As the title says it’s been a very tough start to the season for us. We had 24/31 wet days during March, this put us back completing all our winter projects on time. Then we went to the other extreme of dealing with the driest April we’ve had for years.
Going through our rain records April is a notoriously dry month, with 49mm avg. We only had 12.8mm last month. This gave us a few problems, on the course it meant that none of the G.U.R’s were germinating to recovery and on the greens it meant there was a lack of moisture to aid the grass into growth. Lack of moisture isn’t a bad thing as it drives the roots further down looking for water, but after a prolonged period like we had it does become detrimental to the plant.
This chart shows the amount of water the plant lost from evaporation from the soil and transpiration from the plant ( Evapotranspiration), against natural rainfall. As you can see in 30 days, only 3 times did the plant receive more water naturally than it lost, not good!!!. This meant that we had to irrigate to get the moisture levels in the grass to an acceptable level. This had the greenstaff coming up at night to ensure that the greens had the correct amount of water to keep the plant alive.
As greenkeepers in this situation we apply water to keep the grass alive, we don’t do it to make the green more receptive to a shot. To do that would mean applying a ridiculous amount of water that we haven’t got available to us.
Grass need warmth to grow, we have had some decent day time temperatures in May but night time temps have been shocking. Last year we had a night temp of 13.8, this year we’ve been as low as 2.3. It’s the night time temps that are crucial for grass growth.
Last year we had a cracking week from the 5th – 12th that got the greens going, we’ve had the exact opposite this year!!!, this has prevented us from doing greenkeeping tasks that bring the greens on, verti-cutting, top dressing etc.
Because growth has been poor we have literally had to nurse the greens through. As the chart shows we had 4 days of decent growth so hopefully we are looking on the up. Growth potential is measured 0 (none) – 1 (exceptional), 0.6 is good growth. We have a feed going on Wednesday morning so with the chance for grass growth we are taking advantage of the first good spell we’ve had.
Hopefully next week we will be able to verti-cut and put down a decent amount of sand to smooth out the surface.
In other news we have had the air2g2 machine on the greens again, this machine pumps compressed air into the greens causing fracturing that roots and water can use.
If you play anytime soon you will probably see scars on the greens caused by magpies and crows digging for ‘leather jackets’, these are the larvae of daddy long legs. There is absolutely nothing we can do about this as we have had the chemicals to control the problem removed from the market. All we can do is repair the green asap. We are using coloured sand with seed in.
Thanks for reading, please follow us on twitter @ashtonleagreens, this will give you daily reports on the state of the course and updates of what we are doing.
We also have a facebook page, search for Ashton and Lea greens. Please like the page and ask your golfing friends to like the page, make them aware of the good things we are doing and producing.
We are now also posting pictures on Instagram, search for ashtonleagreens, you should find us.
Any concerns or opinions on what we are doing please contact us directly on email@example.com.
Thanks, Mark Shuttleworth ,(Deputy Head Greenkeeper)