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Hi All,

“Beware the ides of March” it was once said in a Shakespear play, the ides is I gather an old way of saying the 15th of the month, so looking at this week I can say from a Meteorological perspective, poppycock ! , because we have a nice week in store for most 🙂

IMG_6908Very happy that my weekend forecast of a cold low pressure system didn’t turn out to be accurate for large parts of the country because instead we had a pretty nice one, though I know yesterday morning some of you got hammered rainfall-wise. Did a lovely 10 mile walk across Leicestershire yesterday afternoon, once the rain had moved off and came across some lovely White Violets pushing up through the ivy in a small copse.

So spring gathers apace with days lengthening, soil temperatures rising and some noticeable drying winds as well.

So will it last or has winter not quite released its grip ?

Well yes and no….

General Weather Situation

Monday looks to start off cool but dry for a large part of the U.K and Ireland save for some mizzle, drizzle, rain over the west and north west of Scotland. They’ll be some cloud cover over Ireland, the north west of England and Scotland but south and east of this the sun will come out and I think it will be a lovely spring day 🙂 Through the afternoon that cloud cover over Ireland and Scotland will fragment and dissipate leaving a nice end to the day here as well. Winds will be light to moderate and westerly allowing the temperature to push up nicely into the low to mid-teens. All in all, a lovely day and one to cherish 🙂

Tuesday sees some rain move into north west Scotland, Donegal and Connacht during the early hours of the morning and by the rush hour it’ll push south and east into Ireland and Scotland, but it will largely fizzle out into a thick cloud layer as it does so.  South of this another dry day beckons with perhaps more in the way of cloud cover for the southern half of the U.K compared to Monday. As we move through the morning we could see some isolated showers break out over the Pennines and north west of England, but these will be in the minority I think. As we close out the day we will see some rain into the west of Ireland and this will move eastwards through the evening, preceded by some thicker cloud cover. They’ll also be some rain for north west Scotland at the tail end of the day. Westerly winds again, light to moderate and these will usher along some nice air temperatures pushing into the mid-teens in the south of England and low teens elsewhere.

Mid-week and Wednesday looks to be another pretty decent day though we will again see some showers troubling the coast of North Wales and the north of England. These will push east but fizzle out again as they do so. Elsewhere for Scotland, Ireland, South Wales and the rest of England we look to have another cloudy but pleasant spring day and importantly dry again for alot of the day with breaks in the cloud cover through the afternoon and latter part of the day. As we go into Wednesday evening we will see some thicker cloud cover spill into north west Ireland and Scotland and push south east through Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Similar temperatures again on Wednesday with if anything lighter winds pushing in from the west / south west.

Onto Thursday and a cloudier day in prospect I think which in some areas will hold back the temperature a degree or two from the previous days. Again thick cloud and cooler temperatures for north west Scotland with rain pushing in during the late morning / early afternoon. Some of that moisture may fall as a wintry shower mix with snow at elevation here. Further south and indeed across most areas, another cloudy but mild and dry day with that cloud cover breaking through the afternoon to let temperatures rise into the mid-teens and maybe beyond. Some of that rain across north west Scotland may sink south into Donegal, south west Scotland and north west England through the 2nd part of Thursday but it won’t amount to much I think. Westerly winds again ruling the roost so mild but perhaps a little cooler due to the thicker cloud base across some areas and moderate now picking up in intensity.

Closing out what has been a largely good week for the U.K and Ireland I think weather-wise (except for North West Scotland I’d add 🙁 ), Friday sees a settled start to the day but a rain front is predicted to push into north west Scotland and Ireland from dawn on Friday and then move quickly across country. By mid-morning it is likely to be affecting most of Scotland and Ireland and it may fall as sleet / snow over higher elevations signalling a cooler feel to the weather as we close out the week. Through the afternoon this rain is projected to push south and west across Ireland into North Wales and the north / north west of England. It’ll be heavy in places with the possibility of localised flooding where the ground is already saturated. By evening this rain front will be across Wales and into The South West with the worst of it more westerly-orientated. During Friday night and Saturday morning expect this rain to push south over most of England to give a wet start to Saturday. (It’ll be bailing out the boats again then 🙁 ) Winds will strengthen from the west to moderate to strong and that’ll peg back temperatures somewhat, down into high single figures across Scotland and low double figures further south. All in all a pretty poor end to the week.

So will my weekend forecast be as inaccurate as last time ?

Saturday I see starting off wet for most parts of the U.K as that overnight rain has yet to clear. Ireland though looks to start dry but I don’t think it’ll stay that way for long as low pressure is set to tighten the isobars and push rain across the west and north west through the day. So a very windy, unsettled Saturday with some sunshine in the afternoon between the blustery showers is my forecast as we stand now. Feeling noticeably cooler as well with that strong westerly wind pegging back temperatures especially across Scotland. Sunday sees that windy and unsettled theme continue I think with a sunshine and showers day and still with that strong westerly wind in situ perhaps turning more north westerly for the 2nd half of Sunday further dumbing down the temperatures to high single figures, maybe just breaking into double figures further south.

