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