Hi All,

After a taste of winter last week and over the weekend with plenty of frost, snow and hail showers, I am very pleased to say that by the end of this week many places will start to experience a taste of spring. That’s going to help dry areas out and commence some decent grass growth as well to boot if only for a short (ish) period.

Out walking yesterday it was noticeable how the land had ‘wetted up’ again and still has that grey and brown tinge of winter about it. From the end of this week we should all start to see that change and although it hasn’t been an overly cold winter, it does feel like it has been a long one doesn’t it particularly from a rainfall perspective.

General Weather Situation

Monday sees the bulk of the U.K start cold, bright and dry with another sharp frost whereas Ireland has more cloud cover in situ. This cloud will be thick enough for some rain over the east coast of Leinster and Munster through the start of the morning but it’ll dissipate later. That cloud cover is also likely to be thick enough to give some wintry showers feeding down into North Wales through this morning. There’s also a risk of continuing snow showers feeding off The North Sea into Norfolk through the morning. By lunchtime the picture looks dry and bright for most areas of the U.K and Ireland and that’s the way the day finishes off. In that sunshine temperatures will rise to high single figures, especially out of the cold, northerly wind which will be mercifully light 🙂

Overnight into Tuesday we see rain move into Ireland and the north west of Scotland and as that moisture butts up against the cold it will readily turn to snow even down to low levels. By the start of the morning rush hour that band of weak moisture has cleared Ireland and is pushing slowly south into The Borders and northern England so by lunchtime it’s into North and Mid-Wales. Here it’ll be falling as rain, sleet or snow. Elsewhere it’ll be a duller day over the bulk of England but still with a sharp frost to start the day. That cloud cover will steadily build through the day and eventually as we approach the afternoon that mix of rain and wintry showers will be down to The Midlands to finish off the day cold and damp. By Tuesday night we see a heavier, more concerted band of rain pushing into Ireland and north western Scotland, again turning to sleet and snow over the latter. Temperature-wise, mid to high single figures are likely with that cloud cover and the wind will be light to moderate and from the west for a short time.

By early morning Wednesday that band of overnight rain is pushing into northern England and Wales and will be wintry in nature over higher ground. Scotland will miss the worst of this and so by the morning rush hour the main area affected will be England and Wales with Ireland starting dry and bright after overnight rain. Through Wednesday morning a strengthening north west wind will push that mix of rain and wintry showers south east across England and should clear most places by the afternoon with only the south east hanging onto the rain till darkness falls. Temperature-wise, similar to Tuesday with the stronger and cooler wind pegging temperatures back.

Thursday is change day for Ireland as the wind swings round to the south west and brings milder air through the day after a cool, bright start. Further west for Scotland and England it’ll be a cold and dry start to the day with cloud cover holding temperatures above freezing. Any cloud will soon dissipate to give long periods of sunshine for the U.K, but it’ll remain on the cold side here because the wind has yet to change from its north westerly orientation. Ireland looks to have a dull Thursday with constant cloud cover and showers throughout the day. Temperature-wise we should see double figures for Ireland even with the cloud cover pushed in on light south westerly winds, whereas the U.K will be down in the familiar single figure territory I’m afraid.

Closing out the week for Friday we see that south westerly wind make it across the Irish Sea and so a milder start to the day everywhere. It won’t be a dry start though because the rain that affected Ireland on Thursday will push into western Scotland overnight I’m afraid. This band of rain and cloud cover will stretch across Ireland and into South Wales and diagonally up into the north east of England so anywhere above that will be dull with some light rain through the day. South and east of this line it’ll be dry and bright and feel much milder in light south westerly winds. That line will hold through Friday so a country of two halves on Friday. In that sunshine for the south and east of England temperatures will rise to double figures in a light to moderate south westerly wind. Lovely.

Looking ahead to the weekend and that diagonal split from Ireland up to Scotland stays in place for the first part of Saturday so dull and damp across Ireland, northern England and Scotland. South of this line it’ll be a bright start with light winds and warm sunshine breaking through from the off and I can’t wait to consign my bloody fishing thermals to the bottom drawer never to return. (Wishful thinking maybe) Through the day that moisture dissipates across Ireland and the north of the U.K and the cloud cover may break in places later into the afternoon. Sunday sees the centre of the high pressure right over us so for the west and north that will pull in warm, light westerly winds, but for the south, it’ll be slightly cooler, north easterlies. Regardless the outlook is dry and mild with some hazy sunshine for most places. A very long walk beckons.

Weather Outlook

So the end of the week and weekend suggests spring may have started, but will it continue into next week…??

Well as you can see from the image below this is the projection for the start of next week…


So we have a blocking high in place (As predicted a week ago 🙂 ) and that means dry and settled next week with very little in the way of any moisture. Temperature-wise it won’t be super warm but I’d expect double figures through the week, but possibly declining towards the end of the week as the high gets squeezed and introduces cooler winds. The wind will be markedly different depending on where you’re located with easterly winds in the south of the U.K, southerly winds for the west and westerly winds for the north. (There may even be a touch of northerly winds for the east just to complete the set :)) So a fine dry week in prospect for next week.

