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Hi All,

Back from a few days off last week and suitably refreshed (not).

Lovely though getting out for some walks in the autumn, the colours and smell are beautiful…

autumn1 autumn2

I also noticed a lot of Fieldfares and Redwings already feasting on our berry crop and note that the number of Waxwings heading this way looks substanstial this autumn which means that the east (Siberia, Northern Scandinavia, etc) has cooled down very early this year. Could be the harbinger of a hard winter ?

Fieldfare

My last blog two weeks ago promised the first of the winter storms with the added caveat that high pressure may indeed dominate and knock it off path. Well we didn’t get the storm and we did get the high pressure and for the 7th year out of the last 9, the last week of October has been mild / warm, uncanny really. We have had a mercifully dry October in many places but I think that will come to an end this week with the arrival of pretty cold, slow moving, easterly low pressure at the end of the week / weekend. So winter will start in early November.

That’s bad news for my newly arrived Hedgepiglets, I say that in plural because there’s three new ones now, Brexxie1, 2 and 3 (though it’s tricky to tell the difference 🙂 ) The risk here is that they may not have been weaned from their mother’s milk before she goes into hibernation, which is usually the third week of November. They also need to be 600gms plus to survive the winter and I reckon they’re half of that at the moment. So they’ll be on a high calorie diet from now on ! Ok onto the weather….

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a misty, foggy start for many and dry as well, save for a slow moving band of rain pushing into north west Scotland and tracking slowly south and east. Through the morning the fog will clear and leave a beautiful (and warm) autumn day with lots of sunshine for central and northern England. Ireland looks dry but cloudier as does the west coast of the U.K. That rain front over Scotland looks like staying in situ so north of a line from Aberdeen to Oban I’d say with the rest of Scotland staying dry I think. This evening finishes dry with just that Scottish rain and perhaps the end of that rain band creeping into Donegal later on too. Temperature-wise I think we will be high teens in the south of England and really anywhere the sun breaks through and mid teens under the cloud cover. Winds will be light and from the south, but due to change…

For Tuesday we have a change in the wind direction, swinging round to the north and picking up pace, so you’ll immediately feel the loss of temperature with a distinctly chilly feel to the air. Apart from the risk of some light rain moving down the north east coast of England this morning, it looks a dry day for everyone with again some change of seeing the sun over central and southern England. Winds as commented earlier will be from the north and so I expect the temperature will be 3-4°C down on the previous day with mid-teens tops and even a little lower if you have cloud cover.

A very similar picture for Wednesday with a dry outlook pretty much everywhere and again lots of cloud cover about so on the dull side early doors. That north to north west wind will be brisk to moderate and that’ll keep the chilly feel to the weather after the highs of last week and early part of this week. Staying dry though which is good and gives everyone a chance to get some autumn preparation work in before the arrival of winter proper. It looks like Ireland may see the sun across southern regions of Leinster and Munster in the afternoon and we should also see some breaks in the cloud cover across the south of England. Temperature-wise feeling cool in the wind, so mid to low teens if you see the sun and high single figures in the north and across Scotland.

For Thursday we have a re-run of Wednesday for most places save for the north west of Scotland and Ireland where a band of rain is set to push in during the morning. This rain will be heavier over Scotland. South of this we have another dull and dreary day with some short breaks in the cloud cover likely during the afternoon in the south and east of England. Through the late afternoon / evening that drizzly, mizzle sinks south over Northern England, North Wales and across Ireland to give a dull end to the day I’m afraid. Despite the fact that the wind swings round to the west / south west, it makes no odds temperature-wise as we stay cool with low double figures likely. This is because although the wind is westerly, its origin is from Siberia and it’s already cold out there 🙁 .

Friday is the change day in my books as we see the low pressure begin to push in showers of rain during the day but they’ll be light initially and quite widespread but don’t think you’re getting off lightly !…So Friday looks to be an unsettled day with frequent showers across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. Perhaps these will be more frequent across the west and north but I expect some inland as well. The wind will be on the change, swinging round to southerly, then easterly by Friday night and moderate to brisk meaning it will feel continue to feel cool with high single / low double figures now the new norm.

The outlook for the weekend and hence the 5th of November is pretty cack to be honest…particularly for the south of England, Wales and Ireland, really from the north of England down as that low pressure is set to swing in heavy rain through Saturday on a strong and cold easterly wind. The main mass of rain looks to be more south of the U.K-orientated at this stage so Scotland and The Borders may enjoy a dry weekend. Sunday looks equally bad as that band of rain sits across The Midlands and Wales bringing more rain during the day. South and north of this concentrated band of rain looks like being drier, but remaining cool with the wind swinging more to the north east through the morning. I expect the amount of rain to be siginifcant in the areas worst affected over the weekend.

