Monthly Archives: May 2012

May 28th

Hi All,

Well the last 5 days have been a scorcher for many and coupled with high winds, (day and night) this has really ramped up the moisture loss with over 20mm combined E.T over this period (more on this later). Not only was it hot temperature-wise, but it was also very humid and as Karl from Meteoblue explained to me last week when I was over visiting, this makes the ‘feel-like’ temperature, 2-3°C higher than the actual because the body cannot cool itself efficiently by sweating. As I hinted last week, I didn’t expect this warm blast to be a prolonged one and sure enough there are clear signs of a breakdown as we go through the week, with some rain and much cooler temperatures from Thursday onwards.

General Weather Situation

Monday will start with a similar feel to the weekend, but with much lighter winds. Cloud will build over South-West Ireland and the South-East of England later in the afternoon and there’a risk of thunderstorms developing in a line from Kent up through The Midlands and the North of England. Kerry may also pick up some rain through the day, but amounts will be light. Tuesday sees noticeably more cloud cover with again the risk of some rain in the south-east and Mid-Wales particularly. Wednesday sees a band of rain moving up the east coast of Ireland during the morning and this will push into Wales and the west of England later in the day bringing showers to many places into the night. Overnight this band of rain consolidates and looks to give significant rain in the North of England, The Midlands and later in the south-east on Thursday, as the wind turns round to the north and temperatures really drop significantly. This swing will be most felt on the east side of the U.K, with the west comparatively sheltered. Friday starts off dull and cool with lots of cloud cover and those mid-20’s temperatures, a distant memory. as temperatures will struggle to reach half of that in a strong north wind. Saturday looks to start bright for most places, but a heavy swath of cloud will push down the east side of England and it’ll feel well-parky. The west and Ireland will be better with lighter clouds, but still feeling cool in the wind. Sunday maintains that east-west divide with the west feeling milder as those winds drop.


The start of the next week looks settled, with temperatures in the mid-teens, light winds and sunshine, but by mid-week, a deep Atlantic low is set to influence the weather with strong south-westerly winds and rain for many places affecting Ireland a day earlier.

Agronomic Notes

Last week I talked about the need to button down the grass plant early in the week and after seeing the high E.T loss, I think that advice was pertinent. From Wednesday to Sunday last week, the E.T loss was measured at 20.9mmm at The Oxfordshire (ta Sean)  and this did present some significant challenges in keeping rootzones damp. It’s clear from the events of last week and the weekend, that irrigation efficiency, E.T loss and player comprehension / feedback are not always happy bed fellows 🙁

In 2006, I was doing some wetting agent trials and not knowing a lot about irrigating to E.T loss, I starting off with an irrigation cycle that replaced 100% of E.T, the result was a very wet rootzone. I looked to the Internet for guidance and found a great paper by Clark Throssell entitled “IRRIGATION SCHEDULING FOR TURF SITES” in which he explained that total E.T loss needs to be adjusted by a crop correction factor (in this case, the crop is grass) to estimate the correct irrigation requirement. Of course there are lots of variables here, none the least, rootzone type, cutting height and obviously root development, because the deeper, more-branched a root system is, the more efficient the plant’s ability to uptake water. I experimented with this and found that a correction factor of 0.6 worked for me on my trials in providing healthy firm, Poa-Bent turf, without excessive moisture. That means that a weather station generated E.T of say 4mm needs to be multiplied by 0.6 to give a indication of irrigation requirement, in this case 2.4mm.

I do know some lads who run lower than this and as we know, an irrigation system will not provide consistent water across a green, so many greenkeepers use lower irrigation cycles and make the rest up with hand watering. All well and good, but deciding how much water a green needs by this process can be a bit hit and miss, though there’s a lot to be said for ‘feel’ and firmness using a knife to assess it. Last week I saw one of the newer moisture meters in action (thanks Peter and Glenn) and it gave some really interesting results across a green and importantly provided an assessment of which greens dried out quicker and where areas of the green require more or less hand-watering. Science has a place here to provide a consistent basis for monitoring irrigation efficiency and even more so when we are regulated by the water companies on irrigation use.

Enough about watering, if we do get cooler winds at the end of the week, it’ll knock the colour out of surfaces for awhile, but if the south-westerly low appears next week, it’ll soon rectify itself.

