As I sit here in the beautiful Cevenne area of France watching Swallow Tail and White Admirals float around the hotel garden and the odd Griffin Vulture soar effortlessly above me I wonder how come they have such diversity of nature here and we do not. Obviously they have a lot fewer people and this area of France is characterised by Le Causse, consisting of limestone canyons and ancient grassland with little intensive agriculture so nature has a much better chance to survive and prosper. Their climate is also conducive with hot summers and the odd frequent thunderstorm to keep things ticking and looking green.
Looking green wasn’t in my mind as I gazed down on the parched landscape of Cambridgeshire from the Ryanair flight. Accepted that it is harvest time but all the same most of any grassland looks toasted.
Of course some of us got a good dollop of rain on Friday and early Saturday as a band of showers moved diagonally down across the U.K.
It was though sadly a case of the ‘haves and the have-nots ‘ because whereas just down the road picked up 30mm of rain, we had a passing shower that didn’t even register on the weather station other than to pick the humidity up for a short time. So so bloody frustrating.
Now most of this rain will run straight off drought-affected areas because the surface is pretty hydrophobic now and it’ll take weeks of steady rainfall to wet up the profile again, but it sure was welcome for the areas that got it. For the areas that didn’t, it’s business as usual I am afraid with the calendar flipping towards the 9 week mark without meaningful rainfall. taking us into uncharted territory for some.
General Weather Situation
So as this is a mini-blog and the time for me to start walking in the mountains approaches I’ll summarise the week we have in store.
The low pressure which we really needed to sink south to end our sustained hot spell will stay off the north-west coast of Scotland and that’ll mean we don’t get the breakdown to cooler and unsettled conditions further south I am afraid. The demarcation line with cooler weather to the north will lie from North Wales across to The Humber and hot, dry conditions further south.
Monday sees a weak rain front already crossing the north-west of Ireland, The Isle of Man and pushing up into south-west Scotland and the Northern Lakes. There’s a chance of some light rain prevailing into west and north Wales overnight but I can’t see it making progress inland so warm and dry weather is set to continue down south. The slight saving grace this week will be more in the way of cloud cover further south so less direct sun hours and a bit more shade, nevertheless it’ll be small compensation with temperatures touching 30°C or higher in the south of England and nights remaining hot. (Oh to be a fan salesman at the moment :))
The cooler and fresher weather this week will I am afraid stay further north and west as Scotland and Ireland sees high teens and maybe just touching the low twenties on occasion. For these areas expect to see rain pushing through on Wednesday night / Thursday for Ireland and Thursday night / Friday for Scotland.
There is a chance that we will see rain push into the south coast on Thursday night and this may extend northwards into The Midlands and north of England through the course of Friday in the shape of thunderstorms and snap showers but let’s wait and see if it comes to pass. So hot and dry for this week across The South West, Wales and England with heat building through the week and then a potential breakdown to cooler weather on Friday and the weekend with temperatures dropping to the low twenties.
If you look at the image above which is a projection for the 2nd of August (and so carries with it a good deal of uncertainty) you can see we are set in a similar pattern to this week in that the west and north will enjoy cooler and more unsettled conditions but the south and south-east remains dry. So I think we will see a similar pattern to the last week, heat building and then a breakdown with some thunderstorms further south and then cooler and fresher weather for a time before heat builds again. Hard work if you miss that rain 🙁
Continuing E.T Stress
Above is the graph up until yesterday from The Oxfordshire at Thame. You may just make out they got a sneaky 6.8mm of rain on Friday night (you kept that quiet Sean :)) but nevertheless the E.T loss is just below 200mm since the start of the dry spell, that’s 8″ in old money and one heck of a lot of water to replace.
A lot of facilities are starting to look nervously at their water reserves and make decisions on frequency and amount of irrigation available for turfed areas with tees dropping down to every other day and many courses that have fairway irrigation now opting not to use it in order to prioritise greens.
Watch your Growth Potential for signs of increased plant stress
Now you are probably sitting there thinking I don’t need to look at a chart Mark because my turf is already telling me it’s stressed but your projected G.P forecast provides some clues about how much stress the plant is under.
Looking at the Meteoturf forecast for this week we can see a suppression effect on the Growth Potential from Monday to Thursday inclusive before the arrival of cooler weather drops the stress and increases the growth. So this means for this location, Market Harborough by the way, we can expect high levels of stress this week before some respite at the weekend.
During these periods of high temperatures and elevated stress, less is definitely more. This applies to many things including irrigation (it’s quite possible to over-water as well as under-water during hot dry spells) and any turf maintenance must be thought about carefully. Switching to solid rollers on greens mowers to reduce turf stress (if budgets allow) is a very practical way of helping the grass plant out.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel either as our American cousins have managed high temperature turfgrass stress for years and we can learn from them. To this end The USGA Green Section Record is a vital and so so useful source of information, you can subscribe free here
I picked up a couple of gems in the latest USGA record this week , one pertaining to just this subject area from the north-east of the USA where heat has arrived after a wet and cold start to the spring (sound familiar by any chance ?) and the other talking about using boomless sprayers on hard to reach areas like bunker banks.
Timely PGR applications are now showing their worth on outfield areas
Now PGR applications on outfield areas aren’t understandably on most peoples radar with the current conditions because the weather across central and southern areas is working as one big PGR and turf is stressed. I mention it though because it does strike me how well some turf areas are holding up that had a high rate of PGR at the end of May. Lucky timing maybe but if trends continue in terms of a warmer climate (and every sign is that they will) then this is something that we may look to build into programs going forward.
Anthracnose Foliar Blight
For areas that did receive rain and therefore humidity at the end of last week I expect to see an increase in the prevalence of this turf pathogen. Dollar Spot as well will make an appearance as both diseases are stress-related. Already I have had a number of Anthracnose Foliar Blight reports from around the country so it is definitely a cause for concern…..
Ok that’s it for this week, a quick Café au Lait and it is on with the walking boots 🙂
All the best for those of you still enduring the heat and lack of water, fingers crossed for another end of week breakdown.