Back after a nice relaxing break away from work and what a nice weather week it was. For the 5th year out of the last 6, the last week of October was extremely mild, peaking at 20.5°C here in The Midlands of England, but it got higher elsewhere and I think for most, it was the warmest Halloween ever. Just 3 days later I was scraping frost off my windscreen. All of that was courtesy of a peak in the jet stream that pushed warm up up from Africa, followed by a trough that pulled cold air down from The Arctic. You can see this below in the graphic from Meteoblue.
Looking at the way our weather is shaping up I don’t see any more warm peaks on the horizon, more so a stack of Atlantic low pressure systems that will drop way below the U.K and that’ll mean the wind direction will pull round south-eastwards from the continent when they do so. So unsettled with cooler spells of drier weather I think will be the trend to come.
One of the good things I achieved when I was away was to try and get on top of a long-time problem I have, that of sleep or more specifically not getting enough of it. So I decided to do something about it because I’ve always known that I sleep badly, but haven’t been able to quantify it.
So when I told my ‘significant other’ over a cup of coffee that I had ordered a ‘Fitbit off the internet’, there was a long and somewhat strained silence. Can’t imagine what she was thinking, but of course I was talking about the little gadget from Apple that measures your personal activities, one of which is sleep 🙂 . So I’ve tried to quantify the problem and now I have a basis, a benchmark to work with, because I really do have a sleep problem !!!! (see left)
What has this to do with turf management ?, well a lot as it happens, not the Fitbit per se, but the principle behind using it. A lot of aspects of turf management are not black and white, they’re grey, so we have to try and understand what we are looking at, why it’s ocurring and then quantify it, so we can set a benchmark.
This helps with communication as well. For example, if we have 6% organic matter in our top 40mm of rootzone, this would be considered excessive. By measuring it, we know what we have and then we can put together a plan of action to deal with it and we have a parameter to communicate i.e We have ‘Y %’ organic matter, this is excessive and causing the following issues and we need to tackle it by this aeration route in order to reduce it to ‘X %’.
Onto the weather…
General Weather Situation
After the deluge at the end of last week and over the weekend, I’m afraid there’s more to come, with the end of the week looking extremely wet I’m afraid.
So Monday starts off dry for most, here it’s a cool, bright start with the mist slowly receding, but I’m afraid the next Atlantic weather front is already winging its way towards the west coast of Ireland. You should be able to see it by now if you’re down on the Dingle Peninsula and shortly you’ll be experiencing it as well 🙁 So by mid-morning that rain will be into Kerry and pushing north-eastwards across Ireland. By mid-afternoon it’s into the south-west of England and Wales and thereafter it pushes into the west coast of the U.K and inland, though the east and south-east should stay reasonably dry all day. Temperatures will remain about normal for this time of year, 11°C ish and the wind firmly in the south / south-west.
By Tuesday that rain has cleared Ireland so a drier start for you guys, but a chunk of that rain looks set to push back into the eastern coast of Munster / Leinster and stay for most of the day, role-reversal there due to a change in the wind direction. The other side of this rain front looks set to stay in situ affecting the west coast of the U.K inland to around Birmingham. In fact if you draw a line up from Southampton through Birmingham to Stirling, west of that line looks to have a wet day and east of that line looks drier. It will be a dull day for all of us, but that cloud cover will keep night time temperatures up and again around 11-12°C in a brisk south-easterly wind.
By mid-week we have a very mixed picture with that rain still affecting the east coast of Ireland and the west coast of the U.K. Just to add insult to injury, there’s another rain front pushing into the south-west of Ireland and the U.K to give another wet start to the day here, but it will clear the former. By late Wednesday morning that rain is pushing across the U.K, as the wind shifts around again to the south-south-west and this time it looks to reach the south coast, south-east, Midlands. It’ll soon clear to leave a clear end to the day, so a much cooler night in store for Wednesday.
By Thursday we have perhaps the driest start to day for the week, with only a smidge of rain lingering over the north-west coast of Scotland. By morning rush hour we have a heavy rain front moving into Kerry and then across Ireland and I mean pretty heavy rain unfortunately. This will reach the south-west of England by early evening, so for England, Wales and Scotland a largely dry day on Thursday with a chance of some hazy sunshine and reasonable temperatures, BUT this is the calm before the storm 🙁
Friday sees that heavy rain band clearing most of Ireland (maybe a vestige across Wexford and Clare) and pushing into the west coast of the U.K, before it intensifies during the morning to give heavy rain across most of the U.K, particularly the middle of the country and the north-east of England / Scotland.
