Hi All,

Market Harborough Town Centre – Saturday night
Photo courtesy of Neil at George Halls Cycle Centre

Red box shows Saturday evenings rainfall

As the weather continues to tilt between heat and moisture, we’ve had some pretty severe storm events over the weekend, none more so than in my home town of Market Harborough, where I recorded 53.7mm of rain falling over a 2 1/2 hour period on Saturday night, flooding the town centre and putting us on the national news !

This downpour was the result of heavy thunderstorms that moved up from the continent on Saturday afternoon and as such are pretty random in their manner. Apologies for not forecasting them last week, but Meteoblue had it right in theirs with respect to rainfall, though not the amount, hardly surpisingly !

 General Weather Situation

We have a weak low pressure moving off at present, that’ll keep the temperature down and continue the unsettled theme for the early part of the week, before heat builds mid-week and finally a new low pressure arrives for the end of the week / weekend. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if we have a repeat of those random thunderstorm events towards the end of this week as well. Putting some detail on it, Monday starts off cool (ish), cloudy for most with a weak band of showers affecting the west coast of the U.K and the east coast of Leinster. Later on in the morning, those showers will intensify into a rain band that pushes across Ireland, heaviest in the the north and at the same time, rain will push up from the south-west of England to affect pretty much most of the U.K through the day, save for the south coast, maybe south of the M4 / M25 will miss most of it, but amounts will be pretty light anyway. The wind will be primarily south-westerly and temperatures sitting in the low twenties are to be expected. Overnight a band of heavy rain is due to push into the south-west of England, north west of Scotland and Wales, making landfall around 6 a.m. (ish) and then pushing eastwards to affect the south of England and south Midlands. At this stage it’s projected to track across in a line from mid-Wales to Great Yarmouth, so areas north of this will miss the worst. Ireland should see showers affecting the west coast initially and again these will push eastwards across the country during Tuesday. It’ll be noticeably cooler in this rain where you get it.

For Wednesday, more rain is projected to affect the south-west of England and Ireland, again pushing eastwards across both countries, but this time I think the rain will have a more northerly trajectory, so the south of England will miss the majority of it. (sorry). I expect the rain to be heavy along the south coast of Ireland, though mid / north Wales will also be on the receiving end later in the day, as potentially so will be Leinster. South and east of this rain, it’ll be dry, warmer, with temperatures pushing into the early twenties and with a light westerly wind. For Thursday, the first day of August, that rain pushes northwards into northern England and Scotland leaving a clearer day in the south and Midlands, where temperatures will rapidly push up into the mid-high twenties. For Ireland, Wednesday’s rain may intensify overnight into Thursday for the east coast of Leinster particularly, before clearing northwards during the late morning to be replaced by a new band of rain pushing along the west coast of Munster / Connacht in the afternoon. Friday sees more showers affecting Ireland, pushing in from the west coast during the morning. For the U.K, that northerly rain stubbornly hangs on over central and north-western Scotland, whilst further south it looks to be another nice day, potentially duller than Thursday, particularly along southern and western parts of the U.K. Temperatures will again be mid-twenties for most areas and the wind will remain south-westerly.

The weekend looks a bit mixed and unsettled as a low pressure pushes showers across Ireland and the west coast of the U.K. Further east and in the south, it’ll remain dry and sunny, but always with a chance of catching a shower, pushed along on that blustery, south-westerly wind. Later on in the day, there’s a chance of rain pushing into the far south-east corner of the U.K, if that’s so, it’ll bring some much-needed rain to Kent. Sunday looks by far the best day of the weekend for the U.K and Ireland, clear, dry and bright for many and temperatures will push up a little to the low-mid twenties again, so very nice indeed !

Weather Outlook

As we move into August, I can see high pressure looking to re-exert its influence for next week, so that means a drier outlook, with steadily building temperatures, pushing into the mid-high twenties potentially. It could be a very nice week to be on holiday in the U.K or Ireland 🙂 Looking further ahead, I think there’s more unsettled weather on the way for the middle of the month, but that’s a real Mystic Meg job at this stage.

