28th October – Mini Blog

Hi All,

It’s difficult to express sometimes in numbers and graphs the type of weather we have experienced of late and more so its effect on our industry and the people who work in it.

On Friday we were 16°C, balmy, windy and wet and 12 hours later the temperature had dropped to 4.5°C and we had a deluge, just under 30 mm here, which I know is half of what you guys in The North West have experienced.

Our local River Welland that at times in the summer could barely muster a flow turned into a  torrent breaking its banks further downstream.

Just as surreal this morning to wake up to a hard frost with temperatures dipping to -2°C overnight as high pressure takes over, albeit only briefly I am afraid.

So this is the phenomenon that we have to deal with as an industry,

if you look at the lessons of the last two years you’d say invest in irrigation and drainage, but there are limits to what most clubs can do with the resources available. I’d love to say this is a blip and things look better in the short and medium term, but they don’t. The jet stream is sitting low and that means any Atlantic low spinning our way is likely to impact and most likely further south than the usual west and north scenario.

General Weather Situation

As usual with the mini-blog I’ll do a summary of the week ahead which obviously starts with some respite from the extremely wet weather we have experienced. We start the week with low pressure to the south-west of the U.K and a weak high pressure sitting over us. During Monday and Tuesday that high pressure will keep the U.K & Ireland largely dry save for some rain that will push into the far south-west of England this afternoon and overnight into Tuesday. So staying dry and settled with significant amounts of cloud pushing in on a strong to moderate (and chilly) easterly wind. Temperatures will just break double figures and the cloud cover should keep us frost-free after Monday morning. As we approach mid-week that low pressure begins to make its presence felt as a band of rain will push into the south-west of Ireland and move slowly north and east. By dusk it will be into the south-west of England and overnight into Thursday will push into South Wales and by dawn the west coast of England. Thursday then sees a wet start for the west of the U.K though Ireland should just see showers for the west. As we progress through Thursday this band of rain moves slowly eastwards, clearing the west as it does so and orientated in a vertical line from the south coast right up to Scotland. Later on Thursday the next heavy rain front from that low pushes into Ireland and overnight into Friday will see heavy rain across the U.K and Ireland. Friday morning looks to be a pretty wet one I am afraid with heavy rain for most areas though Ireland may pick up a respite between two rain fronts during Friday. By Friday afternoon / evening that heavy rain will have cleared the east of the U.K but another rain front will cross Ireland overnight and push further showers across the U.K early doors Saturday. The weekend looks showery for the north of England and Scotland but largely dry for Saturday further south across the U.K, with showers for the west of Ireland consolidating into heavier rain for Saturday afternoon / evening. Sunday looks wet overnight with further heavy rain across Ireland and the southern half of the U.K before that rain pushes north and eastwards through Sunday morning / afternoon bringing heavy rain to Scotland later on.

Weather Outlook

Like I said earlier, I love to report that the outlook looks better but currently it doesn’t I am afraid. We have a deep trough pattern forming at the end of the week / weekend and the low pressure will circulate round in that trough instead of moving off eastwards. This means an extremely wet run of weather I am afraid again for the weekend and early part of next week.

You can see how the low is fixed in place in the graphic below ;

So the first part of next week looks cool, wet and windy and as we approach Wednesday, a new low pushes in from the west to bring further rain across the U.K and Ireland, mid-week. This new low is projected to track south of the U.K and so that may mean a drier, showery outlook for the end of the week follows but no real let up in sight.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Pressure

The only crumb of consolation from the recent run of extremely wet weather we have experienced is the decreased risk of Microdochium nivale looking ahead. Last week we saw significant disease pressure as high overnight temperatures, dew and light winds encouraged fungal growth but with cooler winds, frequent rain and less risk of dew forecast, disease pressure is dropping off for the next 7 days at least, perhaps longer.

You can see the peaks in last week’s output from Central England below hitting 90% on the 23rd / 24th October  ;

As we move into November at the end of this week, we typically know temperatures take a dip and so disease pressure tends to become confined to shorter peaks of milder air, but last year taught us that both November and particularly December can see high disease pressure.

You can see the rapidly-changing temperature dynamic that we experienced this weekend in the graph below as milder air moved away and cooler air pushed in  ;

Those cooler temperatures impact on the drying down of the turfgrass canopy with lower daily E.T figures the norm now.

Spray Days

This week will provide a spray window for fungicides / non-fungicidal sprays on Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday with it closing down from the west on Wednesday and after that i can’t see another window for the next 7-10 days.

Hypoxia (lack of oxygen)

Hypoxia is a general term for oxygen deficiency and applies to plants and people alike.

Without a doubt during these periods of intense rainfall and water-logging, we will have a situation when the oxygen status of the rootzone is depleted and the plant will struggle to respire properly. The problem is when the ground is saturated there’s nothing you can do and arguably even getting to fine turf surfaces is a challenge at times like these. Less is definitely more when it comes to working on surfaces during spells of weather like this.

Hopefully all the aeration, topdressing and vertidraining prior to this type of weather will be paying dividends but there are limits for the rootzone and the grass plant alike. Hypoxia at its extreme will manifest as yellow tipping on the leaf as the plant cannot uptake nitrogen due to a low soil oxygen status, however partial hypoxia doesn’t show up in terms of lack of colour and in this situation we have to be very careful what we apply onto the plant to avoid tipping it over the edge.

If we fertilise during hypoxic conditions we encourage the plant to grow and in order to do so it needs to take up more oxygen to support that growth. So you tip the plant over the edge and instead of providing a benefit you put it at a disadvantage (see image above) 

Best just to grin and bear it and look forward to the back of this recent run of pretty rubbish weather.

All the best.

Mark Hunt