Monthly Archives: September 2013

23rd September


Hi All,

Well, summer cameSeptPeak2013 back to remind us of what we’ll be missing in the coming months as temperature’s here peaked at 23.5°C on Sunday, accompanied by blue sky and sunshine, lovely. Of course we also got some extremely heavy dews as well, in the morning it looked like it had rained and this will cause some issues for us going forward. This warm weather is courtesy of a nice peak in the jetstream, but it won’t last as gradually this week, it’ll slip south as cold air tries, but fails to push in.

This warm weather has certainly been kind to insects and this morning I just saw a pair of Hummingbird Hawk Moths feeding on my neighbours Buddleia. These guys are amazing, they look like minature Hummingbirds as they flit in the blink of an eye. Usually I see them in the south of France, but checking on the Butterfly Conservation website, they’re in the area (40 sightings in Leicstershire alone in 2013)


Hummingbird Hawk Moth
Image courtesy of Butterfly Conservation –

General Weather Situation

OK, back to the weather – a pretty straight-forward forecast for this week with high pressure dominating the weather, so dry, light winds, variable cloud cover and warm days, certainly early on in the week. For Monday we have a dull start for many after a mild night (13.5°C). That cloud cover is thickest over Ireland and the west coasts of the U.K and inland Scotland, but during the morning, it’ll break and we’ll have full on sun in the central and south of the U.K. Later on the sun should make an appearance over Munster and the south-west of England / Wales. Winds will be light and from the south / south-west.

For Tuesday, pretty much a repeat of Monday, except the cloud cover looks like being slightly thicker and a bit more in the way of hazy sunshine. Again a dull start, but the sun will burn off the cloud south of a line from Newcastle (ish). Light winds, no rain and temperatures in the low twenties again in the south. Further north we’re talking high teens as that cloud cover keeps them down a bit.

Wednesday sees more cloud cover and the threat of rain as moisture is pushed up from a south-Atlantic low pressure system. This will affect Scotland and the north-east principally, but amounts should be light. Later on, a weak rain front pushes up the Irish Sea, so a chance of light rain over Connacht, the south-west and north-west of England. Still winds remain light, but temperatures are pegged back to high teens in most areas due to the greater cloud cover. Scotland and Ireland will probably be 3 degrees back from that.

Thursday sees more rain for North Wales and the north-west of England initially and this will slowly push northwards into Scotland through the morning. Further south there’s a chance of a light shower pretty much anywhere, but more likely along the west coast of the U.K. Ireland looks to stay dry on the whole. Winds will be a little stronger than of late and easterly / south-easterly in direction. Temperature’s will be pushed down by the cloud cover to mid teens at best.

We finish the week with that light rain still affecting the north-west of England and Scotland, but further south, the sun will push through and temperatures are likely to pick up to high teens again in the hazy sunshine. Winds will be light and from the south-east.

At this stage the weekend looks reasonable for The Midlands, fine, dry and warm, with temperatures in the high teens / low twenties, with a moderate easterly wind and remaining dry. Further south, there’s a chance that rain will / could push up from the continent early doors Saturday and slowly push north, but at this stage it doesn’t look like progressing any further than the south Midlands. Further north, it’ll be cooler, with frequent showers of rain I’m afraid, so not great. Ireland at this stage looks dry and you’ll see the sun after the cloud breaks during the morning. Sunday looks better, but again that rain may cause issues pushing up from the south, this time potentially affecting south Wales. Continental rainfall is a tricky one to predict as I always say, so let’s see closer to the weekend.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks like starting dry, mild, rather than warm, on the dry side, but still with that ever-constant threat of unpredictable, continental rain across the U.K principally. By mid-week, the wind picks up from the south / south-east and I expect a low pressure system to push in on Wednesday / Thursday, bringing rain to many areas on the back of stronger south-east / southerly winds.

Agronomic Notes

I can only guess (as I was away in Switzerland for most of last week – Cheers guys and girls for the hospitality) that the combination of heavy dew and warmer temperatures arriving at the end of the week has really ramped up disease pressure. During the night, the humidity levels are running at > 90% so that means a very wet grass plant leaf and coupled with the warm day temperatures, it’s got to result in increased disease, principally from Fusarium and Red Thread. Keeping the leaf dry is key and if you’re out swishing, start with your shadier greens / poor air flow ones first, because these will be the first to get the dew and the last to lose it in the morning.

Red Thread Close Up

Red Thread Close Up

Red Thread is seemingly very active these days and I think the two contributory factors are the climate (more humidity especially) and the growing use of PGR’s. If you take into account that one of the main ways of controlling Red Thread is to physically remove the mycelium when you are cutting, (that’s why the old advice was always to feed) this doesn’t happen on a regulated plant, so the disease has the potential to be more aggressive. Personally I’d have finished PGR applications a month ago for this very reason and then applied a light foliar feed with iron (to dry, acidify and harden the leaf off)

Crane Flies – A lot of these guys around at the moment, due toCraneFlylaying the warmer summer temperatures, no doubt, literally clouds of the things on semi-roughs.

The last time we saw so many I think was back in autumn 2006, when I then expected to see a lot of Leatherjacket activity through the preceding autumn / winter, however back then we didn’t. Normally you can work on 3-4 weeks after egg laying before the larvae hatch, so that puts us at the end of October earliest before they commence feeding.

 Grass Species

One of the many interesting things to come out of my trip to Switzerland was to compare green surfaces and in particular, their percentage of Poa annua vs. Bentgrass (in this case Agrostis stolonifera). Without a doubt on the better managed courses, they are much cleaner, with much less Poa and I think their climate is one of the principal reasons behind this. Their summer’s tend to be more predictable, warmer / hotter with temperatures often running into the mid-thirties and of course their winter’s tend to be a lot colder, with prolonged snow cover (There was already snow on The Alps). It’s typical for them to apply a sand dressing at the end of the year to protect the grass plant from the effects of snow and frost, 4mm would you believe in November. Of course there’s a preventative fungicide down first and they have to be clean prior to this, but I was really surprised on the level of sanding that late in the year.

The reason why they have less Poa is undoubtedly because it stresses out in their warmer / hotter summers and also they close in the winter for snow, so they get no winter play and the grass plant is dormant. Here, our Poa can keep growing sometimes 50 weeks of the year and particularly once we get past late October, with the lower light levels, it out-competes bentgrass (any species) until March, when the pendulum swings back again in favour of Bentgrass (depending on how dry it is of course).

It re-inforces in my mind why our likely scenario is Poa / Bent as a greens surface, but the problem is, “How sustainable is the Poa”, if our fungicide options become limited ?  That’s why we have to keep our surfaces free draining (well aerated) and dry to encourage bentgrass. (the problem is our climate doesn’t always oblige:))

Another snippet from the trip was the intention in Holland for all pesticides to be banned from public green in 2017 (I think?) if the current government intepret the Sustainable Use Directive the way they want to. How likely is it then that we are able to manage / produce a good putting surface or sportsfield (free from worm casts, etc) if this comes about here ? (Don’t think it will though:))

LeitzistadiumZurichOn the subject of sports grounds and stadia, how nice it was to see the newly built (2007) Letzigrund stadium in Zurich with sensible stands and no restriction on light availability as this picture from Sun Seeker 3D shows. (the blue line is the traverse of the sun at the Winter Solstice – Dec 21st) Shame it gets mullered when Robbie Williams has a concert there though 🙁

Next week’s blog may not happen till later in the week as I’m over attending ETS (European Turfgrass Society) in the South of France from Sunday, so we’ll see……….

