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Hi All,LongMyndd

Just back from a mini-break in the camper on The Long Myndd in Shropshire and for once the weather played ball. It’s a beautiful part of the English countryside for those of you who don’t know it . I took an early morning run to the top with the mist rising off the moors and Peregrine Falcons overhead..good for the soul…

After over 4″ of rain in the last week or so, this dry spell of weather has been a god send to get areas back under control, but unfortunately it isn’t going to last, as a new set of low pressure systems is due to drop down this week and return us to more unsettled weather. Again the characteristic of this rainfall will be a low pressure system that keeps circulating above us, rather than moving through quickly, so that means plenty of rain, particuarly from mid-week onwards. 🙁

Just before you throw your toys out of the pram, I can offer a ray of hope…I think we may pick up some warm and dry weather after next weekend, if the weather patterns stay on track…

General Weather Situation

Monday sees a fine start for many areas after a pleasant weekend with some real heat yesterday in the sunshine.  It’s not dry everywhere though, as the west coast of the U.K has a band of rain stretching from the south-west of England right up to the tip of Scotland and this is set to move slowly eastwards bringing rain for many areas this afternoon and finishing off with a wet evening on the east coast. Ireland looks to have a dry (ish) Bank Holiday as that rain cleared sooner than forecast. Temperatures will start off nicely under the sunshine away from the west, but as the rain and cloud arrives, they’ll drop to mid-teens for most of us. Winds will be light and from the west.

Overnight into Tuesday we have another band of rain crossing Ireland, as the weather takes on a familar unsettled theme and this will bring showers and / or longer spells of rain to many areas on Tuesday. These will be particularly prevalent in the afternoon, with the heaviest rainfall falling over Scotland and the north of England, but most places will see some rain on Tuesday, Temperatures will stay at their mid-teens, and the night temperature will be mild, again winds will be light. Ireland looks to stay reasonably dry until the afternoon when some of that rain moves into Connacht and Donegal.

Wednesday sees that low pressure sitting straight over us, so a very wet day for many with the rain again becoming heavier in the afternoon and it’ll feel noticeably cooler to boot with low teen temperatures. Winds will whip up as well and although they’ll still be westerly, they may swing round to the north-west for a time. It’s difficult to say whose going to get the most rain, but at present it looks like The Midlands north up to Scotland, will cop the worst of it, with the north-west of England and Wales in the firing line as well. (Not a great week for the Isle of Man TT) For Ireland it looks potentially heaviest over Leinster through the course of the day.

Moving onto Thursday, that rain front is looking to sit above a line drawn across the U.K from Bristol to The Wash and as we move through the day, it pushes northwards clearing as it does so..Temperatures should pick up a little to mid-teens and towards the end of the day, the sun should come through. South of this line and over Ireland, it shouldn’t be too bad a day really with broken sunshine through the day and little in the way of rain.

It’s a reverse situation for Friday with a dry start to many areas except the far north of Scotland where that rain is slow to clear, however further south we have some more continental rain pushing into the south coast of England at daybreak and set to move up country through the morning. North and west of this should start dry, but by late morning this rain consolidates and moves into Ireland and most parts of the U.K, though it shouldn’t reach Scotland till the evening.  It’ll feel noticeable warmer on Friday as the winds swing round to the south, with temperatures into the high teens in places. Now remember what I said about continental rain, it’s very hit and miss and hard to forecast, so it has the potential to change.

So how is the weekend looking ?

Well initially it looks very poor for first thing Saturday morning, with a very heavy band of rain coming off the continent. This could change though, but even if it does arrive, it should clear through quite quickly, so if you’re having a lie in, you make wake up to some sunshine in the south as the rain clears up country. Ireland and Scotland look to start dry, but then rain is set to move in during Saturday morning and give a pretty wet affair for the rest of the day. Once the rain has cleared in the south and Midlands, it should be a nice day in the sunshine with some decent temperatures into the twenties I think…

Sunday looks pretty unsettled with again more rain off the continent, this time it’s projected to move up the east coast during the day, but remember this is continental rainfall, so my advice is look at your Weathercheck forecast on Friday evening to see if you’re in the firing line for rain over the weekend. Sunday looks better at this stage for Ireland, but for most it’ll be a little cooler under that cloud and rain. The wind direction over the weekend will be all over the shop as the low moves through, so it’s likely to be a four winds in one day job.

