Hi All,

The first post of March ! and let us hope Spring is just around the corner. That’s certainly what it felt like on Saturday, warm sunshine with the odd, blustery shower..but Sunday was a day of (very welcome) rain, cold temperatures, enough for it to turn to snow for awhile and back to rain, a biting north-west wind and 12mm in total for the day. This blog may be subject to a degree of disruption over the next couple of weeks as I’m off to Colorado to attend the marriage of my brother, as best man. Of course being a virginal skier / boarder, it’s likely that there’s a tree in Breckenridge with my name on it and as you can see from the image on the right, me and snow don’t necessarily mix 🙂

I’ll do my best to keep you posted of course…

General Weather Situation

This week will start off cool / cold with strong winds most of the week, rain in mid-week and then milder with a westerly airflow for the end of the week and weekend.

Putting some more detail to it, this week will start off cold, with a northerly wind and possible ground frost. The weekend’s rain is currently clearing the south-east of England and then we’ll be dry today on the whole, with just a chance of the odd shower down the west coast of Wales. The change comes during Tuesday and will be felt first in Ireland and Scotland as the wind whips round to the west, freshening in intensity and temperatures lift to mild, double figures briefly. This is signalling the arrival of a low pressure system which will bring some more rain mid-week to England. I expect this rain to affect the coast of Connacht and Munster from Tuesday morning and then push east across Ireland during Tuesday into Scotland, falling as snow at higher elevations. By Wednesday, that rain will be into Wales and Northern England, lingering close to the coast of Leinster and slowing pushing south into The Midlands and the south-west / south-east of England during the morning and prevailing for the rest of the day down in the south-east corner. Winds will be strong, from the north-west now and it’ll feel cool in the wind with temperature’s struggling to hit double figures. During Thursday, temperature’s pick up again as the wind switches round to the south-west direction and we’ll some sunshine after early showers affecting Leinster and the north of England move off, so feeling like Spring again by the end of the day. By Friday a weak band of rain pushes south through Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the north of England, perhaps reaching The Midlands, but amounts will be light, more sunshine and showers really.

Outlook

At present the weekend looks warm, dry and settled, but there’s a real battle going on between the high and low pressure systems , so that may change, but at this stage I can’t see it getting colder again. Next week looks like starting off mild, dry and settled, with mild (ish) temperatures, high pressure in charge and the chance of showers for the north and west of the U.K and Ireland. I’d expect this to break down as we approach mid week, next week, with a new low pushing through, but I’ll try and get out a blog whilst I’m sitting in Terminal 5 next Monday 🙂

Agronomic Notes

That rainfall of yesterday will certainly help raise soil moisture levels and with the milder temperatures later this week, that should initiate some growth on outfield areas. With the milder air last week and moisture, there’s a good bit of Fusarium doing the rounds, but until we get a sharp increase in air temperatures, I expect this to just tick away in the background without the need to apply a pesticide, unless of course if you’re coring and dressing.

Nutrition-wise, more of the same really as light tonics remain the order of the week, though that belt of rain mid-week may be advantageous if you’re applying granular’s at present, though I can’t see a lot of rain after that.

Newly seeded Ryegrass plant from last November

A number of clubs are over-seeding fairway areas damaged by last year’s drought and some even seeded as late as the first week of November last year. There’s always a debate about what grass species to go with ; Fescue or Ryegrass. For me there’s no debate because nowadays, the fine-leaved, ryegrass cultivars have some excellent growth properties that mean they out-perform fescue in terms of establishment in a non-irrigated scenario specifically. Drought tolerance being one of them and this is really a function of root development and plant vigour. Ryegrass can establish faster than fescue and develop its root system down through surface fibre into the soil below very quickly, thus enabling it to withstand dry periods. Fescue on the other hand is less vigorous as we know and often its root will not develop sufficiently to penetrate the surface fibre layer until year 2, so if that area goes under drought stress in the meantime, it can die out. Fine, if irrigation is controlled and the rootzone doesn’t have surface fibre, but not so good if the area is non-irrigated and there’s the typical 2-4cm of surface fibre present.. I took a picture recently of a ryegrass plant seeded in the first week of November and it’s root system at the middle of February was over 6″ long, that plant will survive this year for sure. My comments are specific to this scenario and of course, the best situation is to have a mix of grass species so the sward is more resistant to environmental stress. It’s not that I’m anti-Fescue, far from it, but every grass has baggage, negative and positive and you have to play to those respective strengths and recognise the weaknesses. Monoswards don’t prevail in a natural grassland situation and there’s a very good reason for that.

All the best.

Mark Hunt