Author Archives: mark.hunt

November 20th

171120_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Only a month to go to the shortest day and then we are on the way back to summer :). I always think it is kind of bizarre that we reach mid-winter before we normally receive any cold weather and mid-summer in June before the hottest weather arrives ?.

Thanks to everyone for coming along to the GCMA Conference to listen to my talk, a great venue at Mercedes World (thanks Bob and Jennie) and to the BIGGA South East Regional Seminar at Writtle College, another great venue and well-organised Kerry :)

So a very different feel to the weather this Monday after successive Monday morning frosts. As forecast we now have a mild, south westerly airstream in place and that means, mild, wet and windy is the outlook for the next week or so. Unwelcome the rain may be in some places but here in The Midlands, we need rain, as our reservoirs are currently below summer level with Rutland Water, 5ft down. That’s a lot of water required to get where we need to be before 2018.

BarraJust before I move onto the weather, there won’t be a blog next week as I’m off on my travels, this time to Mexico, saltwater fly fishing on the flats and in the Mangrove swamps for Bonefish, Tarpon and those toothy critters, Barracuda. I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of the Lemon Sharks and Saltwater Crocs and other wildlife, but at a respectful distance of course with the former. I’m kind of looking forward to it :)

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a much milder airstream in place and you’ll feel the difference as soon as you step out of the door, mild and windy like. No surprise then that we have some rain around, some of it heavy across Scotland and western coasts. We also have some showers inland crossing Ireland and down in the south east as well. Through the morning we will see rain cross Ireland and Scotland, pushing down into northern England and across Wales before moving inland. The majority of the rain will be north and west-orientated with that northern rain mass oer Scotland persisting for the entire day I am afraid. Cool here as well as you hang onto the colder weather whereas across Ireland, Wales and England it’ll feel very mild for the time of year with temperatures in the low to mid-teens buoyed by a strong to moderate westerly / south westerly wind. That north / south temperature divide will be a feature of the week.

Onto Tuesday and again we see a north / south divide with a very strong rain front pushing into Scotland overnight and falling as sleet and snow over higher elevations. This rain front has its origin in south west Ireland so stretches across Ireland diagonally and then up across northern England and Scotland. South of this we will stay dry (and dull)  most of the morning before that rain begins to push south in the afternoon into Wales and The Midlands for the 2nd part of the day.  The east / south-east may indeed miss all of this and therefore have a dry and dull day. Again we have that dichotomy of temperatures with Scotland cool and into the mid to high- single figures. Further south and west, it’ll be similar to Monday across Ireland, Wales and England, so low  to mid-teens is possible and with a moderate to strong westerly / south westerly wind.

Mid-week already and again an unsettled picture but Scotland looks to get a bit of a break with the rain forecast to affect south west Ireland, Wales and northern England initially as dawn breaks. Through Wednesday morning that rain will consolidate into heavier downpours with flooding likely across The South West, Wales and north west England. Again, east of this rain, it’ll be dull and possibly feature some light rain, whilst Ireland will see further rain in the afternoon, possibly more western and centrally-orientated. Scotland looks to stay mainly dry during the daylight hours on Wednesday. As we approach dusk that heavy rain across north west England and Wales begins to creep inland across northern England and The West Midlands. By nightfall we will see more rain across Ireland and pushing into Scotland whilst that heavier rain down south pushes slowly eastwards. Very mild again with low to mid-teen temperatures likely in that strengthening and gusty south westerly wind.

Overnight into Thursday and that main rain front passes eastwards and clears into The North Sea overnight to see us start the day with a reasonably dry picture, except for Scotland where we will see a continuation of wintry showers across Central Scotland. A chance to see the sun on Thursday morning as well. So dry, mild and sunny during the morning for most areas, except Scotland, but by the afternoon we will see rain pushing into The South West and Wales and this will quickly cross eastwards. At the same time we are likely to see rain across north Connacht and Donegal but for the rest of Ireland a much brighter and mild, drying day. That rain over the south of the U.K and wintry showers over Scotland fizzles out as we approach dusk to leave some isolated rain fronts affecting The Lakes and that’s about it, so a dry (ish) picture going into Friday.  Again very mild with mid-teens likely across Ireland, Wales and England, but single figures I am afraid for Scotland.

Closing out the week and I’ll be packing for warmer climes hopefully. Weather-wise, Friday sees a dry and much cooler start for all of the U.K and Ireland but it doesn’t last as almost immediately a front of heavy rain is projected to push into southern England through the morning pushing north and eastwards into The Midlands and East Anglia. Further west across Ireland and north across northern England and Scotland, a dry, settled day until the afternoon when rain will push northwards into northern England. Lighter winds on Friday will actually spell a cooler feel to the weather with temperatures a good 3-4°C down on the previous day across England, Ireland and Wales. As we close out Friday that rain front over southern and northern England consolidates to bring heavy rain for all of England and Wales with some of those showers turning wintry across The Pennines as we come under the influence of a more northerly airstream.

So how does the weekend look ?

Well cold that’s what as we pick up a more northerly airstream and this will turn those showers more wintry in nature with more consolidated rain over the southern half of the U.K on Saturday. So I think wet and cold across southern England but drier and frosty across Scotland and the north of England with a cold northerly wind in charge. Ireland I think will be dry on Saturday but appreciably cooler than of late for all of us, except perhaps the far south of England which will hang onto a milder airstream longest. So a wet start, clearing to leave a dry, cold picture for most of us on Saturday and Sunday I think we continue that cold theme with frost likely in bright, dry conditions for Wales, England and Ireland. Scotland in contrast will be cool, dull and possibly wet on Sunday, a real raw day I think.

Weather Outlook

Hmmm this is an interesting weather outlook because if Unisys are right we will be locked into an eastern low pressure system next week after initially starting mild. Now there’s always a caveat with the weather isn’t there and each time this autumn / winter I’ve seen this projected, the low has been moved eastwards and we have retained high rather than low pressure. This time I’m not so sure although it has to be said that projections differ for next week, some are with a more northerly airstream, some more westerly.

So next Monday I think we will be very windy and very wet starting off across Scotland but quickly affecting the rest of the U.K and Ireland. A gale force, westerly wind is likely initially. By Tuesday that low pressure is sitting east of us and so it’ll be drawing down some very cold air in a northerly airflow. If this happens I’d expect wintry showers will become more likely particularly across eastern coasts. Not particularly wet after the early part of the week but cold and showers pushed down on a northerly airstream in-between we will see some nice winter sunshine but it’ll feel raw with a capital ‘R’.  It should be noted that again we will have a high pressure system out west of us in The Atlantic so this will try to nudge in and push the low eastwards. Time will tell which one will dominate but currently it looks like the low pressure will throughout next week, it’s just a question of whether it’ll have a northerly or westerly component.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

141117temphumLast week we picked up  some mild night time temperatures accompanied by high humidity as this screen shot from my trusty (so far) Netatmo Weather Station shows with 10.6°C and 98% humidity at 21.43 p.m. Curiously we also saw a similar peak last November at the same time.

Not surprisingly I noted disease activity associated with these favourable climatic conditions but mainly around the edges of areas previously infected rather than new infection sites.

I wonder if this is consistent with what you saw, i.e. activity around existing scars rather than new outbreaks of disease ?

Please feel free to feed back to me if at all possible.

newdisease141117

If we look at the coming week we have a repeat of these conditions with several mild nights forecast and with unsettled weather, it’s no surprise that we will also have some high humidity levels as well.

The difference this week compared to last week will be the level of wind with a much windier week forecast. I wonder if this will make a difference ?

wc201117humtEMPFORECAST

So above is my location’s weather forecast for this week in terms of minimum temperature (in orange columns) and relative humidity (blue line).

If we look at this more closely we can see periods of high projected air temperature and high humidity and it is these that could very easily cause activity from a Microdochium perspective. (Although I’d also expect other diseases like Red Thread to put in an appearance on high Ryegrass / Fescue swards and don’t rule out Superficial Fairy Ring because it is often active at low temperature)

I have marked the periods in red columns when I expect disease pressure to be highest this week…

wc201117humtEMPWarning

Please feel free to feedback to me if this does or doesn’t transpire to be the case in terms of disease activity and whether it is on new or existing areas.

Silver Thread Moss (and bad nails)

SilverThreadMoss

In the picture above you can see the familiar ‘bowl’ shape of Silver Thread Moss (STM) and this along with its hydrophobicity makes it such a hard opponent to tackle when it comes to control.

Before though you do consider applying a product to control moss I always think you also need to consider why it is there in the first place because sometimes we are guilty of tackling the symptom rather than the cause.

Sometimes the cause can be due to accumulated fibre on the surface or poor rootzone characteristics causing water to be perched in the surface and thereby providing an ideal environment for moss to flourish.

In other cases it may be the exact opposite reason, where it occurs on areas of fine turf which are subject to droughting out and so loss of grass cover provides ‘voids’ in the sward for new moss to establish. I’ve said it before but STM can withstand high temperatures and levels of dessication even compared to the hardiest of grass species so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see it appear on thin stands of turf that are subject to dessication.

I remember a wetting agent trial I ran in 2006, we had a very hot August and after subjecting the plots to low irrigation levels I then turned the water off and not surprisingly noted grass stress in > 30°C temperature. In-between the patches of stressed grass I could see little green specks and on examination found out that they were colonies of Silver Thread Moss growing quite happily alongside bleached Poa annua and Bentgrass. A bit of an eye opener that was.

So it’s worth looking at where STM is occurring and then having a good think about whether you can change the environment it is growing in, to tip the balance away from it and towards healthier grass growth.

Speaking of tipping the balance, it is this period of the year, from November through to the end of February when I always think that the balance tips in favour of moss species (and Liverwort for that matter) when we have periods of low light and moisture. That’s why I think raising fertility (gently) mid-winter isn’t such a bad idea as it encourages healthier grass growth whenever we have a window and thereby tips the balance back towards grass and away from moss and the like.  If you are considering treatment with a chemical, it is 100% the case that moss must be fully-wetted up before you apply. It’s no good using high water volumes to try and achieve this because moss and Liverwort are hydrophobic when they are dry so they’ll do a great job of resisting water ingression. Even if you sprayed at 1,000L per hectare water volume it’s only the equivalent to putting 100ml of water across a m2 and that isn’t a lot in my books and certainly insufficient to wet up something like Silver Thread Moss.

Better then to let Mother Nature do the work for you and then follow with an application when it has done so.

Ok that’s it for this week, I have a long things-to-do-list to clear and some packing to be done before shipping out. Catch you on the flipside in early December hopefully :)

All the best.

Mark Hunt

November 13th

171113_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Another Monday, another frost, that makes it 4 this month and quite a change from the record-breaking warmth of October.  Along with frost we picked up our first snowfall for the year across Scotland / higher altitude parts of northern England and with it the Daily Tabloids threat of a 3 week Arctic blast. (Thanks Alan for the snippet below…)

sn

They must have been extremely bored / drunk / stoned (delete where applicable)  to put together this headline because by later today we will be in double figures in Scotland and then the rest of the U.K by tomorrow. It just shows what utter crap they write when it comes to weather and for that matter, most subjects….As for running out of grit after 4 frosts, you must be joking ?

The one grain of truth is the fact that our temperatures are the same as say Moscow’s which makes Russia pretty mild for the time of year rather than us super cold.

I do get asked about our prospects for the winter and I always answer that you can’t say beyond 10 days but what I would note is that the current position of the jet stream favours colder air flow from the north and east so that increases the chance of a cold snap at some point, but when is another matter. I also note Paddy Powers odds for a White Christmas are disappointing low suggesting they either monitor the position of the jet stream as well or more likely read the Daily Mail / Express.

Onto this week…

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with another dry, cold and frosty morning for many with the exception of north west Scotland where a rain front is pushing in and turning to sleet and snow where it meets the resident cold air. As we progress through the day, this rain front sinks south over Scotland and also pushes into Connacht and moves south east during the afternoon. For the rest of the U.K, we have a dry, sunny and pleasant winters day with cloud building from the west heralding a rise in temperature. Ireland looks to have a mianly dry day on Monday, except for that rain pushing into Connacht later in the day. Mild here with double figure temperatures. For central and southern U.K, we will be cold today with that north westerly wind in attendence, lighter though than the one which froze my nadds off yesterday on Draycote reservoir. Through the day the wind will shift to the west and that pushes in milder air so we will see the temperature rising as we approach dusk rather than going the other way.

For Tuesday, that northern rain front has slipped south overnight into northern England, Wales and possibly The Midlands / South and across Ireland too. By dawn most of that rain will have fizzled out with only the North Welsh coast and The Pennines still affected but it means Tuesday will be a cloudier day for most with some of that cloud over Ireland thick enough for some drizzly rain on occasion. A much milder day though for all of us with temperatures in the low double figures and dry for most in a moderate westerly wind. Later in the afternoon we see a new rain front push into Connacht (you guys again :( ) and push across the northern half of Ireland through the course of the evening.

Mid-week already and Wednesday brings a more unsettled picture with rain pushing eastwards across the north of England, Wales and The South West as well as across Ireland, Through the course of the morning we will see more consolidated bands of rain push eastwards across Ireland, the southern half of Britain and Scotland as well. By the late afternoon most areas except perhaps the far east will likely have seen some rain. So another dull day, mild again in that westerly airflow and wet in places, with that rain pushed along by a light to moderate breeze. Temperatures again in double figures across Ireland, Wales and England, but cooler across Scotland as you are the first to lose that westerly airflow.

Overnight into Thursday and we continue with that unsettled picture with a band of heavier rain pushing into Scotland from the west and moving across country. The same for Ireland with a band of rain moving down from Connacht across Munster and departing stage right by dawn hopefully. This band of northern rain will probably extend down into The Pennines and Northern England early on but as we progress through the morning that rain is replaced by brighter, cooler weather from the north west and along with it a cooler, north westerly wind. Further south we see a similar picture with that northerly rain band moving south through the course of the day and bringing colder, brighter weather behind it, with a change in the wind to north westerly perhaps only reaching the far south on Thursday night. So a much colder picture as we finish Thursday with the risk of frost I think in many places.

Closing out the week, Friday sees that northerly change in the wind bring snow and sleet showers to North Scotland and these will push south into Central Scotland in time for the morning rush hour. For Ireland and Wales, we start pleasant enough with some cloud cover keeping the temperatures honest, but further south we will be dry, bright and perhaps frosty as we start Friday. Through the morning that band of wintry showers extends south into northern England so another dusting likely for The Pennines me thinks. For the 2nd half of the day, we see cloud cover build over The Midlands and the south of England but those wintry showers look to fizzle out on Friday night. A pretty raw day on Friday for us all with temperatures back down into the 5-7°C territory :)

The outlook for the weekend is mixed I think…

Saturday looks on the whole dry for us all in the morning anyway but by lunchtime there is a risk of rain pushing into south west Ireland and pushing across country for the 2nd part of the day. For Scotland, England and Wales I think it’ll be a cold, dry day with varying amounts of cloud and temperatures sitting in the 5-7°C range, pinned down by a north westerly / westerly airflow associated with a cold low pressure system. Sunday to me looks like being dull and unsettled across the west with an Atlantic low due to push in, whilst the U.K looks like being cool, dry and sunny, sandwiched as we are between two low pressure systems.

Weather Outlook

So next week looks quite different to recent weeks in that we are set to start the week with I think an Atlantic low pressure system in charge. Right from the off I think we will see heavy rain for Ireland on Monday and this will push across to affect the rest of the U.K on Tuesday in a strong southerly / south westerly air flow. I think the north west will catch it on Wednesday and Thursday but with the low pressure system sitting south of the U.K, I believe we will see more rain across the south of the U.K at the end of next week. So an unsettled week, next week, with strong (cool) winds and frequent rain.

Agronomic Notes

Fungicide Longevity…

I got quite a lot of feedback last week about my piece on apparent fungicide longevity through October 2017 vs. 2016, so I’ve decided to pick another geographical locations to determine if the model I put up last week for the Thame, Oxford location was consistent.

So I’ve picked York (thanks Adrian for the stats) as another location to run the comparison of  growth potential 2017 vs. 2016 and then look at how long a fungicide application would have lasted for potentially.

In crunching the stats, I also uncovered another reason why October 2017 was a tricky one…

Oct201617York

So in the above graph we see two schematics, one in red showing the cumulative G.P for 2017 and one in green, 2016. I have again assumed that a fungicide application was made on the 1st of October in both years and that the total longevity of that application was around 10, total G.P.

So for the application in 2016, we see the projected fungicide longevity to be 26 days (identical to the Thame location coincidentally), whereas for 2017, we reached that same cumulative G.P figure on the 16th October. (15th actually if you’re splitting hairs).

So again we see that we have 10 days less longevity in 2017 than 2016, in a different location.

As hinted above, there’s another twist in the tale though because I also noticed that the mid-part of October 2017 displayed the highest  daily G.P. So if we look at the figures in reverse and assume when we apply we have 100% concentration of fungicide and then assume it is removed in clipping yield according to growth potential, we can see that we run out of product on the 16th of October, but if we aslo overlay the daily G.P figures, we can see that at this point in the month, the disease pressure (as denoted by G.P) was at its highest…

Oct201617YorkFung

So in other words, as our fungicide cover was at its potential lowest, the disease pressure was at its potential highest, and that’s why some places got caught out…

Now I accept that this is a simplistic model and that other factors including PGR usage, grass species, nutrition levels, speed of fungicide uptake will all have a bearing on this, but it goes to show why it was difficult to manage disease last month.

Looking ahead…

With the milder westerly airstream forecast to push in at the early part of this week and then depart again in time for the weekend (why does it always do this ?), we may see a spike in disease activity (around existing scars more likely than new infection) on Wednesday this week as we enjoy a mild day, mild night and high humidity. After that I expect it to decline as that north westerly airflow takes over.

From a nutrition perspective or looking to apply a fungicide this week, then this spike should coincide with a good uptake window before things settle down again later in the week with the arrival of the cooler temperatures. If the Atlantic low arrives at the end of the weekend into the west, then this week may be your only application window for a little while.

The advent of cooler air temperatures and frost has dropped the soil temperature down nicely to 5-7°C (depending on your location) and this is pretty typical of where I’d expect us to be approaching mid-November and it means that spray applications to outfield areas (such as iron on sports pitches or fairways)  will persist for longer now that the clip rate is declining. Remember if you’re treating moss, it is far better to do this when it is fully-wetted up, as it will take the iron in better.

Ok short and sweet as I have 2 talks this week that I just need to final prep for, (you know deep breathing exercises and ironing !) one to the GCMA and one at the Bigga South East Regional Conference.

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

 

November 6th

171106_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Welcome to the first blog of November and for the 2nd Monday in a row we start with a hard, penetrating frost down to -2.5°C here last night, that’s a pretty chilly one for the start of November.

061117frost

Trust me we need it because currently we are way higher than we should be for the start of November in terms of air and particularly soil temperature, something I don’t talk alot about really. Normally for the start of November we’d be down at 6-7°C soil temperature, but this year we were in double figures. (though after today’s frost we have dropped soil temperature significantly)

I know some of the reservoirs I fish that their water temperature is usually down at a similar figure but at the weekend they were sitting at 13°C and with very little water in them as well.  After a very dry October here in The Midlands, I can’t see us catching up any time soon in November though there will be some rain early on this week. Now we all know Mother Nature has a habit of balancing things up year on year, but if it doesn’t, we will have water restrictions next year.

General Weather Situation

So we start the week, cold, dry and frosty with high pressure extending a welcome hand to us, but this will soon be knocked aside by a northerly low pressure pushing in from the North Atlantic so we’ll see change first over Scotland and north west Ireland where rain will push in from the start of the morning rush hour and move inland. A real north / south – west / east split as that low pressure pushes in mild air from the south west for Ireland and Scotland whereas we will remain cold with light northerly winds for the rest of the U.K. By lunchtime Monday that rain is covering Scotland and moving down to The Borders and at the same time pushing into the west of Ireland. For the afternoon, the south and central regions of the U.K will have a dry, cold, but lovely winters day, whereas for Wales and The South West, we will see cloud building from the west. By dusk that slow-moving rain front is intensifying across the west of Ireland so a pretty wet end to the day for Connacht I’d say and we will also see that rain into Wales and moving eastwards slowly. Temperature-wise 7-8°C for central U.K and a milder 11-13°C for Scotland and Ireland.

Overnight into Tuesday and that rain looks set to have cleared Ireland and the west coast of Scotland by dawn though amounts will be heavy overnight for Munster and Leinster. The band of rain will now be sitting from Edinburgh and extending down through northern England, across Wales and The South West and I’d expect amounts to be heavy in some areas, particularly The North West which has had a clattering lately, sorry lads. East and south of this rain we will see a much cloudier, dull start as that rain pushes cloud before it. Through the course of Tuesday this band of rain moves really slowly and that means amounts that fall may be high in some locations. By lunchtime it should have cleared Scotland completely and most of Wales, leaving England to pick up the rain for the 2nd half of Tuesday. I should add after a wet Monday, Ireland and the west of Scotland looks to have a much drier, sunnier day on Tuesday. So by dusk we see that rain band sitting over the east of the U.K in a line drawn from Newcastle down to The Isle of Wight. We will then see a lighter band of rain push into the west of Ireland. So a kind of role reversal on Tuesday in terms of temperature, with Scotland and Ireland, cold and dry, sitting at 6-8°C and the rest of the U.K milder under that cloud and rain, just nudging into double figures on a strong southerly wind.

Wednesday sees that rain clearing the east of the U.K overnight so we start all areas with hazy sunshine and dry. This isn’t to last for the west of Ireland where a new rain front pushes in during Wednesday morning and moves slowly east, across country. For the U.K, we look to have a cool, dry and settled day on Wednesday with the east coast possibly enjoying most of the sunshine before cloud moves in from the west. Winds will be light to moderate and from the north west and that’s what will peg back temperatures to high single figures for the U.K, but milder across Ireland with that rain and cloud cover. As we progress through Wednesday evening we will see rain push into north west Scotland and move eastwards.

Onto Thursday and that rain across Ireland and Scotland has cleared across to the west of the U.K and Wales, fizzling out somewhat as it does so into a band of thick cloud that may bring light rain first off as it moves across the U.K. Scotland looks to start dry but Ireland has a cloud mass sitting right over it, so dull, dreary and damp I’m afraid for you guys. So a dull day for the west on Thursday with some rain pushing into north west Scotland for the 2nd half of the day clearing Ireland as it does so. There’s maybe a chance to see some hazy sunshine for the 2nd half of the day across The Midlands and south of England and with lightening north westerly winds, you may just see the temperature nudge up into double figures (gosh golly). For Ireland and the west of the U.K, including Wales, that cloud cover will bring with it milder temperatures, so here low teens are expected, the same for Scotland.

Closing out the week and on Friday we see high pressure try to push in from The Atlantic, but it’ll butt up against a continental low pressure at the weekend, more on this later. So overnight we see that low stubbornly influencing the weather across the west and north with rain pushing into Ireland and also Scotland. By mid-morning it’ll be into Wales and the north of England, but lightening as it moves south. Central and southern U.K will start dry, possibly bright but it won’t be long before thick cloud cover pushes south for the 2nd half of the day bringing rain to Wales, the north of England and maybe The Midlands after dusk. So a better 2nd half of the day than the first for Ireland and Scotland and vice-versa for Wales and England.

Looking at the weekend and it’s a tricky picture to forecast because of the relative projected position of that Atlantic high and continental low. My take on the weekend is that it will be cool and unsettled with rain pushing down on an initially westertly wind in the west, but an increasingly cool, north westerly wind for the U.K pushing cloud and some rain across on Saturday. Sunday could be a cool, calmer and drier day with high pressure pushing that low eastwards so a more settled picture possibly with less risk of rain, but plenty of cloud around.

Weather Outlook

So next week looks like high pressure will push in slowly from The Atlantic though we will feel its influence first on Sunday possibly. So I’m thinking that next week looks by and large, dry, cool but possibly dull and foggy with very little wind. The first part of the week promises to be milder with a westerly air flow but as we pass mid-week I think this will turn more northerly and chillier. There will be some rain around but I think it’ll mainly be for the far north west of Scotland as a low passes by early in the week.

Agronomic Notes

Since it is the first blog of the month, I will take us through some pretty interesting GDD / G.P information and then drill down further into the detail to look at why October 2017 was such a brutal disease month for many and how it differed from 2016 and the like.

Again I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to everyone for contributing information, without it I couldn’t easily do this.

U.K GDD Information – Location – The Oxfordshire

GDDmonthlycomparisonJantoDec2010to2017image

So looking at the monthly totals we see October 2017 came in as the warmest October we have recorded since we started this process back in 2010.

It is however with comparison against 2016 though that we truly see how warm this October really was.

So October 2017 came in with a total GDD of 228, compared to October 2016, which came in at 134.5. That’s just under 70% warmer than last year from a GDD-perspective and that’s the first clue as to why this October was such a tricky one to manage disease-wise. It should also give us a clue into respective growth levels, disease severity and ultimately fungicide performance, more on this later.

GDDmonthlycumulativeJantoDec2010to2017image

Cumulatively y.t.d we signed off the end of October with a total GDD of 2015.3, that’s the first time we have ever reached the 2,000 mark for a year and we still have two months to go !

Whichever way you dress it up, for this location it’ll be the warmest year ever and by some margin.

This is why I do this, month in and month out, because I believe these stats (which enable us to measure potential grass growth and compare them with prior years) are vital not only to looking back at our year but also they will ultimately help us to plan ahead.

October 2017 – GDD and Rainfall Stats – UK Locations

OctGDDRainfallUK

Quite a lot of variability in the GDD and rainfall stats for October, but particularly in the latter with Northampton in The Midlands coming in as the driest location at 9.3mm and Manchester just pipping Okehampton for the wettest, at 93.7mm, in other words 10 x the rainfall from one location to the other. When you look at The North West’s weather in October, you’ll see that not only did they have a wet month, but very few drying days in-between, with only 8 days out of 31 without rain.

