The Groundsman

April 2012

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the Groundsman April 2012 WEATHER WATCH 55 Drought looms if spring dries up The Great North-South Divide has been used to describe all manner of social and economic differences across the UK. But the split has never been more clearly defined than what has been seen with the weather over recent months – or more specifically with rainfall. With Scotland and the north of England awash with a deluge of almost daily rainfall through the autumn and winter months - accumulating to be the wettest season on record for some parts - the east and south of England has experienced drought inducing conditions. Even if these areas receive well above average rainfall for the spring and early summer, there is still a real risk of water restrictions, limited irrigation resources and increased stress on turf plants. And the trend over recent years has been for prolonged dry periods through April and May that, if repeated, will further compound the problems for greenkeepers and turf managers. Last year, April rainfall nationally was just half the long-term average (Table 1), with a huge 93% shortfall in the driest region of south east England. For those in the south and east who have experienced the incredibly dry winter, improved water management with an early start of 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 of Qualibra can help get the better results from more efficient irrigation scheduling. After heavy but less frequent applications, it will quickly move water down from the surface to maintain playing firmness and reduce Av Temp (°C) 2011 Diff to average UK N.England S.England Scotland N Ireland 10.7 10.7 12.0 9.1 10.6 + 3.7 + 3.8 + 4.0 + 3.4 + 3.4 Sun (hours) 2011 Diff to average 203 216 220 177 195 + 44% + 61% + 44% + 35% + 37% Rain (mm) 2011 Diff to average 37 21 7 80 36 - 47% - 66% - 88% - 7% - 50% Days with more than 1mm of rain 2011 Diff to average 6 4 2 10 8 - 6 -7 - 8 - 4 - 5 risk of evaporation, and then retain the moisture in the important root zone for maximum utilisation. Grass growth curve Rising temperatures through April and into May will see soil conditions warming up to stimulate faster grass growth. It will be good news for renovation of sports turf after the winter season and to get playing surfaces back into top condition. Turf growth starts to get going when soil temperatures at a depth of around 5cm consistently reach 7°C, with stronger growth when it hits 10°C. This information is crucial in selecting the appropriate fungicide activity to tackle disease. Using the soil temperature forecasts on the free GreenCast website can enable turf managers to make best use of and select the right systemic options through spring and summer, as well as timing Primo Maxx applications most effectively to get the optimum growth regulation results. April Top Tips • Start wetting agent programmes early if dry conditions persist • Use Primo Maxx to manage mowing costs and schedules through the busy spring period • 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 2011 continued the r conditions – but it was the lack of rainfall in some ar ecent tr end for warmer , brighter spring conditions, with brighter eas that was most significant

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