0 Predictably unpredictable

Dave Saltman 3I have certainly noticed the cooler temperatures and the growth of the grass being checked in the last few weeks as autumn starts to take hold. It's a favourite time of year for me as the trees become transformed with their display of colour and the heavy spring/summer workload of mowing, feeding and disease checking comes to an end, allowing us to come up for air.

It's a time to catch up on jobs that have simply had to sit in abeyance, such as checking drains, machinery servicing and repairs.

Living on the west side of the UK, the weather hasn't been great this summer; there has been plenty of rain about to make roots lazy and not have to travel far in search of moisture. Groundsmen and greenkeepers will have had to work harder to improve root growth this summer, and we have been as ruthless as we could with regular aeration practices to give ourselves the best possible chances going into the winter.

Which then brings in the forecasting 'guessing' game. We've enjoyed reasonably mild winters in the last two years and there's always the predictions that this year (as the previous two years were forecast), a coldest winter for a while will descend. From all the various weather predictions that I've been watching so far, we actually look to be in for another reasonable and relatively mild one, so I won't be betting on a white Christmas just yet!

Last winter, we were still cutting grass at the end of January, in fact it was February before the first decent regular frosts and colder weather moved in. Predictions at the moment put the west side of the country on higher than average rainfall this side of the New Year (no surprise there then) and drier towards the east.

Of course, we are in the hands of the jet stream, which can change, but like last year, I see us reaping the aftermath of the Atlantic hurricanes that sweep through the Americas.

The first of this season's hurricanes, Matthew, should have reached the UK just before this magazine comes out. Last year, it was all about the storms and the significant rainfall that they brought with them. Although they aren't intensely powerful cyclones by the time they reach our shores, they still contain a lot of moisture. The American weather authorities are predicting a higher than average storm season, with the possibility of a few major hurricanes evolving from initial tropical storms.

Last year, with the way the jet stream was moving, we would usually endure the subsequent wind and rainfall around a week or so after the East Coast of the US.

We record our daily rainfall, and there were a number of occasions last winter when we had 35mm or more falling in twenty-four hours. That's a lot of rain to contend with, particularly when you're trying to maintain the schedule of events at a venue.

Whatever the weather brings, no doubt we'll all be working as hard as ever to make sure sport is performed on exceptionally good natural grass surfaces.

Good luck to you all.

Cheers
Dave Saltman

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