Hi All,

Well that certainly was the week that was….

Summer temperatures, huge growth flushes and venues going from closed due to water logging to hand watering dry areas within a week of each other. Plus someone managed to cock-up the publishing of this blog for which I apologise, thanks to Paul for sorting it out. Last week when I was out walking in Leicestershire and Rutland, some parts were up to your ankles in mud and the same areas yesterday were dusty, dry and cracked…that’s some transition (but a welcome one nonetheless:)).

Couldn’t believe how quickly things dried up and how much growth the countryside put on in just a week, wow, the power of nature, you could definitely hear things growing as someone commented !

Nevertheless, I did say last week (and the week before) that we weren’t out of the woods yet from a jet stream perspective and as you’ll see as we go through this blog, normality (for this spring) beckons….I’ll give you a taste below when you see Meteoturf’s GDD/ G.P projection for this week and last week, that’ll give a clue…

As you can see, quite a drop-off in temperature on the way, not to mention potentially some heavy rainfall…So we are going from a warm air peak to a cooler air trough over the space of the next week or so.

Firstly let’s put some detail on it..

Tuesday sees rain that crossed Ireland on Monday move into Scotland and the western coastline of the U.K overnight pushing across The South West, Wales and the southern half of the U.K during the early hours leading up to dawn. By the morning rush hour, the heaviest of the rain will be south-east and east of England orientated leaving behind thick cloud and some showers for the west. Ireland and Scotland look to start dry but by mid-morning they’ll be some rain into Connacht, east Leinster and the north-west of Scotland. South of this rain it looks like an improving picture as that southern rain moves off into The North Sea with breaks in the cloud and sunshine breaking through. For Ireland we will see some heavy showers push across country during the 2nd half of the day, though with plenty of sunshine in-between. Close to tea time we see more rain push into Wales, The South West of England and move eastwards on Tuesday evening to give a wet end to the day anywhere south of Newcastle. Scotland looks to have a half reasonable day with some rain lingering across the north-west but otherwise pretty dry. Temperature-wise, expect low teens for Ireland, Wales and England and a couple of degrees down on that for Scotland with a moderate to strong westerly wind.

Onto Wednesday and the rain that crossed England and Wales overnight will still be lingering across East Anglia by dawn. Thereafter we will have a typical April day, sunshine and showers with a cooler than of late, westerly wind pushing those showers along. By the afternoon those showers will be concentrated across Ireland and the western coastline of the U.K with sunnier intervals further east, but again expect them to move eastwards during the 2nd half of the day. Temperature-wise, similar to Tuesday with low teens for England, Wales and Ireland and just into double figures for Scotland.

Thursday follows a similar pattern after a dry start, although this time I think the showers that crop up during the late morning will be mainly focussed on the west coast of the U.K and Ireland, with longer spells of rain for Scotland. More in the way of sunshine I’d say on Thursday, except for western parts where you’ll see more of the showers and Scotland of course. As we approach Thursday evening I think we will see longer spells of sunshine across Ireland, England and Wales with rain lingering over Scotland. Similar temperatures for Thursday and again a strong to moderate westerly wind in situ for all of us.

Friday sees the arrival of cooler air and thicker cloud so a much duller day to finish off the week and a cooler one to boot, albeit with lighter winds. Initially I think that cloud will thin over the U.K and Ireland during the morning to leave long clear intervals with good sunshine, however as we move into the afternoon, we will see that cloud build again and rain move into The South West and across southern counties of England and Wales. A very similar picture for Ireland, early cloud thinning to give sunny intervals, only to be replaced by thicker cloud and rain showers for the 2nd half of the day, concentrated across the south and Midlands. Scotland sees rain from the off for the north-west and Highlands, with some of that rain, wintry at elevation. As we progress through the morning, that rain clears to longer spells of sunshine and a dry end to the day. Cooler on Friday with the cloud cover despite lighter southerly winds with temperatures just scraping into low double figures.

Onto the all important weekend and a change in wind direction to easterly, (yes remember them) with low pressure sitting just off Kent heralding a not-so-great weekend to come 🙁

Tricky to say where the rain will be concentrated on Saturday during the 2nd half of the day, but at this stage it looks like north-west coasts, The South West, Wales and southern half of England as well as across Ireland. Feeling much cooler with that easterly wind and cloud cover, another couple of degrees down on Friday I’d say unfortunately. Sunday sees that low pressure system spin another rotation across the south of England so more rain expected for the southern half of the U.K and Ireland I think though possibly feeling slightly milder as the wind swings southerly from easterly. Temperature-wise I’d say low double figures for the weekend, possibly pushing a bit higher on Sunday with that change in wind direction but a long way shy of where they were this weekend.