Agronomic Notes

A little bit thin on the ground for this week as I have been away, but here goes..

Plant Nutrition

First and foremost, I think it’s a case of more of the same, that is, keeping the plant ticking nicely along with low amounts (5kg / N / hectare) of foliar N, tank-mixed with chelated iron, to minimise stress on the plant. As mentioned previously, this time of the year is critical for the development of Anthracnose disease and chatting to Kate this morning, she confirmed that she’d already seen samples of foliar blight Anthracnose, so it is out there. This link from Kate (Ta chuck) was added to last week’s blog shortly after I completed it, but just in case you may have missed it, here it is again Link about Anthracnose

Plant Stress

After July’s hot weather, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a lot of stressed Poa out there, it doesn’t like the heat and particularly on the tighter, reptans-dominated swards, it has a higher organic matter level and this is key to the problem. Poa annua var. reptans is by its nature, a dense, highly-tillered, grass plant, and with this density comes localised, surface organic matter. Organic matter and heat don’t go, primarily because organic matter will heat up much faster than say a soil and so if you have a concentration of organic matter in the surface (as we will have on high Poa-content swards), you’re going to have elevated temperatures and therefore elevated plant stress. Not to mention the fact that the organic matter is also hydrophobic (by its nature) and so hard to keep consistently moist, without the use of surfactants.

PersonalIy, I think there’s a lot of greens out there at the moment with higher than desirable surface organic matter and we can trace its legacy back to 2012. The cool, wet summer, last year caused a reduction in microbial activity (lower temperatures and low oxygen content soils due to frequent waterlogging) led to a slowdown in organic matter breakdown and therefore net accumulation of fibre. Dovetail that in with the fact that a lot of aeration and topdressing activities got shelved for weather and / or economic (loss of revenue) reasons and you can see we carried higher organic matter through into 2013. The prolonged cold spring of 2013 meant again a lot of cancelled aeration events and so we went into this summer higher in fibre than normal.

A great time to hollow core

So the bottom line is that we need to aerate more to get back on top of this and that aeration has to include organic matter removal, as well as topdressing, neither of which I know is popular in the middle of summer. For me though I think clubs have to have a look at the bigger picture because the truth is you can only paper over the cracks for so long, eventually it’ll come back to bite you in the form of grass loss to stress, higher summer and autumn disease incidence and therefore greater expenditure on fungicides. A lot of clubs are finding September a busy month now and of course in August, a lot of golfers go away on their holidays, so this month coming is really a cracking time to hollow tine, provided you are in control of plant stress, irrigation and nutrition. Assuming you are, I think you can comfortably get good recovery from 8 – 12mm hollow coring in 7-10 days, even with high amounts of topdressing. If your club doesn’t susbscribe to this viewpoint (and it’s an education process that’s required), why not do one green as an example and show how quickly the surface can be regained.

In addition, it’s very important to keep the grass plant breathing, in other words supplied with oxygen, so venting the turf using solid tines, sarrell rollers is also key leading up to and close-after stress periods, if you want to maintain a healthy grass plant.

Disease Activity

More of the same on this front as well really, plenty of high-humidity-related disease out there at the moment, so that’s Fairy Rings, Rhizoctonia, Waitea and most likely, Dollar Spot (on the continent especially). I haven’t had any reports of such, but I’d also think Fusarium will be kicking around with the arrival of moisture, however you should be able to ‘manage this out’ rather than having to spray it.

Stalky Outfield

After the dry weather of July, there’s also a much higher level than normal of stalky grass on outfield at present. It’s a blighter to cut as it tends to flatten in front of the mower. It will reduce over time as the seed stalk becomes supple, but just at the moment, it’s a pain 🙁

Ok, that’s all for now, enjoy the summer..

Mark Hunt