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23 February 2018, My News to Share - W. Baird, Chairman of the TGA

Hello from the TGA (Turfgrass Growers Association). I have been asked to update members on news from the UK. As I say to anyone in the business, "The weather is the Boss", and it has been a very variable year, especially in Scotland. Our field drains ran dry two Novembers ago -  and didn't start again until end of June last, they haven't stopped since. Normally we experience wet, mild Winters, thanks to the Gulf Stream, with grass growing, although very slowly throughout most of the Winter.  We seem to be experiencing more and more tail ends of Caribbean Hurricanes having just dealt with "Georgina" - Number 7 since October 2017.

Good time to mention our politics, as they providing as much uncertainty as the weather.  Immediately after our vote to discharge ourselves from Europe, the obvious happened. The GBP lost value against both the Dollar and Euro, it certainly helped exports, however North American and European machinery jumped in price. Turf growers in the UK, in the main, do not attract subsidies, so more than ever, we need to concentrate on effective marketing and retaining our valued human resources from Eastern Europe. As the GBP has fallen, they have begun to drift back home, so we need to pay them more!! The future's uncertainty doesn't help either.

A few TGA members visited Holland in September for the annual ETP (European Turf Producers) meeting at Rob Bruin's farm - Direct Gazon in Venray - What a fantastic set-up he has! Over 400 visitors from 25 nations present. Please visit ETP website for more information. Your very own Casey Reynolds outshone on subjects such as Climate, R & D, poa control and some market research. One problem I had, was getting a seat near the front as there was a lot of background chatter from interpreters - mainly Italian.

 The field visits reminded me very much of TPI days, very professional. Some very impressive machinery on show, as the likes of Trebro, Brouwer, Magnum, and Trilo will attest to. There was a company from Luxembourg there showing off “The V-Mow”. It’s on YouTube – definitely worth a look.

Lastly, we had a visit from the party who won “the Pheasant shoot” at the auction, at last year’s 50th Anniversary Conference in Tampa – What a great night!!
The McWhorter party arrived in Edinburgh mid-November to some decent, although cool weather.

Clay Pigeons were organised for the following day for the boys to acclimatise and more importantly to “get their eye in”.  Some high birds were felled and all proved more than competent.

The following day we ventured up through Gleneagles Estate to the drive called “The Drummond” highly recommended by my Game Keeping friend Davie Wilson (who looks after all the Gleneagles drives)

Fortunately, I had arranged “Stuffers”, what we call loaders, as they were required at virtually every drive. As well as loading assistance, their local knowledge was invaluable.

We were mainly positioned at the bottom of the woods, and therefore birds coming to us were high and fast in the main. If we had another line of guns behind us, we would have shot our quota by mid-day.

Please readers ask the guys what they thought compared to their Dakota experience a month before!

That’s it from me and the TGA.  I will have seen most of you in Tucson anyway before this goes to press. And, as always, please venture East, and include Turffit in your plans.