Sports Turf Agronomy Advice - January 2024

Tom Wood B.Sc (Hons)in General Interest

Happy new year to all; I hope that everyone has had a great Christmas and new year celebrating with family and friends, and we can now look forward to 2024 and new opportunities.

If fortunate enough to have had a Christmas break over a number of days, this can be an excellent time for some to switch off from work and re-charge, ready to go again in the new year. For others, it allows time to step back, away from the day to day duties and reflect on the events of the previous year, and start the planning process. Either way, hopefully the Christmas period has given everyone, in some form or another, that much needed break and now the new year can be approached with fresh energy and impetus.

Before we look ahead to the forecasted weather for January, let's look back at last month's figures. December was a continuation of the wet weather we have seen for much of the second half of the year, it just hasn't stopped! We had some colder spells in November which slowed growth right down, in December we have seen a rise in temperatures to create mild conditions for the time of year.

Growth potential was showing an average of 40.5% compared to last December, which was only 27.5%. This has meant that there has still been some slow steady growth. The issue many are finding is that conditions aren't suitable for mowing. In terms of plant required nitrogen to support growth, this has been minimal, following the GP trend the required N is at an average 0.6kgN per week, whereas last year it was only 0.33kgN, with 131 growth degree days compared to only 71 last December.

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

The forecast for early January is a continuation of the wet weather from December, which will mean a prolongation of the challenging ground conditions. Throughout the rest of the month, it is forecast to be a mixture of some dry periods and showers, as expected. This may allow for some windows to get onto the turf depending on local environmental weather conditions. Temperatures are also as expected for January, mid to late single figures. For those working on winter sports, the challenges of maintaining saturated ground, and managing game damage and expectations will not be easy. For those on fine turf sites, patience will be required to seize the opportune moments to get on when conditions are best to start maintaining towards the start of the season.

January can be 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.

Nutritional inputs

The base nitrogen requirement towards the end of December was 0.6kg of N per week, and typically January would be similar. Therefore, input requirements this month will be minimal, however due to the amount of rainfall we have experienced, nutrition that has been applied may have been lost via leaching and you may decide that there is a requirement to replace the nutrient loss with a low application. Using a suitable nitrogen source that is available for plant uptake will ensure that, when conditions are suitable, growth will be supported. This will support recovery and repair from wear through play.


January means it is time for another BTME and Continue to Learn. Well worth attending for a variety of reasons, such as, to discover the latest products and innovations, benefit from educational workshop and seminars and networking opportunities. It is taking place at Harrogate convention centre, BTME 23rd- 25th and Continue to Learn 21st - 24th; see you there.

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