SeptOctCompUKGDD

Thame and Cardiff clocked in as the warmest locations with GDD totals > 220 and interestingly very similar to Septembers total. That was indeed a pattern in general with October returning very similar GDD totals to September in a number of locations.

October 2017 – GDD and Rainfall Stats – Irish Locations

OctGDDRainfallIreland

For Ireland we again see that rainfall pattern split between the west and the east and indeed the south and the east. Not surprisingly for anyone that travels to that neck of the woods, Valentia came in both warmest and wettest with 151mm of rain. Contrast that with Dublin where the weather station at Casement recorded 46.3mm, roughly 1/3. We can also see the difference being close to the sea makes in terms of milder weather with a total GDD for the month of October of 160 at Casement, but 196 just a few miles east on the coast at Killiney.

Looking at a comparison of September 2017 vs. October 2017, the pattern is more normal with a 15-20% reduction for October vs. September. If I compare locations between Ireland and the U.K, we can see that we are on average 20-25% warmer this side of the Irish Sea, not an advantage though in October because that warmth drives grass growth and disease and it is this combination that makes life so difficult at times.

October 2017 – Detailed Analysis

Oct201716CompUKGP

Above is a trace of the daily Growth Potential shown in red for 2017 and green for 2016. I think you can clearly see the difference in the two graphs !

If I add up the respective Growth Potential figures for October 2016 and 2017 for this location, there is a 73% difference.

Why is this significant ?

Fungicide Efficacy and Longevity

Oct201716CompUKGPCum

So here’s the same graph as above but expressing the data cumulatively.

Again you can clearly see the difference between this year and last, well I hope you can anyway.

Now let’s consider the following scenario ;

In both years we make a systemic fungicide application on the 1st of October and for the sake of this example, let’s just say that we know that a typical systemic fungicide will last for a total Growth Potential of 10.0, it’s a nice easy round number for me to work with on a Monday morning :)

Let’s see how long the applications last when we compare 2017 vs. 2016 ?

Oct201716CompUKGPCumfung

So in October 2016, that systemic fungicide would have got to the 26th day before it was grown out of the grass sward, whereas in October 2017 it would have got to the 14th day.

So there it is in back and white.

Why didn’t your fungicide regime / strategy perform as well as it did in 2016 ?

Quite simply because it was grown out in roughly half the time of a ‘normal’ October, but that’s not all…

Oct2017CompUKGP

The second part of the equation is the severity / activity of the disease.

If we look at the chart above you can see that we had a lot of periods during October when we were nearly maxed out in terms of the growth potential of grass. There is clearly a correlation between the growth potential of grass and the growth potential of a pathogenic fungi, although they both rely on other factors as well to grow.

So the warmer it is, the faster Microdochium nivale will reproduce as a population and the harder it is to stop this happening with a fungicide. For much of October we experienced Microdochium nivale at its most severest because we had the double whammy of high humidity (as I have been showing through this month in my blog’s and high air temperature)

In summary, fungicide performance in October 2017 was compromised by a very fast ‘grow out rate’ and very aggressive disease population growth, which in some cases out-stripped the ability of the fungicide to hold it back.

Looking ahead….

With milder weather this week for the west and some moisture I would still expect disease pressure to be moderate – high across Ireland in particular because of the milder night time temperatures. For the U.K, there’s currently no sign of a re-occurence of high humidity / high night time temperatures in the forecast, so we can relax a little on this front.

Nov617

You can clearly see this in the growth outlook for the next 7 days with the daily G.P rarely exceeding the 0.25 mark. Compare that with a month ago !

Ok that’s it for this week, hopefully you’ll have found that interesting as you digest all that info over a cuppa :)

All the best..

Mark Hunt

 

 

October 30th

171030_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

Firstfrosty

In last week’s blog I mentioned that I could smell winter round the corner and last night we got our first proper frost of the year in The Midlands, so that makes me a smart chappy. (If only that were true :))

Nowadays October is almost seen as a weather extension of September with no real thoughts about cold weather commencing to November and winter proper saved for January and February in my books.

sunset291017

Now that the clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in good and proper but it does give you the opportunity to have some lovely dusk walks, none more so than yesterday when I had a nice 8 mile jaunt across Leicestershire’s finest complete with the obligatory Latte and Flapjack stop :)

Apart from being a cracking walk, I chalked up a first in watching a pair of Short-Eared Owls hunting over some Fodder Beet fields at dusk. I’ve seen them before at known hotspots, but never out in the open countryside whilst walking. Absolutely lovely to see one of our diurnal Owl species.

I see that the tabloids are up to their usual tricks this year in forecasting a winter of snow storm hell and the like commencing in December.

DE

Their weather contributors logic is that the jet stream is behaving erratically (no s**t Sherlock) and so is likely to plunge south and allow cold air to be drawn down from the North Pole.

Unlike a lot of their weatehr headlines, this time there may be some rationale in this because last week we were looking odds-on to pick up a cold snap this week from an easterly low pressure system that was doing just that. Fortunately it has moved eastwards into Russia so we are currently sitting under a peak rather than a trough. You can see this graphically portrayed on this Unisys GIF for todays weather with a mass of cold air stretching all the way down to Turkey.

gfs_500p_init_eur301017

So on balance I think it is more likely this winter than others that we will pick up some cooler weather but for now in The Midlands we could do with some rain with only 11mm for the month so far in October. Dry we are whilst other parts of the country are excessively wet like The South West, North West and Scotland, another consequence of the jet stream’s behaviour but I’ll talk about that next week when I summarise the month of October.

General Weather Situation

So we kick off on Monday with a pretty dry picture across all of the U.K and Ireland and where skies cleared overnight, a decent frost as well. So a cool day for us all with plenty of winter sunshine in the south and east of the U.K and across Ireland initially until some thicker cloud spills in from the west later this afternoon, eventually bringing rain to Donegal and north west Scotland later this evening. Temperatures may be just breaking double figures across the U.K in light northerly winds but milder across Ireland and the west as you pick up a westerly airstream.

Onto Tuesday and that overnight rain has moved south and east across Scotland and down into northern England. You’ll also see rain across Connacht through the morning as it moves north and west across the tip of Ireland into Scotland. A milder start compared to Monday across central and southern regions of the U.K and Wales due to a change in the wind direction from north to west but much less in the way of sunshine on Tuesday as thicker cloud pushes in from the west. For the 2nd part of the day we will still see rain across north west Ireland, Scotland and the north west of England as well. Temperature-wise, up into the mid-teens in that moderate to strong westerly air flow so a mild day to finish off October with.