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 Weather Outlook

After another unsettled week this week, it looks like next week could be a good deal better as high pressure is projected to take charge and so that means drier and warmer for many. The week will start off unsettled as that low will still influence the weather for Monday, so rain for many places, but from thereafter we look to be a lot better with warmer, drier air on the way. If this pans out, I expect very good temperatures for at least the south of the U.K by the end of next week, but better for most of the U.K and Ireland overall.

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Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

With last week’s rainfall following warm weather and then some warmth this weekend, it’s not suprising that we’ve seen another fresh outbreak of Microdochium (Fusarium by another name :)) for many places, but I’m hoping that with the dry interlude, that pressure has dropped a little. Expect to see it re-appear this week with the arrival of more rainfall.

Microdochium in the growing season is always a hard call between spraying or not spraying. Personally I prefer to try and grow it out and keep the plant hard by use of phosphites, elicitors and iron products, rather than spraying a fungicide. Of course this depends on your grass species and your rate of growth. If you have dense, perennial Poa annua, then the disease pressure is much higher than a sward of Poa / Bent. This is because the denser the sward is, the higher the surface organic matter content and the more favourable therefore for Microdochium.

For this reason it makes sense to try and introduce conditions more favourable for bentgrass establishment and that means lots of topdressing to dry the surface out and potentially overseeding, but to be honest I don’t get much positive feedback from the latter. (Do you?)

PoaBentDisease

Microdochium in Poa plants in a Poa / Bent sward

Part of the reason for this is definitely surface organic matter content, i.e if you have a dense layer of surface organic matter, (it doesn’t have to be excessively deep) then I believe it’s very difficult to get bentgrass to establish by way of overseeding. On the flipside I’ve seen greens which have had a lot of cultural work done to lower surface organic matter content, in combination with good levels of topdressing, and the bentgrass ingression has been excellent, without any overseeding. Having a mix of grass species on your surfaces, whether we’re talking greens, tees, fairways, sports pitches makes a lot of sense to me because you are reducing the potential vunerability of your sward to disease.

Take the current conditions, if you have a very high Poa content on your surface, you will have a much higher susceptibility to Microdochium, if you have a mix of species, you’ll still see some Microdochium, but the pressure will be lower and this can make the difference between having to spray or not at this time of year.

The lesson is there in nature, monoswards do not occur naturally, man has engineered them this way. Coffee, bananas and wheat are all examples of intensive crops, farmed as monoswards, with inherently low genetic diversity and now these crops require very high levels of pesticides to produce significant yields. Indeed the research now is orientated around trying to introduce more genetic diversity into the above crops to naturally lower their disease susceptibility.

So if you can introduce a mix of grass species into your sward successfully and I recognise it’s a very big ‘IF’, then you will reap the benefits in the future.

GDD Summary

How did May shape out from a growth perspective ? Well a lot better than April although we still had some peak and troughs as those cool, low pressure systems moved through. You can quite clearly see their influence in the graphic below…

GDDMay2014chart

The reason May has been a better growth month on fine turf surfaces is because night temperatures increased from around the 6th, 7th May and this gave us some much better daily growth rates (GDD figures between 6 and 8 per day, rather than 2-4). We also got some unwlecome growth flushes in May, around the mid-part of the month and unfortunately at the end of the month which coincided with the Bank Holiday weekend. These flushes came also came after significant rainfall so that made getting the growth under control doubly difficult.

As a month, May checked out pretty well compared to other years, very similar to 2011 and 2012, both good growth years, see graphic below….

GDDmonthlycomparisonandcumulativeJantoDec2010to2014image

Looking at some other data I’ve been kindly sent, it appears some parts of the continent had a much warmer May than we did, as Denmark checked in with 245 total GDD, vs. 194.5 from The Oxfordshire and 218 GDD from Long Ashton (Cheers Ian, Sean, James respectively)

Leatherjackets and Cyren usage

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that you were only allowed to apply one application of Cyren per year because that’s what it says on the product label. I’m grateful to my colleague, Mark De Ath for pointing out that the CRD approval notice actually states that you can make two applications per year. This is particularly prevalent at the moment because we’re still seeing massive populations of Leatherjackets on sports turf and with the wetter weather this week, it’s ideal to apply and get the product into the soil profile.

That said, check your Meteoblue Weathercheck for the daily rainfall total first because if it’s higher than 6mm, I’d wait as you don’t want the product to be pushed down to far, too quickly, into the soil profile and of course high rainfall will also dilute the A.I in the soil significantly. The approval notice is available for download here

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Ok that’s all for now, grin and bear the rain later this week because the sunshine should be on the way next week… 🙂

Mark Hunt