Monthly Archives: November 2011

November 28th

Hi All,

Well, you’ve probably reasoned by now that the absence of a wet and cool weekend in the south meant that high pressure prevailed and pushed that weather west and north yet again, so those lads got fair hammered with wind and rain, whilst it stayed dry in the south. The graphic on the left illustrates the rainfall pattern so typical of this year.

Here in The Midlands, the dry spell continues and Anglian Water are now asking permission to pump water from the River Nene into reservoirs to maintain supply, god knows what happens to golf courses next year if the rains don’t come ?

General Weather Situation

A cool, and at sometimes an extremely windy week in store with some rain for all. A good frost for many areas has started the week in the U.K, whilst to the west, it’s milder and wetter, with rain already moving into Connact, the South-West and then into Wales later today. It’ll feel a good bit milder for Monday night and Tuesday as the wind swings round to the south-west, but that wind will push rain further eastwards over Tuesday. Amounts will be heavy across Ireland, the west coast of England, Wales and Scotland, but will lessen as it progresses eastwards. Another rain front pushes west and north on Wednesday and this may also bring rain to the South, along the M25 during Thursday and by then it’ll feel noticeably cooler in the wind. The wind will be strongest over Scotland and I expect a heavy fall of snow across the mountains there by the end of the week with drifting. Further south we’ll end the week with showers pushed along on a biting wind, so a taste of winter from a temperature perspective.

Outlook

The weekend looks windy and cool as the low pressure passes over the tip of Scotland and this will push a raft of showers over Ireland and the U.K over the weekend and the beginning of next week, falling as snow on higher ground in the north. I’d also expect some frosts over the early part of next week. Winds will be predominantly north / north-west, so feeling cold and they’ll be some showers around with possibly heavier rain for the far south, early doors in the week. Thereafter it’ll be interesting to see because projections suggest another high will build and force the cold low away for the latter part of next week, but we’ll see.

Agronomic Notes

The cooler weather for the south and east will drop soil temperatures noticeably and I’d expect them to be where they are normally for this time of year, so 6-7 °C for most. This means the pressure on cutting will decline markedly, especially on greens, but it’ll also put a check into fairways and roughs. In a way this is good as we need nature to consolidate itself before the winter because a soft, succulent grass plant is more easily damaged by cold, frost, snow cover and wear. You also need to save on your diesel bills for November, which are over budget for many with the higher cutting levels this month 😛

Disease pressure will also be dropping away, although the mild interlude over Monday and Tuesday will increase the activity level briefly. There’s a stark contrast out there between the efficacy of different disease management programs and for sure the last 6 weeks have provided a stern test for any regime. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but if you’re clean, then fair play to you.

Not much to suggest from an application perspective at present because the high winds will put pay to any spraying this week (as predicted last week), however if you’re waiting to apply a late season granular, this would be a good week with the chance of some rainfall and the fact that soil temperatures are dropping away, so there’s less risk of a flush and disease.

All the best and wrap up well :)

Mark Hunt

November 21st – Winter approaching

Hi All,

As the title suggests, it looks like the blocking event that has seen us through most of November with mild and dry conditions is going to invert. This means we move from sitting under a peak of warm air to sitting under a trough of arctic air. Note the weather patterns below and the gradual movement away of the continental high that has log-jammed our weather through October and November. This allows cold arctic air to flood down and form a deep trough with a resident, non-moving, low pressure at its heart. If this scenario transpires, it’ll bring moist cold air down from Iceland and potentially the first snowfalls of the winter, particularly for Scotland and the north of the U.K for the end of November, but it may extend further south than that. Remember, this projection is 10 days away and alot can change in that time. That said, as it stands it looks to me like a dead ringer for the end of November 2010.


General Weather Situation

For the start of this week we have a very recognisable scenario, that of a low pressure system with rain approaching the U.K from the west.  As it does so, it butts up against the continental high which pushes the rain across Ireland and the west / north of the U.K and leaves the south and east dry. So dry is it here in the Midlands that Anglian Water applied for a drought order last week because of the lack of autumn rain, bizarre, a drought order in November.  Now it’s the end of this week that is going to be critical, because if that high pressure moves away, this will allow the low to affect all of the U.K, so cooler and wetter and as hinted above, the start of winter will potentially be upon us soon after.