Wednesday marks the first day of November and for Connacht and the west coast of Scotland, we will still see that persistent rain in place from the off and through much of the day I’m afraid, but it will tend to stay westerly coast-orientated. Towards dusk that rain and thicker cloud will push southwards across The Borders into northern England. Away from the north west of Ireland and the U.K, we should see another dry day with perhaps more in the way of sunshine and broken cloud through the day with thicker cloud pushing south and east across Ireland and the U.K later on in the day. Even without too much sun we will see another mild day with mid-teens likely across Ireland, Wales and England and a couple of degrees lower for Scotland and north west Ireland under that thicker cloud base and rain.

Thursday sees the last of that thicker cloud move off across Ireland and Scotland overnight to give a pleasant start to the day with varying amounts of sunshine. A cooler night though with temperatures down into the single digits and that’s because we are back in a northerly air flow. So a dry day for Thursday, but a cool one, with some winter sunshine probably more across the east and central regions of the U.K. Temperature-wise, just breaking double figures I’d say for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England in light to moderate, northerly winds.

Closing out the week on Friday and we have an active low pressure weather system down in the Bay of Biscay and that is projected to push northwards into southern England during Friday to bring rain for the 1st part of the weekend. For Friday though we have another calm day and if I could summarise it, I’d say dull is the word for the end of the week with plenty of thick cloud across Ireland and just about the entirety of the U.K, with possibly the south coast seeing the only meaningful sun. Despite the fact that we pick up a westerly air flow, we will also be cool because of that thick cloud and lack of sun, so cool, dull and dry just about sums up the day. That said, that thick cloud may just be thick enough for some rain across the west coast of Ireland and Scotland, the latter more likely to get some meaningful rainfall.

So onto the weekend and as commented I expect that Bay of Biscay low pressure to make it a damp start to the weekend with rain pushing up across Ireland, Wales and England overnight on Saturday morning and lasting through much of the daylight hours, so if you have a bonfire made, it’ll be a damp one by dusk :(. Now because the low pressure is eminating up from the south it means that the north of England and Scotland should miss most of this rain with just pick up some thicker cloud and light showers through the day and these tending to be confined to the north west of Scotland again. A cool day under that thick cloud for England and Wales barely making it into double figures if indeed it does at all. Drier I think across the west of Ireland and really from Dublin north as that rain is south-focussed, just like in the U.K.  Winds looks to be light and northerly on Saturday changing round to moderate westerlies for Sunday which promises to be the better day of the weekend, still cool though but with a much drier picture everywhere, with longer spells of sunshine, especially for the north of England and Scotland.

Weather Outlook

So this week we started off with a high pressure peak across the U.K and Ireland and next week it looks the same, but this one isn’t projected to last with a very deep low pressure set to influence our weather next week from the 2nd part of Monday. So I expect Monday to be calm, dry and cool but as we go through the day and from the north first, I expect the wind to get up pretty quickly pushing bands of rain down into Scotland and then the north of the country and Ireland, finally reaching the south of England later on Tuesday. Thereafter I expect it to be a sunshine and showers week as that low pressure pushes rain fronts across the U.K and Ireland on a strong westerly / north westerly wind. Perhaps more of the latter because it’ll remain cool with barely double figure temperatures, but that’s normal for November. Thereafter we have high pressure pushing in from The Atlantic so it’ll be interesting to see who wins that battle and what happens where the two meet.

Agromonic Notes

Disease Pressure – What else ?

Without a doubt September and October, 2017 (to date) represent the most sustained period of high Microdochium nivale activity we have experienced in my time in this industry.

Usually September is a dry month dominated by high pressure, fine days, cool nights and relatively low humidity overnight. Not this year though, September 2017 followed the example of September 2016, in terms of high humidity and high night time temperatures making disease very aggressive. I’m not just talking about Microdochium nivale, but also Dollar Spot and late-season Take-all as well, which following the wet 2nd half of summer showed renewed activity on high bentgrass-content areas.

Next week I’ll present the full month’s data from different locations but for now I’ve picked a Central England location which will work for Ireland as well because the weather won’t be a million miles away from each other, though we do tend to run warmer, night time temperatures here.

AirtempHumdity091017sc1

So what I have graphed out is minimum air temperature on the bottom graph vs. maximum relative humidity above it. I have then shaded in individual days where the air temperature is > 10°C AND the maximum relative humidity is > 90%, as I feel this combination of climatic conditions leads to the most aggressive Microdochium nivale activity.

So if we look at the graph above, it covers a 59-day period starting from September 1st through to October 29th. In that 59-day period, we experienced 33 days when we had a combination of humidity and night temperature conducive to high Microdochium nivale activity.

That is just short of 56% of the period in question representing high disease pressure, with 3 distinct, 7-day periods. Tough going in anyone’s books.

Fungicide longevity vs. Growth – October 2017

I will look at all the stats at month’s end but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if October 2017 checks out as the warmest we have measured in terms of GDD / G.P, that alone has a number of implications.

Firstly, as I’ve already shown, the high temperatures, particularly at night, promote disease, and secondly and perhaps more importantly for our industry going forward, they also promote grass growth.

So if we are talking about the newer systemic fungicides with less active ingredient content (in systemic rather than protectant form because that’s what gives you longevity), how long do we think they are lasting ?

Well for the high A.I / more effective older chemistries like Tebuconazole / Prochloraz, I reckoned we normally got 24-28 days from an application in terms of outright longevity.

With the newer chemistries I have tried to map Growth Potential vs. Efficacy, starting in some disease trials last year. I’ll be presenting the data at BTME 2018, but for now I have looked at the growth patterns in October 2017 and plotted that against anticipated fungicide longevity.

I reckon we were looking at 14 days maximum longevity from a lower A.I, newer chemistry during October 2017 over in the warmer parts of the U.K, perhaps 5-7 days longer in Ireland and Scotland. That’s a sobering thought both in terms of efficacy and financially.

Even more so when you consider that by next autumn we won’t have a contact curative chemistry like Iprodione to fall back on when activity is at its worst.

Looking ahead

Meteoturf301017

Looking at the Meteoturf projections for the coming week across the four nations and you can see the pronounced drop off in temperature and hence growth / disease activity afetr we clear Wednesday. From a night time temperature vs. humidity perspective and the combination that we know promotes disease activity, I think only Ireland will have high disease pressure for the start of this week (because of the milder, westerly air flow) before that too drops off from mid-week onwards.

So the fact that we are picking up a northerly airstream and lower air temperatures both during the day and night will mean that disease pressure will drop off for now and in addition, any applied systemic fungicide applied recently, will last longer, which is good news. The continued spell of drier weather across the south of the U.K will also mean lower humidity levels until we get rain at the weekend.

