Monthly Archives: October 2013

October 28th


Hi All,

I’m on my hols this week, so this blog is mainly weather-related, First off, a very hearty welcome back to Unisys Weather, who after months of barracking (cheers Paul), finally resurrected their 10-day weather outlook for Europe. It’s a bit shaky at the moment, but the content is there and that’ll help me to give you better outlook information….Secondly, how was the ‘massive storm’ for you ? – Cue media frenzy about a normal deep autumn Atlantic low that we get at this time of year. We had 38.8mm of rain overnight and yesterday made trout fishing in a boat ‘challenging’, but nothing worse than that…I guess after the lack of forecasting in 1987, when we did have something to talk about, the Met Office, BBC Weather and all don’t want to get caught with their collective wotsits down, so every deep low pressure comes with a health warning, ho hum….

Weather Shift

The weather has changed subtlely over the weekend and that’s because the low pressure systems we have been getting up until now have been coming from the south Atlantic, so that means rain and warm, southerly winds. This has meant unprecedented disease pressure. Last week we had a sustained 48 hour period here when the air temperature didn’t drop below 16.7°C. Below is a pic of my weather station at midnight Sunday and then lunchtime Tuesday and it continued this way through Tuesday night as well, you can see the outside temperature and humidity…not good for disease…


As you’ll note from the Unisys graphic above, the change that has taken place is that the low pressure systems are now coming from the west / north-west and that means cooler winds for a start and the loss of those barmy temperatures. It also means the jetstream has begun a journey, edging down into Europe and that’ll allow cooler / cold air to follow over the month to come, if of course it stays there (not certain at all). Now there’s nothing to worry about, this is normal, after all we’re tiptoeing into November and we’ve had nothing so far in terms of cold weather. So onto the weather for this week..

General Weather Situation

Currently we have a band of rain, heavy in places affecting Ireland and the south half of the U.K, draw a line from Shannon to Dublin and from North Wales to The Humber and south of this is affected by rain. Further north it’s more showers, but these will eventually die away in all parts of the U.K to leave a clear, but cool night, with temperatures dropping down to 4-5°C in rural areas (that’s the effect of the change in jetstream position). Temperatures during Monday will be low double figures and the winds will be moderate from the west.

For Tuesday, we have a bit of respite from that rain, with a sunny, cold start for many places and just the chance of some rain affecting the west coasts of Ireland and the U.K in the morning. Later on in the morning, those westerly showers sink southwards to affect northern England and The Midlands. Winds will be again from the west, but it’ll feel cool / cold compared to last week, with temperatures barely hitting double figures, so wrap up well.

For Wednesday, we have potentially one of the driest days of the week for the U.K, cool, (12°C) with sunny interludes, but for Ireland there’s a heavy band of rain pushing in from the west, due to make landfall around rush hour across west Munster / Connacht and this will then push rapidly eastwards across Ireland and into Scotland in time for the evening rush hour. It’ll reach Wales and the south-west by the evening and then push across the U.K overnight into Thursday, fizzling out as it does so…

For Thursday, there’s the likelihood of more rain affecting the west coast of Ireland and the U.K, but inland, it should stay reasonably dry, though you’ve always got the chance of a shower. Further north that chance of rain increases and later on in the day, they’ll be a consolidated rain front affecting Scotland, so continuing wet for you guys I’m afraid. Temperatures will pick up a degree or two as the wind swings round to the south-west, so low teens hopefully.

For the end of the week, we have a dry start (temporarily), but as with the rest of the week, rain is never far away and that manifests itself in the shape of two bands of rain projected to push into the south-west of England and the east coast of Munster / Leinster, early doors on Friday. That rain will then track (/) across the U.K during Friday, mainly affecting the north of England and the south. There’s a chance that The Midlands will be largely un-affected…Temperatures will be low teens and winds again from the south-west, but there’s another deep low lurking for the weekend, so don’t get your hopes up !

The weekend looks like being wet and potentially very windy on Sunday. At present, there’s a band of heavy rain projected to affect Ireland on Saturday and this will push into the U.K by Saturday afternoon / evening, so potentially a very wet and windy start to Sunday and this rain may continue through most of the day, so not great I’m afraid for the north and south of the U.K, though Scotland should escape the worst of it.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks like being a bit of a re-run of this week as that deep Atlantic low continues to bring wind and rain for the start of the week, so the outlook is unsettled for sure. We have a brief respite on Monday evening before another low rattles in to bring high winds and heavy rain for Tuesday / Wednesday. Later in the week, those winds will moderate and the temperature will pick up a little, but I still expect plenty of showers around…

