Monthly Archives: February 2014

February 24th

140224_gfs_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

It’s the last blog of February and we’re really moving towards Spring in a hurry. Yesterday’s mild weather (13°C here) certainly made it feel that way, with the spring bulbs coming through, bird’s beginning nesting, I saw my first Bumblebee and some of you may have been able to get a first cut on outfield areas since Christmas. Doesn’t that make a difference, the smell of fresh cut grass and some nice definition out there for the first time in ages? Of course along the worst hit areas of the south of England it will be a good while before you can even achieve that.MetOfficereportFeb14

I was looking at some data on the news from January and February on where the rainfall actually fell and happened upon this new report produced by the Metoffice on the flooding and the potential cause of it. It’s called “The Recent Storms and Floods in the U.K  – Feb 2014” – You can download it as a pdf here

It has some excellent graphics (see below) and explains that the storm path and moisture content were a result of a lowering in the position of the jet stream and also that the jet stream speed / strength was unusually high. Of course we’ve been chatting about that for the last 5 years, but here is the first suggestion that I’ve read that the change in position of the jet stream may be a permanent feature of our weather due to the temperature differential between the warming Arctic and the equator (The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet)

RainfallMetOffice2014

Graphics courtesy of The Met Office – see link to full report

What this means is that fluctuations in our climate will become the norm and that some of these fluctuations may stay for weeks or months, depending on the position / strength of the jet stream. Of course anything to do with climate isn’t that clear cut because we must remember only last year we had a weak jet stream (though it’s position was again a long way south of where it usually sat, like this year) and that meant cold air from Siberia / Scandinavia was able to influence our winter to make it the worst in 50 years.

So what I’m saying is that we must be prepared as an industry for more extremes in both the long and shorter-term and the courses / sportsgrounds that are able to invest in drainage, topdressing, quality rootzones, etc. will be the winners long-term from a playability / revenue perspective. It’s that simple (to say but not to achieve necessarily). Ok, so after last week’s not so bad weather (I know some of you down south got more rain than forecast on Tue though), how are we looking this week ?

General Weather Situation

Monday looks like being a wet day for some, particularly for the west, north and Scotland where we have had some rain to start the day. Further east and south it’s a dull, mild start with much lighter winds than the weekend. As we go into the afternoon, the cloud should lift to give a few glimpses of the sun, more for the south and east of the U.K.  At dusk, a rain front pushes into the west of Ireland to give a wet night, particularly for the south-east coast, so some heavy rain for Wexford, Cork potentially.

This rain reaches the south-west and west coast of the U.K. overnight into Tuesday and pushes eastwards, so a wet start for the morning rush hour is to be expected. The unsettled conditions will affect all of the the U.K. and Ireland on Tuesday, so sunshine and showers, with a south-westerly wind and temperatures in the high single figures, maybe warmer if you see the sun and get out of the wind :) The main path of the rain is west and north as predicted 2 weeks ago when I suggested the orientation of the rain will change (unlike Mr Cameron :)) . Further east and south, it should be mainly dry and in that wind with Sean reporting an E.T. of 1.3mm at The Oxfordshire for Sunday, things will / are likely to dry out.

Overnight into Wednesday, the unsettled conditions continue, again affecting more westerly coasts, Ireland and Scotland. Further east sits drier and potentially sunnier in that south-west wind, with temperatures remaining high single figures. Later on in the day, a new rain front is projected to affect the west coast of Munster and Connacht by early evening and that’ll push across Ireland overnight reaching the west coastline of the U.K. in the early hours of Thursday.

So Thursday is set to start very wet for the west coast of the U.K. (the bulk of the rain should have cleared Ireland by then) early doors and then this rain pushes eastwards across the U.K. falling as wintry showers over higher ground in Scotland and the North. That rain will reach the east coast by the morning and then push through on the back of a brisk westerly wind. For the rest of Thursday for the U.K and Ireland, it will be unsettled, so sunshine and showers, with again more chance of seeing the sun in the east and south.

