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Hi All,

I hope you enjoyed the little slice of Indian Summer last week because it’s already a thing of the past as I watch the temperature gauge on my weather station edge past 11°C accompanied by 6mm of rain already this morning.

ElNinoLooking out of the window it’s not difficult to believe the tabloid headlines that have kicked off regarding the strongest El Nino event that’s taking place in the Pacific and the likely effect on our weather this coming winter. (Cheers Dave, Scott for the heads up)

 

As usual a lot of this is media hype but the truth is we are seeing a major El Nino event in the Pacific and it will affect our weather in some shape or form, I actually think it has already. If you look at the current situation of the jet stream and last year at the same time you can see what I mean ;

Jetstream09150914

If there is any consensus on the effects of El Nino for us, it’s that the jet stream has a tendency to sit lower and that means colder, wetter air in the autumn and possibly a colder winter in general. The headline about massive storms is likely to be totally wrong because past evidence shows us that there are far less Atlantic storms during an El Nino event. You can read about it here.

So what does this week have in store ?

General Weather Situation

Today looks to be a damp one for most areas with Ireland, the south west and south of England picking up the worst of the rainfall. That said there is another rain front sitting across The Pennines and edging into The Borders of Scotland as we speak. It’ll be a pretty dull affair as well with little chance of seeing the sun 🙁

Through Monday that swirl of low pressure rainfall moves south across Ireland and spins north across the south west of England into South Wales by late morning. So anywhere up to The Humber is likely to get rain today whereas aside from that Scottish front that looks set to fizzle out, the north should be drier than the south. It will feel noticeably cooler though with temperatures climbing to the low to mid-teens at best with a changeable south-easterly / south-westerly wind, light to moderate.

Overnight into Tuesday that rain continues to circulate across the U.K and Ireland and follow a similar pattern though Ireland looks to be set for a drier day. Elsewhere the south west will pick up that rain again as will South Wales I’m afraid. Through the morning that rain will push along the south coast into the south east and then move northwards across The Home Counties and into The Midlands. They’ll also be rain for western Scotland through the day, light on the whole, but persistent nonetheless. There will be a chance of some breaks in the cloud, possibly across Wexford, The Midlands and the east of England,enjoy them while you can. In these breaks you may see slightly higher temperatures on Tuesday, but it’s still likely to feel coolish compared to last week. (Unless you sat under The Haar like we did in The Midlands !) Winds will be changeable in direction again shifting more westerly but it’ll be a real ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ job depending on where you sit in relation to the low pressure system.

For Wednesday we have a much drier picture for nearly all of the U.K and Ireland initially. Note I say nearly all because there’s a high possibility of some pretty heavy rain pushing into the south west and south coast of England during Wednesday morning and tracking northwards through the course of the day reaching The Pennines by close of play Wednesday. Ireland looks to miss this tranch of rainfall which is a good job as it looks particularly heavy with some localised flooding possible. Cool in that rainfall, low to mid-teens and accompanied by an easterly wind so all in all a pretty rubbish day for England and Wales, but not so bad for Ireland and Scotland.

Onto Thursday and we have still have that rain in situ affecting the U.K up to The Pennines early doors. Through the morning it’ll slowly move north east and decrease in intensity so clearing the south of England first to give a dry afternoon picture. Ireland picks up a weak rain system so light rain moving into the west of Ireland on Thursday and tracking across the country as it does so. Scotland again misses the worst of this and looks to stay dry through the morning and early afternoon, but later on we will see that Irish rain move into western Scotland and The Lakes. Like a stuck needle on a record, temperatures will be mid-teens at best and that changeable wind direction theme continues with some northerly and westerly winds thrown into the hat just for good measure.

