Out walking again at the weekend I reflected on the fact that the over the same walk a fortnight ago, the sky was full of House Martins, but they’ve now shipped out to warmer climes and their place is taken by hordes of Redwings and Fieldfares who consider our climate warmer than Finland or the rest of Scandinavia where they’ve come from. They are here to feast on our berry crop and judging by the hedgerows, they won’t be disappointed. I consider the arrival of these birds as the start of winter even though the weather isn’t wintry quite yet.
I hope we have a little time yet before it does arrive though as my resident Hedgepigs have produced another pair of Hoglets (That’s 4 in total this year) and it’ll now be a race against time to get these fat enough to survive winter hibernation. According to some of the tabloids headlines recently, we are due to be heading into wintry conditions at the end of October, so is this the usual media hype or is winter not around the corner just yet ?
General Weather Situation
For Monday we have a continuation of that northerly wind but that’s on the change through the latter part of the day as it’ll swing round to north westerly and then westerly by the end of tomorrow. A dry picture for most of the U.K and Ireland but that swing in wind direction will push some rain into western Scotland through the course of the morning and this will move both eastwards and south through The Borders and into Northern England through the course of the afternoon / evening. Elsewhere we have a dry picture and across Ireland, Wales and the south-west / west of England, you may see some nice breaks in the cloud cover and some sunshine. Further east and south these breaks will be limited. It’ll feel mild in the sun and lighter winds with temperatures pushing into the mid-teens where you see the sun and a little lower where you don’t….
Onto Tuesday and we have probably the best day of the week with that northern rain fizzling out through the morning and a swing round in the wind from northerly to westerly through the day. With some breaks in the cloud and a largely dry picture, temperatures will push up to mid-teens and perhaps even higher in the south west, so a lovely day to get things done. A pretty dry picture for everyone as well. By the end of the day though we have a front of rain pushing into north west Ireland and Scotland and this will be quite heavy in nature and it’ll also move quickly.
So by Wednesday morning’s rush hour this rain will push south across Ireland (though the south west may escape its effects completely) across Scotland and down into England reaching South Wales and The Midlands by the morning rush hour and soon pushing south to cover all of the U.K by late morning. The two areas that may escape it are the north east of Scotland and the south west of Ireland that could see a sunny and mild day. That said it’ll feel mild everywhere in that westerly airflow but may feel a little cooler as the winds will strengthen through Wednesday. As hinted above it’s a quick moving rain front and so by late afternoon the west and north of the U.K and Ireland will brighten up behind it to leave a nice end to the day and a mild night to boot.
For Thursday we have a slightly cooler day as that wind shifts round to the north west, but save for north west Scotland where we will see some rain pushed in from The Atlantic, elsewhere it’ll be dry and they’ll also be some hazy breaks in the sunshine. The wind will however be stronger than of late and that’ll take the edge off the temperature so low double figures for most, perhaps a tad higher in the sunshine which you’ll see more of from midday onwards.
Closing out what hasn’t been too bad a week really approaching the end of October we have a band of rain creeping into north west Ireland and Scotland through the early hours. Light at first this will consolidate to heavier rain as we progress through the morning. This band will stretch from the south west of Ireland north east across Scotland to Aberdeenshire and it’ll be slow-moving as well. South and east of this rain Friday will be a dull day with very little in the way of breaks in the cloud cover and as we progress through Friday evening, some of that rain will push into Wales, The Lakes and the north west of England. Winds will be much lighter and from the west to south west so again not overly cold with temperatures in the low double figures.
Moving onto the all-important weekend that band of rain sinks slowly south on Saturday through the north of England down into The Midlands by dawn, so potentially a soggy boat to bail out before fishing commences though there is some disagreement on the timing and movement of this rain front so we’ll see 🙁 As the rain has already cleared Ireland, Scotland and the north west, it’ll be brighter here and mild though the wind could be set to swing back to the north east depending on where you’re situated so that’ll take the edge off things. They’ll also be some more rain pushing into north west Scotland through Saturday but this looks to stay pretty localised. Sunday looks a better day in terms of dryness but it’ll be dull after some initial sunshine across the east and from the north of England up it’ll also be windy as low pressure tries to force that high away. This low pressure will bring rain into north west Ireland and Scotland later on Sunday.
So by the weekend we know we have low pressure trying to push in from the north, is it likely to succeed or will high pressure win the day next week ?
Well that northerly low is a pretty deep one so the odds are that it will swing in and push rain down into Ireland and Scotland on Sunday night and this will move southwards into the rest of the U.K on Monday accompanied by some pretty strong winds, especially over Scotland and the north of Ireland. This windy, unsettled weather will push southwards on a cool north westerly wind through Monday and Tuesday, but it looks like things will then settle down again by midweek as high pressure comes in to the picture. So a cooler, settled end to next week and a wet and windy start to it. The picture by the end of next week looks complicated with low pressure surrounding the high on all sides so I think this means that the high will not be in place for long before unsettled weather asserts itself again.
