Fresh back from Alaska and primed and ready to tap into our lovely summer weather 🙂
A true experience out there, definitive wilderness and so so nice to have no phone or internet ! Had no close encounters with bears you’ll be pleased to hear though one did stalk me when I was fishing a side channel only to return and find fresh bear tracks over my footprints ! Obviously he / she considered me inadequate as a dining partner. (Not for the first time on that front I’d add)
Talking to the guides out there and would you guess, their autumn season is the most changed of the four with warmer weather extending longer into the autumn / winter and then very sharp fluctuations in their weather from warm to cold and vice-versa, sounds familiar doesn’t it ? Their glaciers are also in full retreat with one that I visited likely to disappear in the next 25 years, truly sad as they are simply beautiful.
Ok enough of the holiday snaps and back to the matter in hand…
Current Weather Situation
With no internet out in the wilderness, I was oblivious to the marked change in the weather over here, the high level of rainfall and the cooler temperatures that accompanied it though looking back at my last blog there was a suggestion that this was on the way in the outlook projection.
So after cool temperatures and rainfall followed by what was a lovely weekend for some, how are we looking this week ? ‘Mixed’ is an apt description with the west and north sitting in the path of an Atlantic low and the south and east catching more of the continental warm air flow.
Monday looks to start off as a tale of west and east as westerly coasts across Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland are wet with some of that rain intruding inland across Ireland and particularly Scotland. Through the morning though this rain is set to clear most areas. Away from the wet west, it’s a dry start with hazy sunshine following a warm night. By lunchtime that rain looks to be confined to north west Scotland and The Highlands with an isolated area sitting over Connacht / Donegal as well. Elsewhere it looks to be a lovely warm, sunny day with temperatures pushing up to the low twenties though the cloud cover looks set to last most of the day from The Midlands south. Later in the evening a new rain front looks set to move into the west of Ireland and push potentially heavy rain across Ireland overnight. Winds will be blustery and from the south west across the west and north keeping temperatures down in the mid-high teens.
By dawn on Tuesday this rain is into north west Scotland to give a wet rush hour. Further south we have a repeat of Monday with perhaps more in the way of direct sunshine over the east and south coasts of England. Through the morning that rain pushes into Wales and The Lakes and by the afternoon it’ll reach the north east of England. South of this though it remains dry, bright and sunny with some hazy sunshine across the west as cloud cover is pushed ahead of the rain front. Closing out Tuesday, the rain clears Wales and most of Ireland, but remains in situ over the north of England, Donegal and Scotland. Similar temperatures to Monday with that north,west / south split in the temperature and wind strength.
Moving onto Wednesday we have more rain for Ireland unfortunately as a new front pushes into south west Munster early doors and tracks across country through the morning. There’s rain as well for the north of England, The Lakes and Scotland. And yes further south we carry on blissfully ignorant of the Atlantic low pressure system with nice temperatures and a moderate south-westerly wind direction. By the afternoon some of that rain will push into the south west of England and track eastwards potentially along a line north of the M4, so a more showery end to the day.
Moving onto Thursday, a drier day for most of Ireland beckons, except for the tip of Donegal. Yet again Scotland is set to pick up some heavy rain, particularly along the western coastline. This band of rain looks set to extend all the way up the west coast of the U.K with showers and cloud cover over Devon and Cornwall, the Welsh coast and the north-west of England too. South and east will have another dry day with temperatures picking up into the low twenties, perhaps higher further south. By early evening though the rain clears all areas to leave a fine and settled picture going into Friday.
Friday sees a change in the wind direction from the south west to the north west and this in turn pushes that cooler moist air further south so quite a noticeable drop in temperatures is projected for the south of England. So a duller day for the south and east on Friday, especially for the 2nd half of the day. Light rain and heavy cloud cover is projected for Scotland, with rain showers also projected to move across Ireland during the course of the day accompanied by some chillier winds so feeling cool everywhere with temperatures in the low teens over Ireland and Scotland and mid-teens further south. That change will be quite radical especially over the south where we’ll be looking at an 8°C temperature drop. They’ll also be some scattered showers for the north of England, Midlands and the south possibly later in the day. The only area that will likely hold onto the temperature is the south-east of England which may just make the twenties as it dodges the cooler airstream.
Onto the weekend and another change in the wind direction as it moves westerly and pushes milder air in so an upturn in temperature for all of us. A dry, warm picture over most of the U.K, but for Ireland there’s a risk of a rain front pushing into Connacht and Donegal p.m. on Saturday. This rain front will move east and affect the north-west of Scotland for the 2nd part of Saturday. Sunday looks drier for Ireland and warm to boot, but still a chance of rain over the north-west of Ireland and England for that matter. Further south and east it looks drier and warm again as high pressure begins to push warmer air into the south and west of the U.K. Later in the day there’s a new rain front expected to hit north-west Scotland.