We close out the week staying unsettled with the risk of further significant rain over the south-west of the U.K, Ireland and Scotland. Later on in the morning, this rain may track along the south coast and affect The Midlands and Home Counties of the U.K, not ideal I know, but it still may change. As we close out Friday, the rain looks to become localised to Scotland and the south-east/ east corner of the U.K. with a band of drier, brighter weather affecting central areas. Ireland looks to be drier, still unsettled, so you’re never far from the risk of a shower, but hopefully far enough away to have a drier day on the whole, if that makes sense :)

So how are we looking for the coming weekend ?

Well colder and drier looks to be the answer, with the low pressure system that brought rain at the end of the week pushing away.  So Saturday is looking cold with potentially a night frost on Friday night kicking off Saturday. Just about everywhere should be dry save for some wintry showers over Scotland that will become isolated to the Central Highlands (good for skiing:)). The wind will be significantly cooler than of late, swinging round to the north-west and temperatures will struggle to get much above mid-single figures, perhaps a tad warmer in the sun. Sunday looks potentially the duller of the two days, remaining cool in that north-westerly wind, though the wind strength over the weekend should remain light.

Weather Outlook w/c 3rd March

Well after an unsettled week for some this week, we have an Atlantic high (yes, an Atlantic high! :)) pressure system drifting across to influence our weather. This will mean two things: firstly it’ll keep an intense low pressure system well north of the U.K. and secondly, it’ll be drier as a consequence, certainly for the first part of the week. The winds will shift slightly westerly, so temperatures should pick up to high single figures, maybe into double figures you never know :). Moving towards mid-week I think there’s a stronger chance of rain, especially in the north of Ireland (Donegal) and Scotland. So a chance of some rain in the south, nothing significant and with the jet stream remaining nicely up level with the U.K. that should keep the worst of the rain away from us. Later in the week looks to go a bit cooler as the wind swings round to the north-west, but there’s plenty of time for that to change.

 Agronomic Notes

The first thing to comment on is insect activity, with a number of reports of huge Leatherjacket populations visible on the surface after spraying. I think in a mild, wet winter, insect grubs tend to stay closer to the surface, only moving deeper when conditions go colder and so this winter you’re likely to see significant kills from Chlorpyrifos and because the grubs are closer to the surface, visible evidence of product efficacy may be notable. (see below)

Leatherjacketkill

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of spraying this type of product, but if in doubt, just spray a test plot and see if you get a reaction. Certainly when it comes to spring aeration these guys are past masters at sitting in a core hole and chewing a nice counter-sunk pattern around the edge, delaying recovery. Thanks to Alex for the above photo.

Again I’ll mention the requirement for aeration as soon as you are physically able to get a machine onto your greens without causing issues. The plant is definitely low in oxygen, so anything you do fertility wise will be handicapped by the inability of the grass plant to respire. Often just punching some holes through the surface fibre will be enough to see an overall improvement in sward vigour as oxygen allows the plant to take advantage of available nutrition and grow. With the soil temperature sitting higher than normal for late Feb (what’s normal nowadays!) the sooner the better in terms of gaining a plant response from aeration, if of course practically feasible. We have a window before things cool down at the weekend, if you can and are able, I suggest you use it. Even taking a lightweight slitter across the greens, pitches, and vertically cleaving those bridged, surface roots can be great for early season root development.

Disease-wise I’m not getting reports of active, aggressive disease, but again keep an eye on the drier areas of your greens for this because that’s (IMHO) where you’re likely to see it first.

Last week, I did a talk at the German Greenkeepers meeting in Fulda, near Frankfurt. Thanks to Marc Biber, Michael Schlosser and Christa Lung for making me feel so welcome. It’s interesting how each country is approaching the pesticide legislation, bearing in mind that the Sustainable Use Directive has been driven by the German Green Party. So in Germany they currently have 3-4 fungicides available and it’s hoped that in the near future more will become available. There they have a specific structure for discussing / lobbying the rule makers on the requirements of the amenity sector and the backing of course of some large chemical companies to get products registered. The same is true in Scandinavia with STERF and here we have the Amenity Forum doing the same job, providing a voice for our industry with the legislators.

