The Groundsman

February 2015

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WEATHER UPDATE 47 the Groundsman February 2015 Rain risk for disease outbreak Last year all the February weather news revolved around the 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 took months and a significant investment in time and resources to rectify. Whilst the UK rainfall for the previous two years had 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 weather experiences of recent years, with an incredibly wet and warm season in 2014, averaging 5.2°C and over 169mm of rain, compared to the cold, dry and bright 2013 (Table 1). More recent trends indicate that it will continue to be a milder end to the winter. 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 winter, with the frequently wet surfaces and few hard early frosts, had allowed Microdochium (Fusarium) Patch to develop on unprotected turf. Where disease is endemic in the thatch and on the leaf surface, it could flare up at any time. February typically poses the risk of snow cover that will significantly increase the already high risk of Microdochium (Fusarium) Patch outbreak. An application of Medallion TL prior to snowfall can give effective protection for the risk period and through to the spring. But if, as seen in recent years, conditions are more variable - with warm days and cold nights - the 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. 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. Using new agronomics, including Primo Maxx and Qualibra wetting agent programmes to enhance turf health, is the first step to creating strong plants more able to withstand periods of stress Table 2: February weather highs and lows. The last decade has been typically less extreme, with a trend towards warmer, drier weather On record (since 1914) Warmest 1998 (6.8ºC) Coldest Wettest Driest Sunniest Dullest 1947 (-2.0ºC) 1990 (188 mm) 1932 (9 mm) 2008 (103 hours) 1940 (37 hours) 2011 (5.3ºC) 2010 (1.9ºC) 2014 (169 mm) 2013 (59 mm) 2008 (103 hours) 2011 (52 hours) Past decade (2005 – 2014) Av Temp (°C) Sun (hours) Days with air frost Rain (mm) • 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 includes additional systemic protection February Top Tips 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 4.2 2.8 5.2 63 79 75 60 59 169 11 14 3 Table 1. UK weather records for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Conditions in 2014 were focused on the extreme rain, but it was also incredibly warm and just three days with frost – 70% less than average and make better use of good growing conditions to recover, providing an early start to better spring playing surfaces. 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 www.greencast.co.uk

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