Monthly Archives: June 2013

24th June

Hi All,

After the forecasted cool, wet and very windy weekend, synonymous with a trough pattern – summer low pressure system, we have a high pressure projected to make it’s influence felt this week, so the weather will be settling down, warming up (during the day) and there’s little rain on the horizon. Geez, didn’t it blow though, I spent Saturday hanging onto my brolly on banks of the beautiful River Trent watching the clouds and storms race by !

Some of you may have caught up on the news about the climate meeting last week when our meteorological / climate specialists met to discuss what mechanism is responsible for the last 6 out of 7 summers being wetter than normal. Their conclusion was that the main reason was the shape / alignment of the jet stream, (zzz they’re so last year :)) but they also concluded that it’s pattern during the summer is influenced by the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean, which itself goes through long-term (10-20 year) cycles known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, click here to read the BBC’s explanation. This isn’t ‘new news’ because as you’ll see here, the link was already being suggested back last October.

Either way it looks like our trough pattern is set in place and we just better learn to live with it. I do think we’re in a slightly different position to 2012, in terms of the fact that the position of the jet stream isn’t as fixed / stable in 2013, so this means we will (in my humble opinion) get fluctuations of warm air over the summer period, unlike 2012. Indeed we may see this later this week, as a warm high pushes in to influence our weather, however one of the consequences of being in a trough means that the winds will primarily be north-orientated as it does so, so pretty cool at night.

General Weather Situation

After the battering at the weekend from those high winds and squally showers and a dumping of rain last Thursday night (20mm here), this week will be a good bit quieter. For Monday, we have pretty dull start across the board, with a band of weak showers pushing down from mainland Scotland to affect the north and later in the day, the east coast of England. Elsewhere we should see the sun break through by late morning to give pleasant, warm, sunshine with figures in the high teens in some places. The wind will be moderating from the weekend and will be set north-west for pretty much the whole week, but it will remain breezy. Those showers in the east clear away to leave a clear, but cool night, with temperatures down in single figures.

Tuesday looks set fine and fair for most, but there will be a weak band of rain pushing into the west coast of Ireland early doors and this will give light rain for Ireland through the day. Showers also for Scotland and the north of England, but elsewhere dry on the whole, warm, with just a risk of showers for The Midlands in the early evening.

Wednesday looks like a dull start after a slightly warmer night and then a warm, pleasant day for many, with temperatures pushing into the low twenties and again, just a risk of rain hugging that east coast later in the day. Thursday continues the warm, dry theme, but likely with more sunshine for southern England, elsewhere it’ll be a little cloudier, with a weak rain front pushing into Connacht and Scotland later in the day. There is a large mass of rain sitting east of the U.K over France during Thursday, at present this is projected to stay there, but it wouldn’t take a lot for it to move over and affect the east / south-east of England and as we saw last week, continental rainfall is difficult to predict.

Overnight into Friday, that northern / western rain band sinks south affecting the west coasts of the U.K, but amounts will be light and after a slightly murky start, I expect the sun to break through later in the day to give a pleasant end to the week. Still a risk of showers coming off the continent to affect the far south-east of the U.K (Hi Lee, Dan), but amounts at this stage look to be light.

The weekend looks at this stage to be settled, warm, sunny and dry for Saturday, with a risk of light, isolated rain / cloud cover pushing into Ireland (Connacht) for Sunday and eventually affecting the U.K by Sunday afternoon. The wind will gradually move round from north-west to the west by Saturday and will slightly moderate slightly. All in all, not a bad week really.

Weather Outlook

At this stage I think the settled weather will last into the early part of next week, with a warm, bright, sunny start to July, however a low pressure is projected to nip down mid-week, next week and bring strong winds and rain, before zipping off eastwards, allowing our weather to dry up and warm up again for the end of the week.

Agronomic Notes

Hot & Humid = Disease

That humid, hot weather last week certainly pushed soil temperature’s up, none more so than over in Frankfurt, Germany, where the air temperature topped 36°C and the soil temperature, a heady 31°C. (Thanks Chris for the piccy) As expected / predicted, last week’s, brief warmth over here (and there) triggered a lot of disease, with Fusarium being top of the list in the U.K/ Ireland. I would expect Dollar Spot to have reared its head on the continent as well. Now we’re settling back down again, with some cool nights particularly, I expect the disease pressure to drop this week, as temperatures decline and more importantly, the turf surface has a chance to dry out.

