Monthly Archives: November 2012

November 26th

Hi All,

Not surprisingly the topic on all people’s minds is the torrential rainfall of the last week or so, with some people receiving over 5 inches of rainfall over the last week. Here we’ve had around 3 1/2″ in the last 5 days, which has caused flooding like I’ve never seen before. The picture on the right is the River Welland, normally a quiet stream meandering through the town but, last Wednesday it broke its banks and put 100 cars under water up to their doors. I walked past that car park on Saturday and there were cars parked in there again. By Sunday morning it was under water again!

Thankfully (maybe) our weather is on the change now, with the last of the heavy rain pushing up country today leaving showers in its wake. Still stuck in our trough pattern and, as I’ve been suggesting for awhile could happen, we’re now set to drag in very cold air from the east with winter set to really kick off this week. At present I can’t see the other side of it, so it looks like a prolonged cold spell is on the cards.

General Weather Situation

Currently the heavy rain front that has caused so many issues is heading north, with the north-east of England likely to get a clattering as it does. There is still some rain around for the south-east, east of England and the Midlands, but amounts will be alot lighter than of late. Ireland will also see a weak band of rain pushing eastwards across the country today, but again, no great shakes when it comes to amounts thankfully. Temperatures will start their gradual slide from today and by Tuesday that process is helped by a change in the wind direction from south-west / west to northerly. By mid-week I think we’ll see the start of concerted frost days (depending on cloud cover that is). For Tuesday, that rain will still be sitting in a line from the Isle of Wight to Newcastle, but all the time it’ll be dissipating. Ireland looks to have a dry day, with some sunshine would you believe and this may even make an appearance late in the afternoon down the south-west corner of the U.K. By Wednesday the wind is set northerly, the temperatures have dropped and we’re in for a dull, cold start, with the sun breaking through in the afternoon. If you stay clear, I expect frost on Wednesday night. For Thursday we have a rain front pushing into Munster and Connacht early doors and then moving eastwards through the day. As this rain reaches the west of Scotland, I expect it to turn to snow, even at low levels. It will reach the south-west of England and Wales overnight, falling as rain, into Friday morning, but again amounts will be light compared to anything we’ve had to endure of late. The rest of the country looks to stay dry, but cold and dull with hazy sunshine possible later in the day. The weekend looks a bit tricky to forecast because we have some moisture pushing down in that bitter north wind and this will turn to sleet and snow, even over low ground in England. At present its likely to affect the east side of the U.K through the early hours of Saturday morning. The rest of Saturday looks like being bright, but bitterly cold with temperatures struggling to get above freezing for most of the day and a widespread frost that night. Sunday looks similar with the winds moving round to the west, but cold, with some risk of sleet / snow showers during the day.

Weather Outlook

For next week, the outlook looks to remain cold, with a likelihood of temperatures dropping even more as colder air funnels in from the north-east and fills the trough. A low pressure system is set to sit right over the U.K and my concern here is that in the past when this has happened, it can scoop up moist air from The North Sea and this then turns to snow as it makes landfall. It’s a difficult one to call as being 10 days away, I can’t determine the amount of moisture associated with the low pressure system. Either way it’s set to be cold / very cold, with repeated night frosts and feeling generally bitter 🙁

Agronomic Notes – Hypoxia Stress Warning

The big concern for me this week, with saturated rootzones going into frost, is loss of grass cover due to hypoxia (lack of oxygen). This one is a tricky phenomenon, but basically the rootzone sits saturated, with little oxygen available to the grass plant. Indeed, this has been the case for most of the last week, so it is already running on low from this perspective. An additional stress is applied (in this case cold-temperature stress) and the plant simply checks out, yellows off and dies. We saw this over the winter of 2010 / 2011, particularly in Ireland and I’m concerned we’ll see it again this week. The stress can even be related to a product application, one which normally would cause no issue, but often if the plant is stimulated to grow by a fertiliser application, it will cause it to respire more and with oxygen levels depleted, this growth cannot be supported and the plant weakens and dies. The scenario is further compounded by high surface organic matter levels and of course rootzones which are unable to move moisture through effectively.

