Hi All,

You can see why our weather has been so different since the beginning of April when you look at the two Meteoblue images below. As you may remember, we spent most of last autumn and winter sitting under a protective peak courtesy of a high pressure system. This pushed the rain north and east into Europe and we had a pretty mild winter. At the end of March, this high pressure moved out into the Atlantic and now we’re sitting in a trough of colder and sometimes wetter air. This morning we got down to -4.5°C in Northampton (thanks Colin) which is the coldest I’ve known it for mid-April and this week we’re in for some pretty wet and windy weather, good news for all of you affected by the irrigation ban.

General Weather Situation

Monday will most likely be our driest day of the week, with a cold bright start after a heavy frost for many areas. Enjoy it while you can because rain is set to arrive into Kerry, Mayo and Sligo (west of Ireland) from lunchtime and this will push eastwards across Ireland into Scotland and the North of England by close of play today. This rain is from a deep Atlantic low that’s slipping down from the north and it’ll bring heavy rain and wind to most places this week. Overnight this rain reaches the south-west of England and Wales and pushes into all of England by the rush hour, intensifying as it crosses the U.K during the day. I think all areas will get rain during Tuesday, but if you don’t, don’t fret, there’s more on the way. Wednesday starts off with rain over Munster, Connacht and Leinster and this progresses eastwards again into Wales by the morning and quickly across the U.K, again giving heavy bursts in some areas. Ireland dries up briefly in the morning, before a new front pushes in. This rain will be accompanied by strong south-westerly winds, so no risk of frost after Monday, as night temperatures sit around 5-6°C and day temperatures in the low double figures. For Thursday, a band of rain extends from The Wash down to the south coast and slowly moves eastwards during the day. West of this it’ll dry up for a time before more showers pack in, feeling colder as the wind swings round to the north. For the end of the week, we have a brief lull and Friday may start dry, but more showers are expected during the day, pushing in from lunchtime onwards. For the weekend, it’ll feel cold with more heavy rain on Saturday and Sunday for all areas.

Outlook

I think next week will start cool, with a high possibility of frosts again at the start of the week. By mid-week, a new low pressure system is predicted to move in bringing rain to Ireland first and then the rest of the U.K from Wednesday onwards. So staying unsettled and cold as we approach the end of April.

Agronomic Notes

The cold and wetter weather is certainly holding back growth, particularly on greens, though with the arrival of rain over the last 7-10 days for most areas, Poa annua has now started growing alongside the already strongly-growing bentgrass. I’ve always maintained that the key to bentgrass growth is a dry rootzone after years ago seeing a gravel banding project on some push-up greens in Surrey. The dry gravel bands were completely colonised by bentgrass with no overseeding because they were drier. This spring has shown strong bentgrass growth, at the expense of Poa annua, which just does not like growing if it’s dry and it doesn’t matter if it’s cold dry or warm dry. Greens growth is still on the slow side, with the night frosts, but I expect it to tick along nicely this week, with the milder nights and moisture.

I’ve been asked about seedheads a lot lately in terms of when I think the seedhead flush will come. Up until the rain arrived, Poa was just beginning to seed, particularly the annual biotypes, but since then it’s been cold and wet and I’ve only seen small amounts of seedheads on my travels. Ireland tends to start earlier than the U.K, sometimes by 2-3 weeks, but over here I expect the main Poa seedhead lush to be the same as previous years and maybe a little later, that means the 1st week of May. It always fascinates me that no matter what weather we have from Jan to April, Poa begins seeding in earnest in pretty much the same week every year !.

Nutrition-wise, it’s pretty much the same as last week and with the wet and windy weather, granulars are the order of the day at present, unless you can sneak out a spray today or perhaps at the end of the week. Either way, nutrition should be focused on low temperature nitrogen forms, so ammonium sulphate, ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate.

Disease-wise, there’s a good bit of Fusarium kicking around, brought in by the arrival of moisture, but I don’t expect it to be too aggressive at present because of the low temperatures. What we need to watch out for is when these temperatures finally rise in spring, that’s when I expect Fusarium to kick in, in earnest. Looking on the bright side though, at least you’ll be able to grow it out pretty quickly if that does happen.

All the best.

Mark Hunt