Quite a different feel to the weather as I type this blog. Last week I had my attic office windows open trying to lose some heat out of the house, this week they’re firmly closed for exactly the opposite reason.
Some really wild weather at the weekend with Saturday’s storms in particular quite amazing.
I was out fishing in a boat during one of them. This is it just edging into view over my left shoulder. 20 minutes later there was thunder and lightning, hail and torrential rain accompanied by fierce winds. I sat it out though I do admit to being twitchy sat next to 3 carbon fly rods which I stowed at the other end of the boat for safe keeping. I don’t mind wind and rain, but lightning on the water is another matter.
Here’s the vid, my first on WordPress (tara!) and guess who is in the only boat still sitting out there ?
We ended up with 6.8mm over the course of the weekend, we missed the biggest storms at home but I know others had 10-20 mm over a short period if they copped a large one. It was cold as well, March cold I’d say, with temperatures down into the single figures during these storms. A big change for nature and a big change for grass. One minute it is hunkered down trying to conserve moisture, the next it is getting deluged with a temperature drop of over 10°C. It’ll take time to acclimatise to this change and its this that I’ll be focusing on later in this blog.
As it stands now we are only 12 days away from the shortest day of the year but I guess because most peoples lives were put on hold for 8 weeks, it just doesn’t seem real or right to be already at this point of the year ?
I must admit it is a strange world out there with our government seeming to progressively lose the plot in terms of dealing with our pandemic. We still have a high r number in areas, we still have a limit on social gatherings but they let mass protests go ahead. We haven’t restricted entry into the U.K through the whole pandemic but now other countries are recovering, we do as from today ?
Off the politics, onto the weather, other than to say that the 4 worst countries in the world for dealing with this pandemic are all headed up by populist leaders and by men, not a good mix it seems for rational thinking and decisive, logical action. Good for Domestos sales though , no wonder he’s a nice shade of orange 🙂
General Weather Situation
Before I give a weekly run down on the weather, here’s an interesting exercise. On the right are two GFS images, the first shows what they predicted would be the weather situation for today, a week ago. The second (far right) shows the actual weather scenario. Not a million miles out in terms of high pressure position and the boundaries of warmer and cooler weather. The position and intensity of the low pressure though is wrong as the actual has it right at the top of Norway rather than just off Scotland.
This in a nutshell is what we are dealing with in terms of longer-term (beyond 5 days) forecasting. It isn’t 100% accurate and this is just a 7 day projection, so you can see why I hold absolutely no credibility with those who say (Daily Express), it is going to be this or that, blardy blah in a months time.
So as you can see for Monday we have high pressure nudging into a trough situation so that’ll settle things down for awhile but not forever. If you missed the rain you’ll have another chance later in the week for sure. Monday looks a pretty dry and dull day for just about all of the U.K and Ireland with lighter winds (at least initially) and not a lot of rain around. Maybe this afternoon we will see some showers across The South West and these may edge up into South Wales later in the day. Other than that it’ll be reasonably pleasant, not warm, but a little milder with temperatures into the mid-teens everywhere and high teens down south. Another cool night with temperatures dropping into the single figures so it’ll be coats, hats and buffs first thing lads and lassies !
Tuesday sees high pressure try and exert itself but the jet stream is sitting low as we can see from the GFS output above, so that means it is less likely to win the day. Sure enough Tuesday will see a northerly low pressure system on its way to the U.K and Ireland and this will introduce showers to the north west of Scotland by midday on Tuesday. This band of showers will sit off the west of Ireland, Scotland before moving inland later on Tuesday night. South and east of this across the rest of the U.K and mid-east of Ireland we look to have another dull and dry day but again pleasantly mild with temperatures up in the mid to high teens. Scotland will sit a few degrees lower as that cooler air pushes in. A milder night on Tuesday into Wednesday as temperatures stay in the double figures.
Wednesday sees that rain over Scotland and north west Ireland push across country overnight so in the north and north west expect to start wet on Wednesday. Across Ireland the first rain band should have cleared the west and be sitting over The Midlands and the east of Ireland. This band of rain across the borders and north of England will move south into Wales and The Midlands later in the morning reaching eastern parts and Central England by early afternoon. Ireland should dry up as that rain moves away through the late morning / early afternoon. Dull again with that low pressure pushing cloud across most areas with the rain not surprisingly. Similar temperatures to Tuesday with 14-17°C likely in light westerly / southerly winds (changeable anyway !)
Thursday sees that low pressure tracking south into the deep trough that has been created in the jet stream so early on Thursday morning we can expect to see that rain over The Midlands and southern half of the U.K including Wales and The South West. A north-south day really as north of The Humber should be dry but dull whereas south of it looks to be rain for near enough most of the day, some of it heavy locally. Ireland looks to miss most of this with the chance of some showers skirting down to the coast of Leinster through the day. That rain slowly edges south during Thursday afternoon, evening, finally departing the south coast at sunset (aah bless). Much windier on Wednesday with a pronounced north easterly / easterly wind across the U.K and that’ll peg temperatures down into the low teens for most areas, so feeling chillier than early in the week with a cool night to follow.