Disease-wise, all quiet at the moment, other than some very early Take-All, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we don’t have some oddities showing their head with the very high temperatures and humidity’s.

I’m away in the camper next week to sunny (ha ha), but hopefully breezy (big waves)  St David’s in Wales and the following week I’m in France driving my Dad around so this blog may be a little disjointed for the next couple of weeks.

All the best

Mark Hunt




May 21st

Hi All,

As my mini-update suggested on Friday, we have a change in the weather on the way with the arrival of a warm, high pressure, it’s certainly been a long time coming. When I was fishing yesterday, the owner of Thornton reservoir, (a colourful Welsh character called Ifor), showed me a picture of the woods surrounding the lake taken on the same day last year…all the trees were in full leaf, whereas now they’re barely through..I reckon nature is running 3-4 weeks behind because of the lack of temperature and just as importantly, lack of light levels in April and May to date. We sometimes forget that plants utilise light for energy and during prolonged cloudy conditions, their photosynthetic efficiency suffers. Last year, Ireland and Scotland had extremely low levels of sunshine during the growing season and this affected plant growth significantly, with crops like Maize only reaching half of the height as usual. Grass, I think is a very efficient photosynthesiser and adapts quickly to its conditions (particularly Perennial Poa.) so the effects aren’t as noticeable.

Left image - 'Peak Pattern' December 2011 / Right Image - 'Trough Pattern' April 2012 Courtesy of Meteoblue

We have high pressure asserting itself from the earlier part of this week and that’s going to bring warm, dry conditions for the week, with plenty of sunshine. The question in my mind is whether this heralds the end of the ‘trough’ pattern of weather that we’ve been in since early April or not ?, are we now shifting into a ‘peak’ pattern, which as we know from last year, brings warm, settled conditions and very little rainfall. This is particularly relevant to those currently affected by irrigation bans. We know that the rainfall of the last 6 weeks has seriously benefited ground water and particularly reservoir levels, below is the trend for Bewl Water in Kent, one of the driest areas of the country up until the end of March and you can see it has gone from 40% of capacity to 76% of capacity in 6 weeks.

My feeling is that this change in weather is not the precursor for a prolonged period of dry weather, though the trough pattern looks to have shifted away for the moment. The long-term jet stream pattern looks normal for next week with a more southerly feel to the weather on the cards. (sunshine and showers maybe)

General Weather Situation

Onto the weather, from today we have low cloud cover affecting most of the U.K, blown off The North Sea, courtesy of a cool, north-east wind and a weak band of rain affecting the west coast of Leinster and Connacht, but as the day progresses, this cloud will thin and the sun will break through, raising temperatures from their current low teens to close to 20°C in a short space of time. Tuesday starts with low cloud over the U.K and Ireland, but this will soon burn off in the U.K (but linger in Ireland) to give a beautiful warm, dry, sunny day (remember them ?) with temperatures in their low 20’s and a light easterly wind. The pattern is repeated on Wednesday, but this time the cloud clears over Ireland, so they join in the sun 🙂 . Thursday sees a similar pattern, but with a weak band of rain affecting south/mid-Wales and the north of England, Scotland, mainly on the west coast. Friday is more of the same, but this time there’s likely to be a greater risk of rain, with a band of rain  affecting a diagonal line across Munster and South Connacht, there’s also the risk of some rain for Wales, The Midlands and the south of England in the afternoon, with possible thunder and lightning. For the weekend, the temperature drops a little as the high moves away, but it’ll still be pleasant on Saturday and Sunday.


The beginning of next week looks a little unsettled with some rain from the continent likely to affect Southern England early on in the week and some more general rain for the end of the week likely. It’ll still feel pleasantly warm with temperatures in the high teens I think, but with more cloud cover as an Atlantic low pushes cloud in. I think winds will be light and from a more southerly direction than of late.

Agronomic Notes

This section of agronomic notes is largely orientated towards clubs affected by the irrigation restrictions, if this isn’t you, my apologies, but it may be beneficial at some point in the future.

Firstly, I don’t feel there’s a need to panic because although we have a warm week in store, ground water levels are good and I think the end of this week / next week may bring some rain to keep things ticking over.

