Monthly Archives: July 2012

July 30th


Hi All,

I appreciate many of us have had the first hot, dry week of the summer, but I couldn’t help starting my blog with this picture from the previous week, it kind of sums up the summer so far from a greenkeeping perspective. :). That said, the weekend finished with some heavy rain yesterday, particularly in the south-east accompanied by thunder and lightning. I was sitting under a brolly yesterday evening fishing in the middle of one such deluge and contemplating the likelihood of getting struck by lightning, whilst sitting on a metal chair next to 3 carbon fibre rods, which apparently are excellent conductors of electricity, c’est la vie…if your numbers up and all that…

A frustrated Chris Lewis

Chris Lewis, Course Manager at The Leicestershire cursing the Rain Gods after 25mm fell on his course in one hour on the 19th July.......

After the scorcher that was last week, this week is looking to slip back into the unsettled theme of sunshine and showers that has characterised our late spring and summer. As with previous weeks, the rain has a west and north orientation, so the south and east of the U.K at least will fair better this week from a rainfall and temperatures perspective. On a positive note, there’s no sign of a repeat of the deluges we’ve had of late.

General Weather Situation

Monday starts dry, if a little cool in some places, but clouds will soon bubble up to as a front of rain showers pushes into Ireland, Scotland and the south-west of England during the morning and makes its way eastwards. The further south and east you are, the less chance of rain and that’s the theme of the week really. Tuesday looks to be a potentially wet day for Ireland and for the south-west and Midlands, as rain moves into Devon and Cornwall and tracks diagonally across the country to The Wash. Temperatures will feel a little warmer in the south-west breeze, which strengthens later in the day, as the low pressure asserts itself. Centred off the coast of Connacht, this low will ramp in rain showers, accompanied by strong winds for Wednesday and Thursday, but as mentioned earlier, the extreme south coast of the U.K and the south-east may escape the worst as the rain fronts track diagonally across the country. In other places, amounts will be moderate, so hopefully no repeat of the course flooding / bunker trashing deluges we’ve had of late…Temperatures will be high teens in the rain-affected areas, perhaps breaking into the low twenties in the south-east of England. Looking ahead to the weekend, the low slowly moves away, allowing the wind to drop and temperatures to recover a little, so not too bad at this stage, but not a scorcher.


Next week looks to start off a little unsettled as that low slips away, but from mid-week, there’s a strong possibility of a high pressure system moving in to return us to hot, dry weather. so we’ll see.

Agronomic Notes

With the light switch change from heavy rain to high temperatures, alot of things came out of the woodwork. A number of courses reported Waitea Patch – I pronounce it “Wait Here” Patch, but Kate will probably correct me on that as per normal  🙂 . Take-All and Plant Parasitic Nematodes also came to the fore, as the grass plant started to rely on its root system to uptake water in the heat and in the case of these two pathogens, that root system wasn’t functioning as effectively. Fusarium and Red Thread predictably took a back seat as swards dried out, but they’re likely to bubble away in the background in the coming week as moisture returns to many places.

Surfaces did dry out quickly as predicted, but when you take into account that there’s likely to be more fibre in the surface because of lower levels of maintenance this summer and less than optimum microbial activity, this shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, fibre heats up quicker than rootzone and our grass plant has been sitting wet for the best part of 3 1/2 months, so its roots are used to high levels of moisture.

If you can, it’s imperative to get that surface working well by integrating topdressing into the fibre layer and providing channels through into the rootzone. Solid tining, sarrell rolling, etc will help this process and encourage new root development. There’s alot of puffy, fat looking leaf out there at present on greens because of the combination of high soil moisture and high temperature and although the temptation is to rip into it with verticuts or groomers, you actually have to treat it more carefully until conditions settled down, else you’ll just end up with bruised turf, particularly on bentgrass. So light aeration, brushing and topdressing are the order of the day in my books for the time-being.

Ok, I’m off to the Cevenne in France this week for a much-needed chill out.

All the best..