All the best

Mark Hunt


September 16th


Hi All,


Courtesy of Meteoblue

A decidely cool feel to the weather at the moment, with our first Atlantic storm of the year passing through early this week, I say Atlantic, but really it’s come down from the north and it’s that cold, moist  air that’ll peg back temperatures and bring some further rain during the first part of the week, thereafter things could get better, drier and warmer by the weekend, particularly from Sunday onwards as high pressure builds. That low certainly pushed some rain down, we had 18mm or so across the weekend, but further south I’ve had 29mm reported already since Friday.

General Weather Situation

So, the first part of this week is dominated by that low pressure system shown above, which gradually sinks south into Europe.

For Monday, in central areas we start bright and breezy, but that cool westerly wind will soon ramp up the showers and these will move into the west coast of Ireland, Scotland, North Wales, and the north-west / south-west of England during the morning. Later on these showers will push inland over Ireland, Scotland and England, though still mainly affecting western coasts, pushed along by strong winds.

For Tuesday, we have a re-run of Monday, except the rain pattern and intensity will be different, with heavier rain over Munster and Connacht and this rain then swings round into the south-west of England, Wales, the north-west of England and then tracks along the south coast. It looks to get up about as high as The Midlands and not clearing the south until well into Tuesday evening. Temperatures will be well cool, low double figures in that strong wind, which will switch round to the north-west during the day.

Wednesday, looks a much better day for all of us, with that rain moving off to the continent and the winds lightening. We may even see the sun you know, that yellow thing, towards the mid-late afternoon. It’ll still feel cool as the wind remains north-west, but 2-3°C up on Tuesday. It will be pretty dry across most of the U.K and Ireland, with the only exception being the north-west, which looks on for some light, localised rain, early doors.

Thursday sees a dry start for the U.K, but a new rain front is due to push in from The Atlantic across Ireland from first thing, bringing a very wet start to the day for Connacht and Munster. That rain will drive eastwards across Ireland and reach western coasts by lunchtime, thereafter continuing eastwards across the U.K, but lightening in intensity as it does so. That wind is now westerly, but remaining on the cool side, similar to Wednesday, as its source is still the cold north.

For Friday we have not a bad end to the week with a dry day on the cards for most areas, maybe just the chance of some light, localised rain along the north-west coasts, but it’ll feel milder in a lighter, westerly wind, with temperatures pushing up to the mid-teens, more normal for this time of year. They’ll also be a bit of sunshine later in the morning away from western coastlines.

Good news I think, there’s high pressure building 🙂

The weekend looking ahead looks pretty good to be honest, save for some rain moving into Ireland on Saturday morning and pushing north-west into Scotland in the afternoon. Further south, it looks like being a hazy, warm (high teens) day, with light, south-westerly winds and some sunshine after early cloud cover breaks.  Good luck to all doing the London-Brighton off road cycle for The British Heart Foundation, should be a pleasant day for your guys and girls….Sunday looks to go one better, with temperatures pushing up into the twenties I think in the south of England, with a moderate / strong south-westerly wind. Further west and north, they’ll be more cloud cover and over Scotland, the risk of rain showers through the day and here the wind looks to be stronger as well.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to be a better week by far with high pressure building in the south, so an ‘Indian Summer’ feel to things may be on the cards. I expect temperatures to be high teens, with some nice sunshine and dry with light winds. Now wouldn’t it be nice if this turns out to be accurate, maybe I can go onto the MetOffice Weather bonus package, where they get paid lot’s of money when their forecast is correct apparently, I wonder if they get it deducted when they cock up ? 🙂

 Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

Not a very easy year to control Fusarium I think, compounded bWeatherStation160913y a cooler start to September than normal, some pretty difficult to forecast rainfall events and then last week, Thursday night to be precise, we picked up a temporary, warm front that pushed night temperatures into the high teens (see right) with the grass plant leaf saturated in moisture. In other words, ideal conditions for disease activity.