In the meantime I’d definitely be applying a PGR early  this week to slow growth down and in doing so increase water-use efficiency by the plant. This isn’t a sales gimmick for the cynics amongst you, the research is clear since 2007/8 on the benefits of using Trinexapac-ethyl to increase drought tolerance. Here’s a link to one piece of work by the highly-respected scientist Bingru Huang, have a read if you’re interested.

Drought Responses of Kentucky Bluegrass and Creeping Bentgrass as Affected by Abscisic Acid and Trinexapac-ethyl

Stephen E Mccann, Bingru Huang in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science (2008)
It’s important to regulate the plant before it goes under stress, hence my comment about applying early on this week. I’m not suggesting that we’re going into a drought, but if you can’t water or are heavily restricted (no hand watering for instance) then the objective is to help the grass plant through periods of short-term water stress – i.e high temperatures and high E.T.
Other beneficial cultural practices include missing the clean-up cut, raising the cutting height, missing cuts and replacing a cut with a roll to keep green speed up and not verticutting, scarifying during periods of high temperature. All good common sense really, but you’d be surprised people still get it wrong by not paying attention to the weather and the state of play in terms of grass stress. Using smooth rollers as opposed to grooved ones also decreases physical plant stress, but it tends to suit some grass swards more than others in terms of quality of cut.
Research by Huang has also highlighted the benefits of biostimulant usage prior to and during periods of plant stress and it’s clear that use of a bioactive seaweed, combined with humic acid provides a clear benefit in stimulating antioxidant production and thereby decreasing the accumulation of free radicals in the grass plant.
In terms of plant nutrition- it’s well-known that a succulent grass plant at a high nitrogen leaf status produces more leaf / shoot tissue that in turn requires more water to maintain cell turgor. During periods of high temperature it is therefore advisable to maintain a balanced nutrient status in the plant and thereby avoid any flushes of growth (hence the PGR advice). This doesn’t mean no-N, rather balanced N, applied in a ‘little and often’ manner to maintain plant health. Cutting N down to too low carries as many negatives as positives, particularly with respect to disease activity and it’s well documented that Anthracnose, Dollar Spot and from my own experience, the activity of plant-parasitic nematodes is enhanced by a grass plant maintained at too-low an N status. So the rub is to keep the plant balanced from an N status perspective and avoid flushes. The best tools in the box for this are obviously foliar / liquid fertilisers applying low rates of N and of course with these you have the flexibility to tankmix in your biostimulant and PGR at the same time. One last point, it’s also beneficial to apply products with low osmolarity, this is defined as the ability of a material to draw water out of the grass plant. Liquid, foliar, water-soluble fertilisers with a high-salt loading will draw water out of the grass plant by osmosis and thereby deplete the plants internal moisture status, so use low osmolority fertilisers like urea and / or slow-release, liquid nitrogen sources duirng this period. Iron should be used at light rates and preferably in chelated, rather than sulphate form, again because of the lower dessication potential of the former.
None of these measures are high-cost or difficult to implement, the key is in the timing of the implementation and syncing the grass plant into a certain growth habit, in the U.S, they call it pre-stress conditioning, but they would, wouldn’t they 🙂
All the best, enjoy the warmth, I’ll be working in Switzerland this week, where it’ll be a nice 25 – 26°C hopefully.
Mark Hunt

May 18th – Mini Update









Hi All,

Just a mini-update on a Friday because I’m off today, but there’s 2 interesting features that are appearing on the weather front.

Weather Update

Firstly, the rain that was projected for this weekend will not appear in anything like the intensity. Rain will move into the south of England, Wales, Munster and Leinster today and then push north through the afternoon, evening to affect all areas. Saturday looks mild and breezy now with a south-west wind once that rain front has moved through, with rain lingering in Munster, Leinster, North Wales, northern England and Scotland, but it’ll fizzle out as we go through the day. Sunday looks a dry day for all but the south-east coast of England where they may just get the tip of that continental rain that is threatening. The wind will swing round to the north again and that’s essentially what’s going to keep us dry now over the weekend.

