January FAQ’s

After a mild end to 2021 we’ve rolled into a calmer and cooler 2022. Great news form a disease perspective and it’s also meant the phone calls and feedback has slowed down a little during the month.

Although it’s been a little quieter on the phone and with BTME postponed there has still been loads of stuff to think about.

The most pressing of which remains the climate and the climatic challenges ahead for turf managers. In this blog I try to focus on the climatic changes that impact turf managers rather than the bigger picture but every year the Berkeley Earth report lands in my Inbox and reminds me of the scale of this problem.

Its worth a read with some excellent visualizations of the data which does explain and highlight what’s ahead of us.

If you don’t have time to read it (although I recommend you do make some time) then I will summarise:

Although my family continue to to tell me last years weather was rubbish – it was actually the 6th warmest year the globe has ever experienced and the seven warmest years we’ve experienced are in fact the last 7 years.

In turf the odds are very much stacked against cold winters.

So – prepare for high disease pressure, conditions suitable for insect development and periods that are conducive to worm casting because that is the the trend.

Of course the report makes no mention of worm casting, Microdochium or Leatherjackets – but I know that’s what you’re thinking about!

Report here……

LeatherJackets

During parts of January when we’ve moved into some slightly warmer periods the weather has been favourable for Leatherjackets and some people are noticing some activity. The good news is that treated areas tend to be fairing very well currently but some activity is still to be expected as the some of the later hatching juveniles will only just be reaching maturity. By applying Acelepryn later we’ve given ourselves a better chance of having enough of the product in the surface to deal with them.

If you’re seeing activity and you’ve applied then the advice I come back to currently is –

  • Try to keep your aeration strategy to slitting or very small times so the insect needs to work its way through that layer
  • Keep monitoring to understand the scale of the challenge – this will help to guide your aeration strategy and give you some advance notice of what you’re likely to see in the upcoming months so you can be ready with the sheets, additional feed or increased communication with the membership.

PestTracker data has become a really important part of understanding this problem – if you want to read about the insights it’s given us you can find them here.

I’ve written a blog about the Value of PestTracker here because the data you all provide really does help.

You can read about monitoring here…..

You can read about Acelepryns movement in soil profile here…..

Disease models

After Christmas and the higher pressure that we saw, I had a few chats with people about how they could use the Syngenta disease models better. There are two tools on the Syngenta Turf Website the Historic disease pressure tool and the Live disease map. Both have a place in your decision making process but no model is bombproof. They should only be used as part of your decision making process. I’ve put a blog together looking at the subject below.

When talking about disease management, some people have asked how things could look with different control measures in place. Its a question I’ve tried to cover in this blog where I’ve had a look at some hypothetical visualisation to understand better the control we achieve using fungicides and how things could have looked with different control methods during that December period.

What does a 90% disease reduction actually look like – find out in my new blog here.

Mowing on Frozen turf

It’s never really a question but its generally a part of the conversation, and I guess January and February are the time when we’re most likely to experience frozen ground and on the back of a wet a mild Autumn golf courses are at there worst from a worm casting Point of View. My instant reaction whenever I see images of this are “wouldn’t have happened in my day” but quickly I give myself a kick and remember how much things have changed.

Golfing pressure has increased, expectations certainly haven’t lowered, chemical control measures have reduced or gone and Golf course managers continue to innovate.

Every site is different, everyone’s pressures are different, the only thing I can add to the conversation is to evaluate your needs and talk to your key club personnel about it. If you decide to undertake these kind of measures, do it because it’s the right thing to do for your situation, don’t do it because it’s the latest trend.

Experiment on smaller areas and understand the value, really see if playing conditions are better afterwards and if you’ve gained anything?

Even if turf isn’t being damaged is the upside worth the potential damage to your machinery and physical trauma the poor person sitting on that machine will go through?

If the answer to all that is yes – then invest in some decent gloves and go for it but don’t count on it as a long term solution as looking at the Berkeley climate report I start to wonder how many hard frosts we’ll see in the future?

One last thing……

This month I’ve been committing some time to my own continued development at Greenkeeper University which is a Programme run by Dr. Bill Kreuser and Dr. Doug Soldat and if your considering committing some time to improving your understanding of turf management its well worth a look. Link here………

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