Poa annua var. reptans (Perennial poa) is the plant species most affected by this phenomenon and therefore my advice for this week, if you’re in the scenario of having saturated greens and bearing in mind that even reaching them with a tractor-mounted sprayer would be an achievement for most, I’d leave well alone in terms of making liquid applications. The weather will be non-conducive to uptake in a days time anyway and is set to continue that way for the immediate future, so just let them sit there and dry out before contemplating reaching for anything other than a vertidrain.

Gotta dash, all the best and wrap up well 🙂

Mark Hunt


21st November – Mini Update

Figure in bottom right corner shows rainfall over last 24hrs – 33.9mm

Hi Guys

The excessive rainfall this week has prompted me to post a mini-update as I know a number of you are concerned that there’s been a huge amount of rain over a short period of time and more is forecast. As you can see from the above, here in Market Harborough we received 33.9mm today, which is the highest daily figure I’ve ever recorded and one that turned the town into a flood basin. I’ve never seen so much water everywhere, ditches became streams and streams became torrents. I was mountain-biking tonight and geez, I’ve never seen anything like it…

As for golf courses, the picture below shows how my local club (thanks Chris) fared, the ‘river’ below is normally an access road onto the course !

Immediate Outlook

Overnight a new band of rain is moving into south-west, west Munster and during the early hours, that band will move eastwards across Ireland, arranged in a vertical line. As we move into the morning, that rain band reaches Wales, Western Scotland and the west of England and pushes eastwards slowly, so that means more heavy rain for these areas, that’s after the 20 – 25mm I’ve seen recorded just for today. Through the afternoon that vertical rain band reaches from Plymouth up to Newcastle and continues to track eastwards into The Midlands by early evening. It’s always difficult to predict, but I think this rain band will bring between 8-12mm tomorrow to westerly and central areas, less so for the east of England. (Don’t hold me to that) By the early hours of Friday, that rain band is set to clear the east coast of the U.K to leave a cool, but dry day for the end of the week.

Unfortunately that’s not the end of it, because in the early hours of Saturday morning, a new band of potentially heavy rain pushes into the south / south-west of England and is set to track northwards, reaching The Midlands by early morning. Again this rain is set to fall heaviest on an already flooded west coast of U.K , Wales and The Midlands, so I expect more flooding here for Saturday I’m afraid. That rain may well take all day to move across the country, so expect a high daily figure for the above-mentioned areas. (15-20mm possibly) Sunday sees another rain front into the south-west of England and Wales early doors, tracking diagonally across country through the day, so more rain (6mm upwards maybe) expected.

The early part of next week appears unsettled (6-8mm more rain), but all the time the temperature will be dropping and as predicted earlier in the week, we’re in for a raw one. The weather is set to dry up from mid-week, with temperatures dropping big time; mid-single figure daytime temperatures and a dull outlook so maybe no night frost because of the cloud cover. Winds look to be from the coldest direction IMHO, the north-east, and strong with it.

Bit of a crap forecast I know, my apologies..

Mark Hunt


November 19th

Hi All,

Last week’s blog predicted a cool, wet and windy forecast for this week and for sure that’s how it looks as I survey the week ahead. That said, it was definitely a case of west / east temperature divide this morning, as I had 2.5°C at Brum airport and landing in Dublin it was 14°C !  Keeping my wildlife theme for the start of my blog….we all get unwanted visitors in the garden, you know, next door neighbours cat, squirrels on your fat balls (ahem), pigeons and the like, but my mate capped it all with the photo he took this morning from his back window….I should add he lives in Breckenridge, Colorado, USA…like they say, “Everything’s bigger in the States”…

Hoots Mon, there’s a Moose loose about this hoose……


So low pressure is the order of the day and quite an active weather system for sure, with initially strong, mild, south-westerly winds pushing heavy rain fronts across the U.K and Ireland. A pretty wet week all in all, but for next week, it’ll be quieter, but cooler / colder, with the switch to a more easterly wind flow and a taste of winter….so let’s put some detail in the weather.