Compare the above charts for the end of October / start of November with these below, which were from about a month ago. You can see the growth rate now is roughly 30 – 50% of what is was a month ago. That’s good news to me in terms of disease activity and control.

G.PSept1817

From a nutrition perspective I’d be suggesting just keeping the grass plant ticking over through the coming period because if you have some scarring from September / October, you’ll be wanting to get some re-growth. whenever conditions allow this to occur. Combining iron with that nutrition is a given and making the switch from warmer-temperature nutrient forms, like urea, to more cool temperature nutrient forms, like ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate, would be prudent in light of the forecast.

Ok that’s it for this week, I’m off to prep for Saltex at The NEC and I hope to see some of you there if you’re intending to pay it a visit.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

 

 

 

 

October 23rd

171023_gfs_pres_500p_loop_eur

Hi All,

After Storm Opehlia last week and Storm Brian over the weekend, the next ten due are called, in sequence, Caroline, Dylan, Eleanor, Fionn, Georgina, Hector, Iona, James, Karen and Larry.

No Storm Mark, Issacc or Yorac though which I find disappointing :(

Fieldfare

Some of you reading this blog will be old enough to remember a group called “The Housemartins”, one of my favourites of the 80’s, and they had a track called “I smell winter” on the re-release of Hull 4 London 0, their first cracking album. The song always comes to my mind at this time of year because I can smell winter with the arrival of Redwings and Fieldfares from Scandinavia, over to feast on our berry crop. Now I’ve been hearing them at night for the last 2 weeks so in my books they’re here early as last year I reported them at the end of October. Is this a sign of a cold winter I wonder, well maybe in Scandinavia and Russia where they have shipped over from and incidentally where they are due to get their first snowfall this week. We may also feel winter ourselves in early November if the weather outlook pans out as projected.

For now though, we couldn’t be more different as will see warm weather at the end of October for the 8th year out of the last 10 and it wouldn’t surprise me if we hit 20°C at the weekend in the south of England, though we will have a northerly airstream, so that may peg things back a bit. Before you get your hopes up though, there’s another weather feature 10 days out that may take us back the other way quite quickly into winter, but that’s 10 days out, so plenty of time for things to change.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have low pressure out in the North Atlantic and so an unsettled start to the week as we have bands of rain crossing northern England, The Midlands and the west of Scotland. Through the morning we will see further bands of rain cross the U.K from west to east clearing to leave brighter weather behind them. This brighter weather was there from the off in Ireland and here you look to have a pretty nice day all in all once some showers along the west coast have fizzled out.  That rain may stay in situ across the north west of Scotland and keep with it a thicker cloud mass, so less chance of seeing the sun here. Wind-wise, well a lot calmer than the weekend with a moderate south westerly wind in situ and temperatures up in the mid-to high teens.

Onto Tuesday and overnight we see rain crossing Ireland and pushing into The South West, Wales, the west coast of England and Scotland. By the morning rush hour this may be quite heavy over South Wales and will likely extend in a line down from Scotland to The Midlands, so the South East and south of England may start dry. During the late morning we will see further rain into The South West and South Wales, making it a pretty sodden day down there. This rain will push east into The Midlands and north of England by dusk clearing Ireland and Scotland as it does so by early afternoon. Wind-wise we maintain that strong to moderate south westerly airflow but on the plus side this will push temperatures up into the high teens across the south of the U.K, low to mid-teens for Ireland and Scotland.

Mid-week already, how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself :) So Wednesday looks to a much drier day everywhere as high pressure begins to exert itself from the south. Still a little bit of rain around across the south coast of Cornwall and Devon I reckon during the morning and as we approach dusk we could see a band of rain pushing up across The South West into South Wales. Scotland looks to have a mainly dry day save for some rain from the off across the north west coast. Mid to high teens with a more westerly wind in situ, a couple of degrees cooler for Scotland and Ireland.

Overnight that band of southerly rain has pushed north and east and will be sitting across The Midlands by dawn on Thursday.  This band of light rain and thick cloud wil lhang over the south of England up to The Midlands through most of Thursday so a cooler day here. North of this across northern England you should have a bright, warm and crucially dry day as I know you’ve copped a packet of rain this autumn. Pleasant too across Wales and Scotland with again only the north west of Scotland likely to see rain. A bit cooler on Thursday because of that cloud mass so only low to mid-teens expected and because of a change in the wind to a more north westerly orientation.

Rounding out the week on Friday and we have high pressure pushing up from the south of England so after that overnight thick cloud base and rain has departed from the south east of England we should see some brighter intervals and dry weather but it will feel cool with a strong to moderate north westerly wind calling the shots. For Ireland you look to start cool and dull with maybe some heavy drizzle over Connacht and Donegal but the skies will clear from the south at lunchtime to give you a pleasant end to the week. Scotland looks to have a thick cloud base across the country so cool and dull with a strong to moderate westerly wind for you. Temperature-wise, a good bit down on the rest of the week with low teens, low double figures likely in that cooler breeze.

The outlook for the weekend looks pretty fab apart from Scotland I’m afraid where that cloud mass will give rain overnight on Friday and this will extend through Saturday to give a dull and sometimes wet day. You could see some light rain across north west Ireland as well early on Saturday but otherwise dry I think. For the rest of us we also look to have a pretty dry weekend with some spells of warm sunshine pushing temperatures up into the high teens across the south of England depending on cloud cover that is. Dry throughout with the only fly in the ointment being a cool, north west wind courtesy of that high pressure system. Out of the wind though it’ll feel lovely.

Weather Outlook

So it looks like we will have high pressure in charge for the start of next week so calm and settled with only some rain likely across the north east and perhaps eastern side of the U.K. We will be on the cool side though with that north westerly wind remaining in place so gradually through the week we will drop temperature and feel the winds increase in strength and become more northerly in nature. By Thursday we could start to see the influence of a rare easterly low pressure system and if this comes to pass it will really bring us down to earth with a bang compared to the prior week. Pulling cold air across from Siberia we could see frosts and even snowfall across the north east coast of the U.K. Quite a change. Now that’s 10 days away so alot can change in that time but it will be interesting to keep an eye on it. Quite a few of my weather models point to a cold northerly airstream for the start of November so we will see.

Agronomic Notes

Iprodione Withdrawal

On October 6th, the European Standing Committee voted not the renew the approval of Iprodione given safety concerns that were identified in a review. Although these concerns are more consumer-focussed and not related to turf and amenity, Iprodione is likely to disappear some time soon. The question is when ?

The smart money is that there will be a 3-month sell-out probably commencing close to year end and then a three-month use up, so effectively if that comes to pass, the last applications of Iprodione will be June 2018 or thereabouts. Whatever way it shapes out, it is highly likely we will enter autumn 2018 without a contact, curative fungicide and that my friends is a game changer.

