Hi All,

General Weather Situation

After a roasting Bank Holiday, we’ve suddenly dropped into a cool northerly air flow which has dropped temperatures significantly and currently I’m measuring 11.5°C air temperature. We got up to 26.5 °C on Saturday and as predicted this sparked off some Thunderstorms, particularly in the S.East / East of England, with some places getting a nice drop of rain and others a mile away, parched, very frustrating. The dominant warm high pressure that gave us such beautiful (and stressy) weather, will slowly move away this week and as it does so, it drags in much cooler air from the north and eventually the weather breaks down over the weekend and into next week with a much more unsettled picture, with the cool theme holding into the start of May.

Regional Specifics and Outlook

This week will start cool with strong Northerly / North-Easterly winds that gradually moderate as we approach the end of the week, lifting temperatures a bit for the Royal Wedding and the weekend. (Not being a royalist, I’ve booked a boat at Eyebrook to get away from it,  though as Will and Harry are fellow bikers and Kate’s a bit of …better stop that there I think, I wish them well :). Temperatures will struggle into the early teens and nights will be cold, particularly Wednesday when there’s a chance of a ground frost overnight into Thursday morning. There is an increasing chance of rain showers pushing in from the continent on Thur / Fri / Sat and these are more likely to affect the South-East, East England and the east side of the country, though a rain pulse on Saturday early morning looks likely to affect the S.West and Wales, but we’ll see. One thing I will say is that rain from the continent is more likely to affect the East of England, than rain from an Atlantic low pressure.

Temperatures by the end of the week / weekend will be middle to high teens, with the lighter winds predominantly Easterly / North-Easterly.

The outlook for next week is tricky again, with the forecast being influenced by a number of weather systems, so it’s a mixed bag.

May will definitely start off cool and unsettled though, with rain showers a distinct possibility pushing in from the continent, so the S.East / East side of the U.K is more likely to receive some moisture than the west. The chance of rain increases as we approach the end of next week / next weekend. Night temperatures should stay higher though after Thursday, with less of the peak and trough pattern we’ve seen of late, so that gives an opportunity for growth, provided of course moisture is forthcoming.

Agronomics

Not the best of times to be working in this industry I’m afraid, whichever side of the fence you sit on, because life is a tad stressy with the short weeks and dry weather.
Looking on the positive side, at least we’re not having to deal with outfield growth flushes during this 4-3-4 short-week cycle, but I do appreciate it puts extra pressure on jobs / staffing levels and what can be achieved realistically between golf.

The high temperatures of last week, coupled with prolonged dryness and now a sudden cooling will knock the colour out of the grass on all height of cut areas.

This colour loss will be heightened on greens by the commencement of the main Poa seedhead flush, which although it’s been seeding for a couple of weeks over here and earlier across the Irish Sea, the main flush will get underway pretty much in the same week that it has done since I’ve been recording it, i.e the 1st week of May.

Plant stress levels are high with the lack of rain and hot, windy weather of last week, so irrigation is key, though the high night winds during the early part of this week will make coverage an issue, so hand-watering on those missed and high spots will be a must.

There’s a lot of inconsistent looking surfaces out there, caused by the growth differential between Bent and Poa, the latter not taking to this dry weather and former lapping it up. Brushing is key as it’s less stressy on the plant than verticutting / scarifying and maintaining a sensible height of cut, when I say sensible, not too low, not high, as the former imparts more plant stress and the latter allows the differential between the grasses to be expresses physiologically. If you are able to get a bit of growth, light dressings are the order of the day. Any thatchy Poa areas will also be showing more stress and now is a good time to point out to the powers-that-be why aeration needs to be maintained or even increased in some cases.

Nutrition-wise, light foliars when the wind drops later in the week to maintain plant health and colour are ideal and if more growth is required.

I’d leave applying the foliar until after the cold Wednesday night, so the application co-incides with increasing temperatures and a chance of rain.

If more growth is required I’d suggest a light rate, quick-release granular fertiliser, working on the assumption that temperatures will be cool and we may have a more unsettled weather outlook coming into May.

Personally, I wouldn’t be applying Primo Maxx on greens as growth continues to be regulated by Mother Nature.

To maintain a consistent surface, you actually need both Bent and Poa growing, remembering that PGR applications don’t affect all grasses the same and Poa is affected more than Bent by a PGR application.

Lastly, if you’re due a wetting agent application, I’d suggest mixing in a biostimulant / good quality seaweed at the same time because this will decrease plant stress levels and give both grasses a better opportunity to grow.

All the best
Mark Hunt