Hi All,

Another week of sunshine and showers beckons, with some heavier rain fronts mid-week and at the weekend (likely Sunday). It made me laugh reading the water companies blurb about rain at this time of the year doing next to nothing with respect to reservoir levels, ground water, etc because most of it is lost to the atmosphere by evaporation according to them. Well I suggest they take a walk out of their cosy, London offices because it’s been pretty cool this month and on average less than 0.5mm per day is being lost through E.T. Here in The Midlands, our April rainfall has done a lot to restore reservoir levels, but in the South-East, they’ve still some way to go…Bewl Water in Kent is currently sitting at 50% full, when normally it is 90% at this time of year, but it is heading the right way as it was down at 30% in December. For the clubs in that area, take consolation from the fact that the current weather pattern is much more likely to give you guys reliable rainfall, rather than the traditional, milder, south-westerly air flow. When you do get these showers, they’re very localised and very heavy, yesterday morning I was fishing and had to bail the boat out 3 times because it was filling with water as fast as I could get rid of it  !!!! 🙂

Had a good few calls last week about the latest ‘long-term’ forecast from the Met Office for a cold May. It may well be true if the current weather pattern continues , i.e we remain in a trough in the jet-stream and continue to receive northerly winds and rain, but the reality is no one can predict this beyond the 10 days of reasonably accurate forecasting projections that we have available, so let’s wait and see.

General Weather Situation

Currently, we have a low pressure system sitting just south of the U.K and another one due to form by mid week, so this will push rain into the south-west, south and Midlands areas of the U.K this week, with a high probability of heavy rain for all of those areas. The pattern of a dry start with showers or heavier rain bubbling up through the day is set to continue on Monday, with a heavy band of rain already affecting the south of the U.K and Wales and this is set to push up through the day reaching The Midlands by the afternoon. Tuesday looks to be the driest day of the week, along with Friday, though showers will hang on down the far south-east corner of England. Again heavy showers will bubble up around the coasts and across Ireland from lunchtime and these will push inland during the afternoon. Wednesday sees a new low pressure system pushing heavy rain into the south-west of the U.K during the morning, with another band of rain for the north of England and Scotland for late morning. This rain front will affect all areas by the afternoon giving some heavy rainfall into the evening and overnight into Thursday. Thursday follows a similar pattern, with plenty of rain for all areas, though it’ll be more showery in nature compared to Wednesday (but they will be heavy, particularly later on in the day). Friday starts off dry for all areas except Leinster and South Wales, but during the day, heavy showers will push across all areas, but maybe more focused in The Midlands and Munster by the afternoon. The weekend is set to continue this pattern and there is a strong possibility of heavy rain on Sunday.

Outlook

As we head into May, next week looks like starting off wet as the rain from Sunday continues into the early part of next week. It looks like drying out and warming up a little thereafter, with again little risk of night frost, so maybe a drier week than this week. From mid-week, next week, a new, cool low is projected to push down and that may bring a return to cooler weather and some showers, rather than heavy rain.

Agronomic Notes

It seems paradoxical that whilst we are receiving heavy rain in a lot of areas, we are also under drought restrictions in some parts of the U.K, so I’m going to put together a mini-blog later this week for those areas, along with some specific agronomic advice. Youl’ll be able to access it by clicking on a link that’ll take you there, rather than everyone having to read it.

The rain continues to bring welcome moisture, though of course areas are sitting pretty wet. Along with a spell of milder nights above freezing, growth is beginning to kick in on greens, particularly with respect to Poa annua, but it’s still slow because soil temperatures are only sitting around 8 – 9°C. For reference, last year on the same day, they were 14°C and air temperatures were hitting 20°C. Late April / early May means seedheads will become an issue for many in the U.K, though I understand Ireland is its usual 2-3 weeks ahead of us in this respect because of the different Poa biotype present. The current lack of E.T and temperature will of course exert less stress, so the seedhead flush may well be drawn out this year over a longer period. In previous years we’ve had a sudden increase in temperature which really pushes the flush on, but maybe not this year.

There is plenty of Fusarium kicking around in the background at the moment and this has meant application of a fungicide has been required, particularly for those trying to topdress (between the showers!)

Nutrition-wise, it remains light rate, cool temperature-biased, granular fertilisers or water-soluble / liquid tonics are the order of the day, though finding the spray days and periods without heavy rainfall is proving difficult ! Outfield areas are growing much faster than greens at present and will benefit from pegging back with a PGR, if budgets and spray windows are forthcoming, though I think I’d keep my powder dry for a few more weeks yet until the weather stabilises.

All the best.

Mark Hunt