Closing out the week on Friday we have that low pressure still sitting south of the U.K so that means a showery start for the south of the country. That low pressure isn’t entirely done with us just yet, as it will scoop in showers off The North Sea into the south and north of England and North Wales. The rain looks to be in two bands on Friday morning, mainly south and westerly-focussed across The South Coast, The South West and South Wales possibly as well as further north. During the afternoon, that northerly band of rain will edge into The North East of England to bring some localised heavy downpours. Later in the afternoon those showers could edge northwards into Wales and The Midlands, with some heavy rain pushing into the east of Ireland. Could be a very wet evening in Dublin possibly on Friday. Still windy on Friday with the wind set in the east but it’ll feel a little milder than Thursday with temperatures nudging up into the mid to high teens possibly across the south. Scotland looks to have a much warmer day, dry and with temperatures in the low twenties, O’ to be up on Chir Mhor….
The weekend looks to be a real sunshine and showers jobbie, especially on Saturday with plenty of showers from the off across the southern half of the U.K and Ireland. Later in the day these showers will consolidate into longer spells of rain across the south and Midlands (hopefully). It will feel a lot warmer though temperatures up in the high teens and even low twenties across the south of England and Scotland. Sunshine and showers for Ireland as well with that wind a bit more north easterly than easterly for us all. Sunday looks a better day, not completely dry with a chance of rain showers anywhere but definitely across the west of the country (Wales) and Ireland for the 2nd part of the day. Much lighter winds on Sunday and a real swing in the wind round to south westerly, staying warm / humid.
So another unsettled week for us this week, how does next week look like shaping up ?
Now if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you’ll know that the above image shows a trough pattern in the jet stream. You may also remember when we have this type of feature dictating our weather that we often see a recurring low pressure which keeps rotating within the trough. Such a feature is likely to be prevalent next week. So initially we start off with the low pressure system we are due to get this week and over the weekend lying just off the south west coast of England. This means the west of the U.K and Ireland is likely to start off cooler, wet and windier (though not a cold wind as it’ll be from the south) whereas the east side of the U.K will pick up a warmer continental airflow so warm and settled there for the start of next week. Fast forward to Wednesday and you can see the actual position of the low pressure hasn’t changed much from an east / west perspective. That’s the feature of a trough pattern.
So Monday looks reasonably settled across the east but wet across the west (Ireland) before that low swings the rain round into the southern half of the U.K on Tuesday, with that rain pushing north and west through the day. Wednesday looks a day of respite though it’ll still be showery, particularly in the 2nd half of the day across the west and Ireland before the low scoops another lot of rain across the south of England, Midlands, Ireland and possibly the north of England, Scotland on Thursday. Friday sees more rain predominantly for the southern half of the U.K though showers will spread northwards later in the week. Below is the position of the low (projected) for the end of next week. You can see the trough has centralised over the U.K and another low pressure is joining the party from the north and that’s why we see more northerly rainfall at the end of next week.
At the moment this trough pattern is projected to be still with us into the 3rd week of June potentially though that could change, after that it looks like we will have heat trying to push in but there’s also another low on the way. It’ll all depend on the position of the jet stream. For me every week we have cooler and wetter weather with low E.T in June is another week off the period between now and the autumn because as I showed last week, we are in a dire situation with respect to water / soil moisture deficit and that needs to change or at the very last not get much worse for us to weather this particular challenge to our industry.
Now normally this week I’d be catching up on last month by doing a monthly GDD / Rainfall comparison but I am afraid I will have to skip that this week as I have a burgeoning in-tray full of work in front of me that needs sorting so bear with me if you’ve kindly sent in info, I will review it, just not this week. I wanted to speak about something else.
Where is my grass plant at currently ?
I thought it would be an interesting subject to talk about where we are and where the grass plant is at this point in time. It is timely because we have had such a change in weather conditions over the last week or so, we have had a resumption of play in recent weeks and of course we have had and are seeing the effects of maintenance under furlough.
This combination of extreme E.T, solar radiation and lack of moisture coupled with a lack of resource and play has had consequences on playability and many of you are dealing with these consequences now. This of course along with members who turn up from their hermetically-sealed life styles and think everything should be in the land of ‘hippity hop and a hang dang doody’. Well sorry it isn’t, so wake up and smell the coffee if you can ?
First up let’s pull in some data to see where we have been and where we are now because as you know with me by now, data is everything.