Furthermore we received 25mm + in a lot of locations over the weekend, so any active ingredient (A.I)  applied late in the week may have been washed off the plant into the thatch layer and this will both delay its uptake and reduce it’s efficacy.  The cool days of the weekend and the bulk of this week will also transpire to make root uptake of an A.I pretty slow, so if you’re waiting for a systemic fungicide to do its job, you may be disappointed in the speed of uptake.

I sympathise with you guys out there having to control disease under these conditions, it’s not easy for sure, but as I indicated a couple of weeks ago, put yourselves in the shoes of course superintendents in Germany say, where they have 3 fungicides, none of them contacts and 1 of them pretty poor at controlling Microdochium.

Like over here in the U.K and Ireland, they are expected to produce clean surfaces 12 months of the year, not easy, I’d argue nearly impossible sometimes and that’s why it’s so important to focus on contributing factors to disease when it comes to Fusarium or other plant pathogens (Anthranose, Fairy Ring, Thatch Fungus, Nematodes, etc) for that matter. If the E.U has its way, our choices of products will be curtailed in the not-to-distant future and then life will get really interesting.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it, surface fibre is the biggest contributing factor to disease development, of course it’s not the only one, you can have all your ducks in a row culturally and still get hit when disease pressure is so high (like now), but in a good number of scenarios, it’s where the finger needs to be pointed.

Looking ahead, if you can ride out this week then things should get easier, with drier, warmer weather and importantly some drying winds likely to reduce Fusarium activity significantly, but that’s not until the end of the week. In the meantime, the cool days and nights will drop plant growth right back and that means uptake of systemic fungicides will be slow with a capital ‘S’. The problem is the wind will delay spraying till probably Wednesday at the earliest, which isn’t great for some with active disease. Personally if I was making a fungicide application this week, I’d tank-mix in a little low temperature nitrogen and some iron (provided the mix is compatible of course) to stimulate uptake into the grass plant.

Worm Activity

The recent rain has kicked off worm activity, so now is a good time to spray provided you have some rain in your forecast after spraying to move the A.I off the grass plant and into the soil. Wednesday looks good for this, but if you can’t spray then, maybe it’s better to leave it until more rain is forthcoming because if the weather pans out as projected, next week will be dry, so if you spray (and then cut), you’ll remove your A.I before any rain has a chance to wash it in. The timing will be right though in the areas that are due to get rain at the end of the week – Scotland / Ireland / North-West of England primarily. Again, you have to watch your forecast.

That’s all for now, busy day / week ahead, off to Switzerland for the bulk of it, but unfortunately I think that low pressure may follow me down rainfall-wise !

Mark Hunt


September 9th


Hi All,

temp060913Quite a transition at the end of last week and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was, summer into autumn, in a day. Over on the Cambridge thermocline (A14-M11), we hit a heady 30°C late afternoon Thursday, (see image right, must have been a hard week as I was listening to The Smiths!), but a day later we 300613WSTwere down at 15°C, with a chilly morning start, 2°C would you believe at The Oxfordshire on Sunday morning ! On the plus side, it does mean we have some beautiful mornings to look forward to in the coming months. This is Thornton reservoir on Sunday morning, absolutely beautiful though with the cold start it took the Trout a long time to get out of bed 🙁

As predicted that continental rain was very hit and miss, I think the south, east and north got a good drop, we had 0.7mm on Friday and Sunday, with a chance of some showers today.  Looking at the coming week, we have a west-east divide, but an unusual one, as that trough of cold air will gradually sink away south-east allowing warm air into the west, but staying cool on the east of the country. At the end of the week another trough is due to sink down just in time for the weekend to give us unsettled conditions and the threat of rain again. So if you’re off this week, head west !

General Weather Situation

Monday, starts off dull, dewy, cool (7.5°C) and damp for many, with showers over the east coast of Leinster and The Midlands of England. This rain pushes quickly into the U.K affecting Wales, Scotland and the south / north-west of England, before moving across the whole country by the afternoon, so pretty much everywhere is in for the chance of a shower. The wind will be from the north-west, moderate and temperatures will struggle up to mid-teens, maybe a little higher in-between the rain, if the sun comes out.