General Weather Situation

Seeing out Monday, we have some heavy showers pushed along on a blustery, mild, south-westerly wind and if anything these showers will coalesce into a more concentrated rain front as we head into Tuesday with rain reaching south-west Munster and the south-west of England early doors and then pushing north-eastwards across Ireland and the U.K. For the bulk of Tuesday that rain will be concentrated in a diagonal line drawn from Dorset to The Wash, with the heaviest rain in the west and north of the country.

After the flooding of today for some parts of Scotland, I’m afraid there’s more on the way Tuesday afternoon. Ireland will have heavy rain early doors Tuesday and then after this front has passed through, the remaining showers will mainly be confined to the west and north. This rain will slowly push eastwards during the day, so the east and south-east may stay dry till later on Tuesday evening, but then the rain will sit over this part of the country till the morning rush hour. For Wednesday, we’ll see more rain showers pushing across Ireland, but the U.K should have a drier day on the whole, though the wind will still be strong and tending to the south more as the week goes on. Early doors Thursday, a new rain front pushes in to Ireland and this could well bring heavy rain across the country during the morning. As this rain pushes east, it moves into Scotland for the morning rush hour and then slowly to the west coast of the U.K early afternoon, During the early evening / early morning period, the rain pushes east, so another dousing is on the cards I’m afraid for the start of Friday. During the morning rush hour, this rain will clear eastwards to leave showers, but there’s a chance that another swirl of this front may track along the south coast through the afternoon / evening. The winds will remain strong, blustery and from the south-west.

Saturday sees that rain remaining stubbornly sitting over the south-east, Midlands and The Wash through the morning, but Ireland could be dry for most of the day. Sunday could be the driest day for most areas, but don’t count your blessings too quickly, because that low pressure system is stuck at the bottom of the trough and so it pauses, gathers strength and resumes it’s path back across Ireland and the U.K for the start of next week 🙁

 Weather Outlook

For the start of next week, we look to continue with unsettled conditions, with the low pressure slowly sinking southwards across the U.K. As my Dad taught me “Back to the wind, low on the left”, that’ll mean the wind direction will change as it does so, firstly to south and then to the east, dragging cooler / cold air in by Tuesday, next week. They’ll also be moisture in that air, so along with a drop in temperatures and an increasing risk of night frosts, we may also see the advent of some wintry showers, especially along the east coast of the U.K. By mid-week, the wind will be turning to a north-easterly direction and if anything it’ll feel colder as the wind drops and frosts become very likely. So for the end of next week it looks cold and dry with a high certainty of frosts, but a lot depends upon cloud cover.

Agronomic Notes

A bit ‘same old, same old’ this week really, as we have a mild spell and plenty of moisture, so that means an increase in disease pressure and precious little opportunity to do anything about it because of the amount of rain and the strength of the wind.

The rain that’s already fallen has pushed the soil temperature up 5°C in the space of 12 hours, from 6°C this morning (after a particularly hard frost on Sunday morning) to over 11°C as I type this (late Monday) and that’ll be the driver for a growth flush this week before things calm down again at / after the weekend. The negative side of this is obviously extra growth when cutting / maintenance is difficult, the plus side is some recovery from thin areas / early disease scarring.

Last week, I did a talk as part of a BIGGA Regional Seminar, held at Thorpeness, Suffolk and chatting to the course manager, Ian Willett, I think I’m right in saying their rainfall total was up to 675mm year-to-date and approximately 5″ (125mm) up on prior year. It sure is going to be interesting to get all the yearly totals in early January and put them on Google Maps, like last year.

