Well for most we have an all but brief reminder that summer is round the corner this week, but I’m afraid it isn’t going to last as our old friend the jet stream is set to introduce some cool, fresher weather both this week and possibly next. We appear to be stuck in that familiar trough pattern that allows cold air down from the north and stops warmth building from the south. Still we’ve had some moisture and will get some more over the next week or so which will ensure growing conditions aren’t too bad.
Had a lovely walk yesterday afternoon across Northamptonshire to visit Coton Manor and look at their gardens and their lovely Bluebell wood. Everything in the hedgerows is in full steam with the Keck (Cow Parsley) pushing up almost visibly. Interestingly I looked at last years date for the same visit and it was the 21st April vs. the 10th May in 2015, so yet again proof that we’re enduring a lag-behind-year from a plant growth perspective. I make that 3 weeks difference for 2015 vs. 2014.
General Weather Situation
So for Monday we have a weather map of two halves. From the north Midlands south we have a largely dry and settled picture with the temperature already in the low teens and set to peak at 22°C in the south of England later. To the west we have a band of rain into the south-west of England, Wales and the north west of England and this will slowly push eastwards fizzling out through the morning. The same is true for Ireland where a band of showers is into west Munster and Connacht and pushing across country leaving behind a lovely bright afternoon and some nice mid to high teen temperatures. Scotland is the reverse, a duller start for the west with some light showers, but this will turn to heavier rain through the later morning. The east should hang on to the sunshine and here a nice day is in order providing the rain doesn’t push further eastwards than projected. Winds will be moderate and from the west.
For Tuesday we have a duller day on order as a band of showers pushes across Ireland and Scotland early doors and into Wales through the morning. This rain will affect most areas but as it’s showery in nature, some will get it, some won’t. By the afternoon it should have cleared all but the north-west of England and Scotland to leave some hazy sunshine and again some warm temperatures for the south of England, but not as warm as Monday. So a better end to the day than the start with warm evening sunshine for most and a moderate westerly wind.
Mid-week brings us a hiatus as high pressure takes over temporarily so a dry settled day, but cooler owing to a change in the wind from westerly to easterly. Everywhere looks dry so a good spraying day for sure with just a slight chance that some scuddy rain will spoil play in the extreme south west of England. Temperatures will be cooler, low teens and dull for most though more chance of sun first thing and down the east coast. The night temperature will dip into single figures as that high sits over us so that’ll slow things down a tad as you’ll see later.
Thursday looks very different day as a band of rain pushes into Kerry overnight and quickly pushes across Ireland so a very soggy start there, particularly along the Leinster coast, the rain for Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin looks potentially heavy. At the same time this rain will push into the south west of England, The Home Counties and Wales and move north eastwards across the England. At this stage it looks like only getting so far up as Manchester, but everything south of this looks wet. Ireland has a better second half of the day and for the north of England, The Borders and Scotland, a dry day is on the cards, with that rain staying south of you. Temperature-wise we’re looking at a really cool day on Thursday, high single figures in a chilly easterly wind, so noticeably cooler and that’ll knock the color out for sure.
Friday sees another cool day as the wind changes round to the north, heralding the arrival of a low pressure system. So a dull, cool day to finish out the week but hopefully a dry one after Thursday’s rainfall. With the wind in the north, temperatures will sit low and disappointing in high single, low double figures, pretty crap for mid-May let’s be honest 🙁
The outlook for the weekend is unsettled, but milder with a change to a westerly wind which will push showers into Ireland and the western coastline of the U.K during Saturday morning. Not much chance of seeing the sun as it looks like we have a dull weekend on the cards. Sunday looks similar, drier in the west and south, but dull as that low pushes cloud over from The Atlantic on a north-westerly wind. Cool with temperatures in the low teens maybe and later on sees some significantly heavier rain for the north of Ireland and Scotland.
As you’ll see from the animated GIF at the top of the blog, next week doesn’t look great really with a cold, Scandinavian low in charge of affairs for the bulk of the week. Low pressure means unsettled and so we will see rain pushed down on a cool north easterly wind from Tuesday onwards with Monday looking like the mildest day of the week. So cool, windy and unsettled from Tuesday through to Thursday, but as we approach the end of the week, the winds will drop and we should have more chance of seeing the sun. As we close out the week that cool low pressure system slinks away and high pressure takes charge so that means potentially warmer in the day, drier and settled weather, but of course cool nights for the end of the week and weekend.
