Dry and cold April 2021

So I think we’ve all been very aware of just how dry and cold it has been this April. Growth has hardly started, surfaces are drying out and nothing seems to be happening. So whilst we’ve all been struggling to get things moving as we’d like I asked myself the question – how unusual is this?

I used to pull graphs like this out on a regular basis to look at the changing climates impact on how we manage our turf, I really should make more time to do these as they are a real insight into how things are changing for us as an industry check one out here looking at autumn temperatures.

So in this data I pulled out rainfall over the last decade for two sites – Winchester (my home) and Ilkley (my good friend Henry Bechelet’s home) Henry and myself are doing a PodCast looking at the agronomic challenges related in these two spots so this data was to hand – It’s early days but here’s a link to the podcast if you’re interested On the Horizon…..

Well to my surprise – whilst April has certainly been dry (99.9% sure it’ll be a record month) it isn’t actually that unusual to see a very dry April – April showers seem to be out of fashion in the last decade with 8 of the last 11 years looking pretty damn dry to me. In fact looking at that picture you’d go as far as to say the Agronomic odds are stacked in favour of a dry April.

When I was looking through this data the average temperature that usually gets reported, it realised that it just doesn’t reflect the full story. To see the real picture you need to break it down and look at the lowest temperatures that the month throws your way to see what you really had to deal with. When we look at the coldest figures April has delivered we see that April 2021 has been unusually cold, but every April in the last decade has delivered some pretty cold temperatures.

To get the full story though we need to look at the average low temperatures. This is worked out by taking the lowest temperature of the day for everyday that month and working out the average. When you do that for April 2021 it is mindblowing. It’s a good 2 degrees lower than every other year in the last decade. The trend is for this temperature to be dropping too. April is very capable of being a chilly month and these low temperatures are a limiting factor to grass growth. I think that’s why I’m never too keen to get plant growth regulators out too early on putting surfaces. In April, I’d take any growth I can get and am not very keen on slowing it. I know everyone has different philosophies on this but 2021 is a perfect example of why I’d be waiting until the onset of consistent growth on putting surfaces. On wider areas that are labour intensive to mow such as fairways and roughs – go for it, double down on cold temps and a growth regulator and save that labour and fuel but greens?

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