Part of my talk focused on my pet subject of the meandering jet stream and the increased likelihood on this phenomenon producing weather extremes, depending on whether we end up sitting under a warm peak (like last autumn through to April 2012) or a cool trough, as we have been since April 15th this year to date (28 weeks and counting). Looking back we’ve already had a winter trough (Dec 2010 – Feb 2011), a winter peak (Sept 2011 – April 2012) and a summer trough (April 2012 – Nov 2012), but one pattern we haven’t had yet is a summer peak.

For me it’s only a matter of time before weather patterns conspire to bring this pattern of summer weather one year and because of the jet stream, if it does, we’re likely to have week after week of 30°C +, with temperatures hitting higher than that for south-east England. This will be akin to living in the transition zone in The States and Poa for one is going to struggle if this does occur. It’s a slightly chilling fact that our planet is warming at twice the rate predicted by ‘climate experts’ less than 5 years ago and so these extremes will be the norm. Weather and weather extremes will it seems present the biggest challenge to our industry and many others going forward.

I mentioned this publication last week, but there’s a great article in the current USGA Green Section Record , by Patrick Goss on ‘Easing the pain of Core Aeration, it’s obviously geared up around the U.S industry, but has some useful tips nonetheless, if you’re want to go to the pdf file, click here

Time for kip…

Mark Hunt

November 12th


Hi All,

OK, OK,  I’m late with this week’s blog and I can confidently predict I’ll be late with next week’s as well, but after that things will be back to normal. Let’s not dwell on a negative though because last Wednesday I heard my first Robin singing a territorial song, effectively marking out his plot for next Spring , so someone is already thinking past the coming winter. I must admit it made me smile….. 🙂

My resident garden Robin shares my passion for meteorology, as you can see from the picture on the right, however, I’m not sure whether it’s a comment on the accuracy of my forecasting or what, but he keeps crapping in my rain gauge, to such an extent that I’ve now had to switch to a wireless version 🙁

I can’t really blame him though because looking back at my prediction for this week, I can see that it’s inaccurate and that’s because the jet stream appears to be lifting higher than of late and therefore pushing the colder air further north. Whether this is part of a change from a trough to a peak pattern remains to be seen, but whatever the reason, it means this week we’re in for some milder conditions than predicted. Indeed as I type this (10 p.m. ish) the air temperature is sitting at 11.5 °C and the soil temperature at 10.6 °C, courtesy of some recent warm rain. (And identical to the soil temperature on the same day, last year)

General Weather Situation

As we leave Monday, the rain that’s been moving eastwards finally clears the east coast of the U.K. Later on this evening, a new rain front pushes into south-west Munster and tracks north and east, across Ireland and into the west of Scotland and highlands during the morning, giving some significant rainfall for this area. Further south, we’re set for a mild, dry day with some sunshine and cloud cover for all of Tuesday. Overnight that rain in Scotland and Ireland slowly dissipates to leave a dry, if not dull start to Wednesday, with the possibility of few breaks in the cloud along the south and east coasts of the U.K. It’ll feel a little cooler during the day than Monday / Tuesday, but winds will remain light from the south. Night temperatures will be a good bit lower than the double-figure temperatures of Monday and Tuesday, with a possible ground frost in rural areas for Wednesday night / Thursday morning. Thursday looks like being a re-run of Wednesday with a lot of cloud cover, some hazy sunshine and high single-figure temperatures during the day. It’ll remain dry though, which is grand. As we go into Friday, a band of rain pushes into north-west Connacht and Scotland and slowly moves south eastwards through the day across Ireland, reaching north Wales and the west of England on Friday night. As it does so, it intensifies and overnight into Saturday morning, we may well have a significant drop of rain. Sadly this rain front is slow moving so although it clears Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the north of England (to leave showers behind), it may well sit across The Midlands and Home Counties for a good part of Saturday. It’ll also feel a good bit cooler later in the day, as the wind swings round to the north-west. Sunday sees a dry, cool start with hazy sunshine, but cloud will build later in the day as a new rain front pushes into western Ireland.

