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Hi All,

LyddingtonWell I hope you have all enjoyed some cracking sunshine and yesterday, for the 2nd Sunday in succession, some lovely warm temperatures for most areas. Sadly, it isn’t going to last because our fickle friend the jet stream is taking a trip down south and that’ll allow a trough of much cooler air to follow it, so colder and wetter / unsettled is the outlook, with night frosts by the end of the week…(but don’t worry it’s not set to last, it’s just a reminder that we’re in March, not May…)

Coming to a beach near you..

Had to laugh the other day when I was following the movements of ‘Lydia – The Great White Shark’ on the web. (Click hereLydia to see where she is) You may have seen the news explaining that Lydia is the first electronically tagged Great White, who so far has swam 19,000 miles since tagging and is the first to have been tracked crossing the Mid-Atlantic Shelf, briefly heading towards Ireland.  The headline read “Great White off the Irish Coast!” conjuring up the prospect of a big dorsal breaking through the surf off Lahinch beach, sadly (cos I’d love to see one) it was just the power of the media again. Off the Irish coast turned out to be… 780 miles off the Irish coast to be exact! Shame 🙁

Ok back to matters more meteorological as I know a lot of you are doing aeration this week, so how many dry days have you got?

General Weather Situation

Monday looks to be starting off dry for most, but with a good amount of cloud cover (which has kept the frost away for most). There’s a weak rain front affecting the north-west coast of Scotland and this will slowly sink down south along the coast during the morning, with maybe some of that light rain reaching north-west England. During the afternoon, a weak rain front will also drift into west Munster and Connacht, but it looks nice and light at the moment. Temperatures in The Midlands and south of England will be mid to high teens and winds will be lighter than the weekend and from the north-west to west.

Overnight into Tuesday, the rain will also move south and east to affect most of Ireland, but also the North of England and mid-Wales and possibly the tip of the south-west of England. As it does so it’ll intensify, particularly over the north-west of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, sinking south into north-west England and principally affecting a line up from The Wash. Later in the afternoon, it may affect The Midlands and the eastern counties of Norfolk.  By the evening it’ll fizzle out in all but the extreme north-west fo Scotland. Temperatures will again be fine and dandy out of the rain, but a little down on Monday and winds still from the west.

Into Wednesday and a dry day for a lot of areas with only a rain front pushing into north-west Ireland and Scotland to spoil a completely dry picture. In most areas the sun will break through to push up temperatures, so a warm, dry day for The Midlands and central England, but enjoy it because we start to slip downhill from here 🙁 Later on Wednesday, that rain front affecting the north-west of Ireland and Scotland sinks south bringing heavy rain for the start of Thursday for Ireland and Scotland, with that rain falling as wintry showers further north over higher ground. By early afternoon, that rain band (/) is well into the north of England and Wales, clearing the north-west of Ireland though as it moves.  By Thursday evening, only the south-east of England looks dry, but the rain and cloud cover will keep overnight temperatures nicely up.

Overnight into Friday that rain is projected to affect the south of England in a diagonal line from the south-west of England to The Wash, with some rain falling as wintry showers over Wales and the north-west of Scotland. By Friday morning, you’ll notice a typical March ‘nip’ in the air because even though the winds will be still be westerly, their source is a cold, north low on it’s way to a place near you 🙁 For many areas Friday will be sunny and bright, but they’ll be plenty of spring showers popping up in the morning affecting the west side of the U.K. and Ireland and tracking eastwards across the latter again falling as wintry showers over the higher ground of Wales, The Pennines, The Lakes and north-west Scotland in particular. That won’t be the last of the wintry showers mind…

The forecast for the weekend looks tricky, with a very unsettled feel to the weather, cold in the south-west wind and the chance of significant snow showers over higher ground and perhaps even inland early on Saturday morning.  Later on this will fall as rain, but most areas will see some during Saturday with Ireland, Scotland and the west coast of England the most likely recipients early doors. The wind will still be from the west / south-west, but it’ll feel cold with temperatures in the mid to high single figures, but feeling colder in the wind. Sunday looks to stay unsettled with snow showers continuing over The Highlands of Scotland and a further heavy band of rain pushing down into Donegal and then sweeping across Ireland into the west of the U.K. later in the morning. There’ll still be some sunshine around through. It’ll also feel much colder at night with a chance of frost for both days of the weekend and the early part of the following week.

