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Hi All,

Back to normal this week after only a so-so Troutmasters Final last week 🙁

A really busy weather picture and one of contrast as I sit here and type this on a Monday morning with not a whisper of breeze and humidity / temperature off the scale for mid-October.

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Image courtesy of Met Eireann – http://www.met.ie/sat/euro-ir.asp

No wind over Leicestershire, but across The Irish Sea we have the remnants of ex-hurricane Ophelia heading towards the Irish Coast and due to track across The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and then onto Scotland. It’ll make things pretty tricky across The South West, Wales and the western coastline of the U.K as well, so all the best to you if you’re in an area affected by Ophelia.

Another contrast this month is rainfall with areas like The Midlands / south of England dry so far with only 4mm of rain in the first 16 days. Contrast this with somewhere like Kendal in The Lakes where they are 100mm+ and counting already. That dry start to the month is set to change this week with a southerly-orientated low coming in to affect the weather picture.

Finally we have the temperature contrasts of the last few days where we hit 21.5°C day time temperature and were still 17.1°C at midnight on Friday 13th October. Challenging to say the least from a disease perspective.

So onto this week’s weather..

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with an unsettled picture with showers already peppering the U.K and west of Ireland, extending in a line from The isle of Wight right up to the west of Scotland with more significant rain present once you get past North Wales. Through the course of Monday morning we will see those showers across the U.K become more confined to the north and west, fizzling out in the south to leave sunny intervals. Meanwhile the centre of storm Ophelia looks set to make landfall around lunchtime across the south west of Ireland. Here we have a Red Warning in place with gusts expected to reach 100mph plus through the day and accompanied by heavy rainfall as well. So we have a north / south and west / east split in the weather today with the bulk of the rain crossing Ireland and heading north and west to affect the U.K really from The Lakes northwards it looks like to me at present. Further south and east after some early showers we can expect to see some brighter weather to take over with a pleasant and unseasonably warm end to the day. The winds will ramp up in the second half of the day so gale force by the end of the afternoon and expect temperatures to vary from 14°C under that storm to 21°C in the south of England and Midlands.

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Overnight into Tuesday and that storm system will have tracked across Ireland and be sat just off Scotland so a pretty windy and wet day in store for you guys on Tuesday especially first thing in the morning, I’d say peak wind will be probably 5 a.m ish.

In marked contrast to today, Ireland will have a much, much quieter day with gentle winds and a noticeable drop in temperature feeling cooler. That cooler feel to the weather will extend south with a cooler start to the day for the south of the U.K as well. The rain accompanying that storm system will be very much across the north west and central Scotland on Tuesday with heavier rain in the morning gradually becoming lighter through the afternoon as the storm moves across and out into The North Sea. So windy for the north and Scotland and pretty gusty for the south as well during Tuesday, with that wind declining through the afternoon as it will in all places.  Later on Tuesday evening we see a new pulse of rain push into the south coast of England and this marks the beginning of what I think will be a sustained wet spell of weather as low pressure takes over. Temperature-wise, expect mid-teen temperature for Tuesday, maybe a little lower where you have the worst of the wind.

Onto Wednesday and overnight that pulse of rain over southern England has pushed north into central England and Wales, reaching the north of England by morning rush hour. By mid-morning this will have pushed into The Borders of Scotland, clearing the south of England as it does so. We will also see a new pulse push into South Munster and this is projected to move north across Ireland through the course of Wednesday afternoon. By late afternoon, the heaviest rain is across Scotland and Ireland with the southern regions having clearing now in both the U.K and Ireland. Despite there being gentler winds and from the south, it will feel cooler with low to mid-teens the best that can be expected.

For Thursday we have a very unsettled picture as low presure is pushing swirls of showers across the U.K and Ireland. Overnight we will see heavy rain across Ireland and this will push westwards into Wales, The South West and the west coast of England during Thursday morning before pushing further inland and consolidating into heavier rain as it does so. For the 2nd half of Thursday we will see some potentially heavy rain across the south of England, but Scotland should miss out on the worst, instead having a dull day with thick cloud and some light rain. Ireland will see bands of rain clearing east to be replaced by new bands coming in from the west later on in the afternoon. Again feeling much cooler under that rain with low teens expected everywhere and quite a contrast from the beginning of the week.

Closing out what has been a very busy weather week and we should see a much drier picture on Friday for all areas, except Central Scotland which looks to start wet. This rain will slowly move eastwards clearing the west coast of Scotland and then central areas through the afternoon. For Ireland and the remainder of the U.K, a more settled picture on Friday with a moderate westerly wind turning southerly as we go through the day but feeling chilly with nearly a 10°C difference to the previous week. They’ll be some showers affecting western coasts from the off but at this stage these don’t look to move inland so a drier picture to close the week out on. However, it won’t last as that low pressure is due to sink south and east through the course of the day and that’ll bring rain, some of it very heavy into the south east coast of Ireland, The South West and Wales later on Friday afternoon in time for the rush hour I’m afraid. This heavy rain will push north and eastwards quickly through the course of Friday evening to give very heavy rainfall amounts in a short period of time. At this stage, Ireland is projected to miss 95% of this rain with perhaps eastern Leinster picking up the fringes of it. Another cool day with temperatures barely breaking into the teens everywhere and maybe across Ireland and Scotland it’ll only just scrape double figures in that cool westerly wind.