If I look further than that I think the high pressure will get squeezed out of the way for the start of the last week of March and we’ll be back to cooler and unsettled weather with a northerly air stream. (So maybe we’re not finished with winter yet)

Agronomic Notes

So we have a little taste of spring on the horizon and that means we should be able to get some good work underway and hopefully some recovery from work already undertaken. It’s worth stating at this point that March 2016 hasn’t been a good growth month and even with the pick up in temperature’s it won’t be tearing the houses down from this perspective.

Consider 2016 vs. 2015 in terms of GDD and here I’ve projected the figures for next week onto the graph so you can see what I’m on about..


You can see from the graph above that for in the first three weeks of March 2015 we added on 20 or so GDD, so in other words we had nice consistent growth. If you compare the actual and projected figures for March 2016, we will probably have added on 8 over the same time period, which means only 40% of the growth of last year.

So although we are ahead of 2015 in terms of GDD-to date, the fact is that most of this growth was gained in January and February, not March.

Again this hammers home why early aeration is key to getting good spring surfaces, but of course it can only be carried out if you have the resources, the ground conditions and are not tied up trying to complete winter projects. I think the penny is beginning to drop in this sense and I see more and more surfaces that have been aerated already.

Tine size and sand fill

Last week I looked at some greens that had been hollow cored, some with 8mm tines, some with 10mm and it was interesting to see the surfaces and the level of sand fill after topdressing.

This brings me onto that perennial debate about tine size vs. surface / golfer disruption vs. organic matter removal vs. recovery.


Consider the excellent ISTRC displacement chart above in terms of surface area treated by the respective tine sizes and rather than just look at the %, I think the notes at the bottom are probably the most pertinent. (Download here)

Note 2 states 3/8″ minimum for ease of topdressing fill if replacement of material is required.

This is what I saw last week in that the greens which had been hollow cored with microtines had very little sand down in the core holes because they close up so quickly after tining that it’s difficult even with a Sweep and Fill or similar to get sand down the profile. (particularly if there’s moisture about)

So you are left with a small tine hole with no sand down the profile and this means for me the surface is softer (because there is movement in the tine hole) and more disrupted. You also remove less fibre as a % of surface area treated even at the closest spacings.

I think we can all agree that if you manage to get sand packed down a core hole you are ticking a lot of boxes at the same time. Firstly, you are creating a free-draining channel through the surface fibre which will facilitate faster water movement. Secondly, the surface will feel firmer so you have less disruption to the golfer and lastly packed core holes will recover quicker than ones that are left open.

So for me if it’s possible I’d opt for a tine size which you can fill efficiently with the sand and equipment you are using and that means I think 10mm minimum. Now we know that recovery is slower, the larger tine size you choose but I think that once you go beyond 12mm there is a marked step in terms of time taken to heal over, up to that you’re grand. This is common sense of course because you are effectively waiting for the plant to tiller over a significant lateral distance.

Longer Growing Season = More Organic Matter Generated



Of course it’ll come down to your situation, budget resources, club expectations and the like but what we must all be aware of is that we have definitely carried over more organic matter from 2015 into 2016. With a longer growing season stretching into November and December there is no way we can’t have done. I’ve put these up before but looking at the monthly G.P for 2014 and 2015, you can clearly see the year-on-year difference.

Even if your rootzone has good infiltration properties, it won’t be worth a jot if it is covered over with surface fibre.

The week ahead…

Over the next 10 days for some areas moisture will be limiting, I know it seems ridiculous to write in terms of recovery but when I say limiting, I don’t mean in terms of grass growth, I mean in terms of fertiliser breakdown / response. For the south of the U.K we are only one moisture event in mid-week in order to get any granular fertiliser broken down, so let’s hope you already have laid out your stall in this respect. For Ireland, the north of England and Scotland there is more in the way of moisture around so actually you’ll have more consistent growing conditions and a wider application window.

Foliar’s will work nicely too…

Unusually for the U.K and Ireland, we do have some choice though because with light winds, warm air and dry conditions forecast for many at the close of the week you will also get a good response from a foliar treatment applied in a low water volume (400 litres or lower). So let’s use this opportunity to get the turf moving and presentation levels up even though we know that the growth window will only be 6 days or so, starting from Friday / Saturday.

As usual with either application type, cold-temperature nitrogen will be the order of the day. so that means primarily ammonium and nitrate nitrogen forms.

Winter Sports to Cricket Outfield Conversions

I know a number of you are just about or already embarking on this tricky transition when you have to ‘convert’ from winter season pitch to cricket outfield in time for the first matches to be played. This combination of drying soil and warmer temperatures should help in this process and provide consistent growing conditions at your height of cut. I know in many areas just getting out and being able to get good clean and dry cuts in will work marvelously whether its cricket outfield or semi-rough that is the area tackled.

OK that’s it for this week, Tempus Fugit ! and all that….:)

All the best

Mark Hunt