Weather Outlook

Tricky this one because Unisys is on the blink a bit this week so a little bit of mystic megging is called for 🙂

If I had to describe next week in simple terms I’d say wild, windy and wet !

We look to start the week with a changeover from that easterly low moving slowly off stage right, but it will be followed by a new, north westerly low so that means the boot will be on the other foot next week initially rainfall-wise. So I’d expect Scotland to pick up some heavy rain through Monday (maybe later Monday) as the winds swing round initially to the north pushing that rain into Scotland. From Tuesday onwards the winds become stronger and from the west so expect gale force winds and frequent rain for Ireland and the U.K through next week. It’s funny sitting here typing this when the sun is just breaking through and there isn’t a breath of wind at all. So an unsettled weather forecast is the order of the day next week and winter with all of its many joys has started.

Agronomic Notes

WSoCT2016

Disease Pressure

OCT2016TEMPHUMIDITY

When you have weather conditions in October that provide double figure overnight temperatures and high humidity then that means only one thing and that is Microdochium nivale. The top image above is from my weather station showing we’d mantained double figures through the night and the humidity was running at 93%. This means the leaf is wet and the temperature is ideal for fungal growth. The bottom image above shows how the overnight temperatures increased markedly at the end of October with the average humidity pushing close to 90% (which means it was close to 100% during the night) The period enclosed in the dashed lines is when disease pressure really ramped up…..

Dew

So expect to see a scenario where you’ll see lot’s of M.nivale across your turf areas and note how much more aggressive it is on tees, approaches, sportfields (maybe?) where there has been no fungicide applied.

Even where you have applied a fungicide already in good order I think you’ll see the classic see-saw of activity vs. efficacy.

What I mean by that is that the rate the disease population is growing is faster than the rate that the fungicide can control it, so you’ll see symptoms of diease even though you are theoretically ‘protected’. The image below is typical of disease activity on untreated outfield areas (thanks to….ahahaha won’t print a name you know….for sending this ‘beautiful disease’ snap in…as Kate would describe it no doubt :))

mnivaleoutfield

Now from Tuesday we’ll go cooler and that’ll drop the disease pressure signifcantly because overnight temperatures will drop and we will have more wind which will dry the leaf out more effectively, especially overnight.  This week is definitely a week to re-apply your systemic / contact combination if you are close to requiring this because the chance of getting a spray day next week with the wind and rain forecast is minimal.

By now many of you will have heard of the likely departure of Carbendazim and Iprodione and it’s the latter that most concerns me because when we have periods like this where disease activity is at its highest and the drivers behind that activity are pushing hard, you need effective curative fungicidal control and with the loss of Iprodione in the near future, we will lose that.

We are indeed entering a new period of turf management and it’ll mean that we will no longer have the ‘safety net’ of some very effective pesticides (we lost the equally good systemic Tebuconazole / Prochloraz combination earlier this year)

This means the emphasis will need to shift to a cumulative approach to disease management with better application timing (because most of our choices will be systemic), better control of the environment that provides the basis for disease development, namely surface fibre and an increased need for a drier surface. (dew removal and surface fibre).

Challenging times for our industry for sure but let’s hope we will see the emergence of newer, more effective chemistries coming through. (though not ever likely to replace Carbendazim and Chlorpyrifos)

Moss control…not quite yet…

Mosskill

So for me this week it’s get everything out of the way you need to do before the weather closes in, whether that be spraying or applying granular fertiliser to weak areas.

It’s tempting to apply a moss treatment now as there’s plenty about but for it to be effective you need for that moss to be fully wetted up and at present it isn’t. Better to keep your powder dry on this one until we have had the initial rain and then apply the product. With moss control it’s another see-saw between holding back the moss with a chemical application (or iron as a pesticide) and encouraging the grass to out-compete the moss over the winter months.

It’s this four month period from November to February when moss populations are at their strongest which is key to good moss control.

SilverThreadMoss

This is particularly the case with Silver-Thread Moss because you effectively have a cereal bowl-shaped colony to attack and remember when it is dry it is hydrophobic (water repellent) so if you’re applying a product it’s likely to be washed off without ever coming into contact with the moss in entirety. Better to wait for it to be fully-wetted by rainfall before applying your control.

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Ok that’s it for this week, my intray has collapsed so Carpe Diem to you all…..

Mark Hunt