Time will tell how successful they are, but it struck me why when we are in Europe, there isn’t a more integrated approach to this, rather than each country having to re-invent the wheel with their respective legislators. Isn’t that supposed to be one of the advantages of the E.U. I mean if a fungicide can get registered in Germany for the golf market, why can’t it be registered in the U.K. or Ireland, without a seperate, expensive, registration process?

Ok, time to get off my little soapbox again, I need to get my 4th Educational Conference talk finished because next week I’m in Scotland for their conference. After this one I’m taking a break from talks for 6 months at least !!!!!

So next weeks blog may or may not happen depending on how much time I can wangle and the hotels Wifi. Oh the joys of living out of a suitcase from January to April!

Mark Hunt

 

February 17th

140217_gfs_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

After a very hard last week of incessant rain and hurricane winds, Sunday I hope for most was a beautiful day, sunshine, blue sky and a bit of warmth in the light winds. If anything it gives us a glimpse of better things to come because we’re not so far from Spring now, sophoto (29) hold that thought :)

Before I go on to talk more about the weather, a quick word of thanks to Sean and his crew at The Oxfordshire for pushing my ‘Vorsprung Durch Stucknic’ Audi out of the mire when I managed to beach it last Friday, putting some trials down, what a plank :(

As predicted and contrary to what PM David Cameron is was saying this morning (“Brace yourself for more bad weather”) , because as we all know, politicians are really good at forecasting  the weather aren’t they? Maybe they should stick to their day jobs, oh yeah they’re crap at those as well! :)

The jet stream does appear to have taken a hike upwards (temporary or otherwise) and that means the low pressures that are still winging their way across The Atlantic should not hit the same areas that have been worst-affected i.e. the south of England. We’ll still have unsettled conditions, more next week than this week, but it shouldn’t be as bad in terms of daily rainfall totals. The graphic below compares the position of the low that came through on Friday / Saturday, with one projected to come through in a week or so’s time, you can see from the arrow it’s shifted upwards, not much , but hopefully enough to make a difference.

LowPressurecompFeb14

General Weather Information

So a much drier week in prospect for the majority of the U.K. with the exception of Scotland, which as intimated above, will pick up some of the rainfall from a northerly Atlantic low. Further south we’re getting a break, both for Ireland and the rest of the U.K and boy do we need it!

Monday sees a band of rain pushing over Ireland as we speak and into the west coast of the U.K. making landfall in the south-west, Wales and the west coast of Scotland. Through the day, this moves slowly across the U.K mainly affecting western areas, with some heavier rain for the east coast of Leinster and Munster later in the afternoon.  As we go through the afternoon into the evening, the rain shifts along the south coast to affect the home counties, and continues to affect the west coast of the U.K and Scotland. Some light rain may track inland through the middle of the night into Tuesday. Winds will be moderate and from the south primarily with temperatures in the mid to high single figures.

Overnight into Tuesday it’s looking dry for most, with the exception of the north-west of England, west coast and central Scotland, which has the tail of that weak low giving rain throughout the day, possibly heavy over The Lakes. Through into the afternoon, this will dissipate and leave a pretty dry picture overall, with only light rain affecting the west coast of Ireland and the U.K. periodically through the day. Temperatures continue to stay just shy of double figures, with a moderate south-westerly wind.

Overnight into Wednesday, that rain confines itself to the Highlands of Scotland and looks to become wintry in nature, particularly over higher ground. Elsewhere we look pretty dry, except for some light showers affecting the west coast of the U.K and Ireland early doors. Temperatures and wind continues in the pattern of earlier in the week, with maybe lighter winds. By close of play Wednesday, a rain front pushes into the west coast of Ireland and tracks eastwards.

Overnight into Thursday, that rain covers Ireland, with some potentially heavy downpours amongst it and continues to track east into the west coast of the U.K, reaching it in the early hours of Thursday. By morning rush hour that rain is tracking across the U.K. but decreasing in intensity as it does so, except for Scotland, which is closer to the low and where amounts may be heavy. So Thursday looks unsettled with frequent rain showers, but hopefully not the volume that we’ve received in recent weeks.