Mark Hunt



July 23rd

Hi All,

At last a bit of warmth and dry weather and very welcome it is too. The next question will invariably be “How long is it going to last ? “…..well about a week I’d say looking at the outlook, as a low pressure front is projected to come down from the north in time for next weekend and return us to a trough pattern. So there’s never been a truer phrase than ‘Make hay while the sun shines’…For the lads and lasses in Ireland, I’m afraid the weather divide has aligned itself straight across Ireland so it won’t be the great forecast I predicted, my apologies..

General Weather Situation


Courtesy of Meteoblue

A pretty straight-forward forecast today as half of the U.K sits under the effects of a warm, high pressure system with the vast majority of the U.K  basking in warm sunshine. As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately Ireland is on the wrong side of diagonal north-south divide to our weather, so they’re currently picking up rain, as are areas in the U.K north of that. (see graphic right). For the south this week, we have hot, dry conditions and I expect temperatures to peak mid-week in the high twenties. For Ireland, the north of England and Scotland, it won’t be as great with rain pushing in today, but mainly affecting Connacht, Northern Ireland and north-west Scotland. This rain will push into Leinster overnight, but will lessen as it does so..North of this line will continue to be sunshine and showers through the week, with Thursday and Friday, the better days.

It’s not really till the end of the week that the high pressure system breaks down and rain pushes up into the south-east of England and down from the north intoThe Midlands late in the afternoon on Friday. Temperatures will begin to slide away slowly as it does so with high teens / low twenties the order of the day. Saturday should be a day of sunshine and showers and reasonable temperatures, with rain projected to affect the south-east, east coasts of England, Connacht and Leinster, though Munster may stay dry. Sunday looks cooler and with a high probability of rain I’m afraid.


Tricky one this because I’m slightly uncertain how that low pressure will behave, but at this stage it looks like next week will be unsettled with sunshine and showers and temperatures in the high-teens.


I covered the agronomic side to this pattern of weather in last weeks mini-update, so there’s not much more to add other than we have a week of this weather and it’s effects in the south of the U.K and less so in Ireland, the north and Scotland. I’m pretty sure we’ll have some weird and wonderful diseases coming out of the woodwork with the combination of heat and moisture.

Waitea Patch is likely to be one of these, especially as it likes high moisture and is very often confused with Superficial Fairy Ring. It’s very linked to soil moisture, so you often find it on your wettest greens, though after the last 3-4 months that may not be the case this year. As you can see from the picture, the rings of this disease are often very yellow in colour. Cutting a section out of the affected area normally shows no localised hydrophobicity (water-repellence) and a lack of mushroom odour. I know Kate Entwistle is very keen to obtain samples of this disease, so if you think you’re looking at something similar, take some core profiles from the affected area and get them off to Kate at the address below ; She’ll be delighted I know 🙂

The Turf Disease Centre

Dr Kate Entwistle CBiol, MIBiol, MBPR

Waverley Cottage, Sherfield Road, Bramley, Hampshire RG26 5AG.  UK

 Telephone: +44 (0)1256 880246  Fax: +44 (0)1256 880178 Mobile: 07879 468641

By the way, I did some field trials on this disease last year, so if you want to have a chat about my results, drop me an email on


Mark Hunt






July 19th – Mini Update

Hi All,

As suggested nearly two weeks ago now, I felt the weather pattern was changing with a gradual shift in the orientation of the jet stream. It’s nice to know that the BBC / Met Office with two of the most powerful weather computers on the planet have just clicked onto the same thinking. All credit to Unisys and Meteoblue for the accuracy of their forecasting…

As you can see from the animated GIF above, we’re going to go from one extreme to the other in a very short space of time and I expect temperatures to be high-twenties at some points during this period. Not wishing to pour cold water on the arrival of warm and dry weather, I do hope this isn’t a permanent change because we’ll then suffer a heatwave unlike we’ve experienced before and that’ll be equally as hard to deal with as the last 3 1/2 months. For the moment though, it’s very welcome 🙂

Agronomic Notes

The aim of this update is to talk about what we can expect from our turf during this transition. The grass plant has been sitting with its roots in water for the last 3 1/2 months and the humidity levels in the atmosphere have been high, so water loss and controlling it hasn’t been an issue. Coupled to this, we know cultural work in the form of surface aeration and topdressing has been nigh on impossible to keep up with since early April, so it is very likely that surface fibre levels are higher and that fibre is more compacted as there is less dressing ameliorated through it. Surface fibre heats up much quicker than rootzone, so that’s another contributing factor to accelerated surface drying.

