Hi All,

Well we’ve been from winter to spring and back to winter over the last week or so….That rain forecast for last Friday got about as far as eastwards as Birmingham and then shifted back westwards, so for 2 of my calls on Friday they’d had 20mm+ and when I got home we’d had 0.7mm !

So what’s going on with the weather ?


Well our old friend the jet stream is on his travels again and as you can see from the graphic above instead of flowing straight across the Atlantic from west to east, it’s taking a pronounced turn half way and heading right up to The Arctic Circle. This leaves us at the mercy of easterly winds and high pressure systems from the continent, which this time of year happen to be cold. So that’s why winter has returned again, it also means for some areas of the country we are dry and to be honest in need of rain, So will we get it this week ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday is starting dull and dreary for many with a mix of sleet and rain affecting the western coastline of the U.K and inland as well. Ireland looks to be the same, dull with low cloud cover. Through the day this mix of wintry showers will slowly traverse eastwards across Ireland and the U.K, accompanied by a cool easterly / north-easterly wind and temperatures in the mid-single figures. Nothing to shout about really, but maybe away from this rain in westerly areas, it might just feel a little milder because the winds have dropped since the weekend.

Onto Tuesday and a slowly improving picture as temperatures begin to pick up and as that light, mizzly rain clears away from the south of England you might just see the SUN, yes it’s that yellow thing that’s been strangely absent for the last week or so 🙂 So Tuesday sees that cloud cover and mizzly rain slowly clearing from the south of the U.K and Ireland to give some breaks in the cloud and with them a rise in temperatures to double figures would you believe. Winds will be light and from the east.

By mid-week we have a dry picture over practically all of the U.K and Ireland, but after a brighter start for some we see more cloud cover move in off The North Sea, so eastern coasts will be dull from the start and the best brightness and temperatures will again be in the west. Winds will remain north-easterly / easterly and pick up during the day I’m afraid keeping temperatures around high single / low double figures 🙁

For Thursday we have the possibility of ground frost if the skies clear over your location, but a brighter start for many, though remaining cool under that north-east wind. Dry for most areas again, but by mid-afternoon we’ll see some sleet and wintry showers pushing into the north-east of Scotland and this will consolidate as we reach evening rush hour.

Closing out the week we have a slightly improving picture with lighter north-east winds allowing the temperature to build through the day into double figures in the sunshine (if you get it) The only fly in the ointment is some light rain scudding over The Highlands of Scotland and Western Isles. For most then another dry day with some broken cloud, sunshine and lighter winds, which should be swinging round to the north-west, a portent for things to come maybe…..

Looking ahead to the weekend we have a slow change to a north-westerly air stream, felt first in Scotland and the north of England / Ireland. At this stage Saturday looks good with plenty of sunshine amid broken cloud and much milder temperatures, likely to be well up into double figures, gosh golly. Winds will be light and from the north-west. Further north it’ll be duller I’m afraid and the chance of some mizzly, drizzle kicking around through the day. Sunday follows a similar pattern with more in the way of cloud cover, some nice breaks in the cloud particularly in the afternoon and some light rain clearing central and north-east Scotland through the day.

Weather Outlook

Well a very different week in prospect next week I think because as we start the week we will have that high pressure system slowly slinking off southwards to be replaced by a North Atlantic low pressure system. This will bring stronger winds, westerly / north-westerly in nature to Scotland and the north of England early next week and this will rapidly become the picture across all of the U.K and Ireland by Tuesday with rain showers and strong winds the order of the day, it’ll feel cool as well. By mid-week the temperatures will pick up a little as warmer air moves in to the westerly airstream, but those strong winds and bands of rain will be a feature of next week, particularly over Scotland and the north of England in terms of rainfall.

Agronomic Notes

So where are we in 2015 from a growth perspective ?

A couple of years ago you’ll all know I started playing around with growth-degree-days and latterly growth potential.