Closing out the week, that rain fades through Thursday night, again falling as wintry showers over higher ground in Scotland and then what’s left ‘teases’ the west and north-west coast of the U.K. pushing inland across the south coast and into Wales through the day. Away from this rain it should be fine and dry, with a chance of seeing the sun no less. :) It’ll be a little cooler, maybe mid-single figures, but winds will stay fixed from the west.

At this stage the outlook for the weekend looks ok for Saturday with light westerly winds and hazy sunshine for many places after some light overnight rain clears through. Overnight into Sunday a band of rain pushes into the west coast of Ireland and tracks east, so at this stage it may be a wet Sunday start, but the band looks quite narrow, so that means it should clear by lunchtime in the west and central areas, though it’ll be duller for most.

Weather Outlook

Ok, next week is looking very unsettled with the return of stronger winds and heavy rain, BUT at this stage the centre of the low is projected to pass north of the U.K, so although no consolation for Scotland, the south of the U.K and Ireland should miss the worst, though it’ll still be pretty windy and unsettled, with some heavy rain about, even in the south and particularly for the end of next week I think. Not great I know, but at least we’ll have had a breather for rivers to drop and the water table to settle a little.  I’ve got a feeling that after this next low, we’ll get another breather as high pressure starts to exert itself in the mid-Atlantic.

Agronomic notes

GDD Downloadable Excel Spreadsheet

Ok, first off Paul has put together a natty Excel sheet that allows you to enter your daily maximum and minimum temperature. It then automatically calculates your GDD and Growth Potential (which I know some of you use) for the month and charts it below, so that’s cool. You can download it here

Rainfall Stats

Last week I mentioned we’d have our downloadable pdf 2013 rainfall chart finished and Paul has duly obliged so thanks to you all for submitting the data and to Paul for collating it. It’s available to download here

The 2013 trend appears to be similar in some ways to 2012, in that the east coast of England is the driest area, the south-west and north-west, amongst the wettest, but in 2013 the south of the country received less rain, before of course the deulges that started just as we finished recording 2013 data at the end of December. Ireland is similar to the U.K, the east of Ireland correlates well with southern England and the west of Ireland, similar to the south-west of England. Who knows what 2014 will bring ?

Current Conditions – Synopsis

I guess it’s a good time to take stock and look at a number of different aspects of turf management at present.

Firstly, it’s clear to many that the heavy rains, high water table and low light conditions are beginning to make the turf suffer, perhaps over the last week or so I’ve had quite a lot of reports of areas going off colour and I think this is linked to two factors – the first is a lack of oxygen in the rootzone caused by high levels of moisture. I started doing some work last week with a moisture meter (Delta-T HH2) and was amazed at the variability across a green in terms of % moisture content. Now don’t all email in and say yep we all know that because I’m just getting started, so be patient please :). I used a plotting Add-In to Excel called Dplot Jr to graph out a 6×6 grid of plots taken across a green. Here’s how it looks….

Ox10G

You can see the % moisture content varies from 25% right up to 70% and so it’s likely that in the areas where the moisture content is high, the grass plant will have little oxygen available to the roots due to waterlogging.

So as I said last week, the first time you can get a machine out onto your greens without causing more harm than good, I’d suggest a small solid tine, down to 4″ depth to let the roots breathe.

Thereafter I think it’s a good time once oxygen is forthcoming to move greens on and take advantage of the so-so temperatures. You could squeeze in a liquid this week on most days, but if you can’t get a sprayer out there, then a light-rate granular fertiliser will do nicely. Nothing heavy, just 25gms/m2 of a 5-6% N product will work grand.

It’s also a good time to treat moss, so either high rate ferrous sulphate sprayed on or a granular moss treatment. Now after attending the class at the GIS show in Orlando, it’s clear to me that moss is an extrenely persistent plant, despite the fact it doesn’t have a root system as such and probably never gets to the point of producing spores on lower cut amenity turf, it still manages to out-compete grass very effectively and that’s because firstly it can grow better at lower light levels (Oct – Mar) and secondly it can stand extreme dessication, so you’ll often see it coming in on weaker, high points. I think it’s main mode of spread is by movement of vegetative matter and for sure, there’s plenty around at present, so if you’re looking at a lot of moss, you’re not alone I can assure you.

