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  • Writer's pictureMark Hunt

April 24th, 2023

Hi All,

No Chat-GBT in this blog after my dalliance last week. There's a big article in this week's New Scientist on A.I and it makes perplexing reading. The pace of 'progress' and the complete lack of any structure / consideration before pieces of A.I are made available to the public, is and will be, an issue in the very near future for society.

Damn and double damn, I missed yet another bl***y Northern Lights event last night according to The Met Office. There is a good chance tonight though apparently and skies should clear according to the forecasts. The last time we had this, I paced up and down most of the night. At one point I thought I could make out a discernible glow to the east. I then realised it was Corby......enough said 😂

Talking about enough said.....

A bit of housekeeping / clarification on my part. If you receive a flyer like the one on the right, I just wanted to clarify - it is nothing to do with my work at Prodata, I am not in any way working with my past employer and the pricing is about 4 steps out of sync with reality. There now.... big companies, you have to love them......

So April is continuing its unsettled theme and whether you like the consistent rainfall or not, it is very good for nature and for growing plants.

My Snakes Head Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) really like having their feet in a wet soil. They are a plant of the water meadows and so quite rare in the wild due to loss of habitat. If you have an area of heavy clay somewhere on your golf course, why not plant a group of bulbs in the autumn this year ?

I marvel at the intricacy of their markings.

Our weather at the moment is quite different from the norm for April and it is all to do I think with a slow, southerly jet stream and perhaps maybe, the Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event we experienced at the end of February ?

So is it going to change or will we see out April, cool and damp ?

General Weather Situation

Well this week is again a week of parts but there is some light at the end of the tunnel if you are looking for some better temperatures. So we start off with low pressure over Scandinavia and that means the trailing edge of the low pressure is pulling down cold, north winds across the U.K and Ireland with rain and wintry showers associated with them. So for Monday and Tuesday we have this type of weather in place and that means if your skies clear overnight tonight, you may well wake up to a ground frost in the morning. It is quite typical to get ground frosts at the end of April, last year we had two in the last week. Monday looks to be a cool, sunshine and blustery showers type of day and some of those showers will be wintry in nature. Temperature-wise, they'll struggle up to 9-12°C, with the lower temperatures across Scotland, Ireland and Wales. They'll be plenty of showers pushing in from the north west, but these will be concentrated more across the southern half of the U.K and western-facing coasts. Tuesday promises to be a much better day in terms of sunshine and lack of rain but those conditions will provide more of a risk of ground frost I am afraid. So bright, sunny and cold on Tuesday, with lighter northerly-biased winds and no discernible rain until a front touches the feet of Ireland's Teddy Bear (Kerry), later on Tuesday evening.

Overnight into Wednesday, the wind does a turn-around and changes to the east / south east as the influence of the Scandinavian low departs stage right. Initially that change in wind direction won't do much for the temperature and we will still see that 10-12°C sort of range. It will also push more cloud cover across the U.K and Ireland. That overnight rain into Kerry will move north across Ireland during the course of the day. So a dull day on Wednesday with rain across Ireland and some showers moving inland across the U.K. Winds will be all over the place but light, so northerly across Scotland, southerly across the south of the U.K and anything in-between, in-between :)

Thursday sees that rain over Ireland push into the south west of Scotland overnight. Some of it will fall as wintry showers over elevation. Ireland will still see rain across the north and far south during the morning. That rain will consolidate and push into westerly and north westerly areas, West and South Wales, The South West before moving east across all of the U.K during the second half of the day. The heaviest of the Irish rain will be across the north. Another dull day with plenty of cloud and a predominantly easterly wind and temperatures slightly milder at 10-13°C.

Closing out the week on Friday, we will have a much better day, still with those easterly winds though, but more in the way of sunshine and some slightly better temperatures. Some rain though for Ireland which will consolidate during the day and move across country. Temperatures will push up into the low to mid-teens, maybe a tad higher across the south of England but they'll be appreciably lower across Scotland which will see rain push into the west and central during the day.

