As suggested nearly two weeks ago now, I felt the weather pattern was changing with a gradual shift in the orientation of the jet stream. It’s nice to know that the BBC / Met Office with two of the most powerful weather computers on the planet have just clicked onto the same thinking. All credit to Unisys and Meteoblue for the accuracy of their forecasting…
As you can see from the animated GIF above, we’re going to go from one extreme to the other in a very short space of time and I expect temperatures to be high-twenties at some points during this period. Not wishing to pour cold water on the arrival of warm and dry weather, I do hope this isn’t a permanent change because we’ll then suffer a heatwave unlike we’ve experienced before and that’ll be equally as hard to deal with as the last 3 1/2 months. For the moment though, it’s very welcome 🙂
The aim of this update is to talk about what we can expect from our turf during this transition. The grass plant has been sitting with its roots in water for the last 3 1/2 months and the humidity levels in the atmosphere have been high, so water loss and controlling it hasn’t been an issue. Coupled to this, we know cultural work in the form of surface aeration and topdressing has been nigh on impossible to keep up with since early April, so it is very likely that surface fibre levels are higher and that fibre is more compacted as there is less dressing ameliorated through it. Surface fibre heats up much quicker than rootzone, so that’s another contributing factor to accelerated surface drying.
My first point is that surfaces (particularly greens) will dry out much faster than expected because the plant has got used to having high moisture levels in the tissue, looking down at grass swards, there’s a lot of puffy, thick leaves around, purely for this reason. Rooting may also be shallower as a consequence of the high soil moisture levels, though my feedback is mixed on this front.
Wetting agent applications for many have been skipped and whilst this may represent a good saving, it will show up very quickly next week because one of the features of good, modern-day wetters is their ability to move and distribute water from the surface through the profile, so whilst water hasn’t been a limiting factor of late, it will be soon be, particularly in the surface. I’d be scheduling one in pretty promptly and combining it with a biostimulant to keep the plant healthy.
So what can we do to help the grass plant during this transition from feast to famine ? Firstly, I’d be keeping nutrition on the conservative side, not deficient, but certainly I wouldn’t be applying a hit of N from a granular fertiliser as this will just create a flush of growth, which will require more water to support it. Talking about flushes, it’s very likely that outfield areas will flush unfortunately until moisture becomes a limiting factor on growth (if it gets that far that is)
Secondly, and of course this is budget dependent, I’d be applying a PGR to hold back growth and thereby reduce moisture loss, particularly on greens and tees. On the former, I’d also suggest doing a boom width around the green so the collars and surrounds are included because collars particularly are looking a bit puffy. It may also be a good idea to include them in your autumn aeration program if it’s feasible.
There’s quite a bit of Black Algae about on greens, particularly on the clean-up strip and in shaded areas where light is limited. When the grass sward thins out, light reaches the rootzone surface and with moisture and humidity, algae and moss can thrive. So the best way to deal with this is to change the environmental conditions. (ok that may be difficult in shade) i.e dry the areas out. So I’d suggest some localised hollow tining and work a 50/50 mix of sand / soil amendment into the surface. In addition, miss the clean up cut if practical and make sure the fertiliser regime is high enough to encourage the grass to out-compete the algae and moss.
Disease-wise, we’re just entering the Anthracnose period, but I wouldn’t expect much Anthracnose Foliar Blight around up until now as stress has been confined to the course manager / greenkeeper, rather than the grass plant !!!!. That said, this may change if the dry, warm weather lasts. I’d expect pressure from Fusarium and Red Thread to decrease as surfaces dry out, although it may rise initially with the heat.
Take-All may rear its ugly head because the spell of cool, wet weather has been ideal for it’s activity, damaging the root system of bentgrass, but it’s only when that plant needs to take up water that you start to see the symptoms. Ordinarily this would be mid-June when we get one of those warm, windy periods with high E.T loss, but that didn’t happen this year…it may now..
On the subject of Bentgrass, this has been looking a bit sorry for itself lately with the low temperatures, high surface moisture and lack of sunlight, with a good deal of bronzing, bruising evident. I expect this to change with the advent of warmer, drier conditions.
Lastly, I ask you to enjoy this weather and hopefully watch the golf course dry out in front of your eyes and take a chill pill from the complaints about the rough, bunkers, etc. My blog may be late on Monday because if the forecast holds, I hope I’ll be sleeping on a bank somewhere after fishing for Catfish through the night 🙂