My initial aim back in what was then the extended winter of 2013 was to try and figure out how far behind we were in terms of growth vs. the previous year and since then I’ve been monitoring GDD and G.P at a number of sites thanks to the efforts of a small group of diligent helpers (A big thanks to you all)

So when we come to 2015 and we’re sitting here in Mid-March, just 3 weeks away from Augusta and you know what that means, every golfer expects their golf clubs greens to be like theirs or at the very least like they remember them to be 🙂

It’s not just a golf phenomenon, I appreciate on sports pitches you’re heading towards the end of the winter sports calendar and then there may be the rapid transition to cricket and / or athletics depending on your facility.


So I’ve charted out cumulative GDD from January 1st to Mar 15th, 2015 and compared them to the same date range in 2014. See below….


The shape of growth or more precisely lack of growth…

The first thing to look at is the shape of the 2015 graph vs. 2014, you’ll notice that it’s very flat – horizontal in nature and this means that very little growth was taking place (hence no increase in the cumulative GDD total) So we can see that really from the 13th January to 6th March, little or no growth took place.

A consequence of this is that areas that were receiving wear and tear during this period like golf tees, pathways from green to tee, etc and of course winter season pitches have had very little potential to recover with this growth pattern. In reality the first actual significant growth we got wasn’t until the 6th March.

So how far are we behind vs. last year from a growth perspective ?

Again this is where plotting GDD really comes into its own and why I use 6°C as my base temperature, rather than 0°C as they do in the U.S GDD models, particularly for PGR usage.

If you look at the graph below, all you need to do is look at the GDD total for March 15th, 2015 and run a line across to where we hit that same figure in 2014. The result is shown below ;


The graph shows that we hit 47 cumulative GDD in 2014 on the 22nd of February compared to the 15th of March in 2015. This means we are exactly 3 weeks behind last year from a growth perspective.

Looking at this week’s forecast from a GDD perspective on your Headland Weather check Meteoturf module (see below) we can see very little predicted growth this week either, whereas last year we had 14.5 cumulative GDD from 16th March to the 23rd. So in essence we are slipping further behind each week….


So just to summarise, we are 3 weeks behind in pure growth terms in 2015 compared to 2014 and we are slipping further back as we progress through March. Now hopefully you can see why I think recording temperature and converting that into GDD and G.P is very useful, especially when it comes to communicating with your powers that be.

How to deal with low growth potential weather patterns in early spring

Well you have 2 choices here depending on whether your have aerated and need recovery or you have a good sward coverage with little requirement for pushing growth.

If you’re in the latter scenario, well lucky you, then the order of the day is light foliar inputs (4-5kg/N/hectare per application) using cool-temperature nutrient sources that I’ve talked about already this month, combined with iron and I’d be timing my application this week because you’re not going to get much of a chance next week once that Atlantic low pitches up !

If you need recovery and therefore have to generate good growth at low temperatures and at present with dry conditions affecting the south and east of the U.K particularly, you have 2 choices. Use a heavier rate foliar this week, inputting 7-10kg/N/ha and I’d be going with 60 – 75% of that from low temperature N sources and the remainder from urea for a bit of turf safety and longevity. Your other choice is to apply a granular product towards the end of this week in time for the arrival of rain and slightly milder conditions next week.

Root Growth

This lack of growth isn’t all bad news you know because when we look at the growth-limiting affects of air temperature it really holds back new shoot and leaf production, but until temperatures drop to close to freezing, the grass plant is more than able to develop roots and that’s what I’m seeing plenty of when I take cores. So now is a good time to take a plug from your turf and look at how the grass plant is able to develop new roots. If they are lateral, sideways roots then the surface organic matter layer is either too dense (so not enough topdressing is integrated through it) or too thick in depth, or both. You don’t have to send samples away to a lab to see this, just use a knife or a profiler and analyse how the plant is growing it’s roots.












I hope that gives you food for thought and the ammunition to communicate with your heirachy…

Off to pack again, last week of flying then I need to get some roots down of my own !

All the best as always…..

Mark Hunt