Weather Outlook

I think next week could well be a week of two halves to borrow an ofted-quoted phrase. The first part of the week looks like a deep, cold, low pressure system will be sitting over the north of Scotland and this will drag the wind direction round to the north and pack in those isobars. So I think Monday will start cool, windy and largely dry with rain moving into the north and west through the 2nd half of the day. Tuesday looks wet, windy and unsettled with strong winds in situ before high pressure begins to edge in from The Atlantic and push in warmer temperatures and more settled conditions from the west with lightening winds. The end of next week then looks to be settled and dry with increasingly warmer temperatures as high pressure strengthens its grip over the U.K and Ireland’s weather.

Agronomic Notes

Pestovo

Had this lovely picture sent in From Ken Siems at Pestovo Golf & Yacht Club, north of Moscow where they have enjoyed a typically harsh Russian winter with temperatures until recently down at -19°C, so if you’re behind with your winter projects don’t complain, at least you don’t have this to contend with :).

Lovely snow scene though and you can almost hear the crumping of the snow beneath your feet and the sharpness of the air in your lungs.

Ok back to reality…

Weather Window

GlasgowMeteoturf130317 EnglandMeteoturf130317 WalesMeteoturf130317 DublinMeteoturf130317

For most of us this week provides a great weather window to get some good groundwork done ahead of a more cooler, unsettled picture from the weekend onwards.

So if you’re finishing off winter project work or embarking on some spring aeration, Tempus Fugit my friends and use the time wisely…Looking at the Meteoturf readouts for the various locations you can see we have a reasonably good growth window for the next 5 days with 22-26 GDD predicted for Ireland, England, Wales and 14GDD for Central Scotland. This should allow some recovery for those of you who have aerated already or are aerating this week.

Nutrition

A good deal of choice here because of the warm, daytime air temperatures and the prospect of moisture at the end of the week. With these kind of conditions I’d expect good reaction from folairs this week and ideally I’d try and work on a 50/50 mix of urea (or slow release urea) and cool-temperature N forms, be they ammonium nitrate, sulphate or potassium nitrate-based. Obviously you’d be looking to add in some iron as well to maintain that colour as temperatures begin to decline later in the week / weekend.

If you’re granular-orientated then I’d say applying prior to the weekend rainfall looks a good strategyand again I’d be looking for a mix of cool temperature N forms in my product because you want the minimum of reliance on microbial activity at this stage of the season to ensure the nutrient is plant-available. That means the same nitrogen forms as I have detailed above.

Moss

Mosskill

Made an interesting observation at the weekend whilst cutting a lawn. The lawn in question is mainly Fescue / Rye and after last autumn was in good condition with a small amount of moss present. It got cut very late in the year because it had become long and so went into the cold December / January period with less leaf present. The amount of moss in the lawn now is substantial and I think its ingression has been aided by the lack of coverage due to the late cut and also the lack of winter grass growth / recovery through December and January as they were colder than normal.

It made me think again about winter cutting heights because I’m a big fan of keeping the winter cutting height at 3-4mm on greens because not only does it present better, you get less of a physiological difference between your mix of grass species come the spring, but maybe it comes at a price ?

Now we all know cutting heights are an emotive issue in our industry 🙂 but I’d be really interested to see some research done in what is the optimum cutting height through the winter in terms of moss ingression. Of course it will differ depending on the type of sward, surface organic matter levels, topdressing inclusion rates, etc because if you have a well-integrated, surface fibre layer, presumably you could roll to maintain good green speed through the winter (subject to the weather conditions of course) and maybe keep that height up just a tad ?

Lot’s of variables here really, maybe too many to test because we also know that cutting heights in the winter in terms of bench set vs. actual must vary more as the mower sinks in on softer, winter surfaces so are you actually cutting shorter than you think ?

Just thinking out loud, I’d be interested in your comments / thoughts / experiences on winter cutting heights and moss ingression.

Microdochium and other plant pathogens…

WS130317

Looking at the weather station on Friday and Saturday nights (I live such a pacey, interesting life don’t I ?) I noted that on both nights we stayed >10°C air temperature and > 90% relative humidity which ordinarily would set alarm bells ringing in my mind regarding Microdochium nivale activity. I haven’t had any reports as yet but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case with some new activity noted on the edge of cold scars on Sunday…what say you ?

Insect activity

cHAFER

This spring will be the first one we face without many of you being able to apply Chlorpyrifos / Imidachloprid last autumn and with the recent mild weather in late February and early March, it is likely that we will see increased activity from Chafer and Leatherjacket grubs feeding on plant roots.

We are also likely to see more Corvid / Badger foraging as well because I noted at the weekend that Rooks, Jackdaws and Crows already have young in their nests and therefore hungry mouths to feed. We are for sure in a desperate situation but how desperate is it in terms of grub damage in the light of no effective chemical control ? (Yes, yes I know there are biological controls but so far I haven’t exactly been amazed at their success at a 20x cost alternative to where Chlorpyrifos was 🙁 )

Really what I am saying is, is anyone seeing success from a particular strategy that they’d like to share ? I’d be more than happy to use this blog as a portal if there is, just drop me a comment…

Plant Parasitic Nematodes (PPN’s)

ppn

On the subject of non-fungal pathogens, the mild February has definitely kcked off PPN activity ahead of normal years with both Ectoparasitic and Endoparasitic species ahead of the game in terms of activity and numbers present in rootzones so if you have a known issue with these pathogens (and I hope you don’t), expect to see symptoms earlier than usual.

Ok that’s it for now, enjoy the warm sunshine on your backs and face because we’ll likely to lose it for a time before it comes back 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt