February 2022 FAQs

So, what have people been asking me this month?

Mainly who’s Sean and where am I going? If none of that makes any sense then it’s worth having a read of this ……….

Sean joins the team with a strong field trials background which nicely compliments both Dan and my experience. We’re really looking forward to having him on the team and introducing him to you all at BTME in Harrogate later this month.

Sean Loakes

He’ll be helping me with this blog in the future and I look forward to him bringing a slightly different angle to it, whilst the pair of us remain focused on offering straightforward assistance to the industry.

I’m not going far, just covering a bit of a larger area so you’ll have to tolerate me for a while yet I’m afraid.

Leatherjackets

It’s been a fairly mild February and some areas of the country have begun to report some leatherjacket activity. Mainly from coastal areas, so far which I suspect is due to the milder climate that we associate with the coastal courses.

If you’ve not seen any activity, that’s great news but don’t sit back and assume you’ve cracked it, take some time to do some small-scale sheeting to ensure get the clearest picture possible of what’s going on in your soils. 

I’ve had lots of feedback that it’s too cold for this – that’s good news! The process of monitoring is all about gathering the facts, if it’s cold and they are not active, we need to learn at what temperature they become active. We really are missing many pieces of this puzzle. So keep sheeting and keep telling me what you find. It may feel like a waste of time but this really is essential to understanding how we solve this problem.

With March on our doorstep, it won’t be long before some courses will have to tolerate more damage than they’d like. If that does happen then one of the few strategies we have is to undertake some large-scale sheeting.

This method can be streamlined if you have built a decent database from small-scale sheeting to help you understand where and when to target.

Will the cold temps kill them?

I was talking to Dr. Pat Vittum of Massachusetts Uni about this – she sees frosts down to 1.5 meters and they survive, not sure if they dig deep below or just survive?  

The cold temperature will certainly slow feeding and reduce impact, probably have a knockdown on a % of the population but it’s unlikely to wipe an entire population out. The mild winters we see in the UK are unlikely to make a dent.

Bird pecking has started

From experience, I suspect pecking birds is more about the available alternative food sources drying up, eg farmer’s field with seed or insects going into hibernation. I think they just go for the easiest food source so even if you have low populations it may well be the simplest source of food for them when the cold weather has caused their last food source to disappear. It’s not necessarily related to high populations. There are lots of scaring devices available but they all involve careful rotation and a fair bit of work.

Dry Down started yet?

February was looking dry for a while until the Storms hit the country which would probably have reset the moisture dial for most. But don’t underestimate how quickly that dry-down will start. The effects of it are masked as we rarely see secondary heat stresses at this time of year but the month of March is usually the month we begin to turn.

It’s well worth thinking through your wetting agent strategy now, even if you don’t pull the trigger in March it’s worth being prepared for the optimum period for applying wetting agents, which is often much earlier than people realise.

Storm Eustice

Of course, we can’t leave February’s FAQ’s without mentioning Storm Eustice and the damage it left in its wake. Many of you have allowed me to share your photos to document the event (thank you). Hopefully, it’ll be a long time before we see anything like that again but with the climatic changes we’re seeing in recent times nothing surprises me.

The Gif below highlights the power of Eunice and shows why it was so devasting. This kind of map can now be found in Greencast in the Weather Pro tool.

Thanks to the following for allowing me to use their pictures:

  • Mark Jones @kickstart250
  • Paul Doran @paul_doran
  • Dan Harding @danharding7
  • Richard Ponsford @RJPonsford
  • The Hertfordshire Greens Team @hertsgcccm
  • Jack Mckay ⛳️ @Jack_Mckay
  • Thorndon Park GC Greenkeepers @GcThorndon
  • Sam Bethell ⛳️ @SBethell84
  • Adam Constable @AConstable
  • lansdowngreenkeepers @lansdowngreenk1
  • Paul Wilkie @plwilkie
  • Paul Kennedy @The_1_PK
  • richard sheldon @richsheldon83
  • Antony Kirwan @AntzXVI
  • Chapel Gate – BU Sports Grounds Team @ChapelGateBuGr
  • The Hertfordshire Greens Team @hertsgcccm
  • 𝑀𝒶𝓉𝓉 𝒫𝓁𝑒𝓈𝓉𝑒𝒹 @plestee
  • Adam Constable @AConstable
  • Romsey golf club @romseygreens
  • Crows Friday Club @DampsJohn
  • Lytham Greens @LythamGreens
  • Graham Sharpe @GrahamSharpe2
  • Stratford on Avon GC Greenkeepers @SonAGCGreenies
  • Thorndon Park GC Greenkeepers @GcThorndon

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