Hi All,

I’ve been on my travels again last week, into Slovakia, worked in Austria and out of Slovenia. (Cheers Michael and Gerhard for putting up with me )

It’s interesting looking at turf situations in different countries and their issues, most of them are similar to ours, a cold, late spring, high levels of disease pressure, lack of aeration and topdressing slots to carry out the fundamental cultural work required and an obsession from a usually vocal minority for faster greens and lower cutting heights. (sound familar??)  I was surprised though to see the range of pesticides available to greenkeepers in Austria bearing in mind that the E.U’s thematic strategy (aimed at reducing pesticide availability) originated just down the road in Germany. Why is their situation different to ours ? Well it’s because their industry has lobbied successfully on their behalf with the legislators.

I’ll talk more of this later in the blog, but BIGGA and IOG, you want to get yourselves out to Germany and Austria to see how a greenkeeping federation really supports its members on issues that affect them.

When is a Weasel not a Weasel ?, When it’s a Ziesel !

As usual when I’m travelling abroad I try to make an effort with language and so it was when I visited a club south of Vienna. Ziesel(Hi Wayne :))

As we were looking at a green I noticed a little brown animal scurrying across the fairway. “A weasel I think?” said I, “Yes it’s a Ziesel” said my host, “You mean Weasel”…”Yes Ziesel” came back the retort. Clearly thinking this was another Germanic wind up (remembering the legendary Field Hamster of Frankfurt last year) I tried to clear this up. “It eats Rabbits doesn’t it?”, My hosts looked perplexed “Rabbits?”, “Yes you know meat, it’s a meat eater” says I. “No it eats seeds and grass” Ah, clearly some mistake. So a little browsing on Google revealed that there is indeed an animal called a Ziesel and it’s vegetarian, just so you know 🙂

Onto the weather…

General Weather Situation

So after another chilly night, how are we looking for the first day of June ? For most of the U.K we have a bright, cool start to the day, but cloud cover is set to build. Over on the west coast of Ireland and north west Scotland, we have rain just pushing in from The Atlantic and moving eastwards across Ireland and into central Scotland by early afternoon. This rain will reach Wales by mid-afternoon and push eastwards in a line north of The Wash, intensifying over Leinster and north-west Scotland as it moves east. The south east will stay dry until well into the night. Temperatures will be still on the cool side, low double figures in that rain and mid-teens out of it. Winds will be moderate to blustery, if anything increasing in strength as we go through the day and from the south west.

Tuesday sees that rain sitting over the south east of England and north-west of Scotland and over higher ground in the latter, it’ll fall as sleet and snow, for the first week of June would you believe ! Ireland should have a much drier day though there’s a likelihood of rain pushing along the south coast of Munster and Leinster through the morning. All in all, an unsettled day, drier in a band south of Scotland and above London, but by the afternoon I expect showers across most areas of the U.K. Between the showers they’ll be some sunshine and in it temperatures will lift to mid to high teens, but still we’ll have that ever-persistent, south west wind pushing the clouds along.

By mid-week, that deep Atlantic depression is pushing away into Scandinavia and things start to settle down a tad. So a much drier day for everyone on Wednesday, still some vestiges of rain over the north west of Scotland and Ireland and scurrying across, but elsewhere it’ll be a quieter day, with lighter winds, dull for most, so that’ll keep the temperatures down to mid-teens, but at least the night will have been milder and that’s key.

For Thursday, we have a very similar day to Wednesday, dry for the main part save for some light rain initially over north west Scotland and later in the day there’s a chance of some light rain pushing into the south coast of Leinster. It’ll remain cloudy for most, but again the night temperature under that cloud will serve to keep temperatures up. So mid-teens again the order of the day, perhaps rising a little higher as the winds drop right away.

Closing out the week and our warmer settled weather is put temporarily on hold (unfortunately) because it looks like a low is building, squeezing itself between the high pressure that was promised, to give an unsettled end to the week. (sorry) This low will ramp up the winds over Scotland, the north-west of England and Ireland for a time on Friday and of course it’ll bring rain. This rain will have moved into and across Ireland overnight into Friday and into the south coast of England and central Scotland, so a potentially wet start for the day for most (‘cept for a band between where it’ll be initially dry). This rain will push quickly northwards clearing the south of England by late morning and then reluctantly sit over Scotland to give a very wet end to the week there. The good news is this low isn’t going to hang about.

So how’s the weekend looking ?, in a word better.

As that low slinks away over the weekend, it’ll still give some rain over Scotland and the north west of England, but this will die out over Saturday to leave a more settled picture. Further west over Ireland and south of this rain into England and Wales, it’ll be a much nicer day, settled with light winds and hazy sunshine. Temperatures should build nicely into the high teens, so lovely really. There maybe more in the way of cloud cover for Ireland and western parts of the U.K on Sunday, but save for some light rain touching the west coast of Leinster and Connacht, it looks a dry picture for all of the U.K and Ireland for Sunday as high pressure begins to build.

Weather Outlook

High pressure looks to be set to build on that nice weather from the weekend to give a calm and dry start to next week for all areas except the far north east of Scotland where that low pressure is still slow to clear. Elsewhere we look to have a very stable week with an Atlantic high pressure firmly in charge so that means dry and warm, with heat building through the week for most places. Initially in the north it’ll be cooler, but this will change as we progress through the week so be patient and nice weather will come to you as well.

