The Groundsman

April 2015

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Page 46 of 51

WEATHER UPDATE 47 the Groundsman April 2015 Growth set to kick off After last year's floods and the prolonged deep snow in 2013, this year has, so far, proven incredibly benign weather-wise for most areas of the UK. With turf plants primed for spring growth, and turf managers equally keen to get underway with repairing over-winter damage on sports pitches or preparing golf courses for an upsurge in play, an early start to April spring growth will be extremely welcome. Some dry and bright March weather this year has already helped some areas to recover, possibly indicating an early spring. But the vagaries of the jet stream direction over the Atlantic have resulted in some wild variation in temperatures across the UK, on an almost daily basis. While it can draw up mild, moist conditions from the south west, it still has the capability to pull in a chilling blast of cold air from the east. Back in April 2011, temperatures rose to an average of nearly 11°C and over 200 hours of sun. Contrast that to 2013, when there was still extensive snow cover going into April, twice as many frosts as normal - and the latest, slowest start to spring for over 50 years. Last year returned to near average levels for sun and rain, but was again extremely mild consistently across the UK, at nearly 3°C above the long-term average and with four days less frost than normal. Only in 2012 did we see an extremely wet April, with rainfall on over half of all days in many areas. In recent years temperatures have, for the most part, been well above average, with significantly less rainfall and longer hours of sunshine. Water stress The effects of water stress on 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. It will quickly move water down from the surface after heavy, but less frequent irrigation applications to reduce risk of evaporation losses whilst maintaining playing surface firmness, while also retaining the moisture in the important root zone for maximum uptake of water and nutrients. Grass growth curve With rising temperatures through April, depending on turf species composition, serious growth starts to get going when soils at a depth of around 5cm reach 6°C, with consistently stronger growth when it • 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 hits 10°C. This information is 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 winter rain there is a 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. l Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with air frost Rain (mm) 2011 2012 2013 2014 2011 2012 10.7 6.3 6.3 9.2 203 128 Recent UK weather records highlight the variation in April that dictates when spring recovery really starts 2013 168 2014 145 2011 2012 2013 2014 2011 2012 37 128 64 68 1 6 2013 8 2014 1 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

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