I mention light because it’s also very obvious to me that not only have we had lots of rain, but it’s been dull and so we’ve had pretty much low light levels since mid-December. That’s holding back growth as well, despite milder temperatures, however the days are really stretching out now and that extra light and higher sun position will help to get the plant photosynthesising. This is particularly a problem on high content bentgrass greens, be they Colonial or Creeping, these grasses need light to push on and grow and a dry surface. Neither of which has been forthcoming recently, so Poa (and Moss) has had the upper hand for the last 8 weeks or so.

Lastly, the mild winter has been great for over-wintering grubs and I’ve had a good number of Leatherjacket activity reported as well as Chafrer Grubs, so keep an eye out on past-affected areas.

That’s it for today’s blog, must get packed as I’m off to give a talk in Germany at a greenkeeper’s meeting.

All the best everyone and remember Spring isn’t far away now :)

Mark Hunt

 

February 10th

140210_gfs_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Slightly bleary eyed as I start this week’s blog, but plenty to catch up on for sure. I won’t go on Costaabout the lovely weather in Orlando because I gather last week whilst I was away, it was pretty rotten here, evident by the sheer amount of water visible everywhere when we came through the clouds at Gatwick.

As some of you will know I’m a bit of a coffee hound and christ if anyone needs good coffee, it’s Orlando. You either get frothy, sweet dirge or bitter tasting crap, that would probably be more suited to cleaning my bikes exhaust system. In desperation one morning I looked at the Costa Coffee App to see where my closest Costa was. I was depressed, but amused to see if was 4,000 + miles away in Co. Sligo ! Needless to say it couldn’t navigate me there easily !

You are all well-informed enough to know that yet again the jet stream is the cause of the crap weather, now that thew BBC has finally cottoned onto it. Currently it’s sitting low across Spain, in contrast to last year when it was in the same position abut then we had a slow jet stream that allowed cold air to move in from the east, this year we have a strong jet stream and it’s pushing low after low across the U.K, but crucially instead of making landfall in the west and north, they’re coming into the south and south-west of the U.K.

It’s not just us that are suffering though as America has its own issues. The same jetstream is pushing Arctic air down into the north of America, bringing crippling snowfalls and ice storms. It’s been like this since mid-December, co-incidentally the same time our weather changed for the worse as well. Over on the west coast, California is in the grip of an extended drought so severe that some areas will totally run out of water unless rains arrive this Spring.

JetStreamFeb102013

Graphic courtesy of Meteoblue showing peaks forming upstream of the U.K & Ireland which may change the orientation of the low pressure systems coming across the Atlantic.

So when will it end ? The answer is when heat starts to build at the equator and generate high pressures that will push the airflow further north and change the orientation of the jet stream. Is there any sight of this presently ? Maybe, is my answer because I’ve noticed that we’re starting to see some peaks forming in what was a totally flat pattern. (See above) These peaks will change the orientation of the low pressure systems and their severity. We’ve still got a couple of humdingers for this week, one mid-week, one at the weekend, but after that, things could be changing for the better….Whether that change is temporary or permanent we will have to see. One things for sure though, whatever happens we’re in a westerly airflow which means we’re likely to go through the winter without snow (for many) and with minimal frost compared to last year.

Before I go on to the weather, I’d just like to say thanks to all the lads from Ireland and the U.K that I met in classes last week at the GCSAA show, in particular the guys on the Bernhard trip and over with BIGGA. We had some good laughs, learnt a thing or two and you definitely lightened up the day for me. As usual I asked too many questions in the classes and for that I apologise :(

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a quiet, dry and frosty start (where the sky was clear) for many with two areas of rain sitting over the west coast of Ireland and the south-east of England. The former will move slowly across Ireland and into the north-west of England through the day. The latter will stay in situ and perhaps intensify later into the afternoon to give significant rain over Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. Temperatures will be on the cool side, mid-single figures and winds will be light and from the south. Away from these rain fronts, it’ll be bright and dry, yes dry !

