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Hi All,

The last post of March and for many it follows a lovely weekendailyExpressd, with some warm temperatures pushing into the twenties in the south-east of England. It’s early days yet, but I see the tabloids are already at it (thanks for the tip off Stewart!) predicting our longest, hottest summer since 1910. Well there’s an old saying “One Swallow doesn’t make a Summer” and for sure I can predict with absolutely certainty, they haven’t got a clue what’s coming.

That said, I do think we’ll have more of a handle on it over the course of the next two weeks because the first 2 weeks of April have proved significant in the past for setting the weather pattern for the coming months, certainly over the last 2-3 years anyway, coincidence maybe?  We’ll see…

General Weather Situation

Monday sees a dull misty start for many, with a band of rain sitting diagonally over Ireland stretching from Galway to Wicklow. Elsewhere after another mild night, temperatures will begin to climb if the sun burns off the cloud cover as it will do in The Midlands and south of England. Some areas may stay hazy for most of the day. Further west we have a rain band pushing into south-west Munster, south-west England and Wales during the early afternoon and this will progress north east over Ireland and the U.K. to bring some rain showers later in the day, though it’s likely the South, South-East and east coast will miss most of them. Scotland should be predominantly dry aside from those showers affecting western coasts in the afternoon. Temperatures inland will be similar to yesterday, so that’s high teens in the sun and mid-teens in the rain / cloud-affected areas. Winds will be southerly and light. Nice!

Onto Tuesday and that rain band intensifies early in the day to affect the north-east coast of England, the central belt and west coast of Scotland. There could also be some rain overnight for The Midlands and east coast of England. Elsewhere another lovely day once the morning mist has burnt off with temperatures climbing to the high teens, higher maybe in the south of England. Later in the day, a light band of rain will affect Ireland, probably more across central-west coast regions and also along the north-east coast of Scotland, but amounts look light initially, though they may be heavier in localised showers across Ireland on Tuesday night. Again winds will be light and swinging round to the east / south-east.

For Wednesday, we have another cracking day for The Midlands, north and south of England, however there’ll be more in terms of sunshine and showers across Ireland, with potentially some heavier rain for a time over Munster and the east coast of Leinster (though the West will get rain as well). Temperatures will be similar to Tuesday with hazy sunshine but, later in the day a band of rain will push into South Wales and consolidate into a heavier band across the south-west of England, Wales and the north-east coast of Leinster overnight into Thursday.  Scotland looks to have a dry one and mild, with temperatures particularly good along the west coast.

Overnight into Thursday, the rain band across the south-west of England and Wales tracks slowly eastwards along the south coast in time for the morning rush hour pushing up into The Midlands as it does so.  The rain is set to intensify over Wales, the south-west of England and follows a line along the M5 into The Midlands, so a wet day for many in that area. The same rain band will also affect Leinster, so maybe a wet start for Dublin. During the afternoon, that rain moves north into northern England, the north of Ireland; Donegal sort of way, so wet here for close of play Thursday. It’ll also feel much cooler particularly for Scotland from Thursday onwards.

Overnight into Friday that rain band clears most of Ireland, but is into Scotland early doors, leaving behind some light showery rain along the west coast of the U.K. and over north-west Ireland. It’ll feel a good bit cooler at the end of week as we lose those southern winds and they swing round to the south-west, so low teens are the order of the day for the close of the week.  The central and eastern side of the U.K. looks to be getting a good deal of sun for the end of the week, so maybe higher here, but through the afternoon, cloud will push over from the west, signalling the arrival of a low pressure system.

The weekend looks unsettled at this stage, with sunshine and showers the order of the day, I think, with a rain band crossing Ireland on Saturday morning and pushing eastwards to cross the U.K. during Saturday, maybe not reaching the east coast till late afternoon / evening. Sunday looks similar, unsettled, maybe drier in the central and southern parts of the U.K. but more rain is set to cross over Ireland and the U.K during the course of Sunday, so you’re never likely to be far away from a shower 🙂

Weather Outlook

With these warm winds disappearing, the weather will take more of a traditional April feel, with an unsettled outlook next week, cooler compared to this week, so low teens temperatures and windier from the south-west. It’ll feel potentially cool on Tuesday as those winds swing round to the north-west for a time before settling back down to south-westerlies from mid-week onwards. With the unsettled feel and cloud cover, we should be frost-free for the bulk of the week, however I think there’s a chance of frost by the end of next week. Plenty of rain around, particularly for the north and west.

