Hi All,

SnowdropsWhat a difference a week makes eh ? A week last Saturday it was barely above freezing, sleeting and right grim. This weekend we had double figure temperatures, ok not much sunshine but it was lovely to walk in the countryside and see areas beginning to dry up. Even my worst-feared, claggy fields were negotiable without taking most of the field with me on my boots 🙂

Lovely to see the Snowdrops as well poking through in beautiful displays with Aconites abundant as well. Ok you know it’s unlikely to last and sure enough temperatures will drop from Wednesday as the wind swings round but such a respite is food for the soul and mind I reckon. I even heard lawnmowers on the wind yesterday morning as their winter shed hibernation was rudely interupted….I reckon we have another week of this milder weather (up and down during mind) and then we will loose that westerly airflow and then it might get chilly…

General Weather Situation

Today is going to be a balmy, barmy February day and likely the warmest on record in places though I remember February 1976 was similarly warm, is this a portent as that was one of our driest years ever….?

Ok so Monday looks like being very, very mild indeed with temperatures hitting 16-17°C in places, unbelievable. It won’t be dry everywhere though with some persistent rain across the west of Scotland, the north west of Ireland and across the eastern counties as we kick off the week. Through the morning this rain will slink southwards into north west England whilst still affecting the west of Scotland and north west of Ireland. By lunchtime you could be picking up some showers in The Pennines but that’s as far south it is forecast to go. South of this rain we can expect a brighter start to the day with sunshine and hazy cloud cover and this will allow temperatures to build. That said here we were > 11°C overnight so they’re starting from a high base temperature. Through Monday afternoon that rain will slink down the western Irish coastline into south west / west Munster and do the same in the U.K, dropping down into Wales. Mild everywhere, 11-12°C under that rain and cloud across Ireland / Scotland, but in the hazy sunshine I expect the south of England to hit 17°C in a warm westerly wind. Stick you hand out of the car window and feel the warmth in the air because it won’t last….

Onto Tuesday and we still have some rain affecting West Munster and The Midlands of England as it slipped south overnight. Elsewhere we look clear of rain especially along the east coast of the U.K, but through the morning we will see showers slip into western Scotland, Ireland and by the afternoon these will move south and east affecting inland locations. The east looks to stay dry. Through the afternoon that rain intensifies over Ireland and Scotland reaching Leinster in the former and some of those showers will cross into South Wales, The Mildands and eastern counties as the day draws to a close.  With more cloud cover and less sun, temperatures will slip back into the early teens for most, not to be sniffed at though.  Winds will be moderate to strong and westerly in nature.

Mid-week beckons already and Wednesday sees the wind take on a north western slant later in the day so that’ll knock some degrees off the temperature and make you reach for another layer me thinks, still nice though for the end of February. Overnight we see a heavy band of rain and wintry showers (over Scotland) push into Ireland and Scotland and by dawn this is down into Wales, the north of England and north Midlands though remaining more on the westerly side of the country. Through the morning this band of rain clears Ireland by and large and fizzles out across most of the U.K, except north west Scotland, leaving behind it cooler, fresher weather as the wind swings round to the north west. So temperatures just breaking double figures and showing quite a slide from the heady heights of the beginning of the week, though for the south of England I think you’ll hang onto that temperature for longer so maybe 11-12°C here.  Winds will be moderate to strong and north westerly. As we go into Wednesday night a new band of rain pushes into the west of Ireland and quickly crosses the country through what remains of the day.

