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Hi All,

Amid the news headlines claiming there’s a ‘hurricane’ on the way, an ‘icy blast from the Arctic’, blardy blah, you sometimes wonder quite what weather forecast these guys are looking at 🙂

So yes it’ll be very windy on Tuesday afternoon / evening and temperatures may plummet to ooh, erm, high single figures maybe, golly gosh 🙂

Fieldfare

Fieldfare

Last week I was walking back from a late night, rainy Supermarket trip (it’s getting harder to keep my weekly shop under £23 you know), when I heard familiar bird calls on the wind. It took a minute for my brain to re-calibrate and realise it came from Redwings and Fieldfares flying at night. You may remember I’ve commented about these guys before ? They hop over from Scandinavia and Russia in the autumn to feed on our berry crop. I think they’re a good bit earlier this year, so does this mean we’re in for a harder winter or maybe it’s because its got colder, earlier, over there and they know that we have a mega berry crop this autumn to feast on??

Beeivy

Staying on the nature front, I set about cutting back some ivy off my fence yesterday, but quickly stopped when I realised it was in flower and the flowers were full of insects feeding on them, lot’s of them were bees. So if you have some ivy due for eradication / control, hang fire for awhile and give those insects a feed before the winter arrives in earnest.

Just a housekeeping note, I’m off on holiday next week and the first part of the week after because I’m cream-crackered, so they’ll be a two week sabatical on the blog I’m afraid 🙁 (I can hear the cheers already !)

Onto the weather….

General Weather Situation

Well although we have a pretty unsettled early part of this week coming, it won’t feature heavy rainfall for the majority of us, though Scotland will bear the brunt of the worst of it. That’s good news for some clubs / facilities in the south of England I know who received over 120mm in the last 10 days !

For Monday we have a quiet start to the day in England, Wales and Scotland after what was a barmy, balmy weekend, with temperatures topping 19.5°C here on Saturday and Sunday and only falling 3°C overnight. Elsewhere there’s already rain moving across Ireland and this will push into north-west England, Wales and Scotland later on this morning and slowly push inland, though most of it will be confined to the western coastal regions. Temperatures will be mid-teens and the wind moderate to blustery in those showers and from the west.

Overnight into Tuesday we have heavy rain reaching the west coast of Ireland and pushing quickly across country into Scotland and the west coastline of the U.K by dawn. This will be accompanied by very strong, westerly / north-westerly winds. The heaviest rain looks destined for North Wales, north-west England and the north west coast of Scotland. This rain will push inland affecting most areas during the morning. Behind the rain it’ll be brighter, but a good deal fresher even though the sun will be out. So Ireland will have a fresh, bright day after the rain, as will most of us. It will be very windy though for most of the day, with that wind swinging round to the north-west and probably at its strongest for the evening rush hour. The rain will linger in the north west of England and Scotland for most of the day though, only petering out late on Tuesday evening. It will feel colder than it actually is because we’ve had such a warm weekend.

Overnight into Wednesday, the winds begin to drop, but the cold feeling to the weather will remain, so Wednesday will start cool, clear and maybe with a touch of grass frost in sheltered, rural parts. The exception to this will be north-west Scotland where a pulse of heavy, localised rain is due to arrive in time for the morning rush hour and push eastwards across Scotland during the morning. This rain maybe very heavy on the north-west coast of Scotland and Western Isles in particular. Later on this rain may creep down the north-east coast of England as well. Further south and for Ireland as well, it’ll be a bright, crisp day with a quieter (though still moderate) westerly wind and more cloud cover arriving later on in the day. Temperatures will recover from Tuesday’s single figures to low teens, so typical for this time of year.

Onto Thursday and we have some rain fronts moving across Ireland during the morning into the west coast of the U.K later on. Further east and south, it’ll be a reasonable day with hazy sunshine for the morning before more cloud cover arrives later on. That cloud cover will be thick enough for some rain inland, especially over Wales and the north of England. Temperatures will be similar to Wednesday, low to mid-teens (in the south) and still accompanied by that cool westerly wind.

Closing out the week on Friday we have that rain sinking south to affect the north of England, Wales and eventually the south of England, but amounts will be light. By the afternoon it should have cleared most areas and been replaced with some sunshine and broken cloud cover and it may feel a little milder in the sunshine. The winds will remain in the west, light to moderate and temperatures sitting in the low to mid-teens, so pretty constant really.

The weekend is looking pretty similar at this stage, unsettled for sure in the west and north, with rain moving into the west of Ireland and north-west Scotland on Saturday morning. Further south it’ll be a brighter picture initially, but with some risk of showers in the north and west and cloud cover moving across the U.K. It’s worth noting that there’s a chunk of heavy continental rain projected to just kiss the south coast of England during the morning on Saturday and it won’t take much of a change to see this slip northwards, so worth keeping an eye on. So Saturday may stay dry for most of the U.K and possibly Ireland, but if you don’t see the sun, it’ll feel cool and a tad miserable.  Sunday is looking similar, dry for most areas with a risk of showers in the west and north, these may slip eastwards later on during the day. Temperature-wise, we look to stay similar to the previous week, so low to mid-teens the order of the day.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to stay reaonably mild, perhaps feeling a little milder early on in the week as the winds swing round to the south-west, however we have another deep, Atlantic low on the way, so expect the same headlines round about this time, next week, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz yawn…..

So unsettled and mild for the start of the week, with a risk of rain, more in the north and west, as is usually the case with Atlantic low pressure systems. The wind and rain looks to ramp up later in the week, so wet and windy initially across Ireland and Scotland from Wednesday p.m. onwards and I think this low may sink south to affect southern areas of the U.K for the end of next week. Looking further is always tricky, but we may see out October into November with some potentially quieter weather.

