The Groundsman

May 2014

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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 WEATHER UPDATE 48 the Groundsman May 2014 Spring lift off What a difference a year makes. Spring 2013 went down in weather record books for a series of coldest, dullest and, for some, wettest phases over February, March and the Easter period. Contrast that with 2014, where spring frosts have been few and far between, with relatively dry and warm weather for many that had seen early turf growth and fast recovery from the damage of overwinter rainfall and flooding. The racing westerly winds that brought the deluge of wet weather also maintained relatively mild conditions that saw soil temperatures reach unseasonable highs. One of the great variables in weather patterns for May in recent seasons has been the regional rainfall. For example, in 2011, East Anglia recorded less than 40 per cent of expected rainfall (16mm) and only 60 per cent for the south of England overall; yet the north of Scotland received 220mm - over 200 per cent of its average May rainfall (Table 1). With such variability and unpredictability, turf managers will have to manage water more effectively. In dry periods, retaining moisture in the root zone with Qualibra will optimise the utilisation of any available rain and irrigation resources. Holding water in the profile also enables plants to develop greater root mass in the soil moisture for better uptake of nutrients and to relive stress. After heavy rain, however, the unique dual action of Qualibra will quickly move water down from the surface to maintain playing firmness and plant health. Nutrient shortfall Turf mangers are warned to watch out for potential plant nutrients deficiencies after the extremely wet winter and early spring where nitrogen and potassium resources have been leached out. At the very time when plants are most actively growing and need feeding extra attention will be required, especially on sand construction greens and pitches with low nutrient retention and if there is further heavy rain in May. Soil temperatures rising May temperatures have exceeded the long-term average for 13 of the past 15 seasons. Hot, dry soil conditions will exacerbate the damaging effects of soil- borne Fairy Ring fungal attacks. Where symptoms and turf die-back have been experienced in the past, pre-emptive applications of Heritage Maxx or Headway in May, before the soil-borne infections flare up this season, could help minimise further damage. Using specific fungicides to reduce stress on turf could also help and protect against other weather induced disease outbreaks. The GreenCast website includes current soil temperatures, along with a chart of historic temperatures, to aid appropriate fungicide selection and accurate application timing. A comparison of last year's results shows the distinct differences in rainfall and soil temperatures for the west of Scotland and southern England last year (Fig 1 – note scale differences on charts). Using the soil temperature forecasts on the free GreenCast website can also enable turf managers to time Primo Maxx applications most effectively - when a mean soil temperature of approximately 10 degrees is achieved over five consecutive days - to get the optimum growth regulation results. • Utilise wetting agent programmes to optimise water use • Monitor soil temperatures and growth rates to tailor Primo Maxx timing • Maintain appropriate turf nutrition for actively growing plants • Watch for local weather and disease risk warnings on the free GreenCast turf management website May Top Tips Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with more than 1mm of rain 2013 2013 2011 11.0 11.3 12.5 9.2 10.7 2011 Rain (mm) 179 173 198 161 160 192 192 212 177 171 2013 2011 91 82 63 118 110 102 76 34 191 107 2013 2011 12 12 11 15 16 14 13 6 21 21 Table 1. May 2013 highlighted the cool and slow start to the growing season, compared to 2011. The figures also highlight the regional differences that will impact on options and timing for turf management – particularly sunshine and rainfall 9.5 9.8 10.4 8.4 9.6 UK N.England S.England Scotland N Ireland Figure 1

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