Monthly Archives: August 2012

28th August


Hi All,

It certainly feels like autumn out there at the moment with some chilly mornings and heavy dews, punctuated with high winds and rain in between. All is not lost though, as I hinted last week, because we have a return to summer on the cards for the end of the week. Before that we have some wet and windy weather to contend with, so a mixed bunch for sure…

Had a call yesterday from a golf course superintendent in Germany who relayed to me the latest development of the E.U Thematic Strategy on Pesticides for greenkeepers in Germany. Previous to this year, a greenkeeper in Germany could apply for a range of licenses to use agricultural fungicides, insecticides, etc on his golf course, the rate was often low, but with newer chemistry’s, the system was workable, offered good choice of active ingredients, so resistance of winter Snow Mold and Fusarium could be managed  and it was cost-effective. The new system removes this choice of fungicides and now they can only apply Banner Maxx at a cost of €800 per hectare. Nothing wrong with the product for sure, but how do you manage resistance with one chemistry and how is that better for the environment ? In my mind, it all comes down to E.U non-sensical politics and corporate influence and spend and little to do with the environment at the end of the day.

 General Weather Situation

This week starts one day late courtesy of a UK Bank Holiday, but after some pretty heavy, localised rain over the weekend, Tuesday looks a dry day for most areas with just a chance of some light showers over Connacht and North-West Scotland. Overnight a heavier band of rain pushes into south-west Munster and moves across Ireland and into Wales / south-west England by the early hours. This rain will form a vertical band the length and breadth of the U.K and this rain will push eastwards, so Wednesday will see some rain for all areas during the day and this rain may linger overnight in the north of England and eastern Scotland. For Thursday we have a day of sunshine and light showers across Ireland, Wales and then England through the afternoon, but temperatures will start to lift as a high pressure system in the Atlantic begins to exert itself. This will confine any rain to northern Scotland for Friday and the weekend and leave Ireland, Wales, England and southern Scotland to enjoy what looks like a lovely weekend with temperatures in the 20 – 22 °C range and dry with it. Definitely a bucket and spade weekend I’d say at the moment.


High pressure is the order of the day for the start and possibly the bulk of next week, so lovely dry, sunny days and probably cooler nights with some heavy dews, but otherwise fine and dandy. That’s great news in my mind because a lot of clubs have busy golf schedules for September and if we can get some nice stable weather, it may go some way to recoup a little of what’s been lost over the wet spring / summer.

Agronomic Notes

Last week saw a lot of disease on greens, tees and fairways after the high heat and humidity of mid-August, but things should settle down a little this week as the drier weather takes effect at the back end of the week. Those pictures I put up last week turned out to be Dollar Spot, but with some other pathogens involved.

There’s some Anthracnose around at present, on clean up strips and wear areas, but so far nothing to get too concerned about as stress levels are now declining with the cooler nights, so maintaining fertility and plant health should provide a remedy as opposed to having to open the Chemsafe 🙂

Growth rates should start to settle down as those soil temperatures decrease, so outfield areas should be more easy to maintain and that growth flush, so noticeable over the last couple of weeks, will decline nicely.

I’m hoping that the fine and dry start to September continues well into the month because that means that aggressive Fusarium won’t kick off early, normally not until early October in the U.K and a little earlier in Ireland and with lower disease pressure, that can mean the saving of one fungicide application. If you’re interested in this area, there’s an autumn disease management article posted under the Useful Technical Links section on the right of this page.

Nutrition-wise, September can be a funny month because it’s a half-way house between summer and autumn, often with high day temperatures, but cooler nights and dew. Soil temperatures will begin to decrease from now on, but currently they’re sitting at around 16°C, which is still fine for summer-based liquid / water-soluble fertiliser analyses. I tend to prefer just tickling the greens on through this month because we know that higher disease pressure is just around the corner and the last thing we need going into that period is a fast-growing grass plant, with excessive N in the leaf tissue. On the contrary, going in with a weak, under-nourished plant can also be detrimental from a disease perspective so you have to hit a balance between the two.

All the best.

Mark Hunt


August 21st

Hi All,

A day later than usual, please accept my apologies, but I had to get down to a course yesterday, early doors, to look at a very aggressive fairway disease that in some areas had taken 40-50% grass cover and so the blog had to wait I’m afraid…The disease itself has taken out mainly Fescue species and when it first appeared displayed cottony white mycelium. It’s moved very fast across the course and is now affecting 60% of the fairways in different levels of severity. We’re waiting for a sample to be identified, but the candidates are Dollar Spot or some form of Foliar Blight.

Image on left shows first appearance of disease, mainly affecting Festuca species on fairway, cottony white mycelium are very evident. Image on right shows appearance 3-4 days later, with patches coalesced into bleached, matted, dead areas. My money is on Dollar Spot.

Last week’s combination of high temperature and high humidity has kicked off some unusual diseases with conditions severe enough in my mind to produce quite aggressive Rhizoctonia infections, not to mention Fusarium and Red Thread, thankfully that heat is on the way out as you can probably all feel at present.