My first point is that surfaces (particularly greens) will dry out much faster than expected because the plant has got used to having high moisture levels in the tissue, looking down at grass swards, there’s a lot of puffy, thick leaves around, purely for this reason. Rooting may also be shallower as a consequence of the high soil moisture levels, though my feedback is mixed on this front.

Wetting agent applications for many have been skipped and whilst this may represent a good saving, it will show up very quickly next week because one of the features of good, modern-day wetters is their ability to move and distribute water from the surface through the profile, so whilst water hasn’t been a limiting factor of late, it will be soon be, particularly in the surface. I’d be scheduling one in pretty promptly and combining it with a biostimulant to keep the plant healthy.

So what can we do to help the grass plant during this transition from feast to famine ? Firstly, I’d be keeping nutrition on the conservative side, not deficient, but certainly I wouldn’t be applying a hit of N from a granular fertiliser as this will just create a flush of growth, which will require more water to support it. Talking about flushes, it’s very likely that outfield areas will flush unfortunately until moisture becomes a limiting factor on growth (if it gets that far that is)

Secondly, and of course this is budget dependent, I’d be applying a PGR to hold back growth and thereby reduce moisture loss, particularly on greens and tees. On the former, I’d also suggest doing a boom width around the green so the collars and surrounds are included because collars particularly are looking a bit puffy. It may also be a good idea to include them in your autumn aeration program if it’s feasible.

Black Algae

There’s quite a bit of Black Algae about on greens, particularly on the clean-up strip and in shaded areas where light is limited. When the grass sward thins out, light reaches the rootzone surface and with moisture and humidity, algae and moss can thrive. So the best way to deal with this is to change the environmental conditions. (ok that may be difficult in shade) i.e dry the areas out. So I’d suggest some localised hollow tining and work a 50/50 mix of sand / soil amendment into the surface. In addition, miss the clean up cut if practical and make sure the fertiliser regime is high enough to encourage the grass to out-compete the algae and moss.

Disease-wise, we’re just entering the Anthracnose period, but I wouldn’t expect much Anthracnose Foliar Blight around up until now as stress has been confined to the course manager / greenkeeper, rather than the grass plant !!!!. That said, this may change if the dry, warm weather lasts. I’d expect pressure from Fusarium and Red Thread to decrease as surfaces dry out, although it may rise initially with the heat.

Take-All may rear its ugly head because the spell of cool, wet weather has been ideal for it’s activity, damaging the root system of bentgrass, but it’s only when that plant needs to take up water that you start to see the symptoms. Ordinarily this would be mid-June when we get one of those warm, windy periods with high E.T loss, but that didn’t happen this year…it may now..

On the subject of Bentgrass, this has been looking a bit sorry for itself lately with the low temperatures, high surface moisture and lack of sunlight, with a good deal of bronzing, bruising evident. I expect this to change with the advent of warmer, drier conditions.

Lastly, I ask you to enjoy this weather and hopefully watch the golf course dry out in front of your eyes and take a chill pill from the complaints about the rough, bunkers, etc. My blog may be late on Monday because if the forecast holds, I hope I’ll be sleeping on a bank somewhere after fishing for Catfish through the night 🙂

Mark Hunt


July 16th

Hi All,

With another 11mm overnight on Friday, we finished on 30mm for the Friday / Saturday morning period and that again flooded the rivers and fields. Sid Arrowsmith from Frilford reported a 17mm deluge on Saturday evening, just prior to his Euro Pro Tour event starting today, good luck with that Sid !…Most people got a decent drying day on Sunday as temperatures rose into the late teens. I spent Sunday at timeless Wells-next-the-Sea, on Holkham Beach and it was beautiful, the sea was warm and choppy and the day was capped off in French’s Fish & Chip Bar on the front, marvellous 🙂