Spring Purpling 2021

We’ve reached that time of the year when we begin to see some Purpling in the leaf on our putting surfaces so it's time for my annual blog about this subject.

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This phenomenon expresses itself slightly differently in each grass species and biotype and back in my days of managing some creeping bent greens that had a frustrating amount of Poa in them I’d see a whole range of colours some springs. At that point I believed it was a Phosphorus deficiency and did everything I could to try and mask it.

The last couple of years, since I’ve been working with Ryder – which is Syngenta’s pigment I’ve learnt alot about the way the plant responds to various stresses. Using Ryder we’ve tried to use science to replicate the plants own defense process.

The purpling you see is the plant producing Anthocyanins, which are pigments used to protect newer leaf tissue from the increasing levels of light that we tend to see in the spring during cold periods.

During these periods the plant is using energy to create pigments to help it cope with the stress being imparted by the additional light and cope with its inability to grow. As soon as the weather breaks and temperatures rise then this will quickly grow out. I'm saddened at times when I hear stories of people being sold fungicides to deal with this challenge None of Syngenta's fungicides will have any impact on this "purpling" and if anyone is trying to advise you otherwise then I'd really question what they feel the benefit is - let me know I'd be interested to hear what they have to say.

When developing ryder we were trying to mimic this process and seeing these signs is a sure sign that there is light stress going on, the use of Ryder during these times will not eliminate the purpling (it may mask it a little) but it would help reduce the impact of the light stress being imparted on the plant, maybe even reduce the energy needed to create the anthocyanin pigments in the first place. A well timed application of Ryder through this period has potential to help the plant bounce out of this cold snap a little quicker than it would have left to it's own devices. It's no silver bullet but it may enable you to go into late spring stronger than you would if it wasn't in your programme. Even without the UV blocking benefits of Ryder this is a great time of year to get good longevity out of it due to the lack of growth. Rarely do I meet a customer who hasn't been pleasantly surprised by the results they get. Anyway back to Purpling.

Here's a link to last years blog where I reference a study of moss's in Antarctica

So after spending best part of three years talking to people about this lets see if the light and temp patterns from this year ties in with what we’ve been saying causes this for both this year and last year?

April 2021 data (up until 19th Apr)

Once again in 2021 we can see some really long days, several of which are well in excess of 10 hours sunshine. In 2020 (see below, last year we hit a similar but brief period at the end of March). The temperatures this year have been MUCH colder too, getting lower than - 3 on a few occasions and more than 13 days in a row achieving temperatures below 0C.


Just as I was putting this blog together I noticed this tweet from the Met Office showing just how cold and dry the first half of April has been. The first 18 days of April 2021 have delivered an average temperature 2 - 4 C below normal and pretty much the whole country is below 20% of the normal rainfall. If ever there was a combination for some Spring purpling - that is it!

Last years data

Spring 2020

Here is a great article on the subject from Dr Danneberger

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