The Groundsman

April 2014

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Page 44 of 51

WEATHER UPDATE 45 the Groundsman April 2014 World-leading on-line advice for turf • Up to the minute weather forecasting • Advance warning of turf diseases • Application zone for practical pointers • NEW interactive forums Growth set to kick off The record breaking wet winter made all the headlines - with the wild weather bringing large parts of the country to a standstill and flooding creating serious problems for so many turf managers. A lesser publicised fact has been the unseasonably warm weather, with daily temperatures through February and March regularly hitting double the typical norm for late winter and early spring. Some dry and bright March weather has certainly been extremely welcome, possibly indicating an early spring. Another April like 2011 could see temperatures rise to nearly 11°C and over 200 hours of sun. Contrast that to last year, when there was still extensive snow cover going into April, twice as many frosts - and the latest, slowest start to spring for over 50 years. April conditions typically highlight the issues of weather variability. In recent years temperatures have, for the most part, been well above average, with significantly less rainfall and longer hours of sunshine. Only in 2012 did we see an extremely wet April, with rainfall on over 50 per cent of days in many areas. Water stress With turf plants primed for spring growth, the effects of water stress can occur within hours of rainfall stopping, especially with a warm, drying April wind. Sand-constructed playing surfaces where soil moisture retention is limited - including many sports pitches and golf greens and tees - can quickly develop a moisture deficit. Utilising the wetting agent and water conservation technology of Qualibra is particularly relevant in these conditions - to move surface water away and retain a firm surface, while retaining soil moisture at depth through the root zone to minimise effects of water stress. An early start to Qualibra wetting agent programmes will be essential to prevent dry patch and retain moisture in the root zone, which will optimise the uptake of any rain and irrigation resources. The dual action can also help get the better results from more efficient irrigation scheduling. Making heavy but less frequent applications, it will quickly move water down from the surface to maintain playing firmness and reduce risk of evaporation losses, but retain the moisture in the important root zone for maximum uptake of water and nutrients. Grass growth curve With rising temperatures through April, turf growth starts to get going when soils at a depth of around 5cm reach 7°C, with consistently stronger growth when it hits 10°C. This information is • Start wetting agent programmes early, especially in dry seasons • Look to commence growth regulator programmes when soil temperatures rise • Watch for local weather and disease risk warnings on the free GreenCast turf management website • Select fungicide options based on temperatures and grass growth rates April Top Tips crucial in selecting the appropriate fungicide activity to tackle disease at this time, as well as timing Primo Maxx applications most effectively to get the optimum growth regulation results. After the heavy winter rain there is a greater risk that nutrients will have been washed out of the soil profile. As soils warm up and growth kicks off, it will be important to ensure there are sufficient readily available nutrients to sustain stress-free healthy growth. Using the soil temperature forecasts on the free GreenCast website can enable turf managers to select the appropriate options and timings through spring and summer. Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with air frost 2012 2012 6.3 2011 10.7 2011 Rain (mm) 2013 6.3 2013 128 203 168 2012 2011 2013 128 37 64 2012 2011 2013 6 1 8 UK weather records for April 2011, 2012 and 2013. Conditions in 2013 were significantly colder – against a trend of typically drier and warmer April weather

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