The Groundsman

March 2015

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WEATHER UPDATE 47 the Groundsman March 2015 Get set for spring After a relatively benign mild winter for 2014/15, February's stubbornly cold and grey weather conditions across most of the UK dispelled any hope of an exceptionally early start to spring. Making plans for March is always difficult, given the huge variability in what the weather holds, and its implications for turf recovery. In 2013, for example, March remained bitterly cold with an average temperature of 2.2°C and around 20 nights of frost across the UK – including more than 40cm of snow recorded lying in the midlands at the end of the month. Compare that to just a year earlier, with a March average temperature of 7.7°C, and the average daily high an incredibly warm 12.1°C. Meteorological records do reveal an overall trend for warmer temperatures in March that, for many, will kick-start some spring turf growth. Over the past decade the UK average for March has been more than 6°C, compared to around 3°C in the 1960s and 70s However, whilst daytime conditions may look good for turf repair and recovery, remember that the UK still has an average eight nights with an air frost in March, which can frequently be as much as 15 nights in the east of Scotland. The extreme range of warm days and cold nights create added stress that limits the chance for turf plants to outgrow any damage caused by pests and diseases. A review of disease pressure in south west Scotland, for example, highlighted the potential risk of outbreaks in any wet periods in March. Two peaks in disease pressure clearly coincided with higher rainfall in the first and last weeks of the month. Using the GreenCast website to identify the level of disease risk before it hits enables proactive preventative treatments, to optimise product choice and performance. During the difficult spring timing, when there may be cool periods of no growth and warmer flushes, the contact and systemic multi-active components of Instrata covers both conditions for golf course managers, and gives the quick results for disease control inside the leaf and out to prevent disease outbreaks on turf surfaces. Fertiliser wash out Winter rainfall is also likely to have washed out available nutrients from most sports turf surfaces, especially sand-based constructions. As growth commences, liquid feeds can provide readily available nutrients to match turf growth. Delivering appropriate nutrition is especially important where Primo Maxx growth regulator programmes are set to be started, once turf is beginning to grow continuously in warmer conditions. • Be aware that cold nights can put extra stress on freshly cut turf plants • Use ITM techniques to minimise stress and disease development • Sports turf surfaces affected by Microdochium (Fusarium) over the winter require protection to prevent further breakouts • Watch for local weather and disease risk warnings on the free GreenCast turf management website March Top Tips 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 Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with air frost Rain (mm) 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 7.7 2.2 6.7 151 83 127 37 62 80 3 18 5 UK March weather records for the past three years reveal the vast extremes in temperature, sun and rain. The long-term average would be 5.7°C; 100 hours of sun; 92mm of rain and nine days with frost

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