Agronomic Notes

A very brief one this week, because the sun is shining briefly outside and my Merida beckons..The key points to discuss are of course disease and disease pressure. I’ve already highlighted the high disease pressure we’ve had for the early part of last week and since then we’ve only had one spray day (last Thursday) to do anything about it. I expect the disease pressure to drop a little as the temperature declines, but with the constant moisture it’s never going to be too far away I’m afraid. The best and maybe only spray day for most of the U.K is Wednesday this week, but with the rainfall we’ve had, even reaching greens may be difficult for some 🙂 (For Ireland it’s probably Thursday, but rain will be in from late afternoon)

A good time to spray for worms and Leatherjackeets you’d expect but with the high rainfall there’s a risk of the A.I being taken past the target organism too quickly, so look at your 7-day projected totals for any big spikes in anticipated rainfall and act accordingly.

It is a good time (as commented upon last week) for applying iron onto moss as this is now well and truly wetted up, so if you can crank up the spreader /sprayer, I’d suggest doing so 🙂

As we near the end of October, I’d be interested to get your rainfall stats for the month because I think we’ll see some pretty high totals…

All the best..

Mark Hunt


October 21st


Hi All,

TinyLast week, I was walking from our office at Cambourne, Cambridge, in search of some decent coffee when I happened upon this little fella crossing the path. I gave him a helping hand to a nearby pond and on the way I decided to nickname him ‘Tiny’, why I hear you ask? Because he’s my-newt 🙂 arf arf

Ok, I can hear the collective groan from here… I’ll stick to the day job in future, I just thought a little humour was in order as it looks so grey, wet and miserable outside…

As forecast, this week was set to be unsettled and wet, with low pressure in charge and that’s exactly what we’re going to get for the most part…….

General Weather Situation

For Monday, we have plenty of rain around with a pulse of rain pushing into the south-west of Ireland / U.K early doors then moving north east to affect all areas through the day, with only the south-east of England and Scotland likely to miss the worst of it till later. Temperatures will continue mild though buoyed by the strong, southerly airstream.

For Tuesday, that rain will be predominantly affecting the west coast of the U.K initially, with just some lighter rain across the east coast of Munster / Leinster. Through the morning, that rain pushes eastwards to affect most areas west of the A1, with the east coast of England possibly brightening up and staying dry.  The Irish rain is also on the move, pushing across most of the country through the late morning and then by evening rush hour, a heavy burst of rain is expected into Munster, moving up later to also affect Connacht / Donnegal into the evening. Temperatures will stay mild, maybe a little down on Monday and the wind will stay from the south and be moderate / strong in nature.

Wednesday, sees another rain band crossing the U.K overnight and that intense rain pulse over Ireland is expected to sit over Donnegal early doors. The rain will be mainly west and north-orientated, so affecting Scotland more than earlier in the week, but further south in a line drawn down from Nottingham, there’s a chance of seeing the sun between the rain bands, particularly towards the east, south-east of the U.K . The same holds true for Ireland geographically in that the east / south-east coasts may end up drier by the afternoon. Temperatures similar to Tuesday, mid-teens with a south-westerly / westerly wind, moderate / strong in intensity.

Catch it while you can on Thursday, but we look to have a dry day on the cards, save for some light rain over The Highlands of Scotland. It will feel noticeably chillier though as the wind swings round to the south-east temporarily and pulls cooler air from the continent, so fresh, bright and breezy is the order of the day. I did say enjoy while you can though because more rain is projected to push into the south west of the U.K and Ireland on Thursday evening and this looks to give the north Midlands and north of England, a particularly wet start to Friday.

So we have heavy rain early doors over northern England and central / north-west Ireland, brightening up during the morning before more rain arrives into the south-west / west of Ireland / U.K and pushes north-east to affect most areas during the late morning / afternoon. Only the south-east / east of England looks set at this stage to escape this end of week rain. Temperatures will finish off the week mild again as the wind swings round to the south once again.

The outlook for the weekend looks a little drier you’ll be pleased to know, but cooler for most parts. That said, the west of Ireland and the U.K will play host to rain on Saturday morning and that may indeed linger through the day. There’s also the suggestion of another heavy band of rain pushing into Ireland overnight on Saturday and then moving east to affect the south-west of England and Wales on Sunday morning. I say a suggestion because models don’t agree on this. Either way for the U.K, I think Sunday will be the pick of the two days, outside the areas I’ve already outlined. Winds will be back in the south-west as a new low pressure system builds in The Atlantic, just in time for next week and it’ll be chillier than of late 🙁

Weather Outlook

So how’s it looking longer term? Bearing in mind over the last 5 years, 4 of them have seen us go into November mild to warm. Well, I don’t think we’re going to be tropical, but next week looks like continuing mild, with a south-westerly airstream and that means there’ll also be rain, with the chance of a heavy burst on Tuesday and towards the end of next week. At present there’s no sign that the mild, wet theme is going to end anytime soon. The jetstream is pretty much where it should be and currently it’s pushing in a succession of low pressure systems from The Atlantic, one after another, so that means mild and wet. There’s the vaguest suggestion that it may settle down towards the 2nd week of November, but that’s too far away to be accurate.

