25th November

Hi All,

Back from my travels this week after speaking at the North German Greenkeeper’s Conference in Hamburg and Sportsturf Ireland in Dublin.

4 talks in 3 days, I can tell you I was cream-crackered when I finally got home 🙁

A great experience though and I’d like to personally thank Frank Schafer and Damian McLaverty / GCSAI for their hospitality and professionalism. These guys work very hard behind the scenes to make it all come together, so thanks chaps. One thing though if there is a next time, not in the same week eh 🙂



Now most of you will know I have a soft spot for these animals and of late we are seeing a real problem. This year the last brood has come late so currently there are lots of young Hedgepiglets which are still weaning. Their parents will have either gone into hibernation already or soon will be, leaving the young vulnerable.

My local animal wildlife hospital currently has 250 young Hedgehogs and is receiving 5-10 new Hedgepiglets a day. Come spring these will need releasing back into the wild. I only have a small garden but I have naturalised it from the decking / patio affair that I inherited (much to the previous owners disgust I should add) and planted lots of ferns, cover plants (as it is shady) and of course I have a lawn of sorts. (Rye, Fescue, Poa). Now I have 4 Hedgehog houses in my garden and all are occupied with the latest incumbent a new youngster (nicknamed Tatty) who started visiting the garden to eat at night a month ago and I noticed him piling up some leaves to make a shelter. So I got a house from Ark Wildlife, kitted it out with straw and dry beech leaves (all sprayed with cat flea spray to discourage ticks and fleas and left to air) and he adopted it within days. I put out Lactol – Puppy Milk every night and this replaces the nutrients they should be getting from mum, they love it. Next spring I reckon I can house another two at least and have found homes for another 8. All you need is a quiet spot in the garden, some access to roam and unfortunately no dogs (or a well-trained one) because the two don’t tend to get on.

Now they say climate change is working against wildlife but I disagree in the case of Hedgehogs because the later it goes cold, the shorter the winter period they need to survive and so the less body fat they need to rely on. My youngsters are already 500gms + so that’ll be fine but if you see a small Hedgehog wandering around in the day at the moment, pick up and drop it into your local animal rescue centre. You might just save its life and return it to the wild next spring 🙂

General Weather Situation

Ok onto this week and the question I get asked the most at the moment….”When is it going to bl**dy well stop raining ????”

Well, not this week me old fruit with another low pressure system or two due to pop into our locality however the first high pressure I’ve seen out in The Atlantic looks to make an appearance from the weekend onwards so that means drier and cooler possibly. It might paradoxically also mean higher disease pressure but we will come onto that one later.

Onto Monday and today we have low pressure (yawn, sigh…) pushing bands of rain across Ireland and U.K. These tend to be more south-westerly, westerly and north-westerly focussed in the latter. During the morning these bands of rain will push north and eastwards and consolidate into heavier rain for most areas of the U.K and Ireland with perhaps the south-east of England and far north of Scotland avoiding the worst. It’ll be reasonably mild with temperatures just nudging into double figures and the wind will freshen from the south / south-west.

Tuesday sees a new low pressure pushing in from The Atlantic and this is set to introduce more rain into south-west Ireland and England in the early hours of the morning. This rain will again push north and east across most of Ireland, Wales and England through the course of Tuesday morning though Scotland will be drier as the low is centred further south. By Tuesday evening this rain will have cleared most of southern and central England and Wales and be pushing north across northern England into Scotland. Again mild in the southerly / south-westerly air stream so low double figure temperatures are likely in a freshening strong to moderate wind.

Wednesday looks another unsettled day perhaps not with the intensity or volume of rainfall of Monday / Tuesday but with the low lying off the Kent coast it’s likely that we will see a continuation of showers, some of them heavy over the east of the country through Tuesday morning. Ireland should see a drier day though still with the threat of heavy showers across the east of Leinster / Munster as that rain moves eastwards into The Irish Sea. Scotland will maintain a similar situation to further south with showers, some of them heavy across the north and east. A cooler day as that low pressure system ushers in northerly winds in its trailing wake so high single figures, low double digits in the south of England and Ireland.

By Thursday that low pressure system is projected to sit straight on top of my Motherland, Denmark, so a soggy day here for you guys, undskyld. Cooler again on Thursday as that low pressure pulls down northern winds and rain still for the north and east of the U.K. We are also likely to see further showers pushing down from the north and north-east into central and southern England, Wales and Ireland through the late morning, afternoon. Not a particularly nice day and I for one will be spraying trials so they’ll be some rain fast agent in my treatments for sure ! North of The Pennines should be drier through Thursday and after the rain has pushed through we will see more in the way of a drier, cooler spell following into Thursday evening though showers are likely to persist over south Leinster, Munster.

Closing out the week on Friday sees a much more settled and dry picture for practically all of the U.K and Ireland. I can’t remember the last time I wrote that !  Cold though as that northerly wind will be a chilly one for sure. Plenty of sunshine as well as we close down the week with a cold and sunny day and with that wind dropping at night it is likely to lead to a ground frost in places.

So the weekend sees another low pressure skirt south of the U.K so this will introduce wetter weather to the south of Ireland and England with that rain, some of it heavy moving along the southern half of the U.K through Saturday. There’s some disagreement with how far north this may get but probably along the M4, M25 corridor. With a mix of moisture and cold winds some of those showers are likely to be wintry across the mountains of Ireland and Wales through Saturday. By Sunday high pressure is pushing in but the leading edge will maintain those northerly winds so it’ll be dry but very cold with temperatures not likely to hit much above 5-6°C during the day. Wrap up well eh.

Image courtesy of tropicaltidbits.com

Weather Outlook

OK, so how does it look for next week ?

Well the graphic above shows you the change as it is projected to develop with high pressure pushing in from the west and funneling down those cold northerly winds.  Now I don’t think this means we will stay dry and settled longer-term but I do think it means the weather pattern that we have had in place since the latter part of September has come to an end. How long that ‘end’ will last for is another matter. It wouldn’t surprise me if this marks the beginning of winter proper with some pretty wintry weather possible I think on the run in to December.

So next week looks to start cold and dry with frost most likely I’d say. As we go into Tuesday there’s a pretty cold low pressure north of the U.K (instead of south as before) likely to push rain, sleet and snow into Scotland and this band of wintry showers is likely to affect Ireland and the north / north-east of England through Tuesday into Wednesday. It’ll probably feel a little milder as the wind will swing round to westerlies at the same time. Through Wednesday we may see some of these showers affect areas further south but I must stress the rain will push through quickly on a fresh westerly wind so nothing like we have experienced of late. By Thursday we will see more rain / wintry showers pushing down across Scotland and Ireland into the north and north-west of England. The wind will switch to north-westerly and it’ll be increasingly windy for the 2nd half of the week with gales likely. This band of wintry showers will push south through Thursday and Friday with more showers and wintry weather affecting the north-west of England and Ireland.

So no it isn’t going dry, frosty and stable, well not the way it looks at present but with the jet stream moving more north it does mean the likelihood of a trough pattern developing as we have had for months now is lessening. So more wintry unsettled than stable dry but it’ll mean that the rain, sleet, snow will push through much quicker with less intense weather patterns from a rainfall perspective. Now we know when we have a high pressure vs. low pressure scenario things can change as we look longer / medium-term so let’s see how we progress into December.

Agronomic Notes

Talking about climate and Microdochium nivale management (ho hum) in different countries does bring home the different scenarios and situations present with respect to weather patterns but particularly legislation.

Above is the chart of permitted fungicides in Germany. If you can read it you’ll see that most of the products are effective on Dollar Spot, with only 2 labelled as effective on Microdochium nivale (Schneeschimmel), one is a systemic fungicide with moderate control, Exteris Stressgard, and one a contact protectant, Medallion.

That isn’t a lot of pesticide options to manage what is for them and us an aggressive disease. Significantly, the DMI class of fungicides like Tebuconazole, Difenaconazole, e.t.c aren’t allowed in Germany so the most effective systemic class is unavailable to the golf course superintendent and groundsman alike.

Now for us currently in the U.K and Ireland we are in a better situation but with the loss of mutual recognition of pesticide data for the U.K (because of leaving the E.U), where will we be placed in the future ?

Ireland will probably end up having access to fungicides within the same climatic European zone whereas the U.K will most likely utilise our existing national registration system. Now dove-tail that in with the fact that both The Netherlands and France have announced an ambition to be pesticide-free in the near future and you wonder where we are going here ?

On the flip side we have new chemistries coming from the larger manufacturers but with the regulatory minefield resulting from Brexit and let’s be honest a regulatory system that doesn’t understand the market they are applying legislation to, it doesn’t look great.

Now there’s likely to be two results from this legislatory challenge.  Firstly, clubs will have to up their non-pesticidal IPM program and to me that encompasses everything from organic matter control, overseeding, to the use of protectants, elicitors and hardeners. Secondly, it will drive some pesticide use underground with end-users accessing agricultural pesticides in order to keep their surfaces clean. This is precisely the situation we need to avoid.

As someone once said to me…”common sense and legislation don’t sleep in the same bed together”

I’ll leave that one there for the moment….

Disease pressure….

This week will see a continuation of the disease pressure that began over the weekend in some locations with light winds and high humidity, especially overnight. Monday through to Wednesday nights will see some high overnight temperatures aligned with lighter winds and high humidity from the rainfall that fell during the day. So expect to see some activity on your site if you don’t have rain overnight, if you do I think it’s unlikely.

Once we get to Thursday the change in wind direction and lowering humidity levels will dramatically reduce the disease pressure so really it’s a short peak we have to work through here and the risk will mainly be in sheltered locations with poor airflow and a higher incidence of dew formation. See graphic above.

Light and Air Flow – It’s so important from a disease perspective…

Removing trees and scrub is probably one of the most contentious subjects that can raise its head in a golf course scenario. Members don’t like to see change, don’t like to see trees removed and quite rightly don’t like the removal of habitat for wildlife. There is a big flip side to that coin though and when you consider the dynamic of increasing disease pressure and decreasing control options it will only become more significant as we go on.

Shade and a sheltered environment from wind go together and with them comes Microdochium nivale pressure. Extended periods of plant leaf wetness aid the growth of the pathogen and lack of light works against the grass plant in terms of reduced photosynthetic capacity and therefore reduced ability to grow away from a leaf disease pathogen.

Recently I’ve done some work on leaf wetness (and analysing the mechanics of leaf wetness) in both an open but also a shaded, sheltered environment. It’s a little bit of a generalisation because all sites are different but you can expect a plant leaf in a sheltered, shaded environment to have twice the intensity and twice the longevity of plant leaf wetness compared to a more open location. So much more disease pressure in the autumn.

The graph above shows the two sensors with the one in the open location in blue. You can see how the leaf moisture drops quickly after rain and dew events whereas the sensor in the shade / sheltered location stays much higher for longer.

If you have picked up disease over the weekend (period shown above) you can see how the leaf moisture was high for large amounts of the last 3 days and this was mainly because we had rain then a front would go through and the leaf would stay wet all night and form into dew. With temperatures > 9°C most of the night this would have enabled Microdochium nivale to grow pretty rapidly. So old scars are likely to show activity currently and you may see new infection as well. As commented above this pressure will stay in place till Wednesday night when a change in wind direction to the north will drop temperatures and disease pressure alike.

Ok that’s it for this week, work beckons.

All the best and wrap up well at the end of the week !

Mark Hunt