A great advert for English golf at The Grove this past week and fortunately the weather just about behaved, though 10mm the previous night / morning on the final day made life entertaining for the greens staff.
Hosting an October event is a real lottery weather-wise but fortunately it looks like they missed the start of autumn proper by a week. Great results for everyone involved and particularly all of the volunteers who gave up their time, they are the unsung heroes, well done lads and ladies you can be proud 🙂
This week I think we’ll start to see the change to autumn good and proper with the first of our Atlantic low pressure systems due to come in towards the end of the week and low pressure kicking off the start of this week. There are signs that the jet stream is beginning to ramp up and form its more normal autumn / winter pattern and that may mean a wetter end to October than the start. I call the winter jet stream pattern, the ‘L’ pattern for obvious reasons because it pushes down from north to south across America and then hangs a right across the Atlantic to bring weather systems into the U.K and Ireland. You can see a comparison of last week’s pattern and this week’s projected pattern below ;
Don’t batten down the hatches just yet though because I don’t think this change is a permanent one, rather a whiff of what’s to come before it settles back again next week with high pressure in charge pot
Nature is also gearing up for the winter and whilst I was up in the wee hours last week I could hear Redwings arriving over from Siberia on the easterly night winds. These are the winter Thrushes that for me really herald the start of the autumn / winter in earnest. I also had a new Hedgepiglet arrive last week, I’ve nick-named him ‘Brexy’ because he’s all on his tod this one and he’s going to take some feeding up if he’s to survive the winter.
So how is this week shaping up ?
General Weather Situation
With low pressure sitting out over Ireland it’s no surprise that the west and north are likely to be on the receiving end of some showery rain today. So for Monday morning we have a west – east / south split with bands of showers pushing in across Ireland and into Wales, the north west of England and the west coast of Scotland. South and east of this we have a settled autumn day with sunshine breaking through from the off. Through the morning these showers will continue to push in but they’re mainly going to be affecting coastal areas with the exception of Scotland the far north of England where they will push inland as well. By early afternoon the showers have cleared most of Ireland but will still be an issue across Wales, Dartmoor,The Lakes and south / north-west Scotland. They are also likely to work inland across the north of England, The Midlands and some areas of the south of England. It will feel very mild with temperatures in the mid-teens away from that rain and low teens under it. The wind will be moderate to strong and from the south west / west.
Moving onto Tuesday and we still see the effects of that Atlantic low with showers and heavier rain present across north west Scotland. In addition the north west, north and West Wales will also be affected. Through the morning those showers will push inland across northern England and into The Midlands as well, a repeat of Monday really. Ireland looks to have a better day with more chance of seeing the sun, but still some showers, chiefly I think over Co. Clare. During the afternoon, those showers will have pushed down into East Anglia and the south East, but they’ll be plenty of sunshine in-between and away from those showers for central parts of England. We see the same across Scotland during Tuesday with that coastal rain moving inland to affect most areas though perhaps southern Scotland may just hang onto some dryness and sunshine. Temperature-wise I’d expect to see lower temperatures for Tuesday, low teens / high double figures, as the wind ramps up a bit and takes on a north west aspect and this will peg things back a tad.
For Wednesday we have a much drier day over all areas though it will be dull over most areas. So hazy sunshine and cloud cover for most of the day and some of that cloud may be thick enough to bring some drizzle across northern areas later in the day. Again staying cool with temperatures in the low double figures in what will be a chilly north west to north wind.
Thursday sees a continuation of that dull and dry theme with if anything less chance of seeing the sun and thicker cloud cover as well. The wind will be more northerly and so a dull and cool day I’m afraid, but it will be dry and that’s a bonus for this time of year. Temperature-wise it’ll be lucky to break into the teens even in the south of England so chilly and dull is the theme for the time-being. With low pressure now across to the east of us, there’s always the risk of some showers nipping at the east coast of England across Norfolk and Suffolk later on Thursday. As with Wednesday, the best chance of seeing the sun is across the west and Ireland but I think it’ll be fleeting glimpses.