I think we’ll start the week, dry, mild, but still with those northerly winds, however (and this is the 2nd feature) the weather patterns appear to be changing and it’s just possible that we’re moving out of the trough that has brought us cool weather and rain for April and May to date. As you can see from the animation above, it looks like high pressure is trying to establish itself from the mid-latter part of next week and that means warm and dry if it does occur. Whether this shift is a permanent one or not remains to be seen, but of course it’ll have some significant agronomic affects.

Agronomic notes

The main point of this update is to alert you to the fact that the warmth if it arrives will generate a significant growth flush on all areas, but particularly outfield turf which is already growing well, so I would plan to try and get in as many dry cuts as possible before the end of next week and where you intend to use PGR’s at growth-reducing rates, mid-week, next week, could be an ideal time to apply, i.e. just ahead of the warmth. The same is true for wetting agent and biostimulant applications to maintain plant health prior to any periods of heat.That advice is especially pertinent to those golf courses that are in drought-status affected areas and under an irrigation ban. (hence the reason for the update)

I’ll update as usual on Monday morning and we’ll see how we look then…

Enjoy the weekend. (now)

Mark Hunt



May 15th

Hi All,

Courtesy of Meteoblue

Firstly a bit of housekeeping….If you click on the ‘About my Blog’ at the top left of the page, it takes you to my home page, onto which we’ve added some useful technical information including an updated tankmix chart for 2012. The links are bottom right on the home page.

Onto the weather, as you can see from the schematic above and to the right, the basic weather pattern remains unchanged, so we can expect more of the same cool, unsettled weather for the time-being with plenty more rain I’m afraid.

General Weather Situation

Currently we have a deep Atlantic low situated east of Iceland and this is pushing a roughly-horizontal band of rain down from Scotland and the north across the country. After this has passed through it’ll dry up and we’ll have some sunshine and showers for all areas. Ireland will start bright, but those rain showers will soon push in through the morning to affect all areas by lunchtime. Tuesday follows a similar pattern with showers bubbling up after a dry start, so most places will get rain, particularly in the north and east of the U.K and Ireland, with the south-west of both regions possibly missing the worst. It’ll feel cooler again as winds move round to the north / north-west and that’ll take the edge off the temperature from the weekend and the early part of the week. As this rain clears, cloud cover will thin and temperatures will drop with a widespread frost forecast for Wednesday morning. Wednesday should be the driest day of the week for most areas after a nippy start, but as we approach the end of the day, a new rain front will push into Connacht and the west of Scotland, bringing rain, with sleet and snow over higher ground. Thursday sees those winds move round to the west, so temperatures pick up, but of course that means more rain is on the way. This rain will chiefly affect Ireland, Scotland and the north of England and Wales, from a line drawn north of The Midlands, but overnight into Friday, there’s a chance this front will push into The Midlands affecting it for much of the day. The south and south-east of England should stay drier though until later on on Friday. Ireland looks to finish the week largely dry, with rain affecting the east coast of Munster and Leinster.  At present the weekend is looking, well, ‘pants’ is the best way to describe it and I can see myself bailing out the boat again as heavy rain is forecast for the south of the U.K and Midlands, though Ireland may miss this front as it pushes up from France. Both Saturday and Sunday look pretty wet and miserable, so get some beer and a good film in and try not to look out of the window, tie some flies or clean the house, you know that kind of thing…:)


Next week looks to be starting off dry and milder, as we have a hiatus between weather systems, but we have an Atlantic low sitting off Ireland and I expect this to push in by mid-week to bring sunshine and showers on a south-westerly wind, so milder air with no risk of frosts.

Agronomic Notes

Hopefully you’ve been able to get some dry cuts in of late, with this brief spell of drier weather, but this week is going to be tricky, though with the lighter amounts of rain for the early part of the week and a dry Wednesday, it shouldn’t be too bad. The end of the week is another matter though and I can see some pretty wet golf courses over the weekend I’m afraid, so more closures and hassles trying to keep buggies from trashing the place 🙁

St Mark's Fly - Bibio marci

Still plenty of disease around in these milder intervals of weather with Fusarium and Red Thread doing the rounds, but I did see Take-All last week, which is amazingly early. Growth on all areas is pretty constant now, though greens growth will dip briefly mid-week with that cool interlude and possible frost.