Thursday sees that overnight Irish rain now resident over most of the U.K and Ireland and likely to fall as snow over Scotland and The Lakes. It’s likely to be heaviest across the north west of England, North Wales and across The Borders I think at this stage. A much colder day and this will see plenty of wintry showers across Scotland and the north of England whereas further south it’ll fall as rain. By lunchtime Thursday, the rain should clear the south of Ireland and England as well but it’ll remain rooted to the north of England and Scotland though you’ll start to see some breaks in the cloud by lunchtime. Through the afternoon that mix of rain, sleet and snow continues to affect the north west of Ireland, North Wales, north west England and Scotland with some of those showers increasingly finding their way across to the north east of England and Scotland as we progress through Thursday. A much cooler day and part of the reason for that is a bitingly strong to gale force, west / north west wind which will create significant windchill. In that wind expect mid-single figures only, maybe creeping up to 7-9°C in places out of the wind and in the sun. Quite a change from the beginning of the week.

Closing out the week, Friday sees most of that yucky weather cleared away into The North Sea but there’s still a risk of some wintry showers across North Wales, north east Scotland and north west England. A much brighter day on Friday with some prolonged spells of sunshine and hazy cloud cover. Through the morning we will see that cloud cover build over the west of Ireland and that’ll herald the arrival of rain into west Munster and Connacht by lunchtime if not a tad before. Dry everywhere else though and that’s the way it stays on Friday with the rain confined to Ireland until the evening when it makes landfall in West Scotland falling as sleet and snow over higher ground as it does so. A little milder on Friday in the west but feeling cooler in the south as that cold air pushes down. The wind though will be lighter than Thursday and through the course of Friday evening is projected to swing round to the west and then the south west heralding a milder start to the week.

So how is the weekend looking at this stage of the week, back to thermals or will those shorts make a re-appearance ?

Well Saturday looks to be a much milder day than Friday with that change in wind direction to south westerly / westerly pushing up temperatures. Of course a south west wind is rarely a dry one and so we can expect rain over Scotland and Ireland overnight, some of it heavy in nature across the west. This rain will push south for the start of Saturday and some areas will receive quite a dollop, in particular I think north west England and North Wales. The rain will also fall as wintry showers across Scotland overnight on Friday. This rain will push south through Saturday with possibly eastern coasts missing the worst but expect some moisture on Saturday along with some sunshine. As intimated a milder day for many though Scotland with those wintry showers will continue the pattern of the week and sit 3-5°C cooler than the south of the U.K. So high single figures for Scotland but low teens possibly for England. Somewhere in-between for Ireland, maybe just creeping up to 11-12°C under that rain. Very windy on Saturday I think with strong to gale force winds in place of for much of the day rattling that rain over. Sunday continues the mild and windy theme with a drier day on the cards for most places with the main rain likely to feature over Connacht and Donegal before pushing eastwards into south west Scotland and across through the day. Sunshine and blustery showers elsewhere I think with a mild, but strong, south westerly airflow. Again temperatures remaining well up there in double figures so you can’t complain.

Weather Outlook

So how are we looking for the next week, continuing mild or in for a change as we move into March ?

Well next week sees a deep low pressure system continuing to affect our weather so initially mild, wet and windy I think on Monday with most of the rain north and west as per usual intially but pushing inland as well down south. Through Tuesday there’s a risk of another low pressure system pushing into the south of England so potentially wetter further south on Tuesday and into Wednesday. Wednesday will be the change day though because the wind will swing round from westerly to northerly and that’ll really drop the temperatures for the first day of March. The second part of the week looks drier but colder with high pressure trying to push in so possily a return to night frosts. I don’t think they’ll last for long though as there’s a whopping low pressure system projected to build after that but that’s a long way off so we’ll see what actually occurs 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Weather Window

As discussed and predicted last week we have an extended weather window at a time of year when we often have nothing so I was delighted to see some of you last week taking the chance to aerate and  / or topdress, cracking, and proof indeed that turf management and the calendar are a thing of the past. So in some areas, but not all, we see this weather window pushing through into this week…Let’s see how it looks across the regions….

The South of England and Ireland…


So for the south of the U.K we can see that we have substantial growth this week with a 25 GDD projected for the 7-day period. To give you an idea that’s usually what we get for the entire month of February if it’s mild and 10x what we get in a cold February, so it is unusual.