Agronomic Notes

Before I kick off this week, I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who attended the north-west BIGGA seminar at Myerscough College last week. Thanks to Sandra and Gwynn for the organisation, it’s an impressive set up there and hopefully a good day was had by all 🙂

Disease….What else 🙁

This pic from my weather station on Saturday night shows 16.7°C and 88% humidity at 23.12 p.m. and it didn’t change much all night. The same was true of Friday night and we had rain as well to ramp that humidity up even higher, so needless to say I’ll start my agronomic discussion on disease management, but specifically Microdochium nivale.

WST181014

So I’ll cover some likely scenarios that you may or may not be facing at present….

1. Your surface is clean, you last applied a systemic / contact tankmix last week, approximately 4 weeks after the last application….

Smile slightly smugly to yourself, but don’t get complacent as the weekend’s weather represented very high disease pressure.

2. You applied a systemic fungicide recently, but you’re still seeing signs of new disease activity and / or re-activity around the periphery of past Microdochium scars

Ok, a number of possible scenarios here ;

You could be in a situation where the weekend’s combination of warmth and moisture has tipped the balance strongly in favour of Microdochium nivale development. The rate of this development is exceeding the rate at which the fungicide is able to restrict growth of the population. Remember fungicides are really ‘fungiostats’, that is they affect the rate of growth of the fungal population, hopefully to a point where it is unable to manifest as pathogenic. So if the drivers for fungal growth are stronger than the fungiostatic effect, you can still see disease formation even though you’ve applied a fungicide. As the drivers for fungal growth decline (as they will this week with the temperature drop and lack of dew due to wind strength) you should see control from the fungicide. I always suggest marking new areas of disease with little paint spots to determine if they’re actually on the move or not.

Alternatively the fungicide you’ve applied may not be effective at achieving control. I’ve made this point before in terms of applying products that you expect to have a ‘contact’ effect (Often because that’s how they’ve been sold to you) when in reality they are not ‘contact curative’, they are ‘contact protectant’, in terms of their mode of action.

I refer specifically to products containing Fludioxonil and / or Chlorothalonil as their A.I’s. These are often described as contacts, but they really should be thought of as protectants because whilst they’re great products in terms of taking out spores or fungal mycelium ON THE SURFACE OF THE GRASS PLANT LEAF, they are ineffective at controlling fungal mycelium IN THE GRASS PLANT LEAF. The problem here is that by the time you see the disease on your greens, sportsfields, bowling greens, etc, it is already in the leaf and so application of these A.I’s will be ineffective at achieving control.

One final scenario is that you have resistance or ‘insensitivity’ to a fungicide A.I within the Microdochium population in your sward. This is often talked about, but it’s a tricky one to deal with. Although we have many fungicide products available to us, the actual choice of A.I’s is very limited. (Many products are just parallel import copies of an existing formulation or they’re supposed to be anyway), furthermore, the choice becomes even more limited if we talk about A.I’s that control Microdochium effectively in the field.

During active growth periods in the autumn, I think this is pretty much confined to the following A.I’s ;

Iprodione / Propiconazole / Tebuconazole + Prochloraz

And that’s it in my eyes….

I think you can effectively forget the Strobilurin family unfortunately, because the potential for development of resistance is high (That’s what we’re seeing in our field research anyway) and they’re pretty ineffective on Microdochium as a chemical A.I, better on other diseases though like Take All and Anthracnose.

There is also potential for resistance to Iprodione as an A.I, particularly because we’ve been using it for years and many applications are made as the sole fungicide. Again we’re seeing partial resistance to Iprodione in our field work. This doesn’t mean it will no longer work as a product, it means that it would good management practice to either use different A.I’s or combine them with Iprodione when you’re applying, (provided the tankmix is recognised as compatible) so the disease population is subjected to different modes of action, rather than just the same one all the time.

Fungicide resistance doesn’t manifest itself in the same way with all fungicide A.I’s. For some it is like a light switch, one minute it works, the next it doesn’t and it appears there’s little or no going back from this once situation the transition has occurred. For others there’s a gradual loss of efficacy as resistance slowly builds up within the population over time. Of course the longer the product has been available, the greater the risk of this occurring.

The benefits of Vertidraining…..

Some times I get sent some really great pictures and this morning was one such occasion, so I’m extremely grateful to Mark Todd at The Wildernesse for this one. (and for letting me use it, cheers Toddy!)

Vertidraining

Above is a picture of a fairway at The Wildernesse taken on the 22nd of September 2014, three weeks down the line from precious little rainfall and a hot, dry month to boot. You can clearly see the box shape, vertidrain passes on the semi-rough and where they stop going into the rough. The areas of semi are healthy and lush, whereas the rough is clearly under drought stress.

To me the picture strongly suggests that the benefits of aeration, in this case vertidraining has enabled the grass plant to develop a better, more efficient root system and thereby survive the drought. It’s also likely that the rootzone has better moisture availability because it isn’t just sitting in a compacted, surface layer. This isn’t just a picture about the benefits of aeration though, the message goes alot further than this.

Last week and for most of September I know, I spoke about the stress-related driver behind Anthracnose Foliar Blight and also the fact that this disease has been occurring ‘off green’ and has been effectively carried onto green by foot traffic, in some cases. You can imagine therefore the potential benefits of vertidraining complexes, surrounds, approaches, etc in order to de-compact the soil and enable better root development. In so doing you reduce the level of plant stress and the hence the potential for the occurrence of Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

I’d also extend this argument onto the green and put it forward as a potential benefit to better rootzone characteristics here. Again, better moisture distribution = better rooting = less stress = less risk of Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

Ok that’s all folks, I look forward to touching base after my break.

All the best.

Mark Hunt