Disease pressure – Month to date and compared to 2014
Well it is October and usually that means a month of high disease pressure from our old friend Microdochium nivale. Now I was thinking although there has been disease evident on fine turf this month I don’t think it’s as bad as last year for example. So I decided to do a comparison of Growth Potential vs. Relative Humidity (drivers for disease) for October 2014 vs. 2015 year-to-date and see if this showed the pattern of disease pressure. Below you can see the comparison y.t.d.
I’ve highlighted the peaks in Growth Potential and when they coincided with high Relative Humidity (in red boxes) because that’s when the plant and also disease is growing strongly and when the leaf is wet, in other words perfect disease weather. Now I accept this is only one location in Central England, but if anyone in Scotland or Ireland wants to send a Growth Potential Spreadsheet over for last year and this year I’d love to see how this compares.
You can see that my supposition was indeed correct, last year in the first 18 days of October we’d had three ‘Disease Peaks’ and this year we’ve only had one. So we are having an easier month disease pressure-wise.
The week ahead…..
Looking ahead though we’re likely to hit another peak this week because we have mild air temperatures, both day and night and rainfall forecast for many in the early part of the week / midweek depending on your location. Below you can see the mild nights , rainfall and peak in Growth Potential is pretty much universal across the U.K and Ireland, though the south east of England has less of a dramatic peak because they’re the furthest from the mild air.
So that means if you’re running close to the end of your last fungicide application this week it will pay to apply before the peak this week tips the balance towards renewed disease activity. Bear in mind also that we have mild weather, stronger winds and rainfall expected as we move towards midweek so the earlier you apply the better in my books.
Microdochium nivale, Dew Removal and rolling…
Downloaded an interesting link from some GCSAA research that I happened upon recently concerning the effects of removing dew and Microdochium incidence.
What caught my eye was the results showed that the most effective method of removing dew with respect to decreasing Microdochium nivale disease pressure was rolling. You can see if you read the link here that rolling reduced disease by 66% compared to untreated and was roughly twice as effective as using a Dewy or blower. You’ll also note from the article that they were rolling every day, now I know what you’re going to say, that’s not a feasible proposition in the winter on your surfaces and no doubt you’re right.
What I am interested in though is why rolling had any effect on Microdochium disease pressure because as a consequence of rolling the Volumetric Water Content (VWC) increased ?
So what that’s saying is that the action of rolling took the dew from the leaf and pushed it into the surface of the rootzone leading to an increase from 28% VWC in the untreated plots to 40% in the rolled plots. So in plain English it made the rootzone wetter by a factor of nearly 50% and yet Microdochium activity didn’t increase, it decreased, and did so substantially.
I think there’s two important messages in this work, but it’s not that we should go out and roll every day in the winter 🙂
The first is that removing moisture from the leaf is key to reducing the activity of Microdochium nivale, that we know I think.
The second is that a high water content rootzone i.e a wet green in the winter isn’t necessarily going to be more prone to attack by this disease. How come ?
If I had a pound for every greenkeeper who has said to me over the years that on his course the Microdochium in winter has not occurred on the normal ‘indicator greens’ of the autumn, the ones that have a good microclimate for disease, but on his driest, most open-situated greens. The same in the spring sometimes as well. I think I know why this is as currently I’m doing some research in this area and when I get the results I’ll share them with you.
Suffice to say that we have two variables at work here, moisture on the plant leaf surface and moisture in the rootzone and clearly they both don’t act the same way in terms of encouraging Microdochium development. Bit of a head scratcher but it certainly gets you thinking doesn’t it ?
With mild temperatures this week and the promise of rainfall (particularly for the drier central and southern UK) this week is an ideal time to kick areas that require an input on with a granular fertiliser. As the days shorten and therefore light availability / duration decreases, the balance can tip in some areas in favour of moss. I’m thinking particularly on areas of your turf surfaces that don’t get regular play, like back tees for example. So hitting them with a high iron, approved Mosskiller is good thinking this week and with cooler temperatures likely to follow you’ll reap the benefit right through the winter.
I remember visiting a golf course where they’d applied Dichlorofen, back in the days when it was available, and they did so in early November but ran out after 16 greens, so 2 greens were untreated. Looking at them the next February, the difference was staggering in terms of moss ingression on the 2 untreated greens vs. the treated, there was so much moss ! This demonstrates that moss grows preferentially to grass in the winter months (and sometimes in the height of summer as well :))
Ok, that’s all for now, have a good week..