 Agronomic Notes

Disease Pressure…..Spray Windows…..Ho hum..

With the mild and wet weather of late (18.5°C here on Saturday / Sunday afternoons before the rain arrived), it’s no surprise that disease pressure is still high and the problem this week is that finding a spray day is going to be very difficult with the wind strength and the frequent rain. It depends on where you’re located, but overall Thursday is the only day in the week when you’re going to get a good window of opportunity I’m afraid.

Good Soil Temps !

On the positive front, the mild air is keeping the soil temperature up, currently I’m measuring 13.7°C, that’s 2-3°C higher than the same time last year, so that means growth will continue, allowing any scarring to grow out, It also means (as I pointed out last week) that uptake of XMS systemics will be good, though since the same conditions will also be encouraging disease populations, don’t expect to see an immediate knock-back when you apply a systemic. I reckon that it’ll take 5 days minimum before you start seeing anything in terms of efficacy, even with the mild soil temperatures.

There’s not much in the rain…

We currently aren’t getting much nitrogen in the rain by the way because I measured the nutrient content in the middle of a rain storm the other day (as you do, get’s the neighbours curtains fluttering).

I think it’s to do with the  direction the low pressure systems are coming from (South Atlantic), in fact there’s pretty much nothing in it from a nutrient perspective, it’s sitting at pH 6.0, which is normal and it’s within a gnats doo-dars of inert, in other words like distilled water.


If you can get out on the golf course and the wind and rain allows it, it’s a great time to treat moss with iron-based granular mosskillers, as the moss is well and truly wetted up by now. In addition, these type of products (low N – high Fe) work really well on low-play, tee areas – back tees for example, where there is a requirement for presentation, but not for growth. As you will no doubt have noticed, these areas receive minimal play and hence wear and tear, so build thatch more readily than ‘in play’ teeing surfaces. The fact that they build thatch makes them more likely to have moss as well, for reasons explained in my blog last week.

What’s in store for the Winter ?

A lot of people are asking me what’s in store for the winter, are we due another hard one like some people say ?

As you know I’m not a great fan of long-range forecasting, but it is interesting to compare where we were in October 2012, with now in October 2013. If you look below at the 2 snapshots taken from Unisys Weather, you’ll see the pattern of weather October 2013 (left) vs. the same day in October 2012 (right) is practically identical, though the jet stream is sitting a little lower in 2012.


Does this mean that we’re in for the same again ?

Well nature thinks so because the Fieldfares and Redwings have already started arriving from Scandinavia, (I saw the first ones 3 weeks ago or rather I heard them at night) though that may just be because they know this is a ‘Mast Year’, i.e the fruit and berry crop is outstanding due to the cold winter in 2012.

For all of our sakes, I really hope that the early indicators are wrong, as I lost more hair between November 2012 and March 2013 trying to run this business with my colleagues, than I did in the last 5 years prior to that, very worrying ! 🙁 Let’s see how things pan out but my bet is mild through to Christmas, so no flutters on Paddy Power for me this year 🙂

The truth is we don’t know really yet as most forecasters claim that the signals for winter weather tend to build through October into November, so at present it’s only just starting…For a really interesting and detailed explanation, take a look here

That’s all for now, hope you can stay dry .. 🙂

Mark Hunt


October 15th


Hi All,

Bit late this week, my apologies but I have a very full in tray at the moment 🙁

Autumn well and truly arrived last week with biting northerlies last Thursday, but as predicted they made way for a north-east wind pattern and that dragged cool rain off the continent for the east, south-east and Midlands areas. We had 29mm here over the weekend, (and another 6mm today) but to be honest we were dry, so it wasn’t totally unwelcome.

