March 29th

Hi All,

Well a brief taste of summertime is coming our way this week before the south, north and east plummets back into a brief taste of winter with some cold nights and a keen north easterly wind. Out and about in the countryside it is clear the summer migrants have started to arrive. Walking Rutland Water’s peninsular at the weekend, the woods were alive with Chiffchaffs, a migrant Warbler that has made it up from Africa to enjoy our soon to be leafy glades. I haven’t seen them yet but I have heard reports that Sand Martins have arrived on some of our reservoirs and they’ll soon be followed by Swallow, House Martin and the last to arrive, first to leave, Swifts.

It’ll certainly seem like summer for the first part of this week as warm, southerly winds push up, but as we know, spring is a fickle beast and for the second half of the week we will be noticeably cooler. The west though may hang onto some better temperatures. Onto the weather because tempus fugit for me this week as I’m on a short one because trout fishing opens today and I need to get out onto the water again and cast a fly.

‘Welcome back’ to golf in Wales and England, a return to pitch marks, complaints about bumpy greens and why isn’t the course immaculate when you’ve had no one on it all winter ?

I think the words we are looking for here are furloughed staff…

Let’s hope Ireland follows on April 5th I think ?

General Weather Situation

So as you can see from the image above, we have a warm, high pressure system pushing up from The Mediterranean along with a strong south westerly airflow and that’s why we will see consistently rising temperatures through the day. Now Monday doesn’t present a bright picture everywhere because we have a rain front extending across Northern Ireland into the west and north west of Scotland bringing heavy rain for the latter. Through the morning we will see some of this rain drift south into northern Connacht and across The Irish Sea, into The Borders and north west England. This rain will stay in place across the west of Scotland through most of the day but then gradually drift away and ease as we approach late afternoon. Further south we will see some spells of sunshine, particularly later in the day so a warm, windy end to Monday for most with temperatures pushing up into the high teens across England, Wales and Ireland. Scotland under that rain will still be into the teens despite the thicker cloud cover. Breezy today with a strong to moderate south westerly wind.

Onto Tuesday and for many the warmest day of the week as that warm air pushes up across most of the U.K and Ireland. So Tuesday looks to be a cracking day with lots of sunshine across England, Wales and Ireland with temperatures pushing up into the high teens and maybe the twenties ! Scotland will still have that rain across the north west and central areas I’m afraid on and off during the day but it’ll move more northerly through the course of Tuesday. So southern and eastern Scotland look to be dry with temperatures in the mid-teens. Not a lot else to say about Tuesday other than enjoy. Winds will be light to moderate and from the SSW.

Wednesday sees a rain front push into north west Ireland and extend across The Irish Sea into Scotland from the off. This rain will drop south into North Kerry and southern Scotland through the day with wintry showers likely over elevation. It’ll continue to move south across Ireland reaching northern Leinster by midday and The Midlands of Ireland. Further south it’ll be another lovely day with sunny intervals and warm temperatures but with more cloud cover than Tuesday. Winds will be light and southerly but through the second part of the day they begin to turn more northerly, a portent of things to come. So a much cooler day for Ireland and Scotland on Wednesday with temperatures struggling into double figures under that thicker cloud and rain. Warm still across England and Wales but the last day of this type of weather for the former in particular.

Thursday sees that temperature transition take place overnight with the wind now firmly set in the north east and much cooler and stronger to boot. So cooler just about everywhere but Wales will hang onto some better temperatures being furthest from the east coast and those cool sea winds. So we know what the craic is when we have north east winds, more cloud comes in off The North Sea and it’s colder. A big change though for England with a 10°C temperature drop from Wednesday to Thursday. Dag nabbit….guess which day I’m fishing 🙁 There will be some sunshine around away from eastern coasts so it won’t be a total loss of a day. Warmer on western coasts, be that Wales, western Ireland or England for that matter ! Cold overnight with low single figure temperatures.

Closing out the week on Friday and more of the same really with cloud pushing in from the east coast for England. Brighter and a little milder across the west and through the day we will see that cloud cover retreat to the coast leaving a sunnier second half of the day. Still with that cool north east / easterly wind in situ so don’t expect much change out of high single, low double figures for most areas. The exception will be Wales where they’ll continue to hang onto better temperatures, just like on Thursday with low teens here. Scotland and Ireland will join England on 8-10°C. Remaining cold overnight.

So what’s the outlook for the Easter weekend, a tropical heatwave and another mass exodus to the south coast or thermals and buffs ?

Well, it’ll be the latter I think with a continuation of that cool wind direction on Saturday with strong to moderate north easterly winds so really a carbon copy of Friday. Lots of cloud across eastern coasts but brighter over Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the west of England. I suppose one big positive of this week despite the cooler 2nd half is that it’ll be dry for just about everyone so at least that will help in those areas affected by heavy rain for the first half of the week. A little milder on Saturday with temperatures up into the low double figures for most areas with that bright sunshine pushing most areas into the low teens. Come Sunday we see the wind shift round to a milder north westerly direction and that’ll introduce some showers into the north west of Scotland and Ireland through the course of Sunday morning with some of these showers dropping south later in the day. Away from this northerly rain we will see another day of sunny intervals and some cloud cover with a slightly milder moderate to strong north westerly wind now picking up the temperatures into the low teens. So not bad, nothing too onerous, good fishing weather so that’ll do me 🙂

Easter Monday will see a significant change in the weather as a Scandinavian low pressure system swings the wind more northerly and that’ll push the unsettled weather down the east coast of England with rain showers and longer spells of rain. We will also see some rain showers pushing down both sides of The Irish Sea into the east of Ireland and west of Wales. That wind will be northerly and strong with it so I think it’ll feel pretty raw with some of those showers being wintry in places over elevation. It wouldn’t surprise me if we are only 8-10°C for Easter Monday as that colder, northerly air pushes down.