Weather Outlook

Monday next week looks to start off cold, dry and frosty by my reckoning, but by Tuesday the winds will flick round to the west and that’ll bring slightly milder temperatures, along with some rain which is projected to cross the U.K. and Ireland. As we move into mid-week, an Atlantic high nudges the low pressure trough in the jet stream out of the way, but unsettled conditions are never far away and so it looks like sunshine and showers towards the end of next week, as another low sneaks in. The air temperatures are set to be a little milder than the early part of the week, so hopefully we’ll lose the frosts and get back to some growth.

Agronomic Notes

A nice bit of positive GDD over the back end of last week, the weekend and probably till mid-week, this week, after which you can expect growth to pretty much shut down for the next week or so after that, as the air temperatures tumble. So if you’re aerating, don’t expect them to fly back out of the ground and heal quickly as the combination of colder air temperatures from Thursday onwards and some night frosts will knock growth on the head. We should come out of this next week though, as slightly milder air pushes in, so you won’t have to look at too much sand on the surface for too long (unless you have a Sweep and Fill Brush that is).

I know it sounds daft and some of you will probably get my voodoo doll back out of the cupboard, (thanks Michael) but some areas of the U.K could do with a little drop of rain just to wet up the surface. I say that because I know a lot of people are finishing off delayed winter project work and therefore they have turfed areas, or have overseeded worn areas from the winter and these are as dry as a bone in the top 10-20mm. The soil beneath though is still sitting comfortably wet with 50-60% soil moisture levels measured at the back end of last week at 3″ depth on outfield areas.

Disease Pressure

With moisture arriving at the end of this week onto a warm soil surface, I’d expect us to see some Fusarium pressure. Again please send through your feedback on any that you see and where it’s ocurring (wet, shady, microclimate greens or dry, open ones). Many of you have gone through the winter clean, despite it being one of the mildest and wettest and you may wonder why that is, I mean surely aren’t they perfect conditons for Microdochium Nivale? (Have to call it that, or else Kate will get her big latin stick out of the cupboard) Well not necessarily it seems and later on this year when I’ve hopefully completed some research on this area, I’ll elaborate further.

In the meantime please keep your comments on disease coming because it does help me to see a wider picture.

Why cutting label rates isn’t a good idea longer-term…

Talking of disease, I was sent in this picture (below) from a golf course in Germany where as you may know, they have reasonably restrictive fungicide legislation. I say reasonably restrictive because people often say to me: “That’s where they’re not allowed to use fungicides isn’t it ?”. Well no that’s not right. They have Azoxystrobin, Propiconazole, Boscalid (not over here), Pyraclostrobin and in some regions, they’re allowed to use Iprodione, but the rate is much lower than ours, equivalent to 4 litres a hectare of our standard 250 – 255 gm/l formulations I think (so they have no effective contact chemistry available).

Using fungicide chemistries at lower than label rates makes economic sense to some, but it isn’t good practice by any means. What it does is significantly increase the potential of the disease to become resistant to the active ingredient because rather than controlling the pathogen population effectively, you end up only controlling part of it and a portion will have been affected, but then re-grow. So gradually over the years you end up with a population unaffected by the fungicide active you’re using and if you don’t practice (or can’t because of the lack of available product / chemistries)  good rotation of A.I.’s, this is where you’ll end up… It’s a lesson also for the legislators, who came up with that rate? Because they obviously had no idea of plant pathogen populations and the potential for resistance.

FusGermany2014

Anyone like to pick a pin position here for the next hmmm 10 – 12 weeks ???

(Looks like some significant shading issues as well judging by the fairway in the background !)

So pity the course managers working in this scenario, for the U.K. and Ireland, we may also end up with less fungicide A.I.’s in the future, so remember when you do have to apply a fungicide, practice good A.I. rotation, don’t over-apply the same active repeatedly just because it’s working and don’t cut rate on a single A.I. It’s not big and it’s not clever!

Nutrition

Bit of a mixed bag depending on when you’re applying, but liquid foliar applications with iron made at the back end of last week and the beginning of this will work well whilst the air temperature stays up but, closer to the end of the week if you want a turf response (for aeration recovery for instance), it’s got to be granular, particularly with the moisture arriving as well. Even then this will be slow over the weekend and start of next week because of the return of night frosts.

Don’t despair though, it is still March and night frosts are to be expected. I looked back and even in the warmest Spring we’ve had for a while (2012), we had 8 night frosts in March down to -3°C.

With the return of moisture at the end of the week and over the weekend, it will be a good time to hit moss this week with high rates of ferrous sulphate.

Ok that’s it for this week, hopefully I’ll have some better weather to chat about next week.

Ciao for now

Mark Hunt