With a southerly-orientated low pressure system it’ll be no surprise to you when I say that Saturday looks like being a wash out for most of the U.K, south of the borders with some really heavy overnight rain likely. Ireland should miss most of this so Saturday looks better and Scotland may stay dry on the whole but just dull and cool, except for the north east where it looks wetter. The rain is projected to head north and east out into The North Sea during the second half of Saturday so clearing from the west through the day to give a drier end in western and central regions. Sunday sees that wind swing round to northerly as the low pressure moves east, so a really cool feel to the weather now and more typical of where we should be for late October than the balmy, barmy conditions of late.

Weather Outlook

I think next week will start quiet as one low pressure exits stage right and another one is lining up to come in from The Atlantic. So Monday looks a quiet, settled and largely dry affair with light northerly winds. As we move overnight into Tuesday the wind shifts round to the west and we see the first rain bands push in from a new, Atlantic low pressure system. These will affect western areas first.  So Tuesday and Wednesday at least looks breezy and unsettled with frequent rain pushing in but as we approach the end of next week, we should see those winds and rain begin to lessen as the low pressure moves off. Now this takes us up to Thursday, the 26th of October and that’s significant in my books because the end of October / beginning of November has been unseasonably mild for 7 years out of the last 9. I wonder what it’ll be this year ?. Looking at the weather picture at the end of next week it’s delicately balanced between high and low pressure so we will see which one wins the day.

Agronomic Notes

Not surprising when you take into account the pulse of warm air and humidity that we got from Friday to Monday that I’m going to begin this blog talking about that old cheshnut, disease or more specifically, Microdochium nivale..

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The stats above are taken from my weather station and highlight 5 periods from Friday till today when the air temperature was 14°C or higher and we were running at 90% humidity (or higher).

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This combination of temperature and humidity is likely to result in new activity of Microdochium on greens and on older scars, the tell-tale sign of mycelium occurring around the edges of the original infection. It is also likely that you’ll see mycelium on higher-height-of-cut turf on sportsfields, golf fairways and semi-rough as well.

It is important to understand what you’re looking at here in terms of what you have applied and what you are seeing.

Mycelium on the edge of an original disease scar is most likely to represent disease that has already gone through its whole disease cycle, so that means spore germination all the way through to spore production and now the mycelium are growing from affected plants outwards towards unaffected plants in order to begin the whole cycle again.

So if you have sprayed a fungicide and you see this, it is because the disease is already at the point of spore production and at this stage few fungicides are able to stop this occurring. That’s because they would need to perform strongly as eradicants, late on in the disease cycle and most of the products we have now (if not pretty much all of them) don’t do this, regardless of what the manufacturers blurb says. So if you’ve sprayed recently and can still see mycelium, you have effectively shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. Sure you will ring fence the area of activity, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll stop it occurring when we have a combination of climatic drivers like the above pushing on the activity of disease.

Just to keep some geographical balance, I lifted some data from a weather station in Dublin and put together the same chart. Again you can see we have some pretty sustained disease pressure over the last 4 days for Ireland. (Yes I know Dublin isn’t representative of all of Ireland, just like London isn’t representative of all of England 🙂 )

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Disease pressure looking ahead….

After a bruising 4-day period we can look forward to a decline in disease pressure over the coming week because of increasing wind strength and declining temperatures, so although the humidity will stay high because of rainfall, I think the windy nature of the weather and the lowering air temperature as that cold, low pressure system moves in, will reduce the disease pressure accordingly.

Growth reduction as well…

The decline in disease pressure will also be accompanied by a decline in growth as you can see from the Meteoturf graphic below ;

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Currently today we have optimum growing conditions, so a Growth Potential figure of 1.0 and that’s on the 16th of October mind !, but by the end of the week, this will be down to 0.3.

That in my mind is a very good thing as well because with a wet outlook, the last thing we need is grass growing out of our ears, particularly when we have heavy leaf fall as well with wind this week.

G.P and Fungicide Longevity

The declining temperatures will extend fungicide longevity as well because when we have daily G.P figures over 0.8, I think a systemic fungicide will only be effective for 14-17 days maximum before either it is removed from the canopy by cutting or new growth emerges that doesn’t have the fungicide present in sufficient quantities to reduce disease ingression.

In future I think we will need to think of fungicide longevity in terms of Growth Potential rather than days and I have started work in this area and will present some of my findings at the Turf Managers Conference at BTME ’18.

Not just Microdochium nivale doing the rounds..

With a wet summer period in August and sustained humidity through August and September, Microdochium isn’t the only disease that’s been doing the rounds. Late season Take-all has reared its head on Poa annua this autumn and we have seen quite heavy disease pressure from Anthracnose, especially if the plant has been under stress. This is particularly the case if the turf surface has been consistently saturated as it has been across the north / north west of England and through Scotland. Here it is more likely to be the basal rot Anthracnose that has done the damage.

Ok that’s it for this week, need to get some trials down before the rain arrives 🙂

All the best and particularly for Ireland and the west coast of the U.K today, wrap up well and keep your heads down…

Mark Hunt