and applying early on this week to take advantage of the warm air will reap benefits going into the cooler, duller period thereafter.
Light brushing or verticutting in conjunction with a light dressing and a roll should do enough to keep the surface consistent, but of course if you’re at a high height of cut on greens, this will serve to exacerbate the issue.
Growth Flush Anticipated – First half of this week.
The milder nights anticipated for Monday through till Wednesday combined with seriously warm daytime temperatures will provide a growth flush of its own for the first half of this week but it’ll be short-lived once those easterlies kick in. You should be able to see this on your Meteoturf information.
With dry weather for most, except the north-west of Ireland and Scotland, Microdochium nivale will be on the back foot, but where there is moisture I do expect a threat of enhanced activity after the rainfall of the first part of this week in the north-west of Ireland and Scotland.
Ok that’s it for this week, enjoy the heat and sun because you won’t see it much after Wednesday in the south of England 🙁
All the best