Hi All,

After an unsettled and wet week, last week, we’re into a spell of fine autumnal weather, though cloud cover may sometimes make the sun elusive. August finished off with the coldest night ever on record for some places last Thursday night, with a grass frost reported by a number of you (thanks Rob). No risk of frost this week you’ll be glad to hear. Followers of this blog may remember that in the last week of September 2011, I reported a blocking event caused by a high jet stream position (see right) that provided warm and dry weather from then, right through to the 1st week of April 2012, almost un-interupted. I mention it because that’s where the jet stream is this week.  It’ll be interesting to see if the blocking event occurs again and if it takes the same form – remember that if it aligns further west, we end up in a trough, rather than under a peak, and that means a very cold late autumn / winter, such as we endured in 2010.  I see Paddy Power are giving 7/2 on a White Christmas for 2012, hmmm tempting….

General Weather Situation

The image on the right taken from our Cambridge office (we can afford windows now!) tells the story of this week, as this is a Cirrus cloud formation and it’s often associated with high pressure systems. That means for most of the UK and Ireland, we’ll have dry, warm conditions, though ultimately the day temperature will depend on cloud cover and that’s a difficult variable to predict. We have a very active low pressure system skirting the top of the UK, so for Scotland they’ll be gale force winds and rain for the start of the week and also from Thursday through to Friday, as another low pressure skims the top of the U.K. It’ll be worse the further north you go in Scotland. For the rest of us, we’re looking set fair for the start of the week. Tuesday will bring a weak band of rain for Ireland, which will push westwards into Wales later in the day, but decreasing in intensity all the time.  For the rest of the week, we’ll be dry and warm, with temperatures ultimately dependent on cloud cover and that’s likely to be significant, particularly early on in the day.

 Agronomic Notes

Dollar Spot on a fairway - Sept 2012

The dry weather for most will decrease the activity of disease pathogens on the whole with Fusarium taking a back seat. The heavy dews will however continue to encourage Red Thread and Dollar Spot activity, particularly on higher height of cut areas, like tees and fairways. For many, the latter isn’t a disease of note or one that affects their golf course. This year, it is more prevalent and occurring on courses with no previous history of the disease. For your information, it likes a wet surface and so often shows as a few spots early in the summer, (June-July), declines thereafter, only to appear with a vengeance in the autumn, with the onset of heavy dew formation. It follows then that one method of discouraging this disease is to keep dry surfaces and maximise surface water movement. Secondly, it likes a weak, impoverished plant, so low N is a calling sign for Dollar Spot, with Fescue and Rye top of its ‘munch list’. There’s a lot we don’t know about this disease, which is strange given its prevalence in the U.S and on the continent.

Soil temperatures are holding up well, currently sitting in the mid 15’s, so that means light-rate liquids and water-solubles will continue to be the order of the day in my mind nutrition-wise. As mentioned last week, it is key to go into the end of this month nicely in control of your grass plants nutrition, so you’re not caught out with flushes of growth, a plant leaf high in N, succulent and an easy target for Fusarium.

A bit of worm activity kicked off last week with the rain, but that’ll die down as upper soil moisture levels decline as will Etiolated growth, which has been quite prominent on collars. (It’s that bendy, white Poa that doesn’t like being cut)

With temperatures still up and moisture levels good, this is a great time to hit weeds, a job that many missed out on earlier in the year because of the weather or if they did apply, the weeds have simply re-grown, particularly those with a big tap root, like Plantain and Daisy.

Think that’s it for now, enjoy the autumn.

Mark Hunt