Why is it a game changer ?

It will utimately change our industry in terms of disease management because we will no longer have a fungicide that we can apply onto visible, active disease and obtain control. The two classes of chemistries we will have available will be either Protectant Contacts – actives that work on the outside of the leaf and control spores and fungal mycelium before they enter the leaf epidermis or Systemics – actives that have to be taken up and into the plant in order to achieve control. Depending on the type of systemic, these may take up to 7-10 days during cold periods of weather to achieve control of Microdochium nivale.

mcelium3So if you see active disease on the turf surface like this during cold periods of weather then there will be no effective fungicide to control it. Incidentally this disease outbreak (on a greens approach I think) took place in the first week of December, 2016, when we had two days of mild night temperatures, mild day temperatures, no wind and high humidity.

So we will have to rise to this challenge as an industry and make no bones about it, it is a challenge that goes beyond just agronomics. If you have heavy disease scarring in October, November, then you are unlikely to grow it out until the following spring, that could be 6 months if we have a cold, dry start to the year. So from a revenue perspective, if your surfaces are poor because of disease, this could cause issues in terms of golfers and their perception and a potential hit on revenue.

What’s to be done…

Well in a word…lots….IMHO (In my humble opinion)

Firstly, we need to understand the situation clearly and communicate it within our clubs, that means to members, committees, club secretaries, directors of golf, owner-managers and the like. It’s not an armegeddon moment, but it will have consequences for how we manage turf going forward and perhaps just as importantly, for the perception of disease on a turf surface. We already accept disease on fairways without feeling the need to spray (unlike in the U.S), perhaps we have to make golfers more aware that this is likely to happen more often now on fine turf surfaces ?

This year, I’ll be speaking at the GCMA National Conference (Golf Course Managers Association) in early November and during my talk I will be highlighting the two drivers to increasing disease pressure, climate and legislation, and how I think we need to adapt going forward. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and thank the GCMA for the invite in advance. (Cheers Karen and Bob)

New technologies for the future ?

Secondly, in terms of fungicides, I don’t think we are looking at a move towards the end of fungicides, more it is a changing of the guard in terms of what we have available and how we need to use the technologies. There will I’m sure be newer technologies coming through in the near and far future and some of these may use an entirely new approach to target a fungus.

There’s a lot of research work currently underway on RNA pesticides which instead of using an active ingredient / substance to target a pathogen, they use pieces of RNA specific to the pathogen itself. RNA is a key component of an organism’s genetic coding and plays an important role in gene expression. You can read about RNA here.

The scope of RNA pesticides isn’t just restricted to fungi, it also has applications on insects and already in the U.S, they have genetically modified crops that target a specific insect pest and because it is RNA-based, it is specific to that pathogen and that pathogen only. Read about it here

Of course the E.U won’t approve it because it is genetically-modified.

Just like the nonsensical situation we had recently with the example of a genetically-modified Potato that was resistant to late season Potato Blight, a severe disease of Potatoes. Scientists at The John Innes Institute, Norfolk used a gene from a South American Potato to turn on the plants natural defences to blight and in a three-year trial, the GM Potatoes proved higher yielding and required far fewer pesticides.

So here you see the farcity of E.U legislation in all of its hypocritical glory.

They don’t want to approve a crop because it is genetically modified (to be resistant to disease), so the alternative is for farmers to grow a crop that requires more pesticide inputs. Where is the sense in that I ask you ?

The technology ended up in the U.S, where they are commercially producing and eating this potato. So here we have a technology developed in the U.K, currently banned in Europe and now exploited in the U.S. Read about it here

You can probably tell that I am not a fan of the E.U with respect to legislation in any shape or form, I find it totally nonsensical, restrictive to innovation and scientific advancement, particularly in our industry. Quite frankly it makes my blood boil.

Ok heart rate monitor back to normal and back to the subject in hand :)

Heightened Cultural Emphasis

Without a doubt the loss of a contact curative fungicide like Iprodione will heighten the focus on the cultural factors that increase the severity of disease and specifically Microdochium nivale.

In my mind that means surface organic matter which perches moisture and provides higher canopy humidity levels as a result, a key driver to this disease. I think it will also increase our focus on the level of topdressing we apply in order to make the surface free-draining and move moisture away from the upper fibre layer. Air flow across a turf surface is another one, the better the air flow, the drier the turf canopy, the less aggressive the disease. Grass species will also play a part and here I think we should look at the role of plant breeding in providing us with cultivars that are naturally more resistant to Microdochium nivale.

PoaBentDisease

Disease in Poa annua in a mixed Poa annua, Bentgrass sward

After all we know Poa annua is the most susceptiable grass to this disease and bentgrass, be it Colonial or Creeping is far more resistant to Microdochium and in some cases, Anthracnose as well. I’d make the point that I think Creeping Bentgrass breeding has been more focussed on disease resistance than other bentgrass breeding programs, certainly if we look at the results we currently have in the respective trials programs in the U.S and within Europe.

I’d love someone with more knowledge of grass breeding than I have to correct me on my perception, as I freely admit this isn’t one of my strongest areas and I’d be happy to publish some facts and data on this if you have them available. Whatever the rights or wrongs of my perception, it seems logical to me that if we introduce a mixture of grass species into a sward (and that’s no easy task in itself because it has a cost and is also inter-related to surface organic matter as well), we will reduce the disease pressure because it’s less easy for the disease to move from plant to plant.

Back in the late 80’s in my formative years (ahem) I used to work in agriculture contracting seed acreage for Wheat and Barley mainly. I had an area that stretched from Gloucestershire right up to 40 miles north of The Black Isle in Scotland (so north of Inverness) and I serviced that area whilst driving a leaf spring suspension, 4-speed, Volvo 340, which I eventually wrote off out of sympathy (but that’s another story :) ). At the time there was a variety of Winter Wheat called Slejpner, it was high-yielding and so become very popular to the point where > 60% of the Winter Wheat acreage was sown down to this one variety. That meant that 6 out of every 10 fields of Winter Wheat you could see growing was the same variety. This Winter Wheat showed a sensitivity to Yellow Rust that severely affected it’s yield and that pathogen took less than a month to show up across my entire area. How did it move so fast ?, well because there were some many identical fields of the same host wheat variety that it could move from field to field with impunity. It was a very early lesson to me in terms of the importance of biodiversity.

The same holds true for our turf surfaces, biodiversity will be important in terms of grass species within a turf canopy and their sensitivity to disease.

Ok a big jump off a very high soap box today, but as you can probably guess it’s a subject I’m passionate about :)

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt