Hi All,

Well a better week in store after that fiercely cold, easterly / north-easterly blast we had last week, so a feeling of spring in the air, but as I intimated awhile ago, whilst we stay in our trough pattern, it’ll take more than a slight blip to move winter aside this year, so I forecast a return to colder conditions from the weekend / next week I’m afraid and there’s some rain on the way as well…On the plus side, I saw my first Hares gathering in the Boxing Field on my mountain bike ride at the weekend, so spring is on the way, but as you’ll see from the graph below, we’re late this year..

General Weather Situation

A subtle change has occurred overnight that’ll make this week a nicer one for all of us because the wind has swung round to the south-east and that’ll push up milder winds and it’ll stop that North Sea cloud dulling down everything. So for Monday, we have a dull, dry start for everyone, but as we go through the morning, the sun will break through in the south-east corner of England and gradually it’ll push that cloud away, so a sunny afternoon for many in the south. Elsewhere you may get breaks in the cloud, but it’ll stay dry and I expect temperatures in the sun to rise into double figures. Tuesday looks to repeat that pattern, but with more of the U.K and Ireland starting off with clearer skies and again milder temperatures. Later in the afternoon, a rain front looks to skim the south-west corner of Munster and during the night it consolidates and pushes north into all of Munster by Wednesday morning and up into Leinster and Connacht. For the U.K that rain pushes in (/) to the south-west overnight Tuesday and moves up the M5 corridor through Wednesday into Wales and The Midlands. Later it’ll reach the north of England and Southern Scotland by teatime, though the south-east of England should stay dry all day. By close of play it’s cleared through the bulk of the U.K and Ireland, though it’ll linger in Kerry and the north of Scotland, turning to snow on the high ground in the latter. Thursday will be a day of sunshine and showers, light in the U.K, but heavier over Ireland, with again more precipitation turning to snow in the Scottish Highlands. Friday sees the temperature starting to slip a little and give a more unsettled feel to the weather as concentrated rain fronts push into Leinster and Connacht, the south-west and south-east of England pushing up the east coast of the U.K during Friday. Overnight into Saturday, more rain pushes up into the U.K, concentrating more on the eastern coasts, but its likely to reach The Midlands. Ireland looks drier but they’ll be a risk of rain in south-west Munster through the day. Sunday looks a repeat of Saturday as they’ll be rain over most of the U.K, tending to be more likely on eastern coasts again, but I wouldn’t rule it out anywhere. It’ll feel cooler as well as that wind begins to move back round to the east I’m afraid.

 Weather Outlook

As intimated above, next week looks like a return to colder weather as the wind swings round to the east / north-east and ultimately the north. By and large at this stage of events it looks dry and settled, so I expect a return to frosts and possibly fog. Later in the week a milder air stream arrives to the west of us, but at this stage I don’t see it changing the weather round to a milder airstream until after next weekend, but that’s miles away, so let’s wait and see..

Agronomic Notes

Growth Potential

I use 6ºC as the soil temperature that triggers shoot growth in the grass plant, though it’s obvious that root growth in a cool-season grass takes place at anywhere pretty much above freezing point in the soil. So when you look at the temperature chart below and see how low it has been in 2013 for shoot growth, the chances are it’s been a better start for root growth because the plant isn’t using carbohydrate reserves to make shoots, so if you’ve aerated in February or turfed, I bet you can see the benefits now in new root growth. (Although turf is curling its toes up a little at the moment)

Soil Temperature Comparison – February 2013 vs. 2012
Location – The Oxfordshire Golf Club
Thanks to Sean Wilson for the data

 

It’s clear though that new shoot growth which provides recovery from disease scars, aeration holes, pitch marks, etc has been in short supply so far this year, so we’re at least a couple of weeks behind. Nature is the same, normally by now the Daffodils are out in full force, but they’re only just showing their heads in some places. (Cue lots of pictures of full bloom Daffs flooding in to prove me wrong)

Disease activity during and after the last snow…

On my travels, it’s become very apparent that a number of clubs suffered bad Fusarium outbreaks not during or after the first snow event in late January, but the second one where the soil was not frozen prior to snow cover. Most of these courses had been clean all the way through the autumn and Christmas period, so logically you’d expect the disease population to be low coming into February, but this didn’t appear to matter for this outbreak. A number of users had applied a preventative fungicide as well, but still they got disease. Another feature of this outbreak was the scarring pattern, which seemed to be concentrated in the main to the clean up strip / periphery of the green and along any ridges / noses on the green. I can only think that this outbreak appeared to correlate with areas where the greens were under stress, but if you guys have any thoughts on this or saw similar on your course, drop me a comment by clicking the balloon above this blog.

 Moss

Moss has definitely had a good, past 6 months, with higher levels of colonisation present on a lot of managed turf areas. No surprise really when you consider the weather we’d had, with high rainfall encouraging its spread, but also the lack of grass growth (above) has tipped the competitive balance in favour of moss.

Silver Moss (Bryum argenteum) is a notable feature on a lot of greens and many people will be reaching for a variety of control measures, but first off, I’d suggest looking at the cause of moss ingression, rather than dealing with the symptom.

Moss loves two distinctly different environments, the first is a saturated, wet thatch layer, ideally one where minimal topdressing has been carried out, so the fibre is compacted in nature. As we know, when wet, organic matter swells, and this will effectively seal the surface and provide a nice, wet environment to establish moss. it also like a thinner grass cover where light can penetrate the canopy and allow moss to grow.

On the subject of fibre, look at where your moss is occurring on a green and see if it correlates with organic matter distribution. Typically, I see moss at the back of greens, away from the area where the pin is usually placed and crucially away from where golfers will walk on and off a green. We know that foot traffic reduces fibre, look at a back tee as an example, it gets minimal play and is always the softest, highest organic matter surface on the golf course. It follows therefore that the wear pattern by golfers across a green as they play it, will also cause differences with organic matter levels, the same is true I’m sure on other sports turf surfaces…For golf, see below….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course this isn’t the only reason for moss ingression, but it is the most common in my experience, so first off, look at where moss is occurring, measure fibre levels on this area and on a non-infested area and see if there is a correlation. If there is and it is practically feasible, start by putting the pin close to the area with the moss to move the pattern of wear and put the moss under traffic stress, it doesn’t like it…I’ll talk more about moss in the future, but I’ve got to dash now and earn a crust…

All the best, enjoy this weeks sun and milder temperatures 🙂

Mark Hunt