Next week looks like starting off in a similar pattern to this week with a west/north vs. south split in the weather. The west and north will come under the influence of an Atlantic low, whereas the south west and south will sit under the influence of high pressure. The demarcation line will be somewhere across The Pennines I think at a guess. So unsettled, cooler and wet initially next week for the west and north, but fear not Ireland and Scotland because high pressure is projected to win this battle and so from Tuesday onwards you should start to see some sunshine, less in the way of rain and some warmth as well. For the south it’ll be a dry and settled week as a split in the jet stream allows warm air to push in and influence our weather for the week.
July 2015 turned out to be an interesting month agronomically-speaking, with a spell of high temperatures accompanied by fierce winds at the beginning of the month. This combination provided some of the highest daily Evapotranspiration (E.T) figures I can recall seeing and undoubtedly kicked off the Anthracnose development cycle (more on that later). At the end of the month, we had the opposite, with a northern air stream driving down temperatures and giving significant amounts of rainfall as well, again this will have served to move on disease development by providing good conditions for mycelial growth. The rainfall was welcome for sure particularly on non-irrigated outfield areas which had been suffering significantly. As usual rainfall bounced these areas back far quicker than irrigation could ever do ! There was also a marked north-south divide as can be seen from the graph below showing growth potential from two different locations ;
This growth difference was even bigger the further north you got with Scotland showing less growth and higher rainfall levels.
I’m focussing on this disease because for some clubs last year it was extremely damaging and the period of surface disruption carried on for a number of months. As intimated above, I referred to the start of July kicking off the Anthracnose cycle and what I mean by that is that the spores need high temperatures to germinate, I’ve seen figures of 25°C quoted and we easily exceeded these at the start of July. Once germinated the fungus develops mycelium which are slow-growing and quite sensitive (like me:)) and therefore require conditions of good soil moisture and humidity to develop. We got these conditions through the latter part of July and so it was no surprise last Friday when I observed infection mats on the base of untreated Poa annua plants. I say untreated because as you’ll know from earlier blogs, my advice is always to treat preventatively with a fungicide approximately a month before the commencement of observed symptoms. If you look at this year’s timeline, the stress and high temperatures started in early July (as opposed to late July in 2014) and we now see the commencement of infection at the beginning of August, hence the advice to apply a month before the beginning of symptom expression.
The top image above shows the familiar dark discolouration on the stem of a Poa plant, the lower image shows a (poor quality) close-up revealing a structure known as an infection mat of Anthracnose and this marked the point of entry and development on the plant itself. Normally the dark discolouration on a Poa plant associated with Anthracnose is the presence of Acervuli (spore-producing structures) but these are only present once the disease has been through its complete cycle. As I understand it the infection mat is at the beginning of the cycle and so we can expect to see full symptom development later this month depending on conditions.
Since we are aware that Anthracnose is in the process of development within the grass sward, there are a number of practical actions that we should / could take to alleviate the development of full-blown symptoms.
- Maintain little, but often nutrition levels without running surfaces too lean during August. Often this may mean using a light rate granular fertiliser if conditions are cool and wet.
- Keep the surface open, so light aeration such as solid tining, sarrel rolling, etc is the way to go. This serves not only to maintain an air and water channel through surface fibre, but also encourages more root development.
- Don’t put the grass plant under too much stress so alternating cutting and rolling can be advantageous rather than cutting daily, particularly if it’s hot.
- Light topdressing in combination with the aeration detailed above will ensure an more open fibre habit and thereby allow good air flow and surface drainage.
- Don’t over-regulate your Poa plant because the ability to grow away from disease will be advantageous if Anthracnose comes knocking on the door.
The cooler wetter weather at the end of the month will have served to push on many diseases not just Anthracnose. For the west and north with their more frequent rainfall I suspect Microdochium will be an issue a.
Further south, Red Thread on outfield areas, particularly those with a high Fescue and Ryegrass content has already been reported but I’d hope this will reduce in intensity as swards dry out and soil / leaf moisture levels drop this week. Fairy Rings will have increased over the last week of July with the increase in soil moisture and humidity, again I suspect their activity will drop with the drier conditions in the east and south. Maintaining good nutrition and not over-regulating the turf are key to managing your way through this period of weather without resorting to fungicidal inputs. This is particularly true for Red Thread which I think can be encouraged by the use of PGR’s that slow down top growth. This is because one of the means of control as we all know is to fertilise i.e initiate top growth which allows cutting to physically remove the fungus from the sward. If you’ve over-regulated your turf this won’t be the case.
Ok, that’s all for now, have a good week and all the best.