Agronomic Notes

Growth-Degree Days

Firstly, I’d like to build up a picture of how these are progressing across the U.K. and Ireland, because it’s clear we have some big variations and for me to just publish data from The Oxfordshire isn’t the whole story. So for all of you recording them, would you mind emailing a total for the first 3 months of the year please and I’ll plot them out just like we do rainfall?

Using the GDD total for The Oxfordshire, we’ll be at or around 120GDD total by close of play today (End of March) and looking at what’s coming; i.e. a warm week till Friday and then cooler and unsettled thereafter, I have calculated we’ll be close to 150GDD at some point during during April 7th – April 14th. Previously that’s when we’ve seen Poa seedheads start to appear, so it’ll be interesting to correlate this year’s weather and Poa seedhead formation, I say Poa seedheads start to appear, that’s when we’ve started to see plenty of seedheads on the greens instead of the usual small amounts of annual plants that seed pretty much year round I think!

Again I’d be interested in your observations linked into your GDD readings because that’s how they’re the most use.

Talking of Poa seedheads, in the past I’ve been told that Poa seedheads kick in two weeks earlier in Ireland than they do over here, which if it’s true means that Irish Poa biotypes produce seedheads much earlier than U.K. ones because your GDD figures are a good way behind ours, except in the south-west of Ireland, where you’re ahead (see below) Again marrying GDD with actual observations is key to using it successfully.

IrishGDD

Thanks to Aine from Cropcare for this information

PGR’s

So I think a lot of you in the U.K. from The Midlands south will probably have seen / be seeing a growth flush, as predicted last week and that will carry on through this week. Next week however we’ll see the growth dropping back because air temperatures will decline and we’ll also be into some colder nights. So the question remains, should you be applying a PGR just yet ?

I think the answer is yes and no 🙂

If you have both grass species growing on greens during this growth flush, using a light rate of PGR makes sense to keep a nice surface, however you’ll probably see a natural drop back anyway. Where it does make sense in my mind is on shaded areas where we want to maximise the plant’s usage of carbohydrate reserves. This is particularly true where the green / area is shaded by a deciduous tree canopy because we still have a few weeks before this comes into play. Not only does a tree canopy reduce the amount of light getting to an area of turf, but it also utilises the same wavelength as grass does, so it’s competing for light, rather than just obscuring it. So on shaded areas, I’d be tempted to use a light-rate PGR on managed areas if you have good grass cover and vigour.

The same applies to tees, approaches and complexes, but again only if you have good grass cover, sufficient recovery from the winter and growth rates are good, because you’re on top of your nutrition.

Plant Pathogens

I’ve had some reports of Fusarium activity after last Thursday’s rain and then the heat of the weekend (well Sunday mostly) but I expect this to be largely grown (growing) out with the growth flush we’re experiencing.

I’ve been doing some monitoring of plant parasitic nematodes (PPN) this year, via the ever-efficient Kate 🙂 and so far we’re seeing a hatch of Endoparasitic species, like Cyst and Root-Knot nematode, but low numbers of Ectoparasitic species, like Spiral, however I expect the latter to change quickly due to the recent and forecast warm weather, we’ll see. Again I’ll be trying to match GDD and PPN populations together through the year.

A number of you have asked about GDD and insect populations, namely Leatherjacket and Chafer Grubs, but I think the former would be very difficult to predict because they appear to have a number of over-lapping generations across a season. Certainly as a fly fisherman I’ve seen mature Daddy Longlegs on the water anytime from May onwards and this multi-generation  theory seems to be vindicated by an image I received on Friday from Adam (Cheers matey) showing a mature Crane Fly emerging from a green somewhere down south.

CraneFlyMar2014

Interestingly you can make out some seedheads in the same shot, right down in the canopy 🙂 so maybe we are only 7-10 days away from the seedhead flush ?

Ok must dash, please don’t foget to email in those GDD totals for the first 3 months and we’ll see how good or bad you’ve had it !

All the best…

Mark Hunt