 Agronomic Notes

Pesticide Availability – Do as I say not as I do…

We are as an industry subject to ever-increasing legislation courtesy of the E.U and with the recent introduction of CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging Legislation – live today), REACH (The Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and of course the E.U Thematic Strategy for pesticides, the effects of this legislation is starting to filter down into our industry. We saw this a week or so ago with the withdrawal of Chlorpyrifos, we also know Imidachloprid’s days appear numbered and that the best fungicides we currently have available for Microdochium control (Triazoles) are under the spotlight.

So it’s the same for every country in Europe isn’t it ?, after all we are in the E.U (currently)

Well no it isn’t and what I’m seeing is that in some countries in Europe, their range of available products for the control of pest and pathogens is actually increasing, despite everything I said above. So they’re working under the effects of the same legislation, but their situation is different to ours, why is this ?

Well the answer is lobbying, communication and interaction with the legislators, the countries that are on the upward curve are doing this job far better than we are.

Take Germany and Austria for example. Both have very well-organised, Greenkeeping Federations with a strong and professional emphasis on education. Well so do we, we have BIGGA and the IOG to represent us. So what is different over in Germany and Austria ?

The difference is that their education extends to the legislators, so they have consistent, well-organised, interaction with the people responsible for legislating on their industry. They have a well-funded, central research program clearly aimed at showing the efficacy and environmental benefits of managed-amenity turf and using this research they are able to prove the case for products they need to manage their turf. The same is true in Scandinavia with S.T.E.R.F. If you haven’t heard of STERF, they are and I quote “A research foundation that supports existing and future R&D efforts and delivers ‘ready-to-use research results’ that benefit the Nordic golf sector. STERF was set up in 2006 by the golf federations in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Nordic Greenkeepers’ Associations”

If you go on their website you’ll see for example that they have done some excellent work on fungicide leaching into the environment and have demonstrated which A.I’s are less susceptible to leaching and so safer to use in terms of environmental exposure. Have a look here

So what’s my point ?

My point is that in the U.K, we lack a clear industry body that communicates effectively to our legislators. We have the Amenity Forum, which is doing a good job within the resources it has available, but it does not have centrally-coordinated and targeted research to back up its arguments.

We simply don’t have an central research program dedicated to support our industry, instead we have a disjointed approach with minimal interest from BIGGA and the IOG, as far as I can see. Until we fundamentally change this approach, we are a sitting duck for the legislators, mark my words.

Turf Appearance

I’m getting a lot of reports of off-colour turf at present with a mottled appearance, especially true on fine turf areas. This is hardly surprising when you look at the up and down nature of the weather in May (see below) and the run of cold nights that has extended right up to the beginning of June this year. So we have the many different biotypes of Poa annua, some growing, some not, some seeding, some not and of course they appear differently across the turf. When an annual Poa plant is seeding, it is putting most of its efforts into seed production, so we see a paler leaf colour, wider leaf and poor vigour. Even if nutrient is available, this biotype won’t be too keen on taking it up, whereas a perennial Poa plant sitting next to it is likely to be producing less seed and so will appear greener and healthier. If your green or turf has a mixture of biotypes (as most people have) then you will notice this variability in colour and growth and none more so than at present because of the weather. In particular since the beginning of March we have had a trough pattern in the jet stream pulling down cold air from the Arctic and this has impacted on growth in general (we know we are behind 2014). One feature of this weather pattern has been the cold nights, I mean look at last night, here we were down to 4°C until the cloud cover arrived, you can clearly see this on Meteoturf with the sharp contrast between day and night temperatures.


The good news is that our night temperatures are set to pick up and give us a much more consistent growth pattern so my advice is let the low move off in the early part of this week and squeeze in a light feed with iron mid-week before the rain at the end of the week and this should take out that mottled effect nicely. In Scotland the ever-persistent rain and wind will make it difficult to find a spray window so perhaps here it’s better waiting till next week and the arrival of high pressure (I’m confident)

The year so far from a growth perspective…

So where do we stand when we look at the first 5 months of 2015 vs. 2015 ?

Well I’ve used the stats for The Oxfordshire as a starter..


We can see that May 2015 was a so-so month, with on average 30% less growth in total than last May, if you compare the stats above. We also know were running about 14 days behind 2014 in terms of cumulative GDD at the end of April, so have we caught up in May ?

Well no, in fact we have slipped further behind. Look at the graph below and you can see that we reached the same growth point at the end of May 2015 as we did on the 11th of May in 2014, so that means we are just under 3 weeks behind last year at the end of May.


An analysis of the growth patterns of both years shows the following ;


You can clearly see that in 2014 there was more growth through the month and it reached higher levels more consistently.

I plan to update the GDD information later today hopefully if I get time as I have some good stats from other areas of the U.K and Ireland to add. You’ll receive an update message later to this effect.

Pathogen Activity

Lots of Microdochium doing the rounds last week following on from the previous weeks mild weather and then rainfall. Some of it has scarred the surface but with the more promising forecast I think we will see good recovery from this outbreak with some light brushing, verticutting (to remove the dead tissue) and a topdress. With moisture and temperature we can expect to see more in the way of Fairy Ring activity and likely some Waitea Patch as well.

GDD Data Update

This evening I’ve collated the Irish GDD data painstakingly compiled by Aine (Cheers me dears) comparing 2015 with 2014. In addition I’ve also looked at 3 sites across the U.K (Cheers Sean, Adrian and James) and compared their 2015 data with 2014.




All the best..

Mark Hunt