Growth Flush

Last week, I predicted that another consequence of that warm blast, would be a sudden increase in grass growth, particularly in outfield areas and with the rain of last Thursday, this did indeed produce an unwelcome flush just prior to the weekend. Again, this week should settle things down somewhat as the cooler nights will peg back soil temperature and the dry days will allow some good, dry cuts to get those surfaces back in order.

Plant Nutrition

Those cool winds of the weekend will have knocked a bit of colour out of some turf areas, particularly greens turf, so this week is a good time to pick them up with a liquid feed and iron combination, if you’re scheduled to fertilise.

Anthracnose – Tighten up your nutrient input applications..

I had a number of calls last week about Anthracnose, not in terms of active disease, more in terms of what to expect as we tip-toe into July / August. In my mind, Anthracnose is at its most damaging following a prolonged period of high-temperature stress and at present, you can’t call the three days we had last week, prolonged high-temperature stress !, so I feel that currently the risk of aggressive Anthracnose Foliar Blight in the summer is low. I also think that regular, light nutrient applications applied prior to and during the main Anthracnose period of activity (Mid-July to end of August) are as good a deterrent as applying a preventative fungicide.

Undoubtedly, one of the key preventative strategies for Anthracnose is to tighten up your liquid fertiliser applications, so applying fortnightly, if of course practically feasible. This doesn’t mean applying more N, it just means phasing your monthly inputs over 2 applications per month, rather than one. I also half my PGR rates when I’m making those applications as a matter of interest. I know we have a divergence of views on PGR rates, but I’m sticking to my guns, whilst we’re in this inconsistent, summer trough weather pattern, I prefer to go little and often, both with nutrient and PGR’s. Some work published at Rutgers on Anthracnose backs up the theory on tighter, foliar / liquid inputs, though of course, being the U.S, their frequency is every 7 days !, have a look here.

Keeping those surface open..

On the subject of the U.S, I know we all had a quiet smirk about the description of small-diameter tining as ‘venting’, but in essence I think they’re bang on and now is a good time to keep those surfaces vented, ideally in combination with verticutting and topdressing. Small diameter aeration does not affect ball roll, so golfers will not complain (on the whole) to this type of aeration. Justifying it to them and maybe your committee, secretary, boss, delete where applicable is another matter and on this subject I found a good video on the USGA RECORD website to explain why we need to aerate…you’ll find it here under the title – ‘Course Care and Environment’, scroll along the articles and you’ll see it. There’s also an article from the golf course superintendent at Merion Golf Club (U.S Open venue) in the same link page.

That’s it for now, enjoy a reasonable week’s weather 🙂

Mark Hunt



June 17th


Hi All,

Back from my travels in France,  where the temperature was a nice 25-27°C :).

Highlight of the week was shimmying up a rock face to get close to a landed Griffon Vulture. Like a lot of things, they look nice and graceful from a distance, but pretty ugly close-up !!!

As we approach the longest day, it’s not really been a great summer so far, in fact in my mind, I don’t think I’ve actually made the transition out of spring yet. This week we’ll have a right mixture of weather courtesy of a trough / peak / trough transition in the jet stream. (see below) and it illustrates the changeability that is now a feature of our weather (and maybe a permanent one ?) .  As you know by now, we’re in a jet stream trough, but through the early / mid part of this week, we’ll get a peak of warm air pushing up that’ll really raise temperatures for a short time, before we lapse back into a trough for the weekend, likely bringing wind and rain.

Image courtesy of Meteoblue

General Weather Situation

Well a dull start for most with low cloud and rain in east Leinster, Munster and the south-west of England, early doors, before fizzling out later. Later on into the afternoon, the sun is due to make an appearance, more likely in the north of England, than the south and that rain makes a return to the south-west during the evening. Winds will be moderate and from the east / north-east, which is unusual for this time of year. For Tuesday, we start to get that peak pushing up into the south of the U.K, so temperatures up on Monday there, but pretty much the same elsewhere in the high teens. For Ireland and the west of the U.K, the sun should push through later giving a pleasant spell of warmer sunshine, but for the south-east of England, eastern coasts, there’s the threat of rain pushing up from the continent, p.m. Indeed later, showers could break out in the south-west, north of England, Central Highlands of Scotland, and east Connacht, Ireland, so you’re never far from the threat of rain.

For Wednesday, that heat continues to build and with it the threat of thunderstorms, particularly in the south of England, where temperatures may hit the mid-twenties on Wednesday morning. Indeed there’s a risk of rain early doors pushing up from the continent, however although it’s forecast, in my experience, this type of rain is difficult to predict, so I think we will get rain, but the amount and area will be hard to pin down until closer to the time. Thunderstorms are likely from lunchtime onwards in the south. The rain is projected to affect the south coast / south-east initially and then push up later in the day to The Midlands, north of England, intensifying as it does. Ireland should miss this, so another pleasant day for you folk 🙂 . That rain stays through the night into Thursday for The Midlands, Wales, south-west and the north of England and if anything intensifies again early doors, so a potentially wet start to Thursday here and for these areas, there’s a strong possibility it’ll stay in place for the day. Further south, it’ll be dry, dull and a little cooler / fresher, but still nice, with temperature’s in the low twenties. Overnight that rain drifts south and lessens in intensity, so a dull, damp start for Friday for many, but later on the sun pushes through to give a pleasant afternoon, though a good bit cooler than of late as that wind begins to swing round, initially from the north, but finishing up from the south-west, as that low pressure begins to push in from the Atlantic.

They’ll be showers floating around across the U.K as well during close of play Friday and by the evening, the main rain front from the Atlantic reaches Munster to give a wet end to the week for Ireland. Into Saturday and that low pressure system is pushing showers across the U.K and Ireland, so I expect the weekend to be pretty unsettled, cool I’m afraid, with rain for most places, pushed along on a south-westerly wind 🙁

 Weather Outlook

Looking at the projections, I think the start of next week will be unsettled and cool, as that low pressure moves off into Europe, thereafter we’re back to a trough pattern so temperatures picking up to the mid-high teens, but always with a risk of rain, though I expect the latter end of next week to be more settled, as high pressure bids to make its presence felt.

 Agronomic Notes

I’m going to be a little bit short on content this week as I was away last week, so bear with me 🙂

Firstly,  I expect disease to potentially be an issue this week because of the mix of high temperatures, humidity and rainfall, particularly for those in the south of England, which will bear the brunt of all three. When I say disease, I’m not necessarily talking about Fusarium, because high temps + humidity are good for triggering off Fairy Rings, Red Thread, Oscillatoria, Dollar Spot and even some Rhizoctonia-type diseases, particularly on shady sites with poor airflow, so keep a watchful eye in this area. Further north and west, Fusarium is the one to keep an eye on, but with good soil temperatures and GDD, I expect greens growth to be able to out-grow this disease at the moment, without the need to open the Chemsafe.

Whilst we are on the subject of greens growth, it’s been hard producing good surfaces of late, with the intensity of the Poa seedhead flush, but we are starting to reach the end of this period, so hopefully we’ve seen the back of it. With reasonable temperatures, I’d expect to continue with verticutting, brushing, topdressing, grooming and rolling to keep the surface firm and tight, but be careful with the rolling if you receive high levels of rainfall mid-week, as you don’t want to cap the surface. Sarrel rolling, solid tining, etc are all ideal for this time of year to allow the surface to breathe and allow venting (like that word) and again this is key during periods of high humidity.

Nutrition-wise, tricky really, but for those guys in the south, I’d want to keep things on the light side, because the last thing you want during high temperature, high humidity and high moisture is high nitrogen in the leaf, as this can really encourage the wrong type of growth and disease. So light foliar’s, with iron are the order of the day in my books, that said, spray windows will be tricky this week, so dial up your Weathercheck to help you on this front. The cool and wet weather pattern due at the weekend will probably knock a good bit of colour out of the turf, so next week I’d be looking to target a spray application if the weather settles down after the low has pushed through.

Short and sweet..

All the best

Mark Hunt


June 10th


Hi All,

I’m typing this blog from my lovely, little hotel in the Cevenne, looking out at a gloomy sky, which is set to clear later and listening to the ever-present sounds of Black Redstart and Cirl Buntings, nice. Looking at the stage of growth of the grasses and wild flowers over here, it’s pretty obvious that France, like the U.K and Ireland, had a very long, cold winter, indeed there is still snow visible on the mountains here. I met a couple of Dutch cyclists who travelled on Ryanair to Bergamo in Italy, with their bikes (brave) and then cycled over The Alps to Meyrueis here in France. They said some of the passes over The Alps are still impassable due to snow. You’ll also have seen the flooding in Germany, Austria, etc and that’s courtesy of a jet stream trough that we got this time last year and now it’s positioned further east, so they’re on the receiving end…not nice.

General Weather Situation

Obviously this one’s going to be a test of my abilities because I’m in France, so can’t even look out of the window at home for a clue 🙂 . I do know that last week was dry, but one with mixed temperatures depending on whether cloud cover was present from The North Sea or not. Some days we had 20°C, when it was clear, other days, just 12.5°C and no sign of the sun.

So looking to this week, we have a dull start for most places with some light rain positioned over central Scotland and the north of England and this will be stubborn to clear for most of the day. Elsewhere that cloud cover will break and the sun will come through to give a warm day, but this is more likely south of the M62, than north of it. For Ireland, a similar picture, but with an east-west split, with the east coast having a sunny, warm day and the west, more cloud cover with a rain front pushing in to eastern Munster and Connacht late morning and staying put for the afternoon. Winds should be pretty light and southerly.

For Tuesday, that rain pushes east over Ireland, so a wet start to the day for you and later in the morning, it may just reach west Wales and the south-west coast of England. Elsewhere that rain will push on to affect the western coast line of the U.K, but inland, they’ll be more cloud cover and less sun and that’ll cap the temperatures back a bit, however it’ll stay dry. Overnight that rain is set to persist over Ireland and push north-west into Scotland, southern, south-western and northern England during the morning and it may even move further inland during the day to affect areas north-west of London. Again they’ll be more cloud cover, so less chance of seeing the sun, but temperatures should be pleasant in the high teens. One things you will notice is that southerly wind will kick up a gear for Wednesday and Thursday, so strong winds accompanying that rain front.

Overnight into Thursday, that rain finally clears Ireland, but lingers on in northern England / southern Scotland to give a dull, wet start to the day. Further south, the sun is due to break through for awhile, but by early afternoon they’ll be more cloud, pushed along on strong winds again, as rain moves into the west coast of Ireland and tracks eastwards. There’s also a separate band due to push across north Wales and into The Midlands, but this may well be a bit hit and miss, if you’re desperate for some. Into Thursday evening, the rain mostly dies out over Ireland, but that U.K rain may push south into the London area, initially, dissipating as it does.

Not for long though because early into Friday, another rain front pushes into the south coast of England and moves northwards in a line west of Bristol, so quite possibly a wet start to Friday for this area. Further west we’ll have sunshine for the west coast of England and Wales and also east Leinster / Munster, whilst the west coast of Ireland looks to play host to some light rain again 🙁 By midday, that rain will be confined to the east coast of England and the sun will break through, pushing up the temperature. Elsewhere, over Ireland, that west coast rain will push eastwards, but maybe east Leinster / Munster will see the day out sunny, before the cloud pushes over in the evening.

The outlook for the weekend, hmmm, a tricky one this because it does look like we’ll have rain making an appearance for most places at some point in time, there, that’s nice and vague, bit BBC Weather-like, perhaps I’ll leave it at that 🙂 . At this stage it looks like we’ll have rain for the east coast of Ireland / west coast of the U.K on Saturday, elsewhere, it looks like being a pretty reasonable day, with warm temperatures, perhaps hot for awhile if the sun breaks through early where you are. Enjoy it though, because Sunday doesn’t look as good for some with another band of rain pushing in, that said, it’ll be quite defined, so a number of you will miss it. Least likely is the west of Scotland, which looks to be cool and wet for Sunday. Further south if you miss the rain, temperatures will build and could well be pretty hot again, even amongst the rain showers, so a humid day.

A slight digression, but the 16th of June is of course known as the glorious 16th, that is, it marks the day when the fishing season starts again on rivers in the U.K and one that I look forward to every year 🙂 (A big shout to us sad people eh..Ray, Marcus, John, Chris et al) 🙂

Weather Outlook

As you can see from the image above, we are actually still in a trough-scenario, jet stream-wise, so as such we still have the potential for pretty poor weather, but so far it isn’t dealing that up as it did last year and that’s because it isn’t as fixed / strongly set a pattern as last year.

Next week’s weather looks different to me in that the prevailing wind direction will be westerly / south-westerly, so that means a more changeable weather scenario, with more risk of rain showers accompanied by strongish winds later in the week. For Ireland and Scotland, it may be cooler than of late, but further south I think we’ll have some pretty warm days, with high humidity, so that may present a new challenge agronomically, more on this below. In this type of weather scenario, we are sometimes at risk of pulling heavy, thundery rain off the continent into the south of England, so that’s something to watch for, particularly towards the end of next week.

Grass Agronomics

GDD Data

Carrying on where we left off, below is the cumulative GDD data till the end of May, downloadable as a pdf here

The data shows that May 2013 wasn’t a great growth month, with a total of 133 GDD, vs. 198 last year , for example. The reason was because of the cold night temperatures (again) that have been a feature of this spring. Below you can see a graph of the maximum and minimum air temperatures and their affect on GDD, with the best growth potential only possible when the minimum night temperature exceeded 10°C, and that only occurred on 4 nights in May 2013.

So in a word, that’s why greens growth has been a bit hit and miss, but I think with the higher, night temperatures last week, this is well and truly on the way now.

So how far behind last year are we ?

Looking at the data for April and May, we can see the dates when various ‘events’ took place this year, primarily Poa seedhead formation.

If we look at the same GDD benchmark dates, we reached a GDD total of 143.5 (Annual Poa started seeding) on the 5th April, 2012 (vs. 7th May, 2013) and a GDD total of 183 on the 27th April, 2012 (vs. 15th May, 2013), so we know by using this data that we are between 3-4 weeks behind last year.

 Disease Activity

With the onset of warmer days, nights and with good soil moisture levels, I expect disease to be a feature of the next few weeks, particularly if humidity builds on some of those days. The usual suspects of Fusarium, Fairy Rings and Red Thread (Fescue, Rye areas particularly) will be present. Red Thread seems to be much more aggressive in latter years on tees, outfield and sports pitches and I think this is primarily because of the climate / weather patterns changing. Certainly we often see it nowadays occurring on areas which have good fertility and are growing well, putting pay to the myth that it’s a disease of low-fertility. It certainly was and still is in some cases, but it isn’t the only cause now. Light foliars with iron are often enough to knock it on the head before it causes too much damage.

Ok, time to sign off, the sun is breaking through and the mountains beckon. I hope you all have a good week and back to ‘normal’ service next week for me 🙂

Mark Hunt

June 3rd


Hi All,

Well after last weeks heavy rain (40mm+ for most), we had a dry end to the week and a dry weekend, with nice temperatures and that’s the way it looks like continuing for the U.K at least.

Knowledge is power -1

Last week, I mentioned Adam Garr’s blog at Plum Hollow Country Club and a lot of you obviously clicked on to it because he got a surge of hits from across the Atlantic :). Our I.T guy, Paul, got us linked up and we got a mention on Adam’s blog last week, cool beans..By the way, he’s got a good video on venting after heavy rain (Needle tining with 5/6″ tines) ahead of play on his 02/06 entry here.

Knowledge is power – 2

Took Friday off to hit the beautiful North Norfolk coast, didn’t start early as the forecast from Meteoblue said Haar would be an issue till the early afternoon. Got there after lunch to see people coming in from the beach, wrapped up in coats and commenting on how cold it was…within half an hour of hitting the beach, it went from Haar-bound (bottom left) to beautiful blue skies and hardly a sole around…if only those people had looked at a good forecast…mind you, it didn’t stop the sea from being freeezing !!

General Weather Situation

Well, a pretty straight-forward forecast this week with high pressure in charge for the U.K and Ireland, so for most of the week, we have dry, sunny days with temperatures in their high-teens, low twenties, particularly towards the end of the week. For Ireland, Scotland and the west coast, they’ll be more cloud cover and this may mean a chance of some light rain showers during the week. We’re looking at later on this afternoon along the Connacht / Leinster border and stretching down into Munster. The weather pattern is such that showers may bubble up later in the day along the west coast of the U.K from Tuesday onwards, with Wednesday and Thursday showing the highest probability, the same for Ireland in terms of potential rainfall. Those showers may extend down into the south-west for Friday, but amounts will be light and quite localised. If the temperatures do hit the low twenties, then expect some thunderstorms later in the week as humidity levels will be high enough for this. But all in all, a nice dry week ahead for most with decent night temperatures, so that’ll get the ball rolling growth-wise on greens.

Weather Outlook

I think it looks like high pressure is going to stay in charge, so that means dry and settled for the bulk of the UK and if anything, there’s a risk of temperature building during the early part of next week towards the mid-twenties possibly. Any low pressure systems trying to break in on the act will push into Ireland and then move diagonally (/) up across the north-west of England into Scotland. There’s a risk of this occurring later on Sunday and into Monday / Tuesday for Ireland / Scotland, so a possibility of rain then and later in the week, (Thur)  this could push in cloud and possibly rain for the south-west and Wales. At this stage, that’s as far east as it’s projected to progress, though of course this may change.

 Agronomic Notes

Growth Flush

With moisture in the ground from last week, higher night temperatures from mid-week, last week, and warmer days, we have a rising soil temperature scenario and a growth flush, so as suggested last week, now would be a good time to peg growth back with a PGR application. Another bonus on un-irrigated areas is that if we go into a prolonged dry spell, these areas will stay healthier for longer because the growth rate of the plant is slower and so it is utilising less water as part of this growth process.

The elevation in growth rates should be extending to greens now and that’ll help with managing the uneven growth we’ve seen of late. So verticutting, brushing, grooming and topdressing are all perfectly timed operations for this week, with nice, but too stressy temperatures and adequate soil moisture present. Cutting heights should also be able to come down 0.25mm to aid this process (unless of course, you’re already down :))

Plant Parasitic Nematodes

Photo courtesy of Colin Fleming / Kate Entwistle

As mentioned last week, these guys are doing the rounds and particularly the Ectoparasitic species like Spiral and Stunt, which by their nature tend to live in the soil and most of the time feed on the root from the outside. (see image below)

Usually we see activity earlier in the year, but it’s another marker in the sand along the GDD timeline for me and hopefully one that can be used to develop a more predictive model for nematode population behaviour going forward.

Dealing with the cause, not just the symptom

I can’t stress enough that if you see symptoms like those below and a report suggests the presence of PPN’s, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the nematode itself is the primary cause of the problem. It pays to look at the area on the green, (i.e where it is occurring – is it under stress from wear ?, is it an area that doesn’t get play and so builds fibre more ?) assess the fibre content (depth and nature) and any other potential contributing factors (rootzone performance) before pointing the finger at the PPN. The point is that the contributory factor normally affects the plants ability to produce a healthy root system (such as tight thatch causing bridged, lateral rooting) and this then means that the plant is more susceptible to damage by a PPN. Dealing with the PPN in isolation won’t necessarily aleviate the turf symptoms, in fact, most of the time it doesn’t. Unless you deal with the cause, rather than the symptom, you’re on a hiding to nothing in my experience.

Spiral nematode damage in a Poa / Bent Sward

Seedhead Flush

Looking at the fact that we started seeding on the 7th May for the annual biotype, we’ll reach the month mark this week, but I expect the seedhead flush to continue for another 2 weeks on the basis that the perennial has only been seeding for 3 weeks and we have 2 weeks of potentially dry weather in prospect.

Disease Activity

Plenty of aggressive Fusarium activity about last week and over the weekend, but the drier air and soil will begin to peg back its activity, so hopefully we’ll see a decrease in this area from now on. I do expect to see some Fairy ring activity in earnest this week with the rising soil temperatures, but hopefully not too much.

Next Week’s Blog

I’m off on my annual jaunt with my Dad to The Cevenne in France this coming weekend, to get my annual fix of bird-watching, walking, mountain running, etc, so depending on time, the weather and French WiFi availability in the middle of nowhere, next weeks blog may or may not happen, à bientôt…..