Closing out the week, the unsettled theme continues with more rain pushing into the north west of England and then tracking south east into The Midlands early doors and east of England. Ireland looks to be dull and with some light rain, whereas Scotland sees some potentially heavier bursts across the north east in particular. As we move through to Friday afternoon we have a much better picture with some breaks in the cloud and some sunshine across all areas. This will allow temperatures to rise up just a tad from the weeks norm so possibly high teens if you see the sun to any great extent 🙂 This slight rise in temperature will be aided by a westerly air flow / wind direction.

Onto the weekend’s weather picture then and it doesn’t look too bad because that low pressure is moving off to the continent and behind it we have a finger of high pressure pushing in. So the forecast looks dry, settled and some nice temperature as well though it won’t be warm-warm, just pleasant and it’ll depend largely on cloud cover how high the temperature gauge climbs. It does look dry though and winds will be light on the whole across all of the U.K and Ireland.

Weather Outlook

Quite a complicated picture for next week as we have a sort of battle between an Atlantic high pressure system and a low pressure sitting above it. At present it looks like the high pressure will sit out in The Atlantic and stream that low pressure in on a northerly air flow so that may keep temperatures on the low side, similar to where they are now I think. So after a dry, settled weekend we look to have the possibility of bands of rain, light to moderate at this stage pushing down into the north west of the U.K and Ireland and then moving south east across both areas. As hinted above it looks like the prevailing wind direction will be north west / northerly (later in the week for the latter). As we approach the end of next week there’s a suggestion that the high will edge in towards Ireland so this means warmer and settled weather moving firstly into the west  later on next week.

Agronomic Notes

Anthracnose Activity – 2015 vs. 2014

Anthracnose220815

Last year we had a very bad Anthracnose late summer / autumn will lots of Foliar Blight and Basal Rot moving into greens through August and continuing into what was a very dry and warm September 2014. It was sparked off by a perfect storm weather-wise, with high temperatures and high E.T late July 2014, followed by a cool wet August and then a dry, warm September.

2015 to date has been subtly different with July’s heat arriving at the beginning of that month, not the end. We then had a cool, wet August, but not quite as cool and as wet as 2014 (except for Ireland and Scotland) and now we’re having a much more changeable September with cooler interludes and rainfall, nothing like 2014 in that respect where we were very, very dry.

The behaviour of Anthracnose has been very different in 2015, not least because end-users affected by the disease in 2014 learnt their lesson well and put in place, good preventative practices to avoid a repeat of this disease. These included an early July preventative fungicide, regular light nutrition to avoid troughs in nutrient availability and good cultural work to suppress plant stress levels (more hand-watering targeted at dry areas rather than blanket irrigation).

What I’ve seen is much less Anthranose in general and particularly less Foliar Blight version of this disease. That said I have seen a number of incidents of ‘walked on’ Anthracnose where the disease has occurred / initiated on an un-protected collar and / or the approach to a green and then been moved onto the green by foot traffic presumably. The affected areas tend to be mounds, ridges, the more stress-prone areas on greens and the disease has again shown the characteristic trait seen last year in that some weeks it appears to be on decline and then all of sudden it seems to flare up again. Last week I had a number of end-users feed back to me that the cooler weather and particularly cold nights appeared to have increased the intensity of the disease when previously it appeared on the decline. So what’s happening when we see this ?

Well firstly you have to remember that Anthracnose is a real slow grower, fungus-wise. It doesn’t come in super fast, like Microdochium nivale (Fusarium to most, but not all), take out it’s selected host and then depart on application of an effective fungicide. It works away at the grass plant quietly in the background and you don’t see symptom expression (picture above) till it has gone through its whole disease cycle and is producing spores.

Now because Poa is usually the affected plant, we often see Poa recovering from Anthracnose if climatic conditions favour grass plant growth over the fungus, but as we saw last week, when temperatures drop and so growth / clip yield also takes a nose dive, the balance shifts in favour of the disease so you often see what appears to be the disease increasing in activity again. This isn’t new plants becoming infected, it’s pre-infected plants that are fighting the effects of the disease and when the balance tips against growth of the plant vs. growth of the fungus, we see what appears to be increased symptom expression. It also explains why even if you’ve applied an effective fungicide on Anthracnose, you still see continued symptom expression thereAnthracnoserecoveryPoaafter.