Weather Outlook

Let’s see if I can be a bit more accurate this time eh ?…So for next week I think we’ll have a cold, low pressure in charge, pushing some heavy rain across Ireland and the U.K for the start of the week, before we have a brief interlude of a day or so and more rain pushes in for the 2nd part of next week. Winds will be fresh to strong and from the north-west, then west and finally south-west, and it’ll be on the cool side. If this low pressure, weather system gets displaced like the last two week’s did, then maybe we are seeing a change from the trough pattern after all ?

 Agronomic Notes

It kind of goes without saying that the milder temperatures will definitely kick off / increase the disease pressure from Fusarium this week and with rain arriving at the end of the week, a wet leaf will only serve to increase this. With mainly dry conditions predicted for the coming days, I’d be using this week to catch up with any spray applications that might have gone astray over the last week or two. Milder temperatures will be conducive to good nutrient and fungicide uptake, if this is on the agenda. If next week’s forecast is correct, I don’t see much spraying getting done, with the higher winds and more frequent rain events, so this week is the window.

Moss is appearing more on more on many surfaces with the recent run of wet weather and it never fails to surprise me, how often it turns up on slopes and other predominantly dry areas where grass cover has suffered during the year, thinned and allowed moss to encroach and out-compete the resident grass species. Of course in the past we would have reached for the Dichlorofen at this time of year and knock it back, but this option is sadly no longer available. There are other moss controls, but apart from iron, many of them are unsuitable for use during the winter months when grass vigour / growth is slower.

In some areas, like medal tees for example, it’s clear that moss ingression is very much linked to higher surface fibre levels promoted by limited use (less wear and tear) and usually the same amount of fertiliser applied as to the in-play tees. In this scenario, I tend to advocate low N – high iron treatments throughout the year, to promote colour without excessive growth (and therefore organic matter production), but this approach is useless without a good cultural aeration plan as well.

The opposite can be true on slopes and mounds, which sit much drier than other areas of the golf green. Here, elevated plant stress levels (lower cutting heights) can lead to sward thinning and surprisingly moss tends to out-compete grass in this scenario. Surprising because the widely-held belief is that moss encroachment is only encouraged by wet surfaces / rootzone areas and not dry ones. For me , I prefer to concentrate on optimising fertility / grass growth and at the same time, reducing the factors that can lead to moss establishment, i.e. high surface organic matter, low plant population density etc.


I’ll finish with a little plug if I may for an online publication that some of you may already be familiar with – The Green Section Record, published by the USGA, on a fortnightly basis. It’s an invaluable source of research work / articles on all aspects of turf management and is available free online by simply subscribing via your email address. You can search recent and archived articles and although it has an obvious American bias, some of the content makes very useful reading indeed.

If you are interested in subscribing to the USGA mailing list, click here

All the best….

Mark Hunt



November 5th

Hi All,

The weekend past gave us heavy rain across the U.K, and even snow across some areas of the south-west of England, with falls of over an inch reported in some areas. As you’ll be aware, a lot of our rain this year has come in from the south-west and west of the U.K and it’s going to be very interesting when we tot up yearly rainfall totals to see the extent of this west-east split. Currently I’d estimate the west of England and Wales has had 100% more rain than the south-east of England.

To keep with my naturalist theme from last week, we had the earliest report in Leicestershire (I’m aware of), this past weekend, of another Scandinavia visitor that tends to hop over here when the weather is extreme, the Waxwing. These guys love berries, so tend to crop up in the middle of retail parks, feeding on Rowans and the like. Another indicator of a harsh winter to come ?

