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Hi All,

Bit of a late blog this week as I’ve been away in France with my dad enduring the 30°C temperatures and some mega thunderstorms Cevennestormto boot. Amazing to see them start with a single updraft in the mountains and then over the course of a couple of hours develop into a full-bloodied storm. WHaile had one day on Mont Aigoual when the temperature went from 27°C before a storm, to 8°C in it, with hail lying alongside on the roads like snow, amazing…Talking of hail, my good friend in Colorado, Andy Bigtop, reported Denver experiencing 4ft of hail falling on just one block in the city !! Yep that’s 4ft !! Everything is bigger in the States 🙂

So onto this week’s weather and for sure coming back to the chill of Luton Airport last night almost made me want to give this weeks blog writing a miss till next Monday but duty calls 🙂

Whenever I sit typing this blog and I can hear the trains at Market Harborough Railway Station, I know we’re enduring some cool / cold weather because it sits north-east of my house. When the wind is in the north east / east, it also tends to keep blowing at night and so we’re continuing this run of cold night temperatures, which as we all know doesn’t help growth or leaf colour 🙁

So today we have a real split in the weather with the east and central regions of the U.K experiencing our old friend ‘Haar’, so it’s cloudy, dull and cool, colder than the beginning of January here would you believe. We also have a pronounced split in temperatures with Scotland enjoying some really warm weather today, likely to hit 20°C, whereas the east coast of England and anywhere else sitting under the effect of the Haar is only just struggling into double figures and may hit mid-teens by early afternoon, the same being true for Ireland. So Tuesday looks like starting off dull, cool, but dry for the south and east, brighter and warmer in the north of England and Scotland. Through the morning that cloud will thin over Ireland and most of the U.K, except The Wash area and we will see more in the way of sunshine. This will serve to pick up the temperatures as we go into the afternoon. Winds will be moderate and from the north east / east.

Overnight into Thursday we will have another cool night, maybe a little warmer than earlier in the week, but still single figures 🙁 Bit of a west-east split on Thursday as a clear, sunny start for most of the U.K (maybe a cloud belt affecting The Wash and The Midlands initially) and Ireland is soon replaced with increasing cloud for Munster and the far south west of England and that may bring some rain to south east Munster / south Leinster and later in the afternoon, Cornwall, Devon and the south west of England. Cloud cover will increase in these areas and across Ireland during the afternoon. Further east of this it’ll be brighter and warmer with temperatures pushing into the high teens / low twenties by the afternoon. That cloud cover will keep temperatures up overnight compared to earlier in the week.

Overnight into Friday and that rain will move across Ireland giving some heavy bursts through the night. Similarly that belt of rain across the south west will drift north east up the M5 and along the M4, probably reaching as far east as the Isle of Wight by the morning rush hour. Through the morning, that rain intensifies across Ireland and the south-west of England and continues to push eastwards across the southern half of the U.K. With the combination of moist air hitting warm temperatures, I’d expect to see some thunderstorms later on during Friday. Temperature-wise I’d expect to see some very warm air over the south and south east of England, possibly in the low to mid-twenties and that’s what will trigger the thunderstorms on Friday night.

ATD Lightning Detector

NetWeather.tv run a continual loop of lightning strikes as reported by the ATD Lightning Detection Service operated by the Met office. This shows lightning strikes and updates every 15 minutes so if you’re worried that lightning is heading your way, it’s a useful service to track storms and storm intensity. You can find it here

A Caviat Warning 🙂

This rain is pushing up from the continent so its exact path may prove different to the above, however as it stands today, it looks to provide some heavy bursts across central and eastern Ireland, the south west of England, South and then North Wales and later into Saturday morning, it’ll move up the north west coast of the U.K into The Lakes.Sat13thJune

If you haven’t already guessed the outlook for the weekend doesn’t look exactly fab 🙁

That band of heavy rain that started on Friday will consolidate during Saturday and affect an area along the Irish coast across to North Wales, the north west / east of England and Scotland. Now I’ll repeat the caviat, this is continentally-driven rain so it has the potential to change in terms of areas affected and amounts received. You can see from the Meteoblue image (right) where it is projected to fall.

With the threat of rain for some on Saturday comes more cloud cover for most, so we dull down big time and of course that will affect the temperatures with a cooler day on the cards for Saturday, temperatures in the low teens initially. Through the day that rain looks to stay pretty much as shown, maybe tightening within the band so dropping away from Scotland and the north Midlands. North and south of this rain band we will see the cloud thinning and the sun coming through so that’ll pick up temperatures to the mid-high teens in the south of England, lower in the north and west. Sunday looks a forecast of two halves, with Scotland, the north of England, Northern Ireland, Donegal and Sligo looking to start off and remain bright, sunny and dry. Further south over Ireland, Wales and the rest of the U.K, Sunday now looks to be a dull, dull day with cool temperatures and Haar again affecting the east coast and central areas. Temperatures will be back to cool I’m afraid, low to mid-teens, but dry anyway as a token consolation. That cloud cover may be thick enough for some light rain and drizzle along the south coast of England.