Here’s the temperature, humidity and E.T data from 2 locations, the first near Sevenoaks, Kent and the second from the south west of Dublin. I must admit I was surprised by the Dublin E.T stats…
So if we look at the E.T data from the two locations we can see the following ;
E.T from 25/05/20 – 02/06/20 inclusive E.T from 02/06/20 – 07/06/20 inclusive
Kent 43.64 mm (average daily loss =4.84 mm) 11.77 mm (average daily loss =2.35 mm)
Dublin 38.54 mm (average daily loss =4.28 mm) 7.46 mm (average daily loss =1.49 mm)
I was really surprised with such a high E.T loss on the Dublin site because the temperatures were lower but the wind speed was higher and that made all the difference. That run of 8 days from the 25th May to the 2nd June really put the grass plant under pressure and particularly Poa annua. This plant was coming to the end of its seeding period but that level of E.T effectively shut it down to almost zero growth and zero uptake potential as well. So if you applied some nutrient during this period to greens I wouldn’t have expected to see anything discernible from it.
So if you’re maintaining a Poa / Bent sward, the Poa would have stopped growing and the bentgrass would definitely have slowed up, particularly Browntop bent. Almost like pausing a time-lapse video. Creeping bent might have handled this period better but even for this plant it would be quite a test. So if you have a mixed grass species on your greens and let us not forget we also have considerable variability amongst Poa biotypes whilst we are on that subject. Perennial Poa annua var. reptans with its tight bunch habit and less seedhead production would have just sat there down in the sward whereas the more annual Poa biotypes that produce more seedhead would have gone off colour as well and probably looked really sick. You’re more likely to see this biotype on newer greens or on areas that have thinned like the clean up strip, ridges, bunker splash-affected regions, etc.
Here’s a typical picture of what I am talking about…
So here we have a mixture of Poa annua biotypes and bentgrass and first up it might look like a disease, but it isn’t. (This area was sampled and checked for fungal pathogens, none were present)
Now since 2nd June we have seen temperatures tumble and E.T levels drop back and some of use have hopefully enjoyed a bit of rainfall. This will then allow the plant to transition from shut-down mode to growing more normally but you have to remember that a Poa plant that is seeding isn’t tillering so where you have more annual biotypes, it’ll take longer to see a change back to normality (whatever that is !)
In the meantime your surfaces may be a bit bumpy and that’s where the golfer comes in or rather the typical feedback of “You’ve had all this time to get it right, what is wrong with the greens ?”
It’s all gone a bit puffy out there…
The other factor I mentioned before has also played a part here, lack of golf and maintenance under furlough.
Now we all know that a lack of play causes softer surfaces and a build up of surface organic matter. I don’t know the exact mechanism going on here but if you have a doubting Thomas, tell him or her to go to a back tee and walk on it and then compare that to a tee that is in regular play. They’ll be a night and day difference with the back tee, usually soft and spongy. (unless of course you are super good and have lots of resource !)
So the consequence of a lack of play during the closure period has been softer surfaces.
Next up we have the consequence of a lack of resource due to furloughing staff. So that means less work done on greens to maintain the surface (grooming, verticutting, topdressing, etc) and for many, an inability to be able to hand water. The latter has meant a reliance on mains irrigation which we all know means we over-water some areas because we can’t fine tune our irrigation and split it between mains and hand watering. Over-watered turf subjected to high temperatures and high E.T stress will go very puffy as the leaf moisture level increases and the plant cannot lose this water because its stomatal pores are closed.
Now that we’re hopefully back to reasonable numbers I’d expect as we come out of the stress period and the plant begins to grow,we can commence a very necessary resumption of grooming, brushing, verticutting and topdressing to bring the surface back to normal. In the meantime Mr Golfer I am afraid you’ll have to be patient and just remember that a few weeks ago you weren’t allowed to be out here at all, so please appreciate it.
I would expect you’ll start to see the grass plant gain colour and the clip rate increase as this transition takes place….But of course nothing in life is similar in the world of maintaining grass…
Famine to feast…..
Here’s my Meteoturf readout for this week and if you look at the G.P data you can see that as we get to the weekend and pick up those warmer day and night temperatures, the growth level really picks up. Now it really depends upon where you are in the stress – growth cycle because if the plant is growing well you might want to think about a PGR on it before the weekend or maybe just after. If the plant is still showing signs of stress and not really responding then it’s probably too early to apply. Tricky decision but your surfaces and clip yield will tell you what you need to know.
Just like we see in the summer, the arrival of cool and wet conditions after a prolonged dry spell usually coincides with an increases in the usual high humidity disease suspects. Here I am talking about Fairy Rings, Thatch Fungus, maybe some etiolated growth and definitely a bit of Microdochium nivale. Now the latter should grow out as fast as you see it with the commencement of growth and an upward-trending G.P graph for the U.K & Ireland. The former may even be more prevalent because of the higher than usual level of surface organic matter because of the afore-mentioned combination of meteorological and economic challenges. With higher temperatures forecast for the weekend and rainfall as well, we are likely to see a continuation of Fairy Ring type diseases, maybe some Waitea Patch as well doing the rounds.
On the continent I’d expect to see the first signs of Dollar Spot as well.
OK that’s me for this week, now back to the day job 🙂