For Monday, we have the first rain front into Kerry and the South-West of England, Wales and that rain will push north and eastwards across Ireland and into the west of the U.K, but I don’t think it’ll reach the Midlands or South / South-East. That rain front will hang around the west of England, Wales on Tuesday, clearing Ireland and may even give some showers inland, but I don’t expect much. Temperatures will remain mild, with a south to south-westerly wind, so low teens during the day and high single figures at night, provided we keep cloud cover. By Wednesday, more rain reaches Ireland and this pushes into North England, Scotland through Thursday, intensifying to heavy rain by the end of the day.  Friday is the critical day in my mind, because currently the forecasts suggest rain pushing in from the west to affect all of the U.K during the day and if this is the case, it signals the demise of the continental high and at the very least a change in the weather pattern going forward from the end of November. You’ll notice at the weekend if this change takes place because firstly it get wetter and secondly it’ll get cooler as the wind changes round to the north.

Outlook

As discussed above, this really hinges on the movement of that continental high pressure because the projection is for heavy rain to push into the South of England and the Midlands on Saturday and this is then set to be followed by more heavy rain for the start of next week, (w/c 28th Nov) with a change in the wind direction on Saturday to more northerly-north-westerly. Not all projections agree about this, so it’ll be interesting to see who’s right.

Agronomic Notes

If you’re wondering why you have so much disease on higher-height of cut areas, take a look at the picture above, showing both condensed dew and guttation fluid (droplets on the leaf tip) at 3 p.m in the afternoon (I live an exciting life eh?). High atmospheric moisture is currently providing 24-hour, leaf wetness, in other words great conditions for Fusarium. That said, there’s a bit of everything around at present with lots of fungal activity, plenty of mushrooms and active Fairy Ring.

Fusarium activity will begin to decrease, if we get the predicted drop in temperatures, as will growth, and at least we have some clear lessons learnt from previous years about how to condition our turf prior to the onset of winter.

The bottom line is this (in my humble opinion) ;

Turf that goes into the winter healthy, with adequate nutrition in the leaf will emerge healthy. Turf that is either impoverished or excessively lush, due to low / high autumn nitrogen applications respectively, will have a much higher chance of suffering from disease. The same rule applies with respect to Fusarium, in that a clean sward with low fungal inoculation levels will stand a very high chance of coming out of the winter in the same state and that’s why it’s so important to keep disease populations at bay / under control through October and November.

So I’d suggest getting some good cuts into higher-height of cut areas this week if conditions allow and maintaining good plant health using the tips I’ve discussed in previous blogs. Spray days should be ok for the first half of the week, (for the central and south of the U.K anyway) but as the wind increases in the 2nd half of the week, it’ll get trickier.

All the best..

Mark Hunt

 

November 14th

Hi All,

As we continue our way into November, there’s still no sign of winter actually starting. I was fishing on Saturday in summer gear watching Trout take flies off the surface, normally a late-spring / summer phenomenon, with the temperature hitting 16.5 °C during both days of the weekend. This time last year we had just began a slide into winter with a number of heavy frosts and the first signs of heavy snow on the horizon.

Coming up we have a dull and dreary week in prospect with cooler temperatures than last week and not much chance of seeing the sun. The flip side is that the cloud cover will prevent any risk of frost.

General Weather Situation

As you can see from the graphic above, that high pressure system is still sitting over central Europe and blocking Atlantic weather systems from encroaching on our weather, so the wind and rain is going round us.

Speaking of rain, there’s very little of it on the horizon for this week, but the start of next week may be a different matter. So we have a dull and dreary week, lots of cloud cover, cool temperatures barely double figures, low sunlight and for most dry. There is a weak rain front projected to sit just off the west of Ireland mid-week and that may bring some rain to the west of Munster on Wednesday, slowly moving north-east through Ireland, the south-west of England and the west of Scotland through Thursday, but we’re not talking high amounts. Wind direction will be east / south-east until mid-week.

The start of a change takes place on Wed / Thur with a change in the wind direction from south-easterly to southerly and this signals the beginning of that Atlantic low pressure system’s movement east, to affect our weather over the weekend and next week. So a little milder towards the end of the week with that warmer wind.

Outlook

Tricky one this because it’s all down to who wins the battle between the continental high pressure and the Atlantic low pressure. If we look at the Unisys graphic we can see that the low stalls over the weekend before sweeping in with very strong winds (gales) and heavy rain for Tue / Wed next week, so rain, possibly heavy for all of us next week I think.

That said, the wind direction of south-westerly means that temperatures will stay mild so I think we have a pretty good chance of seeing out November with relatively no frost and mild temperatures.

Agronomic Notes

Last week marked the third week of continuously high disease pressure with close to 24hr leaf wetness, a feature of the weather. In addition we have really mild temperatures, with soil temperatures, +5°C to +6°C, higher than normal driving growth on greens with three times per week cuts the norm, and most people saying they could cut every day. Although these conditions are good for growth, they are also unfortunately good for Fusarium.

