The Groundsman

February 2014

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WEATHER UPDATE 45 the Groundsman February 2014 February risk of further rain Another extremely wet month in January has once again created severe issues of flooding and waterlogged soils - leading to extended closures of golf courses and postponed matches on sports grounds across the country. Even where play has been possible, the damage caused and extra stress imposed on turf could take months and a significant investment in time and resources to rectify. With groundwater reserves restored from the autumn and soils now thoroughly saturated, all turf managers and club owners will be desperately hoping for a dry spell. However, whilst the UK rainfall for the past two years has been a third below average, the long- term average for February of around 90mm suggests that turf mangers should be bracing themselves for problems, especially in the west of Scotland which averages over 140mm. Records show the contrasting experiences of recent years, with an incredibly wet and warm season in 2011, averaging 5.3°C and over 114mm or rain, compared to cold, dry and bright 2013. If February 2014 repeats the experiences of recent years, there is also every chance that mild weather will be on the cards. Since 1997, all bar two seasons have seen temperatures above the long-term average of 3.7°C for February, with 2010 and 2013 the exceptions. The turf conditions so far this season, with the almost continuously wet surfaces and relatively few hard frosts, has allowed Microdochium (Fusarium) Patch to develop on unprotected turf. Where disease is rife in the thatch and on the leaf surface, it could flare up at any time in wet surface conditions. During the more recent variable February conditions, with warm days and cold nights, fluctuating soil temperatures and intermittent turf growth can put extra stress on turf plants. The multi-active Instrata includes both contact and genuine cool-weather systemic activity to cover all risks facing golf course turf. If it is cold weather combined with high humidity, however, February typically poses the risk of snow cover. If that lies on the ground for more than four or five days, it will significantly increase the already high risk of Microdochium On record (since 1914) Past decade (2003 – 2012) Warmest February weather highs and lows. The last decade has been typically less extreme, with a trend towards warmer, drier weather • Be aware of stress on turf plants when frost follows warm days - increasing susceptibility to disease attack • Use contact+ fungicides during periods of slow or zero growth • If soil temperatures rise to trigger grass growth, switch to a fungicide which provides additional systemic protection February Top Tips (Fusarium) Patch outbreak. An application of Medallion TL prior to snowfall can give effective protection for the risk period and through to the spring. Using the free GreenCast website - www.greencast.co.uk - to predict periods of disease-conducive weather can help turf mangers proactively time fungicide applications more effectively and get the most out of their treatments. Light relief for stress By the end of February, typical day length will have extended to some 650 minutes - close to 11 hours. Furthermore the light intensity, or more importantly the Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) element of the light spectrum utilised by plants, also starts to increase rapidly through February. 1998 (6.8ºC) Coldest Wettest Driest Sunniest Dullest 1947 (-2.0ºC) 1990 (188mm) 1932 (29mm) 2008 (103 hours) 1940 (37 hours) 2011 (5.3ºC) 210 (1.9ºC) 2011 (115mm) 2013 (59mm) 2008 (103 hours) 2011 (52 hours) Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with air frost 2012 2012 4.2 2011 5.3 2011 Rain (mm) 2013 2.8 2013 63 52 79 2012 2011 2013 60 115 2012 2011 2013 11 5 14 UK weather records for 2011, 2012 and 2013. Conditions in 2013 were colder, brighter and drier – against a trend of typically wetter and warmer February weather 59

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