Tuesday, looks a better day as that rain pushes off to the east, but it will never be far way from the east / south-east coast of England, so there’s a chance of rain during the day there. Elsewhere, after a slightly warmer night (double figures just), we have a dull day, with hazy sunshine, and a freshening north-west wind keeping temperatures down in The Midlands and east, but further west over Ireland and the west coast of the U.K, that front of warm air pushes in and starts to pick temperatures up during the day to high teens. (still cool at night though)

Wednesday, starts off dry for most, though still there’s a risk of rain in the extreme east, south-east corner of England. Again a cool start, but a strong north wind will soon dry the dew off and we’re likely to see a bit more of the sun through the late morning, more so for the west, where temperatures will pick up nicely to hit the 20°C mark. Further east, it’s cooler courtesy of that reluctant-to-move, cool temperature trough, so high teens here. Later in the day, rain pushes into north-west Ireland and moves south east (/) across Ireland and into Scotland, the north of England and north Wales, but staying dry further south.

Thursday, sees more rain pushing into Ireland, perhaps locally heavy over west Munster, Connacht in the morning. There will also be more showers bubbling up through the morning, principally affecting the west coast of the U.K, but many moving inland through the afternoon, pushed along on a westerly wind which heralds the arrival of more unsettled weather for the end of the week / weekend. Temperatures continue that west-east split, with the west sitting a couple of degrees warmer, with high teens, elsewhere we’re mid-teens, but the nights will be a little warmer than earlier in the week.

Friday, looks to finish the week off wet as that rain pushes into the U.K and consolidates into possible heavier rainfall over The Midlands (and we need it), south of England early doors, pushed down on a northerly airflow / wind. Further west, you should be drier initally, but as that rain sinks south-east, more rain pushes into Wales and the south-west of England later in the morning. Ireland at this stage looks to be drier, with low cloud and little in the way of sun before a new front of rain pushes into south-west Munster on Friday evening. That south-east rain looks very reluctant to shift, so likely to be pretty wet down that way to finish the week off.

The weekend looks not too bad after early rain clears the south-west, south Midlands and south-east of England. The wind will resume a westerly direction so feeling mild, but not warm. In the afternoon on Saturday, we should have more in the way of sunshine, but further north over Scotland, there’s a risk of rain later in the day. Sunday looks ok at this stage, drier for most parts with hazy sunshine and a brisk westerly wind, but Scotland and the north-west of Ireland looks set for a wet morning, at least.

 Weather Outlook

Hmmm interesting…after the unsettled weather of the weekend, I can see that lingering for Monday next week, but gradually through the week, the wind will lighten and it should warm up again slowly, as high pressure pushes in. It’ll be on the cool side though,  particularly at night, as the wind direction resumes from the north-west. By the end of next week, we just may be back in an Indian Summer scenario though.

Agronomic Notes

First off, here’s the updated GDD information for August y.t.d, showing August 2013 was a high growth month indeed….



As usual, you can download the pdf’s here

The devil is in the detail though because August’s high total figure hides 3 distinct GDD peaks (see below) that impacted on a number of scenario’s ;

  1. High Disease Pressure
  2. High Nematode Activity
  3. High Grass Growth (One of these over The U.K Bank Holiday)


Disease Pressure

A lot of Fusarium lingering around and with the heat of last week and then rain, it’s quite aggressive. Looking ahead to this week, I expect it to become even more so on the west side of the U.K and across Ireland because you’re getting the warmer air from the Atlantic. The tricky bit now is do you spray early with a systemic fungicide (normally I go late September over here in the U.K with a preventative systemic) or knock it back with a contact and keep your systemic powder dry, so to speak, for later in the month / early October ? Personally I’d favour the latter because we know the highest disease pressure historically occurs during October and at least the first part of November, so if you sprayed a systemic now, I’d expect its effect to be running out in the first week of October, follow that with another and you’re be sitting in early November wondering what systemic you can rotate into that will work when the soil temperature can still be quite high (remembering that the last week of October and first week of November has been traditionally warm / very warm over the last 4-5 years)

So a tricky call, personally I’d knock it back with a contact if you have heavy disease pressure and keep your powder dry, but equally you could go early and then factor in an extra app for early November. I’d also slip in some cool-temperature available N into that tankmix along with some iron to speed uptake duirng these cooler conditions and strengthen the grass plant at the same time.