The outlook for the weekend is mixed. Better temperatures because the wind will push round to the west overnight into Saturday. That will push showers across Ireland, The South West and West Wales later in the day and this rain will move north and eastwards overnight. That rain will be sitting across central and eastern areas on Sunday after mostly clearing the west. It will move across these areas and out into The North Sea but will be re-emerge later in the day. Ireland will have a dull day with some light showers and plenty of cloud cover. Temperatures will remain just a bit on the cool side, with 10-13°C the norm.

Image courtesy of

Weather Outlook

Next Monday is the first day of May, so do we look like turning a weather corner or not ?

Well, I think we will to a certain extent as a finger of high pressure is projected to push up across the U.K and Ireland. This should give us a quieter and noticeably warmer weather picture with temperatures pushing up into the mid-high teens as we progress through the week. The GIF above is the GFS projection for next Friday, 5th May. You can clearly see the finger of high pressure and for the first time on our weather chart, some high temperatures (deep orange) to the south. I don't think we will be completely dry though because with an Atlantic low pressure close by, this will feed showers into the weather picture, particularly at the beginning and end of next week / next weekend. So the sunshine and showers theme continues but with markedly better temperatures and perhaps an unsettled breakdown at the end of the week / weekend.

Agronomic Notes

GDD - How is 2023 shaping up ?

Well earlier this month we were practically at the same point as last year (an early year as well), having romped up to the commencement of the Poa annua seedhead flush. I have had plenty of feedback that this matched up with reality (which is always nice from a relevance perspective). As we move into the closing part of April, the advent of cooler temperatures has slipped us 3-4 days behind and with a colder than average week on the cards this week, we will end April 2023, a reasonable way behind April 2022.

With a cool week this week, we will have a pretty flat growth curve this week with of course a bit of rain as well. As we get to the start of next week and that finger of high pressure asserts itself, we pick up markedly better day AND night temperatures which means the handbrake is released and off growth will go.

Below I have graphed out the projected Growth Potential using Dublin as an example to reiterate how 'nice' a growth flush it will be. The red line is indicative of nice spring growth so you can see how the cool week this week is under that line, but for Ireland, growth picks up from the 28th. Now being more westward, they are a little ahead of the game (not for the first time), but this type of upward growth curve will come to the U.K as well.

With high pressure temporarily in charge, next week should (should!) provide an opportunity to get some drier cuts in and if it were me, I'd be looking to get out my PGR applications on areas that are hard to maintain. So bunker banks, tee banks, areas of rough and the like, (if your site has dried out enough that is) are prime candidates. You will see plenty of seedheads associated with this flush, but the sooner they come, the sooner they'll be gone and with a little light grooming and verticutting, we are better equipped than in the past to manage their negative effect on the putting surface.

Uptake conditions for foliar feeds, PGR's, selective herbicides and the like should be optimal next week.

We are getting more drying days....

If your site is still wet or after this weekend is swamped again (the south of England got clattered over the weekend with another 25mm in places), take heart as we are picking up more and more drying days in the shape of increasing E.T as I commented upon last week.

It isn't just in the south of England, Scotland was similar until temperatures dropped recently. Here's a monthly summary from our Prodata Reports software of a site in Central Scotland and I have highlighted some good E.T days of late...

Now I accept in this location they have had 97mm of rain this month and the E.T is only 50mm, but if you look at the last week or so, it reads 2.2mm of rain vs. 20.37mm of E.T !

We had a few days of very strong winds last week and bright sunlight and that really ramped up the E.T. To me, a reading > 4.0mm per day is heading towards plant stress and for sure some areas on a high sand rootzone will have dried out to the point where hand-watering is required. Thankfully we picked up lighter winds and rain thereafter.

Next week we will have some pleasantly warm days, but I think the winds will initially be on the light side so E.T levels should stay on the lower side.

OK, that's me for this week, wrap up well in those cooler winds and look forward to some nice sunshine and warmth next week hopefully.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

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Stella Rixon
Stella Rixon
Apr 25, 2023

Loved seeing a Snakeshead Fritillary pop out of nowhere at Richmond golf club too in some uncut rough.....a rare plant, not been seen there before and wasn't planted! :)

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