Before I get on to the weather in earnest, I just wanted to put a bit of praise the way of Meteoblue, the meteorological ‘scholars’ I rely on immensely to put this blog content together… On Saturday I got up at 7 a.m, to get my fishing gear ready because Meteoblue had said the wind would drop around 10 ish. Peering out in a mild Peroni-induced haze, I noted the trees were bent double and my tame Robin was hanging on for grim death to the bird feeder…”I reckon they’ve got it wrong this time” I mused, but sure enough, just before 10 o’clock, the wind dropped and all was well with the world….didn’t stop me getting thoroughly soaked to the skin though in pursuit of an elusive quarry, but fair play Karl and crew on this one, good call 🙂


Images courtesy of Meteoblue

Ok, last week we had a c-change in the weather on Thursday (from good to bad) and this week, the change day is Wednesday, when we’re due to pick up a milder air stream from way down in the South Atlantic, courtesy of a tropical storm in the Carribean. This will flick the winds round from the cool east to the milder west, south-west direction and that’ll lift temperatures into the high teens maybe by the weekend, so those summer shorts could well make a comeback before being consigned to the draw for another year 😛

General Weather Situation

For Tuesday, we have the first dry day for a few days for practically all of the U.K and Ireland, with only patchy rain in the north-east of England during the morning. The cloud cover is due to break through the day so we’ll see some sun as well, but those north easterly winds will keep the lid on the temperature, so staying cool, low teens the order of the day, not unpleasant though really and a dry day is always welcome…

Overnight into Wednesday sees the first rain front pushing in from the Atlantic make landfall at Kerry just after midnight and this heralds the arrival of a consolidated pulse of rain tracking diagonally (\) across the U.K and Ireland, reaching the south-west of England early on Wednesday morning and Wales in time for the morning rush hour. The rain will be heavy across Munster and Leinster particularly on Wednesday morning and by lunchtime it’ll reach the south-east and Midlands tracking north-east. North Wales and then northern England will pick up some heavier bursts as well before the front clears the west of Scotland in the evening. (though it’s not projected to progress further north than Glasgow) Through the day, the winds will do a 180° shift, from north-east to south-west and the temperature will pick up as well to low / mid teens later in the night.

For Thursday, we have the vestiges of that rain over the border counties and along the coast of North Wales and south-west Munster, but for most it should be a pleasant day, the best sunshine and temperatures reserved for the south of England where I expect it to hit 17°C. The Midlands and east coast of England may be the exception to the rule though as a light rain front is projected to develop later in the afternoon, so maybe the chance of rain pegging back the temperatures here…In the afternoon another rain front makes landfall into Kerry and pushes across Ireland, with again some heavy bursts of rain, though more likely across west Munster and Connacht this time.

Friday sees that rain still affecting the west coast of Ireland and again particularly heavy, this time over Donnegal, early doors. Through the morning it’ll push into western Scotland and track east and then later a small horizontal band of rain will affect the south-west / south coast of England and track northwards across into The Midlands for the afternoon / early evening.

The weekend looks mixed, with a half decent day on Saturday after overnight rain. (though this will linger into the morning in The Midlands) Hazy sunshine for the south of England and temperatures in the high teens, so out with the shorts again briefly before rain comes back into play for late afternoon / early evening. Ireland looks to be half-decent as well, mild on that southerly air stream, but in the early afternoon a band of rain will affect south west Munster and then track northwards, potentially heavy later over the east coast of Munster / Leinster. For Sunday that rain intensifies over Donnegal and then quickly moves into Scotland early doors, so a wet day on the cards here. Further south it could be pleasant if the sun breaks through, with light / moderate, south-west winds, but there’s a risk of rain across Wales and the south coast of England through Sunday and this rain may push east and north into The Midlands, but we’ll see. One things for sure, the outlook for the weekend is changeable and unsettled, so take a brolly with you (if you’re that way inclined) or maybe copy the average teenager and pay no attention to any forecast or logical information, dress in shorts and a T-Shirt and then get soaked to the skin, but hey, at least they look cool 🙂 (we weren’t like that were we??)

Weather Outlook

We have a south-westerly / south airstream in place for the foreseeable (10 – 14 days at least) so that means mild air, mid teens, temperature-wise, on the plus side, but on the minus, we are never going to be far from rain and I expect a significant pulse Tuesday / Wednesday, next week, pushing north and again at the end of the week / weekend. So bottom line, staying mild, but pretty wet, with the west and north, in particular, getting a battering.

 Agronomic Notes

Great for Fungi….


Looking at the topic for the moment, disease pressure, it does look to have dropped away in terms of the more aggressive disease activity, but with the arrival of moisture, it’s going to be lurking for sure. Dovetail that in with warmer temperatures expected for the latter part of the week / weekend and I expect activity to pick up again, so be warned.