Weather Outlook

So have we anything better in store for us than this up and down weather pattern accentuated by a jet stream that doesn’t seem to want to shake the trough-forming habit ??

Yes, I’d like to think so because we look to get a change in the wind direction from the start of next week, some may get it on Monday, some early Tuesday. After a cold night on Sunday we look to pick up a largely bright and sunny start to the week with more in the way of cloud cover for the west of the U.K and Ireland. That said the warmer air will be over that way so mid teens, maybe even high teens for the Ireland, the west and Scotland and a couple of degrees cooler further south and east. As we finally lose that trough pattern on Tuesday we have high pressure trying to assert itself, now I’ve been wrong before on this recently, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that next week looks to be warm, settled and dry. The wind direction will be westerly and by mid-week, next week I expect some warmer air for Ireland and the west / south of the U.K. Cooler over the north east of Scotland as that low stays in touch here and continues to bring the risk of some rain next week, but even here temperatures will hold up nicely, perhaps not as warm as down south, but fair set anyway.

Agronomic Notes

With the changing nature of our weather, dry for the main in the central and south of England and the run of cold nights, the start of June hasn’t brought with it the consistency of growth and certainly colour that we would have hoped for.

For most areas we are 5-6 weeks into the Poa seeding flush and this is now on a backward curve as the plant begins to return to a more balanced growth pattern. It is however experiencing stress and with the high winds of late combined with some high temperatures last week I don’t think it’s in a particularly happy place. Throw in some low single figure nights and you can understand why everything isn’t necessarily looking nice and peachy at the moment.

My concern is running the grass plant at too-low N levels during such a time. I mean you can’t expect it to kick back from seeding, tiller and thicken, if you’re only applying very light rates of foliar N.

Furthermore if the rootzone is dry, particularly at the surface (and remember you’re testing below the organic matter layer with most of the conventional moisture meter probes) then the combination of low N and low soil moisture could cause problems. Remember the effect of this wind is deceptive because when it continues to blow at night it can have a significant effect on plant moisture loss and rootzone surface drying.

Meteoturf100615

Looking at Meteoturf you can see the projected E.T for Thursday  is running high enough to cause plant stress at the back end of this week so keep an eye on nutrient input and soil moisture levels. If you don’t at the very best you’ll have a pale plant with limited recovery potential, at the very least you’ll have a weak plant that is much more likely to become affected by stress-related pathogens.

That said I wouldn’t be reaching for the foliar fertiliser this week unless you’re applying to outfield areas and combining a wetting agent. (which Friday evenings rain will wash in nicely :)) On greens I’d get this weekend’s rain and cooler temperatures out of the way and apply on a hopefully upward-uptake curve next week.

Pathogen Activity

The two that come to mind are plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN) and Anthracnose.

Now I’m starting to get more of more reports of PPN activity over the past few weeks with Spiral and Stunt nematode well up the list. Ectoparasitic species live in the soil and attack the plant root from the outside as this excellent image shows – can’t remember where I got it from but it’s a cracker. Turf symptoms can take many forms, but typically it can resemble irregular patches, sometimes coalescing into a general bleached area of turf.

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Spiral and Stunt Nematode Damage on a Poa / Bent Green

Spiral and Stunt Nematode Damage on a Poa / Bent Green

Some of this damage doesn’t look dissimilar to Anthracnose activity with the familiar yellow basal leaf down in the sward. One of the quick diagnostics you can perform if you suspect either PPN or Anthracnose damage is to take a small plug from the affected area and then try and detach the affected plants from the soil. If they detach easily then it’s likely that Anthracnose Basal Rot is the problem, if they don’t then you might suspect PPN’s. At this stage of the year it’s too early (IMHO) for Anthracnose symptoms.

It’s also worth remembering that in the majority of PPN cases I look at, there is nearly always a contributory factor that makes the PPN damage worse, this can be high organic matter levels, poor rootzone characteristics, low N status, over-regulation by PGR’s or a combination of these.

Anthracnose – Don’t forget the lessons of last year

Last year was our worst Anthracnose year since 2006, with a number of courses suffering issues. The symptoms became evident during August, but the damage started off I think towards the end of June when we had dry, hot weather and greens were run too lean and too dry (in the pursuit of what exactly ?)

Now we aren’t close to those sort of conditions yet I’d admit, but it’s worth just making a mental note and keep an eye on those growth potential and E.T figures on Meteoturf. If you see high day time and night air temperatures accompanied by a decreasing G.P figure , that’s your signal that the grass plant is likely to be experiencing stress. I haven’t seen this pattern yet so far this year, but when I do I’ll flag it up.

Fingers crossed for a consistently warm week, next week 🙂

Ok time to go and tackle the in tray of doom… 🙁

Mark Hunt