Growth and Nutrition

The very quick transition from high day and night air temperatures to low ones has put a soiltemp080913significant dent into soil temperature and hence growth potential, although the west of the country isn’t / won’t be as badly affected.  Soil temperatures dropped significantly over the last 5 days, here’s a pic from yesterday morning, and you may just be able to make out, the soil temperature is down to 10°C (at 7.00 a.m though, cheers Eric 🙂 ), though it did recover to 14°C later in the day. This will obviously impact on growth and you can see from the chart below, the GDD is dropping away quickly ;


So nutrition-wise, it highlights the point I made a few weeks ago that September for me is a month where you have to be flexible, because we can have either an extended summer or an early autumn transition. So far, we seem to have had the latter, so I’d be using low-temperature available nitrogen sources and adding some iron as the temperature change will knock the colour out of turf surfaces .

If you’ve recently aerated or planning to do so, I’d be looking to granular, not liquid nutrition to bounce the grass back and allow you to get those holes filled and surfaces back to scratch in the shortest time possible.


Worm / Insect Activity

Yep it’s that time of year again, and with moisture comes insect and worm activity, so if yCutwormou’re planning to spray I’d make my decision based on soil moisture levels. If you’re still dry or only wet in the very surface, I’d hang fire till you get decent rain and the profile is moist, else your applied product will only be sitting in the surface and often that’s not where your target organism is, especially in dry weather. Had a few reports of some different insects doing the rounds, this one was found sitting in a core hole, doing the usual countersunk hole munching job around the edge of the core. Not 100% certain, but an entomologist has suggested it’s a Cutworm.


O.k that’s it for now, a very full intray and 2 weeks on the bounce of multiple hotel stays beckons !


By the way, this weeks USGA Record has a good webcast on venting (small diameter aeration) and the why’s and wherefore’s, see it here….here

All the best, wrap up well in the mornings !

Mark Hunt



September 2nd


Hi All,Sept2013

Well, we’re into September and begrudgingly saying ta ta to summer, but you wouldn’t really know so this week in a lot of areas because temperatures are picking up again after the slightly cooler weekend we’ve just had.

August checked out dry, so that’s the third month in a row where rainfall amounts have been low. (more on this later)

That said I can see rainfall on the horizon at the end of this week for some areas as a trough of cool air sinks down at the weekend (why does it keep doing just in time for the weekend ? ). You can see the contrast in this combined image from Meteoblue.



It’s been pointed out to me (Somewhat unkindly I think, thanks Michael :)) that rather than spend a lot of time analysing weather data and trying to predict weather patterns, etc, I could simply adopt a more ‘real time’ approach to my Weatherblog and use the system shown on the right.  Hmm not sure about the forecasting potential though….

General Weather Situation

So we start the week on a good note, with low, hazy cloud clearing across  the U.K to leave a bright, warm, sunny day in a line drawn south (/) of Pembrokeshire. Further north and west, they’ll be more cloud cover and in the north-west of Scotland, quite heavy persistent rain for the majority of the day and feeling much cooler than in the south. Further south, they’ll be some light patchy rain affecting the north-west of England as well through the day. Winds will be lighter than of late and westerly, pushing temperatures up into the low-mid twenties in the sunshine and maybe 4-5°C lower than that where the cloud prevails.

A similar picture for Tuesday, except that rain dies out in the north-west and more areas get to see the sun, with good breaks in the cloud over Ireland and the north of England later in the morning. Again temperatures will be good, picking up to low-mid twenties inthe south of England and likely to reach twenties further north as well. Winds will be light and again from the west. Night temperatures will be good, staying in the low-mid teens, so not as cold as some nights of late.

For Wednesday, a very similar picture over the U.K, with bright sunshine and temperatures climbing again into the mid-twenties, accompanied by a south-west wind. Later in the morning, a rain front pushes into north-west Ireland and heads south-east (/) to affect Scotand and the rest of Ireland through the day, but as it moves eastwards, the amount of rain will lessen, so not a lot expected for Munster and Leinster.

By Thursday morning, that rain is into the north-west and central Scotland and also pushing more cloud cover into the south of the U.K as it moves through. The wind begins to strengthen from the south-west, prior to the arrival of the cooler air and where they meet, there’s a risk of light rain in The Midlands and even further south later on Thursday, but temperatures will remain high in the south, possibly the warmest day of the week to boot. Further north, it’ll feel much cooler on Thursday with that rain band slowly sinking south, on the back of a north-westerly airstream, so wet for most of the day in Scotland. Ireland will have a day of showers for Thursday and feeling cooler as the wind swings round to the north-west.

Friday is change day, feeling much cooler in the south of England, after the high temperatures earlier in the week, as the wind is now from the north and that’ll push moisture south. At this stage, it looks like an east-west split for Friday, with the west getting a bright, sunny, but cooler day after early light rain clears, whereas the east / south-east looks like getting a good drop of rain in the afternoon  / evening. This kind of rain pattern is however very unreliable, so let’s see closer to the week quite where the line is drawn. Ireland looks like continuing the showery feel to Friday, but looks to finish dry , clear and chilly I think.

The first part of weekend doesn’t look great at this stage I have to be honest, though it could be ideal for flyfishing (:)). That rain mass in the east will spin around and possibly affect The Midlands and further west later in the day, whilst lighter rain will nibble away at the south-west of England. Between the two, it’ll be sunny and bright, but pretty cool as well, quite bizarre really when you think of the high temperatures just prior to the weekend. Ireland looks on for a nice Saturday, bright, cool though with sunshine at this stage. There are differing models for where the rain wil affect on Saturday, some state the east and south-east, some state further north into Scotland, so we’ll see closer to the time. Sunday looks like being a better day with that rain clearing away from the south-east, however they’ll be much more in the way of cloud cover and rain showers intermingled with it for most of the U.K. I expect a sunny start in Ireland, but cloud will build from the west and that may signal rain for west Connacht and Munster. Like I say, alot of uncertainty about the weekend’s weather because of where the rain is coming from, so don’t hold me to this one. Winds will be from the north, but lighter on Sunday, but all round temperatures will be very much on the lower side than of late.

Weather Outlook

That cooler feel to the weather looks to extend into next Monday, with more rain across the U.K and Ireland, however temperatures will begin to pick up as we move through the week because high pressure is projected to return. So by the mid / end of next week, I think it’ll be warmer and more settled, but continuing the nice week / poor weekend pattern, another trough of cool, wet air is on the horizon for the weekend.

Agronomic notes

Looking at the weather data from the last few months (available here) we can see that we’ve had quite a testing summer, though I think we all have to agree, I’d take this year’s over last year’s, any day of the week !.



Looking at the summer overall, August played out pretty much the same as June, with an E.T vs. rainfall deficit of just over 2″, so that reinforces the dry feel of late, even though we’ve been picking up dribs and drabs of moisture. Obviously this data is from The Oxfordshire, but I think that it’s pretty representative of central England / Midlands  and even the south-west (similar to Bristol for example) I’d be interested to see some figures from the east of England / south-east of England, E.T and rainfall-wise, because they got alot more rain at the end of the month (and they needed it)


So how are we placed at the moment ?

Well greens growth is ticking along nicely after a sudden peak in disease activity over the Bank Holiday weekend (predicted by the GDD data interestingly in the blog from 19th August), but the dry weather has left alot of outfield areas looking burnt up and tired. In addition, the continuing low rainfall in some areas has meant root pathogens continue to have a pronounced effect on the grass plant.

That hot weather of early July really ramped up populations of Ectoparastic nematodes and these then attacked the root systems of susceptible grass plants and the symptoms have been showing through August and continue even to date.  I know some of you might be reading this and saying “Nematodes, we don’t have nematodes, don’t know why he keeps going on about them”, but when you take a look at images like this, you’ll understand if this was present on your golf course.

Ectoturfdamage Ectoturfdamage2


The top picture shows pretty advanced symptoms of Spiral and Sheath Nematode plant parasitic nematode (PPN) damage on a golf green, the middle image shows how it looks when it’s starting and the bottom is an image courtesy of the ever-helpful Kate Entwistle (no ‘h’ you know) :)) that shows a close-up of the turf surface. This banding of chlorotic / non-chlorotic areas on the leaf is in my mind a ‘give away’ that Ectoparasitic nematodes are present and active, so if you see patches and you’re not sure if they are fungal disease or nematodes, get a hand lens and have a look to see if you can see banding in the leaf.

I’ve said it before I know, but in most PPN situations, you should look at your overall turf and see if you have contributory factors present. The most common of these in my experience is surface organic matter, be it excessive in depth and / or compacted, with bridged rooting (lateral rooting). In this scenario, the turf is much more sensitive to stress (like we’ve had) and much less efficient at moisture and nutrient uptake, so the effect of the nematode is more pronounced. It’s another reason why organic matter removal / dilution, etc is / should be at the top of your cultural list of activities and just as important, your golf club needs to buy into this and that is a problem.

That old bug bear – Aeration

I’m hearing a lot about pressure on clubs not to aerate, these are likely the same clubs who didn’t aerate last year because of the weather (wet), didn’t topdress either much last year for the same reason. They then skipped their spring aeration in 2013, because it was so cold in the week it was booked in and now the fixtures are too busy to allow any aeration. Well we’re just kidding ourselves if we think we can blindly go on ignoring the issue that is growing under our feet and hoping that a good irrigation / nutrition and IPM program will paper over the cracks, quite simply it won’t.

We’ve just passed the best month for aeration and recovery, as I explained last week, we normally begin lose soil temperature (and therefore recovery) from now. Looking at the cool trough coming this weekend, if we do get some moisture with that, it’ll pull the soil temperature down and that means growth rates will drop off as well, so that means slower recovery. And then of course you’ll get the wet surface, harder to clear up cores / topdress scenario as we go on into October, not to mention the increase in disease risk with the associated oxygen input and topdressing.

We have / clubs have together, to be more proactive in their approach to aeration, members have to buy into why it’s being done, we also have to be more flexible in the approach to aeration. Just putting a week in the calendar (unless it’s in August / early September) isn’t going to be the right way to proceed in the future, because of our changing weather patterns. I know commerciality plays a big part in these decisions, but good cultural practice reflects on the product –  firmer greens, with less expenditure on fungicides and a more consistent agronomic base line are the hallmarks of well-aerated greens. It’s this that in part keeps members and visitors coming back, spending money in the bar, in the Pro Shop, telling their friends how good the golf course was / is.

The flipside is increased disease, nematode issues, poor surface drainage, course closed scenarios and then when work is finally undertaken, lots of heave, tearing, poor recovery, etc, etc, etc…Easy for me to stand on my soapbox I know and let’s face it at 5″ 7′, I need to stand on something, but I see this as the biggest issue facing us going forward, along with increased legislation and reduced fungicide availability.

Have a think about it…

Paul’s updated the rainfall stats, so here’s the latest information  – ETRainfall dataSummer2013

It’ll be interesting to see how August has shaped up geographically..


Enjoy the warm weather, ‘Carpe Diem’ on that front !

Mark Hunt