The Groundsman

May 2015

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WEATHER UPDATE 47 the Groundsman May 2015 May moisture to keep turf growing Like the proverbial football FA Cup tie, the UK's weather pattern for early spring this year has been a tale of two halves. While much of the north of the UK has remained stubbornly cold and wet, the south has seen record-breaking dry weather. After a slow start to the growing season, turf recovery has generally been strong. But water management is already in the minds for many turf managers, particularly on golf courses reliant on irrigation resources to remain green through the summer. The westerly winds that typically bring a deluge of wet weather, and maintain relatively mild conditions to raise soil temperatures, have been superseded by extended periods of an easterly flow of cold, dry air. For post winter sports pitch renovation, and to get golf courses in top condition for summer, having sufficient soil moisture during May is going to be essential. However, regional rainfall has been one of the great variables in weather patterns for May in recent seasons. Last year, for example, East Anglia unusually recorded nearly twice its expected rainfall (93mm – 191 per cent) compared to eastern Scotland that was below average. Overall the UK had over a third more than average rainfall in May for the second consecutive year and it has been four years since a serious shortfall (2010 – 39mm/55 per cent). With such variability and unpredictability, turf managers will have to manage water more effectively. After heavy rain, the unique dual action of Qualibra will quickly move water down from the surface to maintain playing firmness and plant health. In dry periods, however, retaining moisture in the root zone with Qualibra will optimise the utilisation of any available rain and irrigation resources. Holding soil moisture in the profile also enables plants to develop greater root mass, enabling better uptake of nutrients and helping to relive stress. 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 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. Records show disease risk for Take-All was consistently high through May last year, whilst Microdochium (Fusarium) Patch can frequently flare up during the month, along with periods of risk for Dollar Spot. The GreenCast website also includes current soil temperatures, along with a chart of historic temperatures, to aid appropriate fungicide selection and accurate application timing. Using the soil temperature forecasts on the free GreenCast website can also enable turf managers to time Primo Maxx • 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 applications most effectively to get the optimum growth regulation results – typically when a mean soil temperature of more than 10°C is achieved over five consecutive days. Nutrient shortfall At the very time when plants are most actively growing, extra attention will be required to ensure appropriate nutrition is available, especially on sand construction greens and pitches with low nutrient retention if there are periods of heavy rain in May. The challenge is to provide sufficient consistently available N, without wasteful over application, that has implications for cost and environmental loss. l Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with more than 1mm of rain 2013 9.5 9.8 10.5 8.4 9.6 Rain (mm) May 2014 was decidedly wet and warm, compared to the cool and slow start to the growing season in 2013. The figures also highlight the regional differences that will impact on options and timing for turf management – particularly sunshine and rainfall UK N.England S.England Scotland N Ireland 2014 11.2 11.5 12.4 9.8 11.3 2013 177 175 196 157 169 2014 150 153 184 118 113 2013 92 84 65 119 105 2014 99 106 90 99 91 2013 13 13 11 15 16 2014 15 15 14 16 16 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 www.greencast.co.uk

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