You can clearly see the effect of the change in wind direction on Thursday and Friday, with temperatures picking up again at the weekend. For the south of England you are predominatly dry (well drier than the west of Ireland particuarly) and so there’s no excuse not to get out there and get some of those spring jobs done early (unless of course you’re snowed under with winter projects that is !)

For me brushing, solid tining, vertidraining and a light topdress will all work wonders this week in making the turf fit for purpose and if you get the chance either a foliar early on in the week before the wind gets up or a granular feed at light rate timed before the rain should give an excellent turf response, especially since we should hold onto the milder air till mid-week, next week.

Ireland is in for a wet week, especially across the west so trying to get in this physical work will be difficult I accept. Fertiliser-wise, it’s granular here that is the only choice if your surfaces need a kick….

It’s all in the N-Source..

An immediately-available N source is key to a good response at this time of year and so ideally we want ammonium sulphate and / or potassium nitrate in the formulation. I often mention these two forms of nitrogen and the reason I do concerns their availability to the grass plant at times like these.

Ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate need no conversion in the soil before they are plant-available and that is key to gaining a quick plant response. Ammonium sulphate – 21% N breaks down in soil moisture (if applied as a granular) to yield positively-charged ammonium ions and negatively charged sulphate ions, whilst potassium nitrate – 13% N breaks down into negatively-charged nitrate ions and positively-charged potassium ions.

Both ammonium and nitrate-N are able to be taken up into the plant without requiring an intermediatary step in the soil and that’s why you see a very fast response.

High N but it’s slow….

Contrast this with urea – 46% N, one of the highest N forms of fertiliser.

Urea requires conversion into the soil by microbial activity and the presence of an enzyme, urease, and this in turn requires temperature, moisture and the correct soil pH to be present. in late winter it is not untypical to have low amounts of urease in the soil and with microbial activity itself being slow we see a delayed plant response to this form of N in the spring if it is soil-applied.

The exception to this is a foliar-appled urea which if air temperatures are warm enough will yield a better response in the spring than a granular one when the soil is still cold.

All applied nitrogen fertiliser will yield ammonium and nitrate ions either as part of a quick process or more slowly, depending on the N form applied and its working mechanism. Anyone who tells you anything different is living in la la land…..

So the take home message is to understand the N forms in the fertiliser you’re using so you can take advantage of the conditions Mother Nature serves up to you…..

The Midlands and Scotland…


If we start with Scotland first, two features are apparent ; the much lower GDD figure (only 40% of the south of England) and the the much higher rainfall level predicted. There will be some growth though this week but in a way it’s kind of good that the level is lower because getting around the site to cut will become increasingly difficult.

The Midlands is also in for a wetter week with Saturday looking the potentially wettest (bugger, bugger, bugger) and they’ll be plenty of growth so it’s a case of taking the chance to do the work before the ground conditions conspire against you (Thursday and Saturday being the potentially wettest). Mosskilling with a high iron granular will work very well this week as the moss will wet up and take the iron in more effectively.

Silver Thread Moss (STM) is another matter though because of its cereal-dish shape underground. Last week I was out taking soil samples and noted some STM on a green. I cut out a section and you can clearly see why it is so difficult to kill because most of it is underground…(the knife marks the bottom edge of the moss)


On this particular l course the moss was apparent on the back of the green where foot traffic and the pin seldom ventured and it’s a fact that moss doesn’t like wear and tear, so if it’s practically-feasible (and I accept it’s often not in an area that’s pinable, is that a word I wonder ?) put it under some pressure by placing the pin close to it. The combination of this and upping winter nutrition to make the grass plant stronger will often tip the balance away from moss towards good grass growth

Ok that’s it for this week, short and sweet…enjoy today’s milder temperature, close your eyes and pretend it’s May because that’s the time of year we normally get to this sort of temperature figure !

All the best.

Mark Hunt