For Tuesday we have another low pressure on the way and this pushes the wind around to the west and strengthens in intensity. This pushes a rain front into the west of Ireland overnight into Tuesday, perhaps arriving late Monday night. This rain front makes landfall on the west coast of the U.K in time for the morning rush hour and will bring rain and wintry showers over higher ground for many. The rain pushes east to cover the U.K and then clears by dusk. Early afternoon, a new front pushes in to Ireland in the form of wintry showers and again moves east, but fragments into wintry showers, primarily for the north-west of England and west coast of Scotland.

Overnight into Wednesday, those wintry showers are still in place, pushed along by gale force, westerly / south-westerly winds, making it feel bitter in the wind. Elsewhere a dry start, but it won’t hold that way because by mid-morning, a new rain front pushes into south-west Munster and the south-west of England quickly moving north and east to cover both Ireland and the U.K with heavy rain. Again these showers will be wintry in nature on higher ground.

As we go into Thursday, those wintry showers have cleared the south and west, but remain firmly in place over the north east of England spreading north into Scotland to give significant snowfall over higher ground, and rainfall lower down, particularly around Edinburgh and the north-east of Scotland. To round out the day, a weak rainfront pushes into Kerry and the south-west of England and tracks north-east (where else?) to give wintry showers again on higher ground. Winds remain strong from the west and it’ll feel bitter in the wind, not nice for one and all.

As we close out the week, we have another deep Atlantic low to contend with pushing into Ireland and the U.K late in the day. At this stage it’s projected to skim along the east side of Munster and Leinster and mainly affect a line from South Wales upwards, with the north-west / north of England projected to receive the worst of the deluges. By the afternoon the rain will be across all parts, pushed along by strong westerly winds. Later on more rain arrives, this time for the south coast of England and gives some heavy bursts in a line from the Isle of Wight up to The Wash.

The weekend looks like being another test for us all as gale force north-westerly winds are set to hit us on Saturday and push blustery, wintry showers across the U.K and Ireland. The bulk of these falling in the early hours of Saturday for many. Temperatures will scrape into the mid-single figures, but it’ll feel bitter in the wind and squally showers. Sunday looks better at this stage, with a drier, possibly frosty start as the winds begin to drop from the north-west and we may even see the sun for a good spell of time :)

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to be a quieter one, certainly a drier one, with only a light low present early in the week to bring unsettled conditions with some rain for Monday. It’ll be cold with northerly winds for the start of the week, but from Wednesday the wind will shift round to the west as a new low pressure system approaches, but if I’m right the slight change in orientation of the jet stream will push the centre of the low northwards, so the worst hit areas of the country will miss the brunt of the rainfall. So the second part of next week looks like being milder, windy from the west and with unsettled conditions, but hopefully not the rainfall volumes we’ve seen of late, particularly for the south of the U.K. You guys really need a break I know.

Agronomic Notes

So what’s new in the States ?, Well interestingly I think they’re in danger of meeting themselves coming back in some areas. The cold weather has got a lot of people twitching because there had been a trend to re-grass with Tifdwarf Bermuda further and further north to withstand the hot summers. Obviously this grass isn’t good at taking prolonged cold weather, so once the snow goes it’ll be interesting to see how it has coped. The same on the Poa annua / Bentgrass greens along the transition zone, where they are just going past the 30 day mark under ice., not nice.

Changing Perceptions ?

I think their game and the perception from golfers of what is acceptable is going to have to change longer-term, not on greens, but on fairways. They still have an issue with any blemishes of disease / pests on fairway areas, so they spray fungicide, insecticide, etc on large areas, regularly. Great news for the chemical companies, but is it really such an issue to have some disease on these areas and for them not to be verdant green all year round ? Ok we must appreciate their climate is a lot more extreme than ours, but ultimately I think they’re in danger of meeting themselves coming back in terms of pesticide usage. It’s not like this for everyone of course, some guys have educated their members, changing their perceptions and it’s working, I met some whilst i was out there and they were a pleasure to chat to.