General Weather Situation

Low pressure is set to influence our weather for the rest of this week and most likely through till the end of the month, so we’re talking cooler, wetter in places and generally unsettled in outlook. For Tuesday, we already have a band of showers pushing into south-west Munster and the south west of England and these will move diagonally (as usual) across the U.K into Wales, north-west England and Scotland through the day. The rain is showery in nature, so some areas will get it, others will miss it, particularly in the south-east of England which could stay dry all day. Wednesday looks to start off dry, but again a band of showers will push into Ireland and the U.K and move eastwards through the day, this time just about anywhere could get rain. Temperatures will be high teens / low twenties, so much more tolerable than of late and winds mainly westerly / south-westerly in nature and breezy throughout the week. Thursday looks a drier day for the majority of the U.K, but Ireland and north-west England / Scotland will be odds on for more showers unfortunately, with the former, the wettest. Friday follows a similar pattern, starting dry, before showers and a heavier band of rain pushes into south-west Munster, North Wales and the north of England, with some potentially heavy, localised rain in the latter. The Bank Holiday weekend looks pretty lousy really with potentially heavier rain in all areas during Saturday and Sunday in particular.


Next week starts off between two low pressure systems, so possibly a brief respite before more unsettled weather kicks in as a quite intense low pushes strong south-west winds, cooler temperatures and rain across the U.K and Ireland. By Thursday next week, the winds will move round to the north as the low pushes away, so it may well feel pretty cool for a day or so. Tricky to say beyond that, but I don’t think we’re finished with the summer yet as heat is predicted to build west of the U.K and Ireland, so let’s hope it’s just a temporary blip before moving to warmer, drier conditions by the end of the week. (The power of positive thinking eh ?)

Agronomic Notes

As mentioned at the start of this blog, the combination of high temperature and moisture has kicked off a lot of disease with some weird of wonderful types doing the rounds, particularly foliar blights of one description or another. Constant leaf wetness with high daily humidity and heavy dews combined with high day and night temperatures are the catalyst here. Red Thread and Fusarium are also quite aggressive because of the ideal conditions for fungal development, but hopefully as temperatures back down, so will the disease pressure.

Growth has also been excessive, particularly on higher-height of cut areas, but with soil temperatures > 20 °C and moisture, it’s hardly surprising, again the cooler night and day temperatures should peg that back before the Bank Holiday weekend, which is a god-send (UK only, not Scotland, Ireland apparently)

The high temperatures have also dried areas out amazingly quickly and despite the amount of rain we’ve had previous to this short, hot spell, a lot of profiles have dried out significantly, so it’s key to maintain wetting agent and hand watering, if you are in this situation.

Another type of pathogen that’s been kicked into life recently by the high temperatures is ectoparasitic nematode species, particularly Spiral and Sheath nematodes. Populations tend to increase markedly in line with sudden increases in temperature, so localised turf damage in these hot spots occurs very quickly and often in a form that is not easily recognisable.


Spiral Nematode (Helicotylenchus) Damage

One eye should now be on the autumn unfortunately and my concerns there relate to surface fibre levels, on greens specifically. With the wet weather from April till recently, organic matter decomposition in the surface of the putting surface has certainly been higher than organic matter breakdown. Coupled with this, the difficulty in aerating and keeping the surface profile open by integration of topdressing (both from a weather and economic perspective) has meant a lot of greens have more compact surface fibre going into the autumn than this time last year. I appreciate a good number of courses have aerated recently and gained some brilliant recovery to boot with the high temperatures, lack of plant stress and moisture, but not everyone is in the same boat. Compact surface fibre brings with it a whole bunch of baggage, none of it positive, with increased likelihood of Fusarium and moss ingression top of the list.

100%, I know it is easy for me to say this typing a blog and not having to put up with a Greens Secretary, Chairman, Director of Golf, etc, dictating that no disruption to the surface is tolerable, but on the flip side, I’m sure they’re not going to be pleased with either a high fungicide bill and / or a potentially poor putting surface from October to March (or beyond). The sad fact is with golf rounds down 15-20% year on year (my straw poll)  the pressure not to disrupt is greater than ever. It is also very difficult to communicate to the hierarchy that unless you aerate, they’ll be problems, because nobody is complaining and the ” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it argument” can be a tricky one to work around. All I can say is that in my mind, aeration and topdressing are the foundations to good putting surfaces, full-stop.

All the best, enjoy you Bank Holiday (if applicable), but don’t forget your brolly….

