Hi All,

Back after Easter and some much needed rainfall, particularly mid-week, last week when The Midlands got well and truly clattered (thank god), ironically on the day before a number of water authorities imposed a hosepipe ban that encompasses irrigating on golf courses. The highest figure I’ve got is 56mm recorded over 24hrs (thanks Adi), here I measured 43mm, but it was all very gratefully received.

I’d be interested to hear any feedback on the hosepipe ban imposition because there seems to be a degree of confusion over exemption criteria, other than national or international tournament venues. It seems slightly farcical to me that a golf clubhouse can still draw water off the mains, but that same water can’t be used to keep the greens alive, for without them, there’s no business.

Anyway looking ahead, the weather pattern is behaving as predicted and that blocking high is well out into the Atlantic, which is allowing cooler and wetter air down from the north.

General Weather Situation

This week will be a typical sunshine and showers week, with a cool feel to the wind and the return of night frosts to some areas, particularly later in the week and at the weekend as the resident low moves away.

Tuesday starts bright for most places, but cloud will quickly build as a raft of showers is pushed down from the north into Ireland and Scotland initially, but affecting all areas during the afternoon. These showers could be heavy and blustery in nature, particularly in Scotland and the north of England, falling as snow on high ground. They will clear by midnight to leave a cold night and the risk of ground frost in The Midlands. Wednesday sees a repeat of Tuesday, but the showers will kick off later in the day (early p.m) and will be less widespread and perhaps lighter in nature, with a decreasing wind strength. Thursday and Friday sees a repeat of this pattern, but the showers seem more likely to affect Ireland, the south-west of England and the west coast, that said I wouldn’t rule them out anywhere. Temperatures will be low double figures during the day, but as we approach the end of the week, these will drop, as the wind takes on a more northerly direction. The cold theme continues into the weekend with wintry showers in Wales and the south-west on Saturday and if anything becoming more widespread on Sunday. There’s a low pressure expected just off the Kerry coast and it wouldn’t surprise me if this moves inland over the weekend to bring more moisture to Ireland and the U.K.

Outlook

Next week looks like starting off in a similar vain to this week, perhaps a little drier, but still cold, with a risk of showers and a widespread night frost. By mid-week, a deep, North Atlantic low pressure is set to form which will pick up the temperatures and bring the next bout of rain. At this stage I can see this as being pretty heavy for all areas and with the wind changing round to the south-west, it’ll feel appreciably milder as we lose those night frosts.

Agronomic Notes

The main talk in the south of England is the hosepipe ban and the likely effect on golf course viability. For the moment, I don’t see the need for drastic action, as we’ve had rainfall and the unsettled pattern to the weather is set to continue for April, which is good news. In addition, the cool feel to the weather will keep E.T rates low, so there won’t be much drying out of the turf surface. At some point, high pressure will exert itself and begin to dry things out and it’s at that point that life will get trickier, but there are a number of agronomic options available to prolong grass viability on greens and other wear areas.

Rainfall patterns are notoriously difficult to predict area by area, year on year, but looking at some statistics, it seems that the trend over the last 4 years in the drier areas of the U.K, is for declining rainfall in the spring, but increasing rainfall in the summer, mainly due to rainfall from the continent. I appreciate for those reading this blog in Ireland or Scotland, thoughts of an irrigation ban are for la-la land, but if you’re in an area from The Midlands south, it’s either reality or potential reality, and a confused one at that it seems.

Growth on greens is slow, held back by the night frosts and cold rain, but at least the arrival of rain will initiate some Poa. growth, because up until now it’s the bentgrass that’s been on the move and if your cutting heights are still up, this has created a bumpy surface. (just in time for Augusta:). I don’t see a great change in this state of affairs over the coming week, with low growth levels as soil temperatures hang around 8°C , but outfield areas will pick up with the rain. Good news I guess in a short week scenario that growth is controllable.

Nutrition-wise, with the arrival of rain and a changeable weather pattern, this lends itself more to low temperature orientated, granular, greens fertilisers to provide a welcome kick.

I’ve had a number of reports of Leatherjacket activity over the last week or so, particularly after coring or solid tining. I guess you all know what to look for, but the typical countersunk pattern around a core / tine hole is a giveaway to grub feeding activity at night.

If anyone has feedback on rainfall for March, the current water restrictions and how they apply or don’t apply to golf clubs, please feel free to email me…

All the best..

Mark Hunt