How Relevant is the U.S Turf Industry to the U.K, Ireland and the rest of Europe ?

I ask this question because I left many of my classes quite frustrated, firstly because their climatic conditions mean that what works for them patently doesn’t work for us, specifically in terms of grass species. For example, I asked Frank Rossi, “What grass species would be best suited to compete with Poa in a low light, cool, high rainfall climate?” and he said, “You need a companion grass to Poa”..Yes I know that, but what is it ???…….they’re looking again at Velvet Bentgrass, Red Fescue, etc, but I’m afraid whatever you think, none of these will out-compete Poa from October to March in low light conditions, particularly if there is no winter dormancy. In the U.S, they typically have hot summers that stresses out Poa or cold winters that render all grasses dormant. We don’t, certainly not consistently over here in the U.K or Ireland.

To illustrate the last point, look at the GDD data for January 2014 and you can see how much opportunity there was for growth, 18 out of 31 days no less. And what grass species will be growing ? Poa.

DailyGDDJan2014

So should we just live with it ?, maybe, but my concern is that with a tighter range of fungicides likely to be available in 3-5 years time, we may not have the control options for Microdochium that we have today. So to the European grass breeders, we need new cultivars of Bentgrass, that grow well in low light and have good disease resistance.

A lack of Research

A lot of the research papers I saw being quoted were old, 70’s and 80’s research on nutrition, hardly relevant nowadays. In the U.S for example, they’re totally revamping their guidelines on soil analysis, taking levels much lower than they have been because they’ve been over-applying certain nutrients according to Base Saturation Analysis, particularly calcium and potassium. Indeed it appears this system of analysis is now largely discredited in the U.S, unless you’re in a high salt situation, whereas 15 years ago, it was the way to go and anything different was old school.

Bottom line is that we need more research in the U.K and Europe to provide a sound basis for our industry going forward because we can’t look to / expect it to come from the U.S. The problem is the lack of funding and places to do that research. (IMHO)

Rainfall Data

Paul in I.T has collated all the rainfall data that you sent in, it’s available in an interactive version on the bottom right of this blog under ‘Useful Weather Links’ and we’ll have a downloadable version too, later in the week.

GDD and Growth Potential Spreadsheet

After my talk at BTME, I had a number of guys ask me for the formula for calculating GDD (that I use) and if it was available in a spreadsheet, so you could just enter your minimum and maximum temperature and the GDD was automatically calculated for you. Paul’s been busy on this and together with the downloadable rainfall pdf, we will have a spreadsheet this week that automatically converts temperature data into GDD and Growth Potential, so you can track it through the year.

I’ll do a mini update later this week with a hopefully firmed up next week’s forecast (to give you some better news fingers crossed) and with the two downloadable files available as well.

Off-Colour Turf

It’s hardly surprising that one of the consistent bits of feedback I’m getting relates to off-colour surfaces. It’s unlikely that this is due to lack of nutrient and more likely that it is due to a lack of oxygen because if the grass plant can’t respire efficiently, then it won’t uptake N effectively and so will begin to show yellowing, particularly on the older leaves, as it moves N around the plant to the younger growth. So if you see your sward yellowing and you’ve been on the receiving end of high, localised rainfall, then reaching for fertiliser alone is not the answer. It may actually make the situation worse by encouraging the plant to grow and use up the low levels of available oxygen. So as soon as conditions allow, I’d advise getting out with a spiker, slitter, solid tining, small tine, compact vertidrain and help that grass plant breathe. The latter is particularly relevant on poor-draining rootzones and less so on good quality, coarse / medium sand ones. Once you’ve achieved this, then yes fertiliser will help bring the sward back to where it needs to be. A big ask I know at present because many clubs can’t move machinery out of their sheds, but if we get a window, then I suggest you use it.

Ok that’s all for now, I’ve a long to-do list and a meeting in a Costa !

Mark Hunt