Sports Turf Agronomy Advice - January 2023

Tom Wood B.Sc (Hons)in General Interest

Happy New Year; I do hope everyone had some nice time off with friends and family over Christmas. Those fortunate to have had a decent break will now be feeling refreshed and ready to face 2023. For many people, a new year can mean a fresh start, either in work or our personal lives. It can be a good time to reflect on the past year and note down some goals for 2023 and how they are going to be achieved.

Before we look ahead to the forecasted weather for January, let's look back at last month's figures. December gave us a dramatic change in weather conditions from the first week to the last (upon writing this); growth potential was up at 48.5% in week 48 compared to only 14% two weeks later in week 50, that's a dramatic change for turf health. Temperatures dropped throughout the weeks of December and, compared to November, dropped rapidly with average minimum temperatures at zero. Rainfall data was high to begin with in the first week of December with most of the UK experiencing a scattering of snow, and in some cases a foot or so fell. In terms of plant required nitrogen to support growth, this has been minimal to none required at all. This is also backed up by the low accumulation of GDD across the UK. Turf stress has remained in the low/medium conditions, but if temperatures start to increase this could encourage potential disease activity.

Click here if you want to review weather data in your region for December. To keep up to date with the weather throughout November visit












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The forecast for January is a continuation of the colder weather from December, with consistent rainfall forecast for the second and third weeks. However, temperatures increase slightly towards the end of the month with sunny spells and generally better weather forecast. This may provide an ideal window of opportunity to get onto turf surfaces early in the season. Following a busy festive period, a packed fixture list can have serious implications in terms of the condition on the playing surface, particularly if games are played in less than ideal ground conditions. When targeting recovery at this point in the season, it is essential that the fertiliser type is carefully selected. A predominantly slow-release nitrogen source is going to provide little effect in the way of an immediate response to promote growth and recovery, compared to a readily available nitrogen source which can aid recovery immediately.

January is a good time to have soil samples sent off to the lab for analysis. It is good practice to do these at a similar time each year to ensure consistency of results. They are a useful way of gaining an understanding of what is going on within your soil profile. There are a variety of tests which can be undertaken, but a basic soil analysis is a good starting point if one hasn't been carried out before. This provides data which can be monitored over time and, together with an understanding of the physical properties of the soil, provides the foundation of recommendations for an informed nutrition programme. These recommendations are based on the sufficiency level of available nutrients (SLAN) (other methods are available). The level of nutrients present in the soil are measured through analysis and are compared to an optimal or guideline level. Adjustments to nutrient inputs can be made following the concentrations in the soil analysis.


Typical requirements for nutrition will be low this month, as growth is restricted by the low temperatures. The rate of photosynthesis is affected by temperature, therefore at lower temperatures, the rate of photosynthesis is obviously limited by the reduced number of molecular collisions between enzymes. The base nitrogen requirement towards the end of December was 0 and therefore January may follow a similar pattern. However, those looking to encourage recovery on winter sports may apply low amounts of nutrition in an attempt to stimulate some growth if conditions are suitable.


There is still no chemical available to provide control, therefore continue your cultural practices to minimise their impact as much as possible. If soil temperatures are low, then worms will be avoiding colder regions at the surface.

Don't forget to get involved at BTME and Continue to Learn this month. Discover the latest products and innovations, and benefit from educational and networking opportunities. It is taking place at Harrogate convention centre, BTME 24th- 26th and Continue to Learn 22nd - 25th, see you there.

Tom Wood
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS