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 🙁 .

Gorge Du Tarn, The Cevenne, France

Mind you, it’s been a cracking weekend back here though what with The Olympics. The high point for me (sad I know) was watching the footage from NASA, as it successfully landed its 1mt Curiosity Rover on Mars at 06.32 a.m. this morning after a journey of 350 million miles…this mission may ultimately tell us whether life or the conditions for life, once existed on Mars, wow….The weather has verged on the extreme again, with some seriously localised, torrential downpours in Scotland and the North-East. I’ve put together some stats to highlight what the last 4 months has been like weather-wise, just in case you need reminding !  (Thanks Sean, James..)


General Weather Situation

As we start the week, Monday is looking pretty much like a re-run of Sunday with a dry start, but showers will be soon push in from the west reaching most parts of the U.K and Ireland during the day. There is again the potential for some very localised torrential rain, but at this stage, it’s difficult to predict who will get it and who won’t. The potential is highest from mid-afternoon onwards, lessening as we go into the evening. Tuesday looks a drier day, with significant rain localised to Munster, the south-west of England and South Wales, though again this has the potential to be locally on the heavy side. Temperatures will be picking up as high pressure does it’s best to influence the weather, so a degree or two higher than the weekend, most likely touching the low twenties in the south-east of England. Later in the day, that westerly rain moves eastwards across the U.K, so again a risk of rain overnight and starting off Wednesday for Munster, the south-west of England and the south Midlands. This rain should clear most areas by lunchtime to leave a warm, dry afternoon and evening, lovely…Temperatures continue to build on Thursday and this may trigger some afternoon showers in The Midlands and east of the country, but otherwise it looks warm and dry. Temperatures continue to build on Friday as that high pressure pushes in and gives us hot, dry conditions going in to the weekend. For Saturday, there’s a risk of rain over Ireland, pushing into the south-west of Munster and moving north-eastwards across the country, into the Lake District and south-west Scotland, but otherwise it should be warm and dry…definitely a buckets and spades job on Saturday…


Unfortunately and as you’d all expect by now, this scenario doesn’t look to last as a new low pushes cloud and rain down on Sunday morning, with some localised heavy rain, but as is often the case, they’ll be a diagonal split theme to the weather, with Ireland, the south-west, Wales and west of the U.K more-affected than the south-east. So the start of next week looks unsettled again with sunshine, showers and longer spells of rain I’m afraid.

Agronomic Notes

Not great news for all you guys coring, but as we know alot can change in a week, so if anyone needs some specific site info for aeration work, drop me an email and we’ll load you up on Weathercheck if you aren’t already. (I’ll likely do a mini-update on Friday as well)

Plenty of disease around at present, not so much Fusarium, but more Fairy Ring, Waitea Patch (I think) and quite a lot of symptoms of plant parasitic nematodes (PPN’s). The latter seem to be appearing in one of two forms, caused by either a significant rise in ectoparasitic species that attack the root from the outside (Spiral, Stunt, etc) or by damage to the root system (and therefore uptake of water, nutrients) caused by endoparasitic species (Root Gall, Root Knot, etc).

Management is not easy with either species, but one point that is consistently clear to me is that in the majority of cases of PPN’s, there is a contributory, accompanying factor, such as compacted surface fibre, anaerobic conditions, enhanced plant stress levels caused by localised wear, low cutting heights, insufficient or excessive nutrition, etc. Management of this contributory factor often allows the plant to develop more, healthy roots, un-colonised by the PPN species and therefore although they PPN’s are still present, the plant does not show the symptoms to anything like the same extent.

I think this is often over-looked in management of PPN’s and people focus too much on treating the symptoms, not the cause. Of course this is likely to be more of an issue this year because cultural work aimed at generating more roots and managing surface fibre is way behind because of the weather of the last 4 months.

In case you think that PPN’s isn’t an issue on your course, it may well not be, but you may like to take onboard that the same factors that contribute to their activity also contribute to the activity of other pathogens, like Fusarium, for example.

That’s all for now, off to dodge the showers, all the best….

Mark Hunt