There’s a lot of St Mark’s Fly (Bibio marci) around at the moment, they’re usually present from the end of April (April 25th is St Mark’s Day by the way :)), but are later this year, like a lot of things… Their larval stage is the one that causes issues over the autumn / winter with crows and other Corvids pecking for them.

Nutrition advice remains as before, that is light-rate granulars if you need a growth kick or foliars applied if the window presents itself between weather systems…Wednesday would be a key day for this in the U.K at least.

All the best…

Mark Hunt




May 8th

Hi All,

Pic courtesy of Paul Bishop - Manor House G.C after the Bybrook river broke its banks..

Courtesy of Meteoblue

After that soggy Bank Holiday, you must be wondering if it is ever going to stop raining, yesterday we had another 8mm and that tops up an already saturated ground. April’s monthly totals showed the variability in weather we received, particularly rainfall, ranging from dry in Dublin at 75mm (50% of their normal for April) to totals over 170mm in parts of Cornwall, Hampshire, Durham, Leicestershire and Gwent. Thanks to everyone for sending their stats in, it really helps to get an idea of how the different parts of the country are faring.

The outlook still remains unsettled with alternating low and high pressure systems coming into play over the next 10 days and as you can see from the image on the right, we’re still fixed in the trough between two peaks in the jetstream. This pattern brought about the change in our weather from the dry Jan-March period to the current wet, cool and unsettled one.

General Weather Situation

The first part of this week looks set to remain unsettled with an Atlantic low edging along the bottom of the trough and bringing rain to most areas. Tuesday sees a dry start for many, but cloud will soon bubble up and bring showers particularly for the south-east of England, north of England, Scotland and the east coast of Ireland. These showers are pushed up on a mild, south-westerly wind, so no risk of frost at present. Wednesday follows a similar pattern with heavy showers preceding the main rain front of the week, that’ll come into play towards the end of the day, Initially affecting Munster, the south-west of England and south Wales on Wednesday night, this rain will push into all areas early on Thursday, but it will feel very mild. A bright end to Thursday as that rain moves through and is replaced by cooler air on Friday, as high pressure edges out the low. The wind will swing round to the north (again) and that’ll dip the temperatures somewhat, but it will be drier, with only light showers, some of them wintry in nature for Scotland and the north of England. At this stage the weekend looks dry and bright on Saturday, but with more cloud for Sunday and the risk of frost returns again.


Next week looks to start milder as the wind swings round to the south-west again and I expect wind and rain, particularly for Ireland and Scotland. Thereafter the outlook appears a bit more settled / drier, however the wind looks to be shift back to the north for the early-mid part of the week, so staying cool. That’s the pattern we have at the moment, when it’s dry, it’s cool, because it’s a northerly-orientated high that sits into the trough and drags cold air down.

Agronomic Notes

With the soil temperature just into double figures and plenty of moisture for most parts, Poa growth will be consistent and so therefore will seeding, but like a lot of unwlecome things, the quicker it starts, the quicker it’ll be over :). The wet weather and constant damp has made keeping a good surface very tricky at the moment with little opportunity to verticut / groom or topdress. Add to that the ever-present threat of Fusarium during these milder interludes and life is interesting to say the least. That combination of very mild temperature and rain on Thursday is one to watch out for.

Outfield areas are growing vigorously, as are weeds, but again finding a window to get clean cuts and PGR / herbicide applications out is not easy. I do feel the weather pattern will provide more opportunities from the end of this week and next week onwards because of the lack of low pressure systems set to affect England, however the same can’t be said for Ireland and / or Scotland. It’s a case of grabbing the opportunities while you can really.

With these mild interludes, the warmth and humidity has also kicked off plenty of Red Thread, even though the areas where it is affecting are growing strongly. In this case it is the enviromental conditions rather than any lack of fertility that is the catalyst.

Nutrition-wise, it remains granulars as the order of the day, unless you are able to take opportunity of those windows to get a spray out and like I said, there should be more opportunity to do this from the end of this week onwards for many areas.

Looking back at the same date last year, air temperatures were undoubtedly warmer and the soil temperature was 4-5°C higher than it currently is. This continues the trend observed through April, (highlighted in the graph below) and explains why greens growth was hard to achieve during that month. In addition the high rainfall experienced undoubtedly caused more loss of nutrient by leaching.

All the best.

Mark Hunt