Mark Hunt


August 13th

Hi All,

Not a bad weekend, a bit close and muggy like, but grand all the same. Not quite sure what to make of the closing ceremony for the London Olympics, but on balance it was a great event for the country, so fair play to everyone involved. It’s back to reality now, time to pick up the tab and let’s hope the legacy in terms of re-introducing proper physical exercise back into our schools is one that’s delivered on, because there’s an awful lot of overweight, young people around (about 33% of that age group). It’s not just about weight / appearance, exercise engenders attitude, stamina and positivity and we’ll need that in spades for the future.  I heard a good quote the other day (thanks Alex) that went along the lines of…… “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you you’ve always got” – attributed to Mark Twain apparently. Ok onto the weather….:)

Unfortunately that Atlantic low I mentioned last week is projected to move in and influence our weather this week, so I envisage a change to sunshine and showers, with a strong south / south-westerly wind, reaching gale force at times. Wednesday looks the wettest day of the week potentially, though the rain has that familiar, south-west – diagonal orientation, so the further east you are, the better. This low pressure is set to hang around for awhile, most likely the next 10 days or so, so it’s going to be a case of picking your slot if you’re doing aeration this week and next.

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with more cloud cover and a stronger wind as that low creeps in from the west. Rain is already affecting Ireland and I expect it to reach Wales and the south-west of England / Scotland by mid-morning, pushing north-easterly from then on, so showers for The Midlands by late afternoon / early evening, though all the time this rain is pushing northwards. Tuesday looks like a repeat of the same, though the amount of rain looks lower and if anything the orientation is more northwards, so I envisage the south-east staying dry again. Temperatures will be holding up ok, around the low twenties, so nothing to complain about there. Wednesday could potentially be pretty wet, particularly for Ireland and the west of the U.K, Wales, etc, with the heavy rain affecting these areas first. It’s then projected to push eastwards later in the day, so we could all cop a packet during the day. This rain will also be accompanied by strong south / south-westerly winds. As we move into Thursday, that rain is still in place, particularly across Ireland and the west of the U.K, with showers or heavier outbreaks expected, again pushing eastwards later in the day. That said, the further east and south you are, the more likely you are to stay dry for the day. Winds will again be strong and from the south / south-west. Friday sees a re-run of Thursday, though possibly Ireland will be drier as the rain is projected to run east of Ireland into the south-west, Wales and the west of England during the morning, pushing into the north-west and Scotland later in the day, so a wet finish to the week in these places. With this amount of rain around, I’d expect showers pretty much everywhere during Friday. The weekend looks to continue this unsettled outlook, with maybe lighter winds, but Saturday could see more rain moving through, along the same orientation pathway as earlier in the week.


As hinted earlier, that low pressure is set to dominate our weather for the next 7 days, so unsettled is the order of the day as we go into next week with a strong westerly wind, however the projections are that the low will move off during Tuesday, winds should then drop and temperatures will pick up across all areas going into mid-week, next week, so potentially fine and dry. (good news for the harvest I hope)  I think by the end of next week, another low will be forming to bring in some showers, but we’ll see.

Agronomic Notes

A lot of you guys are involved in coring / aeration at the moment as August is normally a quiet month for play and September is sometimes one of the busiest. I appreciate that many would like to aerate at this time of year, but because of the outlook of club management, economics (loss of revenue), etc,  they can’t..For me this month and the next is the best time to carry out large diameter, core aeration of putting greens because moisture and temperature are both normally available and so obtaining recovery is a quick and relatively straight-forward process. Once you’re into October, then the likelihood of heavy dews and the issue of topdressing onto a sward with active or potentially active Fusarium becomes a slightly trickier proposition. If you have the opportunity, why not core one green and show the club how quickly the surface can be brought back to playability, often that is enough to prove the point for the following year.

There’s quite a bit of etiolated growth around at the moment, particularly on collars, approaches and fairways. This picture was taken from a fairway that was cut on a Monday and by the Wednesday, it had put on close to an inch of growth where the tillers were etiolated. I have a fact sheet on this phenomenon if you’re interested (see link on home page of this blog or go to ;

The warmth and humidity continues to stimulate plenty of Fairy Ring, potential Waitea Patch and Red Thread, though Fusarium has settled into the background a little with the drier weather. That may change this week with the arrival of moisture onto a warm soil, though I’d still maintain that the potential to grow disease out, rather than spray is with us for a good while yet.

The distribution of Fairy Ring (And Waitea to a certain extent) across your greens or within a green itself provides a good indicator to the level of organic matter present as often areas where the Fairy Ring fungus is active are areas where the organic matter is above optimum. Within a green this could be areas that don’t receive day-day traffic, where the pin isn’t placed often or the upper tier of a two-tiered green. From an aeration point of view, this suggests that the amount of aeration required in these areas is at least 2x of what you’d be doing normally to reduce the organic matter. Remember also that the surplus organic matter not only provides an ideal site for Fairy Ring fungus, but later into the autumn, the increased water-holding potential in those areas will also encourage Fusarium.

All the best…


Mark Hunt


August 6th

Hi All,

Back from a beautiful break in The Cevenne, France, left Luton in the pouring rain @ 11.5°C and arrived in Montpellier@ 37°C !.. lot’s of walking and kayaking and 30°C every day, but back to reality now 🙁 .