General Weather Situation

You’ll be pleased to hear we have a drier week in store, not devoid of rain, but much less than recently and picking up a bit of milder air, mid-week to boot. For Monday we have a crisp, clear start in some areas, with a touch of frost. There’s some lingering rain in the far south-west of England, but aside from that we look dry across the U.K and Ireland, with only some light showers across the west coast of Connacht and Munster to spoil the day. Winds are light and northerly, so a tad chilly. Tuesday continues this dry theme for much of the country, but a band of rain is set to move into Scotland in the morning and push down the north and east side of England through the afternoon / evening, possibly reaching down to The Midlands by the evening. Winds will strengthen and swing round to the north-west / west for Tuesday and Wednesday and it’ll feel a little milder. For Wednesday, we have another light band of rain pushing into north-west Ireland, on strong winds, during the morning and moving across the country and into Scotland and the west coast of England / Wales during the afternoon. The south and south-east of England is dry to this point I hasten to add. Thursday sees a weak band of showers pushing south across the U.K and Ireland during the day, on the back of that westerly, milder wind. For Scotland and the north of England, the temperature will already be dropping back a bit though. Those showers disperse during the afternoon on Thursday to leave a cooler feel to the weather and a tad dull. Friday continues this dull theme, but later in the morning, a band of rain is projected to move into the west of Ireland / west of the U.K and push eastwards on brisk, cooler winds, courtesy of a low pressure system that was due to hammer us, but is now going to miss up thankfully. This rain will move into the rest of the U.K overnight and into Saturday, so a potentially wet day for the start of next weekend. This rain may linger into Sunday, but it should clear early doors and leave a half-decent day, cooler though in feel.

Weather Outlook

It looks at this stage like next week will start off similar to this week, quiet and dry, with overnight frost likely. Thereafter the wind will gradually pick up in strength from the south, but bizarrely it’ll be a cold wind as it emanates from an Arctic low. By mid-week, this low pressure will be pushing rain and possibly sleet into all areas of the UK and Ireland, giving a potentially wet end to the week. That said, this time last week we had the same projection, but a weak peak in the jet stream pushed this week’s low pressure up and over us, so let’s hope for the same eh ?. On that subject,I thought I’d include an illustration of the peak and trough pattern across the globe so you can see whose getting what currently.

As you can see the U.S is sitting in a trough, so they’re getting colder and wetter weather, with some very heavy storms. Interestingly, they spent all summer under a peak, so it does change. For us, we’re still in a trough, so more of the same for now….

Red dotted line indicates path of jetstream
Blue – Purple = cold air
Green = mild air
Yellow – Orange = warm air

Agronomic Notes

Not a great deal to add in this week’s blog on the disease front other than to say that I expect Triazole fungicide longevity from a systemic to be 5-6 weeks minimum, if it was applied during October and at full rate. As you can see from the chart below, soil temperatures were tracking some 5°C lower at the end of October this year vs. last and overall the average was lower for the month (10°C vs. 12°C), so that means both fertiliser and fungicide longevity will be extended as less is removed in the clippings.

The drop in soil temperature to single figures is about three weeks earlier than normal and now that the grass has settled down, I expect areas to tick along nicely with no flushes or requirement for significant fertiliser inputs.

On the subject of nutrient inputs, I’ve been measuring rainwater characteristics through the year and as you’ll see from the graphs below, the rain is showing quite a bit of variability in terms of nitrogen content (and pH interestingly). What the graph below shows is that for every inch of rain received on say the 30th of October, it inputted 0.3kg / Nitrogen per hectare. These N-contents are lower than 2011 by the way.

Moss is beginning to show up in many surfaces as the prolonged wet weather and cooler temperatures tips the balance in favour of its growth vs. grass. If you are able to get out on areas and spray, now is a good time to apply a high rate of iron to these surfaces as the moss plant is fully-saturated. (For sure ! )

The continued wet weather will also only serve to heighten worm activity and I’ve heard reports of both Chafer and Leatherjacket as well. Not much you can do at the moment I’m afraid with the wet conditions, but let’s hope areas dry out a bit this week.

All the best.

Mark Hunt