Leaf wetness is a strong driver for disease because it facilitates mycelium movement across the leaf and from plant to plant. End-users reported dewing last week and by the time they’d finished, the dew had reformed. A lot of this will be Guttation fluid, droplets formed on the leaf tip (see left) which are a mix of water, sugars and nutrients forced out through the cut leaf tip or nodes called Hydathodes. This provides a nutrient boost for developing disease, another reason why disease pressure has been so high.

Like I said before, if you’re clean at the moment, fair play to you….My advice is the same as last week regarding managing the current disease pressure, but I’d add one caveat – Next week’s weather looks windy and wet, in other words very poor spraying conditions, so if you plan to apply a fungicide or a turf-hardening liquid / feed, this week is definitely the week to do it.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

November 7th

Hi All,

Not sure if any of you caught a program last night on BBC2 entitled “Will It Snow ?”, but it broadly confirmed the points I made last week ;

1. Long-range forecasting is a very inaccurate science

2. We cannot predict a blocking event in the jet-stream, which is the scenario most likely to bring us arctic conditions for any length of time.

General Weather Situation

Well a pretty settled week coming up, a bit on the dull and dreary side and with a west-east split in terms of rainfall, though amounts for the west will be pretty light compared to last week anyway !.

As you can see from the graphic above, currently we have an Atlantic low moving slowly eastwards and affecting our weather from mid-week to the end of the week with brisk, Southerly / South-Easterly winds, mild temperatures and light showers, mainly for Ireland, the South-West of England and the west side of the U.K. There’s a possibility of some of this rain pushing further into the central region of the U.K on Friday, but amounts will be light.

So in more detail, a dull start to the week for most places, brighter in the west, but even here cloud will soon push in. A weak rain front will push showers into Kerry, the South-West of England and the West of the U.K later on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, but amounts will be light.

On Thursday, Ireland starts brighter, but showers will continue to nibble away at the South-West corner of the U.K (as if you guys haven’t had enough rain), and these may push eastwards into the South of England and South Midlands during the day, but nothing heavy is foreseeable at present. The heaviest rain of the week will arrive into Kerry on Friday morning and this front will push eastwards across Ireland, but it’s likely to stop there and persist through into the weekend.

Temperatures for the start of the week will be typical for early November, low double figures, but as the low pressure arrives from mid-week, they’ll rise a little to early-mid teens and night temperatures will also be higher.

Outlook

I think we may have the start of a blocking event for next week courtesy of a continental high pressure system. So this will mean a generally cooler spell of weather, lower daytime temperatures and if there’s no cloud cover (as it looks at the moment), a spell of night frosts.  There’s no rain on the horizon for next week, aside from a possible chance on Monday in the west.

Agronomic Notes


The topic of interest is definitely the effect of the mild day and night time temperatures over the last 10 days, both from a negative and positive perspective. The chart above shows the trend over the last 3 years for mild temperatures running into November and that is what’s causing high disease pressure and growth rates.

Disease Pressure

Fusarium activity as predicted last Monday has been extremely high and coupled with the increase in growth and cutting has made control difficult.

Even where products has been applied just prior to this period, there appears to be a delay in efficacy.  What’s actually happening here is that the rate at which the fungal population is increasing is faster than the knockdown effect of the fungicide and this means that the disease appears to be still active, even after a fungicide application has been made.

Only when the environmental conditions (temperature and humidity) change in a way that slows the growth of the disease population will you start to see control. Realistically looking at the weather over the next 7-10 days, I don’t expect this to be for another week or so, when temperatures start to drop and growth rates (fungal) slow.

One of the best ways of assessing your current disease activity is to mark the outside of any ‘active’ disease patches with a couple of dots of turf spray paint and then assess over the next few days whether the patch is actually growing outwards past these marks.

Another parameter to assess is whether there are new disease patches occurring in previously unaffected areas, this is a more definite sign that your present fungicide treatment is not achieving control.

The high soil temperatures are also responsible for increased grass growth and this will ultimately affect fungicide longevity because with a cut rate of 3 times per week at the moment and many people saying they could cut every day (it was the same this time last year), alot of fungicide is being removed from the sward by mowing.

For this reason, I’d suggest taking a week off your longevity aspirations for a systemic fungicide. If you applied your systemic fungicide at 1/2 rate, then I wouldn’t expect much more than 2 weeks longevity under these conditions, so in short, not a wise move.

It goes without saying that alongside your fungicide program, it’s equally important to maintain turf hardener / plant elicitor / iron applications and reduce plant leaf moisture levels (by whichever means suits you) during this period of elevated disease pressure.

All the best and good luck !

Mark Hunt