Growth is a roller coaster ride this spring…
When you look back at the start of May you can see the pronounced growth hike we experienced at the beginning of this month once we got some milder night temperature. These stats are from York (Cheers Adrian)
And of course this week we are seeing the same pattern with the milder temperatures that arrived over the latter part of the weekend (for some, not all I know) set to give a growth surge this week before dropping off markedly on Thursday with the advent of a cool, chilly night. Your MeteoTurf module and Headland Weathercheck is showing this nicely….
This up and down growth characteristic matched in with a late spring can make life tricky from a turf management perspective so let’s look at some of the calls we may need to make in the coming week.
Well this really depends on at what stage in the growth cycle your turf is at, how good your coverage is and how much growth you really need to produce.
If you’re needing growth then this weeks growth surge will be welcome, but it’ll be short-lived because of the predicted drop-off at the end of the week. Next week is looking unsettled, staying on the cool side till the end of the week and so to maintain good growth (if that’s what you require) then granular fertilisation will be the most efficient. Why ?….well because you can apply more kg per hectare of N and with a low soil temperature and unsettled conditions forecast, these are most appropriate for use of a granule.
If you have good turf density, then it’s likely that you may just need to manage colour because the boom to bust nature of growth this week and some chilly winds at the end of this week will knock the colour out of everything. If you’re managing fine turf then you’ll be seeing plenty of seedheads now, pushed on by that early May boost and this weeks as well, so we have a pale, pasty sward as the Poa plant puts all of its efforts into reproduction, diverting carbohydrate reserves from its leaves. So any foliar application of nutrient and iron to maintain colour will have to be done before the arrival of Thursday’s rain because thereafter I think it’ll be too unsettled and possibly too windy. You’ll also have better uptake conditions with the milder air.
It is also important to maintain growth through the seeding cycle of Poa because it allows you to brush, groom, topdress and manage the seedheads. If your turf is of good health and your nutrition spot on, then the early part of this week will allow you to verticut (not too deep) to help this process along as well.
For me these ‘boom to bust’ cycles of growth are typical of spring in the U.K and Ireland, they take some managing and invariably don’t settle down till the arrival of stable night temperatures at the end of May. That said we have better forecasting information now so it’s a matter of picking your nutrition and identifying your growth window.
Lot’s of weeds around now that the growth has arrived with Dandelions in full swing and Daisies as well. With good uptake and spraying conditions for some of us in the early part of this week, now’s the time to get out and get a good hit because uptake of selective A.I’s will be much slower from the end of the week onwards and spray windows harder to come by.
With seedheads in full swing, obviously there’s nothing we can do from a PGR perspective to affect these because we all know TE doesn’t affect seedhead production 🙂
Rather it shortens the seedhead pannicle length so the actual expression of the seedhead will be deeper down in the canopy. This may or may not be a good thing as in my mind it makes it much harder to groom out if the turf is regulated.
In terms of growth suppression on outfield areas well you really needed to apply your PGR last week because the growth flush is already upon us, however if you’re applying this week, do tankmix in some iron for colour because the effect of the PGR (on Poa primarily) and the cooler nights at the end of the week will drop colour out of treated turf quickly and I don’t think it’ll be quick in coming back.
Evapotranspiration (E.T) and surfactant usage
Another timely application (as if you didn’t have enough on your plate) is soil surfactants or wetting agents this week because we have a forecast of rain for most areas on Thursday and this will wash it into the soil and set you up well for next weeks weather. It’s not unknown for us to run into high pressure systems in May and so this may be one of the better windows that presents itself for wetting agent application. As we can see from the E.T chart above, the combination of wind and reasonable temperatures at the early part of this week will give us some quite high E.T rates, particularly if you’re in the south of England. As you can see from the graphic above, we are looking at a predicted E.T loss of around 20mm this week in some parts of the U.K. (Scotland and Ireland would be closer to 15-17mm)
I accept these are very much broad brush comments / suggestions and your situation, your forecast, resources, etc will dictate what if any of the above are priorities. Thankfully though with the advent of liquid applications, the ability to be able to tank mix safely a number of different product types can ensure maximum efficacy is gained from one application, saving you time and money hopefully.
Al the best…