So how is the weekend is looking ?
Well that heavy rain clears the U.K overnight, but because the low is in a trough, it sweeps back around into the north-east of Scotland and the east coast of England, with another swirl affecting the south of Munster and the south-west / south coast of England. Away from this it looks a reasonable day, some showers, but also some hazy sunshine as well, with temperatures similar to the start of the week. Sunday looks similar for most, so drier away from the same rain affected areas on Saturday, but still there’s a risk of rain across the north-east and along the south-west / south coast. A little cooler as the wind shifts round to the south-east again. This will be a feature of November.
The propensity for low pressures to sink below the U.K (see above) is a new feature of our weather and doesn’t happen very often, but I think it may do this year. When it does that means that the top of low brings weather over from the continent on a south-east / easterly wind, typically cool and dry. If this trend continues into the winter I think it’ll bring over cooler and cooler weather and ultimately snow. That’s why I just put a sneaky 15 smackers on snow for Rome at Christmas (25/1 odds !!!) Of course it could all all change so please don’t blame me 🙂
Anyway I digress, next week sees the low pressure sat below us, with a south east / easterly wind and a much drier week in prospect for all of us you’ll be delighted to hear, at least for the early part of the week anyway. So a dry start to next week, cooler in those winds, but typical for November. By mid-week though another Atlantic low is heading our way and this is set to bring rain across Ireland from early doors Wednesday and this will move eastwards as the wind swings round to the south-west. So a dry, cool start to next week and potentially a wetter, milder finish.
So all the things we normally associate with this time of year are well and truly here, that is, a saturated soil, worm casts, leaves and grass still lush from that late October growth flush. Looking back at October we can see that it was another exceptionally mild month, nearly the same as 2013 in terms of GDD days.
Interestingly if you look at the above totals for October, the 2 years when we’ve had a severe winter (2010 and 2013) were already showing a much cooler weather pattern in October in terms of GDD totals for the month.
There were some extremely pronounced peaks and troughs in growth during October and to highlight this I’m using Growth Potential data from The Oxfordshire and Long Ashton (Cheers Sean and James for this).
We can see that the start of October was exceptionally mild, then temperatures dropped, so growth slowed down, however by the 14th, we had another warm peak in the jet stream and temperatures shot up, giving a flush of growth as the G.P nearly topped out at 1.0 (which is optimum growth conditions). It then dropped back again before that last warm peak pushed in to shoot temperatures back up in the last week. To be looking at a G.P of 0.99 on the last day of October highlights just how much our weather has changed at this time of year !
The last part of October represented extremely high disease pressure and many facilities experienced severe outbreaks of Microdochium nivale, as well as Red Thread on sports pitches and Fairy Rings (I was walking during my week off and there were mushrooms everywhere popping out of the ground !!!). Below I have charted G.P vs. Relative Humidity and you can see there were periods during the month (highlighted in red) when the G.P was climbing quickly (so day and night temperatures were increasing) and the humidity was over 80%.
This combination of high G.P and high relative humidity represents ideal conditions both for spore germination and mycelium growth of Microdochium nivale and highlights why October is THE MONTH for this disease. That’s why you have to be protected with a preventative fungicide application prior to this type of weather.
Late October Score ……..Fungal Growth 1 Fungicidal Suppression 0
Even when you had this full-rate systemic fungicide or a full-rate systemic / contact combination applied, some clubs still reported active mycelium growth and this is because of a phenomenon I’ve explained earlier this autumn. That is to say, the rate of fungal growth is exceeding the rate of fungiostatic suppression by the fungicide. When the conditions drop back, then you get control (green line drops away), when it increases quickly, then you’re in danger of a disease outbreak even when you have apparently ticked the boxes for fungicide application. Of course another consequence of an increasing G.P is an increase in clipping yield, so removal of the fungicide in the clippings is quicker, plus new growth emerges that may or may not be protected.
Unfortunately if you did experience heavy scarring during this period, you’re likely to see continued activity on the worst scars because it is here where the disease population is the highest.
Grass is still the favourite for Football League Divisions One and Two
At the back end of last week there was an important vote for our industry when football club chairmans voted for or against the use of artifical surfaces in League Divisions One and Two, you can read about it here
It was a tied vote, but carried against the motion, so grass and indirectly our industry was the winner, for the time-being. The closeness of the vote however suggests this issue isn’t done with yet.
Ok that’s all for now, have to get some trials sprayed out before the rain arrives…
All the best.