Closing out the week and we see a much calmer picture and a little milder as well on Friday as the wind drops in strength and therefore less cloud cover is pushed in from The North Sea. There’s still a risk of showers across the east and south east coasts, just nipping at our toes really and not likely to amount to much or move inland. There will be some rain moving in from early doors to the north west of Scotland and that’ll stay for most of the day really I’m afraid but unlikely to move inland. This rain is likely to be heavy in nature. As with earlier in the week, the best chance of seeing the sun is across the west, South Wales and the south west of England. With a calmer wind, it’ll feel milder, a little milder that is, but still with temperatures down in the low double figures and a degree or two higher if the sun grants you an audience 🙂
And now to the weekend and as hinted earlier there’s moves a foot…
The first thing that becomes apparent will be a change in wind direction to the south and this will occur across western locations first as we have a very deep Atlantic depression looking to make an entrance from stage left and a continental high trying to stop it. So for Ireland on Saturday the wind will swing round initially to the south east, then the south and it’ll ramp up in intensity pushing in cloud cover. This change in wind strength and direction will ocur through Saturday and will begin in the west so central and eastern areas may not even notice it till later in the day. By Sunday though you will for sure as band of heavy rain pushes across Ireland, Wales and later the west of England accompanied by gale force southerly / south easterly winds. Again the heaviest of this rain will be across Ireland and along western coasts / Wales but I expect it to move inland to all areas through Sunday.
One caveat here and it is that not all models predict this low pressure system will get as far east as I’m saying so we’ll see. If it doesn’t you’ll know because you’ll have more settled weather at the weekend across central and eastern areas.
Tricky one this because as mentioned above, there’s some disagreement on how far east this low pressure system gets before it butts up against a continental high pressure. My take is that we will see a reverse of the low pressure through the early part of next week which means it’ll start to move east to west instead of west to east. So it’s likely to be a west / east split for the early part of next week with the west wet and windy and the east calmer and drier. As we progress through the early part of the week we will see the influence of this high pressure system extend further and further westwards pushing the low out of the way and returning us to easterly winds and drier conditions. It’ll be windy as these two weather systems butt up against each other but again I think this will decrease as we go through the week.
Our industry future in the spotlight……
As I contemplated on what was another successfully-hosted British Masters, building on Woburn last year and of course The Grove this year, I wondered at the vast amount of organisation, effort and money that this type of event brings to our industry.
The corporate sponsors, T.V rights, merchandise, hospitality, the whole shooting match revolves around our ability to present an optimum turf surface at what is traditionally a tricky time of year weather-wise.
It isn’t just tricky because of the weather, it’s tricky because of disease management.
Ok so October so far has shown itself to be atypical, that is a low amount of disease pressure and no real mild nights / high humidity combinations (though this weekend past will have kicked some Microdochium off I’m sure).
September on the other hand provided much higher disease pressure from Anthracnose, Microdochium nivale, Dollar Spot and Red Thread. So where am I going with this blog thread ?
Well if the E.U Thematic Strategy and our respective regulatory bodies carry on the way they’re going, it won’t be possible to host this kind of event in some countries in Europe in the future.
If the afore-mentioned diseases hadn’t been controlled by a combination of good cultural preparation, non-pesticidal and pesticidal products, would the golfers, sponsors and T.V have been happy with surfaces like the image below I wonder ? I can’t think they would, can you ?
It’s a fact that in certain countries in Europe, Germany for one, where I am talking next week, in some regions of the country, they will only have two fungicides for disease management in 2017.
This will makes life extremely tricky for a golf course superintendent there, no matter how good they are and unless there is a significant ‘Zeitgeist’ moment, things will come unstuck. Without incurring the wrath of the chemical companies involved, neither of the two products likely to be available is effective at controlling Microdochium nivale. So how would they be placed if they were down to host this type of event this month ? The same is true in some regions of Scandinavia despite the excellent research work that S.T.E.R.F has undertaken to provide factual evidence as to the non-leachability of some fungicides into the environment.
It’s all about ‘modelling’ with the regulators and I can tell you that the model they use to evaluate a product is one dreamt up in la-la land. So far removed are they from the actual game of golf or football for that matter, that I don’t even think they know much about the industry they’re supposed to be regulating. I don’t think they could tell you the actual difference culturally between a fairway and a tee or a sports pitch and rough.
The same is true in agriculture. We keep hearing about the demand for us to grow more and more food for the ever-increasing world population but really that isn’t going to happen if modern-day agriculture has one hand tied behind its back because of legislation. So you know what happens ? We end up importing more food from outside the E.U, from countries that don’t have the same legislation, practices, restrictions in place. Now where is the logic in that ? It doesn’t mean though that chemicals / pesticides should go un-regulated, we have seen issues in the past with usage of products with harmful side effects to nature (DDT is an example), but there should be a middle ground. A middle ground backed up by research and fact not emotive rhetoric and unrealistic modelling.
At some point legislation and common sense will surely have to meet but as someone once remarked to me “Those two don’t sleep in the same bed together” 🙁
Now I think in the U.K, we won’t be in the same boat as Germany, but we will see a ‘passing of the guard’ in terms of older, higher rate chemistries going and newer, lower rate chemistries coming in. It’ll mean we’ll have to change our turf management practices for sure if we are stil going to be able to host this type of event in October or September for that matter…It’s not an unsurmountable challenge, but it is a challenge nonetheless. If we don’t meet it I can see sponsor pressure saying “We can’t go there at this time of year blah, blah, because of lack of effective disease management” so they’ll end up going somewhere where the same legislation doesn’t apply and our industry will be the loser.
It isn’t just about venues like The Grove either, we need to be able to effectively control disease in the autumn and that doesn’t just relate to fungicides. We have to be able to adequately control surface organic matter so we have drier rootzones, which then allow us to carry out effective overseeding (instead of sowing into thatch) to create a polystand (mixture of species) and thereby provide less of the conditions that encourage disease. This therefore means proper communication and agreed aeration slots, budgets and resource for quick topdressing. So we are building firmer, drier surfaces (great for playing the game of golf) with a mixture of grass species rather than a monoculture (be that Fescue, Bent or Poa). This will then enable us to have more climatic and disease resilience within our sward going forward. That I believe is the future for golf in Europe if it is to prevail and I for one believe it will. Looking amongst the crowds this weekend at The British Masters, there were plenty of youngsters queueing up for player autographs and following their player round the course. These are our future players.
In a worst case scenario, if we have high disease pressure in October and get bad scarring, we may be waiting till May the next year to get those surfaces back to tip-top condition (if we have a cool, dry spring that is). So effectively a golfer will be playing on sub-standard surfaces from October till May, that’s 7 months of a 12-month calendar year. Do you think this is financially viable ? I don’t, particularly when we’re seeing the changing of the guard in terms of golfers and how they play golf. (Nomadic rather than fixed golfers)
The image below shows the advantages of a polystand (probably not the right terminology but what I’m referring to is a mixture of species) with Microdochium damage in a patch of Poa that’s surrounded by bentgrass. The fact that there’s a mixture of grasses means that the disease in the Poa can’t move as easily to the next patch of Poa because there’s a more disease resistant species (bent) in-between and this lessens the severity and damage. This is where I think we need to be thinking and if you’re there already, congratulations you’re ahead of the game 🙂
Late season slots
With a dry summer for some and a dry autumn as well, I’m seeing lots of newly-germinated weeds out on fairways and the like. The quiet days at the end of this week will probably provide the last slot for doing some selective herbicide treatment knocking back the weeds whilst the grass is still actively growing. I’d combine it (if they all mix well that is) with a liquid fertiliser and iron so you get good colour, recovery and better uptake / knock-down on your weed species.
Ok that’s it for this week, there won’t be a blog next week because I’m taking a few days off to recharge my batteries, so I’ll be back on the last day of this month for my next blog.
All the best.