The Groundsman

April 2016

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WEATHER UPDATE 47 the Groundsman April 2016 Late kick-off for turf growth While the promise of an exceptionally early spring was dashed by the easterly winds and cold nights that held turf recovery in check, there is hope that this season won't repeat last year's false start, which ended up with a late kick-off for spring growth – with temperatures nearly a full degree down on the recent average. With turf managers keen to get underway with repairing overwinter damage on sports pitches and preparing golf courses for an upsurge in play, a good start to April spring growth will be extremely welcome. The vagaries of the jet stream direction over the Atlantic have already resulted in some wild fluctuation in temperatures and rainfall 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. A review of April weather last year revealed that, for the UK, it was marginally above the seasonal average temperature for recent years, as well as brighter and drier. But it is important to recognise that the night time minimum was significantly lower than average - by more than a degree in Scotland - which seriously dragged down growth potential, despite the nice days. Also, Scotland had over four times the rainfall of central and southern England. Contrast that to April 2011, when temperatures rose to an average of nearly 11°C , and then 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. The good news is that we haven't seen an extremely wet April since 2012, when it rained on over half the of days and over 50% more rain than normal fell. Water stress In recent years temperatures have, for the most part, been well above average, with significantly less rainfall and longer hours of sunshine. The effects of water stress 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 rootzone 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 rootzone, which will optimise the uptake of any rain and irrigation resources. Renovation risk April weather conditions will have a major impact on the success of renovation programmes, for both sports pitches and golf courses. Crucially important will be soil • Start wetting agent programmes early, especially in dry seasons • Wait for consistent soil temperatures to commence growth regulator programmes • Minimise risk of disease outbreaks during renovation • Watch for local weather and disease risk warnings on the free GreenCast turf management website April Top Tips temperatures and rainfall for successful seed germination and turf recovery. However, the stress of renovation on existing turf can be the trigger for damaging disease outbreaks, at a time of extreme susceptibility and high infection pressure. Turf managers can tip the scales in their favour, with fungicide treatments to reduce the risk and protect plants. Medallion TL has been shown to knock-down pathogen spores in the thatch and prevent infection. And, if turf is actively growing, Headway or Heritage Maxx will get disease control active into the leaf early, where it can move to any damage point to stop disease attack before it causes damage. 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, and better protect playability right through the season. l 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 Recent UK weather records highlight the variation in April that dictates when spring recovery really starts Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 10.7 6.3 6.3 9.2 7.9 203 128 168 145 212 Rain (mm) Days with air frost 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 37 128 64 68 46 1 6 8 1 4

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