Weather Outlook

So starting next week you can see that warm Atlantic high pressure is out to the west and cooler air is across the continent. As usual when we have two pressure systems pushing up against one another, the wind gets funnelled between the two and so it’ll be windy, with that wind in the north, so cool. The winds will drop mid-week so I think that’ll mean a risk of repeated frost before we see milder air push in for the latter part of next week and a return to some warmth. Rain-wise I think we will see a continuation of those easterly / westerly showers for the first half of the week before it dries out in the second half. By the time we hit the weekend after next there’s a suggestion (yes I know it’s a long way off) of a much colder air mass pushing down introducing rain and wintry showers for the latter part of the weekend / early part of the week after. So nothing ground-breaking, it is the spring in the U.K & Ireland and so we know that can mean anything from heatwaves to snow showers and anything in-between 🙂

Agronomic Notes

So how are we doing this year ?

Soil moisture

Well with all of the U.K open golf-wise and the hope that Ireland will follow suit shortly (though a golf course is a lovely place without golfers 🙂 ) , there’s bound to be the inevitable dialogue concerning course conditions. In the north and west, we know rainfall amounts have been really high for this year and we have only just started drying out with March the first month (in some not all locations) where the E.T has finally got up high enough to dry things out.

Below are the stats to date from our Great Dunmow, Essex location and you can see how in March, E.T exceeded rainfall…

Now admittedly this is in Essex which as we know tends to be a drier area of the country, whereas for Wales, west of Ireland and Scotland, I expect the reverse.  In fact looking at some data from a Davis weather station in west Dublin, the total E.T for the year since Jan 1st is only 44.25mm, which is about the same as the Essex location received in March !

Even though it’s been drier in this location, the E.T has only risen recently so the ground is till saturated with the soil moisture readings still showing > 48% VMC at 25mm depth on a loam / clay soil type.

So we are wet but crucially drying out and aside from west and Central Scotland which is due to pick up some heavy rain in the first part of this week, we have a relatively dry outlook for the foreseeable. With the rising temperatures in the first part of the week comes rising E.T with 13-15mm of projected E.T loss over the next 7 days.

Growth

If you look at the growth this year it’s been pretty slow with only a couple of periods of decent growth and another one obviously for the first part of this week with those warmer temperatures.

You can see this quite clearly when you look at the Meteoturf output for various locations across the U.K and Ireland. The pattern is very similar with a good first 3 days and then a sharp drop off with the South Wales location hanging onto the growth for a little longer this week.

You can see how Scotland really struggles this week with only half the GDD / G.P of the southern and western locations. We must remember though that only the other week Scotland was sitting at 20°C, when we were only half of that, so it’s not all been doom and gloom up north 🙂 When you look at the GDD stats, 32 for the next 7 days in the warmest of locations is good going especially when that growth comes mainly in 3-4 days. This represents about 1/3 of all the growth we have had since the start of January 2021. So if your customers are expecting everything fine and dandy and I know you’ll have worked your nadds off to deliver this, we (they) must remember spring 2021 is a late one and this trend will continue through to the start of April I think….

You can quite clearly see how the growth pattern has panned out since Jan 1st, 2021 in this chart from our GDD spreadsheet at the Great Dunmow location ;

That red line denotes good spring growth so I make that 6 good growth days this year including this week !

Since we are heading towards April, it won’t be long till thoughts turn inevitably towards Poa annua seedheads. Now I know there are seedheads all year round, that’s a given because the annual biotype of Poa will seed 12 months of the year. It isn’t this early seeding biotype that will give you problems though. Typically we see annual biotype Poa annua start to seed around 130GDD (cumulative GDD from Jan 1st based on a 6°C base temperature) and the perennial biotype from 180GDD cumulative. Now some perennial biotypes produce less seedheads, it’s just a lottery really.

So where are we likely to be after Easter ?

Well this weeks warm weather will take us through the 100GDD cumulative barrier in our Central England location shown above so I’d expect to see Poa annua seedheads begin to increase on higher-height-of-cut turf like tees, aprons and collars. If you want a good biological indicator,when you start to see Danish Sea Scurvy on the road sides, then annual Poa annua is starting to seed. Its a white flowering plant that lines our roadways and is particularly prevalent where salt has been applied because it is a halophyte (tolerant of salty soil conditions). When you see this flowering, annual Poa won’t be far behind. It actually takes quite awhile after this before we reach the 180GDD cumulative that I associate with the main seedhead flush. Typically this occurs in the first week of May and however cold or warm we are during January and February, we always seem to end up pretty close to this date for the main seedhead flush.

If the long range (14 day) forecast holds true nothing is going to happen too quickly this year because GFS is pointing towards a cold first half of April so my advice would be to just take things gently, don’t go overboard with cultural or any other work (I know most this was done anyway during lockdown) until we see a good growth signal on the GDD / G.P radar. Little and often nutrient inputs will be the order of the day unless you think hosing on 40% of your total N in one application is a bright idea 🙂

Disease activity

Normally when we get a growth flush like this, disease isn’t far behind as over-wintered Microdochium spores rapidly develop into fungal mycelium. I think this may be more of an issue across the west where the air is more humid and for Scotland, There are some reasonably heavy dews forecast for the first part of the week so this might kick it on a bit but with the grass plant growing quickly as well, we shouldn’t see too much in the way of scarring. Fingers crossed.

All that remains is for me to wish you all the best for Easter, stay safe and healthy.

Mark Hunt