This morning’s Daily Star has the first of the season’s prophecies of freezing temperatures and, yes, you’ve guessed it – A White Christmas!!
So, what’s the reality – assuming that the Daily Star is not right.
This season’s relatively wet and warm autumn weather conditions has already resulted in some of the most challenging conditions in memory for Microdochium Patch – Fusarium.
The key saving factor, so far, has been that turf has continued to grow and enabled some recovery where disease outbreaks have hit. As cold spells increase in frequency, however, that growth will decrease – but the legacy of the disease pathogen in turf remains.
Historically, you could have expected an average 10 nights with frost in southern England, and 14 nights in Scotland during December. However, weather records bear testament to warming conditions, with every December since 2011 being at or above the long-term average.
December 2016 Weather – Highs ‘n’ Lows
- Temperatures were again well above long-term average across the country – typically +2.0°C
- Scotland and northern England were particularly warm, compared to average, with average daily highs +3.1°C
- There were an average six nights of frost – five fewer than the norm – ranging from three in the west of Scotland to eight in East Anglia
- Average rainfall was down by 33% – but 66% down in eastern and southern England at around 25 mm
- Rainfall in northern Scotland was 10% above average, at over 190 mm
Furthermore – up until last year – December had also been significantly wetter than average, which further compounded turf management challenges.
After another year with some record warm temperatures through 2017, the experience of recent seasons indicates the trend of mild winters could continue. In 2015, some places recorded warmer temperatures on Christmas Day than it was in early June.
You have to go back to 2010 for a truly cold December, when the average temperature for the UK for the whole month was below freezing at -0.9°C and 23 nights of frost that blanketed almost all the country.
Proactive disease prevention
The prospect of persistently wet surfaces, which don’t dry naturally in short, cool December days, significantly increases the risk of Microdochium Patch; the pathogen thrives in wet surface conditions.
Early reports indicate that, after the high incidence of disease outbreaks in November, there’s likely to be a high level of Microdochium inoculum present, which can be expected to increase as conditions turn more conducive. Applications of Instrata Elite can reduce the pathogen loading in the thatch, and help to deliver long-term protection for the turf leaf.
Where it is possible to foresee periods of disease risk using GreenCast, there is potential to get the best protection from proactive applications of Instrata Elite, or Medallion TL if conditions turn consistently cooler.
So your options are to listen to the Daily Star (and for the sound of Santa’s sleigh), or trust to science? Accurate forecasting and interpreting with local knowledge has to be the key – although I know the kids will keep hoping for a White Christmas, and a generous Santa!