Weather Outlook

So are we returning from whence we came or should we keep that sun cream handy ?

Now things can and do change with this weather lark and believe me when I say it, I hope they may do else next week at this stage looks pretty crap to be honest. The low pressure that affected our weather over the weekend looks to stay close at hand for the early part of next week so a wet start I think, albeit we will have lost those easterly winds so mild in the rain 🙂

We look to continue that unsettled theme through all of next week, with another deep Atlantic, low pressure projected to take over mid-week, next week bringing south-west winds, mild temperatures and sunshine and showers (more of the latter than the former though) for all of us. A wet start to May beckons then….

Agronomic Notes

Growth Spike…

Well last week was pretty remarkable when you consider it growth-wise with as many GDD / G.P recorded in 7 days as we’d pretty much had in the entire year up to that point.

You can see from the Growth Potential Stats from the Northampton location, just how pronounced that growth spike was…

Five days on the bounce when the grass was growing at maximum rate, with more growth produced in those five days than we had for the entire months of February and March combined, quite amazing.

Now I know we have had these growth spikes before in prior years but of late they have been in the first and second weeks of May, rather than mid-April. It was though a very welcome period of not just warm but dry weather so we dried out as well. Hopefully most of you got some dry cuts into fast-growing grass to the point where you got on top of it and picked up nice definition to boot 🙂

Looking at our picture y.t.d, we are however still behind last year, some 20 days now though we have caught up some.

Here’s how the picture looks in terms of a comparison with prior SSW-event years, again using data from the Northampton location.

You can hopefully see from the graph above that we have now caught up with 2016, remain ahead of 2013, but lag behind 2017.

How we are improving our forecasting…

The last thing I’d like to say about this growth spike was that we saw it coming so you all knew about it a week before it appeared and hopefully were better prepared for the consequences.

It wouldn’t have been that long ago that not only wouldn’t we have been able to accurately forecast this but also to correlate its likely effect on grass growth and general agronomics.

I’d like to say cheers to Meteoblue for this one 🙂

In this way I think we are improving as an industry and if anyone asks me why recording GDD / G.P and rainfall is important, I’d point to the start to the year we have had in 2018 as a worked example. If they still can’t see its relevance, then it’s not for them fruity pie 🙁

Consequences of growth flush…

Now last week I talked about how the perennial biotype of Poa annua seeded on the 5th and 7th May in other SSW-event years as we hit a cumulative GDD total of 180 for the year. Well alot of locations will have hit (or will hit) a cumulative GDD of 180 this week, so I expect to start seeing more and more seedheads from perennial biotypes as we go through the week.

Now if you then take into account that we are due to hit the brakes in terms of growth rate (as opposed to growth)  later this week and return to a more normal April scenario, I think that means we will just see increasingly more and more seedheads as we close out April. Obviously we can’t do anything about them from a PGR perspective but if I was looking to put some cultural work in place, I would focus on this week because currently we have temperature and next week, being unsettled, means life may be trickier to get the work done. I’ll be taking some Poa plants apart later this week for a look-see and will duly report back.

The main seedhead flush will probably be reserved for the next growth spike after the cooler interlude we are heading to at the end of the week / next week.

Weeds a plenty…

Of course it’s not only grass that has hit the turbo button over the last week, you only have to look at the crops in the fields and see Winter Rape coming into flower, tram lines deepening as wheat and barley get a march on and hedgerows burst into blossom and leaf. Dandelions, Plantains and Daisies are all in full growth and therefore very receptive to the application of a selective herbicide. Given for some areas we have a spray window this week and a pretty low chance of the same next week, then ‘Tempus Fugit’ my friends 🙂

Disease but at least it grew out rapidly…

The early part of last week with its cloud cover and high humidity combined with milder night-time temperatures saw plenty of Microdochium activity around on greens surfaces. Fortunately the growth spike we saw soon afterwards has meant most of this has grown out as quickly as it appeared and with drier days and lowering humidity later in the week, conditions tipped away from activity. The combination of very warm soil temperatures and high E.T would normally have kicked in some new pathogens like Fairy Ring but as yet I’ve had no reports along this line.

It was also warm enough to germinate spores of Anthracnose last week but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will see the disease at a later date because we need prolonged periods of plant stress somewhere down the line for it to develop fully. Time will tell…

Lastly I’ve been getting lots of reports of grub activity last week, principally Leatherjackets. Noticeable I’m sure because affected areas weren’t responding growth-wise as temperatures rose. Nothing we can do here but tap our fingers and whistle Dixie and hope that our industry has an effective tool in the toolbox some time soon..

Ok that’s it for this week…

All the best….

Mark Hunt