As we passed through the Spring or Vernal Equinox yesterday, it means that we have officially started spring and marks the day when day and night length are exactly the same (apparently Equinox is latin for “equal night”, didn’t learn that at Welland Park Comprehensive :)).
To coincide with this event, the youngest of my hibernating Hedgepigs came out of hibernation on Friday and was joined by one of his parents yesterday. They have emerged on pretty much the same date now for the last 3 years and it must be day length that is the trigger to end their hibernation, (rather than GDD) because it certainly isn’t temperature !
March continues to plod on temperature-wise, stuck in a reluctant-to-shift trough in the jet stream which looks set to extend into April. Growth-wise I reckon March 2016 will turn out to be nearly as cold as the long winter of 2013, with very little in the way of GDD / GP to help us on our way. Strangely as well and I know some of you may disagree, but I think we could do with a drop of rain to help this along, not much, but the top of the profile is definitely drying out.
General Weather Situation
I’ll start on Tuesday because by the time you read this you’ll have had most of Monday :). A dull day beckons with plenty of cloud cover owing to that north westerly / northerly wind, Talking of winds they remain on the light side for the start of this week but that is set to change later in the week. With cloud cover it means that there’s little risk of frost however it also means temperatures won’t be as high as today (if you saw the sun that is) so generally high single / low double figures is the order of the day for Tuesday. Nice and dry everywhere so a good work day and temperatures may even creep higher if you see the sun.
Moving onto Wednesday we have the beginnings of change and you’ll notice it first across the west coast of Ireland where the wind will swing round to the west and later the south west. For the U.K, it’ll carry on in a more north westerly aspect as we have to wait to Thursday for things to change, so another dull, dry day with light winds for most of us. That cloud blowing off the Irish Sea may just be thick enough to push some mizzly drizzle onto western coasts, but elsewhere it’ll be similar to Tuesday, so high single figures again temperature-wise. Ireland may see more in the way of sunshine and broken cloud on Wednesday and here it’ll feel a tad milder in a freshening south westerly wind.
Moving swiftly onto Thursday and the first band of Atlantic rain is projected to reach the west of Ireland early on Thursday morning and swiftly push across country in time for the morning rush hour. By mid-morning that rain has crossed the Irish Sea and has reached the west coastline of the U.K. By the afternoon it is has cleared Ireland and is now affecting a line all the way from the south west of England, through Wales and up to Scotland where it may fall as sleet / snow over higher elevations. By late afternoon this rain clears Scotland but will still affect northern and southern England and The Midlands. The east and south east though may indeed stay dry till dusk. Temperature-wise, we should just tip into double figures across the U.K, but Ireland with that clearing rain and sunshine may be even higher. As mentioned earlier, the winds will start to freshen for Thursday so moderate to strong winds are expected later in the day.
No risk of a frost on Friday with a south-westerly wind aspect and pleasingly a dry day on the cards after that rain moves through. It will however feel a little cooler in places as that wind temporarily switches back to a more northerly aspect over the U.K, but further west it’ll hold its south westerly trajectory so here it’ll feel milder. So for most Good Friday could indeed be a good Friday, but don’t think it’ll feel warm because it won’t with temperatures just nipping into the double figure region again, so nothing really to write home about.
Closing out Friday we have the forecast for the all important Easter weekend and ‘mixed and blowy’ is perhaps the best description of what awaits us. As I remarked to a colleague last week, it’ll rain on Easter Sunday because Kelmarsh Hall near me has an Easter event and it always rains for that !
Easter Saturday looks to be a re-run of Thursday with rain coming in overnight into Ireland and swiftly crossing the Irish Sea to reach western coasts by sunrise. Again some of this rain may indeed fall as wintry showers of sleet, snow and hail over higher altitudes. By Saturday morning it’ll have cleared most of Ireland and be into Wales, the south west, north west and Scotland, but all the time it’s marching eastwards, so a soggy fly fishing session awaits the ‘Saturday Sad Crew’ at Thornton 🙁 Accompanying this rain will be some pretty strong winds with gale force south westerlies expected on exposed western coasts. It’ll take most of the day to clear England, but western areas may be better off with a good chance of seeing some sunshine. By dusk this rain will still be affecting eastern coasts of the U.K and a new rain front will also be pushing into Connacht and north west Munster later in the day.