So in order to try and tip the balance back in favour of the grass plant, you should ensure that you have effective nutrition in place – Often I find light rate, granular applications are more effective than foliars when you have Anthracnose (as opposed to before) and since we’re dealing with Poa, the great survivor, anything you can do culturally to stimulate new root development will be advantageous. Here you can see an image of an Anthracnose-affected plant (note yellowing on older leaves) initiating new root development and growing away from the symptoms with new leaves clearly visible. So if you have this issue, don’t lose heart and keep trying to tip the balance in favour of your plant.

Worm Activity

This has started much earlier this year than last because of the arrival of wet conditions at the beginning of September and this week as well. Every year I always get the same questions about Carbendazim efficacy on casting worms and often these relate to the pH of the spray tank water. For sure it helps to have an acidic pH in the spray tank for the couple of hours the product will spend time in there but the over-riding factor in terms of Carbendazim efficacy is the pH of the soil it is applied to and weather conditions, particularly soil moisture levels. If the organic matter levels in your fairways /  sports pitches are high and therefore usually hydrophobic after a dry summer, I wouldn’t expect the applied spray solution to move through this organic matter layer in a uniform manner and therefore contact on your target pest will be largely hit and miss. This will especially be the case on high organic matter soils early in the autumn after a dry summer. So my advice is wait till your soil is uniformly wetted before applying.

Leatherjackets

At this stage of the autumn, I also normally be talking about the application of Chlorpyrifos, but for the first year since I’ve been in the industry we don’t have this chemical available. Now I’m kind of split on this because undoubtedly it was one of the worst products we had available in terms of chemistry and toxicity but on the other hand we have nothing else on the table to use and so it’ll be interesting to see how much of an issue insect damage is on our maintained areas going forward.

For sure the main damage is not the insect itself but the activity of its predators, Corvid species of Birds (Crows, Rooks, etc), Badgers and Foxes as well and I guess our attention will now turn to methods of discouraging these species digging for grubs ? I can see the demand for Harris Hawks taking an upturn !! 🙂

It appears that the reason we lost the use of Chlorpyrifos on managed-amenity turf was because the manufacturer didn’t want to stump up the money to defend its usage in this market sector.

Commercially we are small beans compared to other markets like horticulture and agriculture and this sets a worrying precedent because if it’s the case for Chlorpyrifos, then for sure it’ll also be the case for other products, fungicides amongst them. You could argue that one of our issues compared to most of mainland Europe is that we have a separate registration system in the U.K and Ireland for managed-amenity turf and because the process is separate, it’s clear to the manufacturers the volume that goes into the market sector as opposed to a system where it’s all lumped in under agriculture.

So like a lot of things in the modern world, it comes down to pounds, shillings and pence in the U.K, and Euro’s across the Irish Sea and the ludicrous situation that you’ll still be able to eat Strawberries and Raspberries that have been treated with Chlorpyrifos, but you won’t be able to use it on a managed-amenity turf where we don’t happen to eat our crop.

Logic and legislation, they very rarely sleep in the same bed it has to be said.

Plant Nutrition

With a cool week in prospect and very little chance to get a good spray on, it’s granular sort of weather for sure but we have to bear in mind on fine turf that we’re edging towards the period of the year when Microdochium nivale becomes a lot more aggressive (Again here it’s a case of climatic conditions favouring the pathogen over the grass plant).

So it’s a tricky line to tread between stimulating growth and recovery but not disease. If you’re turf is looking healthy and doesn’t need an immediate N input I’d be tempted to leave it till later in the week when conditions look a bit more favourable for spraying a foliar, even if it is just an iron / hardener to keep things ticking.

Ok that’s it for this week, hope you stay dry.

All the best.

Mark Hunt