The Groundsman

January 2015

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WEATHER UPDATE 47 the Groundsman January 2015 World-leading on-line advice for turf • Up to the minute weather forecasting • Advance warning of turf diseases • Application zone for practical pointers • NEW interactive forums Wet memories flooding back This time last year most greenkeepers and turf managers were struggling to cope with saturated soils and extensive flooding across the UK. This winter has already seen some exceptionally wet periods, particularly in the north and west, so any further prolonged rainfall or melting heavy snow could cause a repeat of the problems. The good news is that, prior to last year, January rainfall across the country had been below the long-term average for the previous five years. But the almost incessant rain in 2014 was sufficient to significantly amend the record books for central and southern England – with up to 260% of average rain. In fact, January weather over the past 20 years has typically been getting wetter and warmer. From the late 70s and through the 80s the mean January temperature rarely rose above 2.5°C; over the past 10 years it has averaged 4.2°C and topped five °C on three occasions – reaching a mean of over seven degrees in the south of England in 2007. In recent seasons, temperatures above the seasonal norm, coinciding with periods of heavy rainfall, have resulted in some intense Microdochium (Fusarium) Patch outbreaks. Assessing the risk is key to getting fungicide timing right to give optimum protection on the leaf surface and keep infection out. GreenCast records of disease risk for January (Fig 1) typically highlight periods of dry weather and low pressure when fungicide intervals could be safely extended – in this instance mid-month. However, it also pinpoints the crucial importance of treatment towards the end of month when it rained, to protect turf against the high risk throughout February. Using the free GreenCast website also enables turf managers to select the most appropriate modes of fungicidal action to counter the threat. Protecting the turf with Medallion TL fungicide applications before forecast disease risk periods can provide long-lasting results, and is especially effective protection beneath any snow cover. When soil temperatures are fluctuating and there is evidence of some growth, as seen in many recent January conditions, the multi-active Instrata fungicide can provide the most appropriate protection for golf turf. If the disease pathogen has had any chance to infect the plant, the inclusion of systemic activity within the leaf is essential alongside the contact+ activity on the surface – to give disease control inside and out. Table 2: UK average weather highs and lows for January. Although the south was very wet in 2014, overall the UK was actually wetter in 2008 On record (since 1910) Warmest 2007 (5.9ºC) Coldest Wettest Driest Sunniest Dullest 1963 (-1.8ºC) 1928 (205 mm) 1997 (29 mm) 1959 (70 hours) 1996 (21 hours) 2007 (5.9ºC) 2010 (0.9ºC) 2008 (190 mm) 2006 (60 mm) 2012 (58 hours) 2008 (40 hours) Past decade (2005 – 2014) Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with more than 1mm of rain Av. 2013 3.3 2.8 3.7 2.9 3.7 4.4 Rain (mm) Table 1. Comparing the weather conditions for January 2013 and 2014 highlighted the exceptional rainfall for most areas – which on top of a wet December resulted in the unprecedented extreme flooding 3.9 3.5 4.5 2.6 4.2 4.2 UK N.England S.England Scotland N Ireland Wales 2014 4.8 4.6 5.9 3.5 5.4 4.5 Av. 2013 36 37 47 26 37 27 47 49 57 36 49 45 2014 43 42 62 25 38 38 Av. 2013 110 80 79 149 140 141 121 94 77 177 157 116 2014 188 145 168 218 258 173 Av. 2013 16 14 13 18 19 21 15 14 13 19 17 17 2014 23 22 24 23 26 24 Fig 1 – Dry weather in early January kept Microdochium disease risk low for the early part of the month. But once it rained, the risk increased to high – pinpointing the value for targeted application timing.

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