Overnight into Sunday and this low pressure I’m afraid is centred right over us so it’ll be sunshine and showers with the best chance of brightness first off on Sunday morning. Those strong winds though will have declined a tad, back to moderate in strength. So for Easter Sunday we can expect rain in the south west of England first off and perhaps some more for Donegal. This will push into South Wales and then move north east across the middle half of the U.K through the afternoon. South and north of this should stay mainly dry as should the bulk of Ireland. So a mixed day is on the cards particularly when you take into account that temperatures will only just struggle into double figures if they reach there at all. It’s all to do with that trough in the jet stream and it’s reluctance to shift elsewhere. Easter Monday looks to be more of the same with rain across the south of Ireland pushing into Wales, the south west and southern half of the U.K during the morning. Those strong south westerly winds will be back as well, but north of the centre of the low, you’ll have lighter winds, more of the sunshine and possibly drier as well. It’ll still feel on the cool side though I’m sad to say.
So a cool and unsettled start to next week beckons I’m afraid and with the low stuck in that trough, that’s the way it’ll stay through Tuesday with rain expected for Tuesday before turning cooler as that low brings down northerly winds for mid-week. That may mean some wintry showers for the end of March I’m afraid and the return of night frosts, gardeners be wary. By the end of next week we’ll be back to a more westerly airflow so a tad milder possibly but you know I can’t see any sign of decent temperatures anywhere on the chart until the start of April and that’s a long way off !
Well I guess the first thing to say is kind of common sense really and it’s that if you’re planning on applying a granular fertiliser to outfield or fine turf then this week before Thursday could be a good time to do it. With soil temperatures sitting around 9°C and that rain falling at a similar temperature (in most places), that’ll be good enough to initiate some gentle, consistent growth. For the south of England you should pick up close to 10-14 GDD this week, but further north across The Midlands, north of England, Scotland it’ll be closer to 7 GDD. Ireland, Wales and the south west of England should tip in around 9GDD for the coming week. So an application of either foliar or granular fertiliser will result in some uptake and a turf response, but importantly that growth will not leave you coming in after the Bank Holiday weekend with clippings around your ankles.
Clippings around your ankles is one thing you won’t have had since December last year and looking at our cumulative GDD tracking for 2016 vs. 2015, the two charts are getting closer and closer so I confidently predict by the time we reach April the 1st, we will be at parity, i.e we will be at the same growth point on April 1st, 2016 as we were on April 1st, 2015.
Now that won’t be the case everywhere I’m sure so why not send me your GDD spreadsheet at the end of March and I can have a look see ? 🙂
Talking of December and looking at growth patterns using Growth Potential as the parameter you can see how different the level of growth was at the back end of 2015 vs. this March.
That’s why there’s no chance of clippings lying around this Easter because our daily growth potential is still pretty minimal when you compare it with the excesses of December last year.
Our inconsistent springs….
It further makes the case (I know it’s that old chestnut again 🙁 ) why aeration in January and February can be beneficial if your ground conditions allow you to do the work rather than waiting till March or April. If you look at the character of our spring weather nowadays, the only thing you can say about it reliably is that it is ‘consistently inconsistent’.
The GDD comparison for 2012 through till 2015 shows how different years provide different GDD totals at two date points in the spring (March 1st and April 1st) with wildly varying GDD totals. So the only thing we can conclude is that spring will be inconsistent and rarely reliable in terms of growth and more to the point, consistent growth. So when your club is allocating renovation weeks (If you are that fortunate) it may be worth mentioning this and the fact that August aeration allows you to remove more organic matter and gain quicker recovery because we do have consistent temperature at that point in the year. If you are looking for another spot then January / February is the one for me rather than March or April.
I realised last week that I have forgot to post the link to the 2015 rainfall chart so here it is, sorry about that 🙁
Talking about rainfall, it’s funny but when we had that deluge the other week I’m pretty sure that the ground dried out much faster afterwards than it did compared to when we’ve had far less rain but it’s been more frequent and with no drying days in-between. So when you get significant rain in a day, like the 40mm plus we had 10 days ago, it seems to shed from the soil profile so much quicker (and that’s why areas flood) compared to receiving the same amount spread over 10 or 15 days. The latter seems to penetrate the soil profile and wet up the surface organic matter more effectively. Strange but true…
That’s all for today, sorry for the lateness in the day but it couldn’t be avoided.
All the best and Happy Easter Bunnies to you all…:)