The tricky bit looking forward is going to be picking spray days and of course the rainfastness of your product mix will play a part here. Lot’s of rubbish circulating around the market in this respect eh :), particularly in the case of contacts, but leaving that aside for the moment, (as my soap box is at the menders 🙂 ) we can expect reasonably good performance from XMS – Xylem-mobile systemics, with the milder temperatures forecast, so potentially good conditions for uptake coming up with most systemics we have available to us.


If we look at say a golf club location in the south-east of England (M4 / M25 area) and potential GDD data, we can see the low GDD totals that we have for the beginning of this week and then you can see them pick up mid-week as that milder airstream arrives and then we pretty much stay in the good growth zone till the end of the month, dropping away a little at the end of next week. So this means consistent conditions for growth, with no sudden checks, which as we all know play havoc with uptake of fungicide A.I’s, as well as plant-available nutrients.

These good GDD totals are not just ideal for grass growth, it also means the growth of disease populations will get a boost, so that’s why I expect to see increased disease pressure from the middle of this week through to the weekend in particular.


Bad nails 🙁

There’s a lot of moss around…

I’ve been meaning to chat about this topic for awhile, but I’ve had lot’s of feedback really since the beginning of August as to the increased presence of moss, particularly Silver Thread Moss. There’s lot’s of discussion on this topic, principally about why it appears in the first place. Well there can be many reasons, but I’ll chuck a few of mine into the hat…

Firstly, I tend to see an increase in Silver Thread Moss after a prolonged dry spell which has put stress on the grass plant. I always remember conducting a wetting agent trial back in 2006 and during a high E.T / high temperature (30°C plus consistently) period of weather, I decided to switch off the irrigation and watch what happened to the treated and untreated plots. Unsuprisingly the untreated plot stressed out first and grass cover disappeared faster than Marc Marquez, but curiously despite all the stress there were green patches in the plot, grass ?, no, moss ?, yes ! It’s a fact that Silver Thread Moss can withstand high levels of dessication and regenerate, sometimes quicker than grass, so there’s reason number 1.

Looking back to the summer, we had 3 weeks of intensive plant stress in July and during this period, on some points / areas of the green, grass cover was lost / thinned (noses, ridges, wear pathways, etc) tipping the balance in favour of Silver Thread Moss (STM).

The second scenario is in fact the exact opposite, (from a moisture perspective) instead of prolonged dry periods of weather, I think a lot of STM has established on greens because of increased organic matter levels over 2012 / 2013. (and therefore increased surface moisture retention)

I’ve talked about this before but it’s a fact that the prolonged wet, cool summer / autumn of 2012 caused an increase in the deposition of organic matter, principally because of a slow-down in the rate of decomposition, allied to lower maintenance levels due to the weather (topdressing, hollow coring, solid tining, etc). Coming forward into 2013, we had an exceptionally cold start to the year, so a lot of clubs binned aeration citing potentially loss of revenue as the reason, so again the balance was tipped in favour of organic matter accumulation. That increased surface organic matter holds more water and so provides an ideal environment for moss, Only the other day I walked a green with a high STM level, confined to one particular area of the green, it was a low traffic / high organic matter zone and there was the STM, happy as Larry. Further towards the front of the green, the organic matter level decreased (more wear) and so did the moss population.

One of the best controls of STM is the pin cup, i.e move the pin position close to the moss population, now that may not be particularly popular with the golfer (there’s probably a good reason why it wasn’t there often in the first place !) nor may it be practically feasible, but moss cannot take prolonged foot traffic.

When you look at the picture above, you can see why it’s difficult to shift Silver Thread Moss, because it creates an organic matter rich environment, which holds water, heats up quicker in the summer and is anaerobic / hypoxic according to American researchers, all attributes that suit moss and not grass. It also explains why iron applications on their own are unlikely to affect STM, in fact, whatever treatments / controls you are using, research shows that they are likely to be more effective when they are combined with increased topdressing and raised nitrogen levels (to encourage the grass to out-compete the moss).

By inference, low nitrogen levels are again another factor synonymous with increased moss populations, due in part to decreased grass plant vigour. That doesn’t mean we need to chuck on excessive N, it just means looking at the balance and maybe tweaking it when you are actively targeting moss…

Ok that’s all for now, back to the intray !

Mark Hunt

October 7th


Hi All,

Well, it certainly didn’t feel like the 1st week of October at the weekend, with temperatures pushing up to twenty degrees plus in the south of England, accompanied by some lovely sunshine. Walking and Blackberry picking in a T-shirt in October, smart, but this week we’re going to get a  taste of where we should be temperature-wise, as a cool trough pushes down from Scandinavia, accompanied by cold northerly winds and for a day (Thursday) at least I think we’ll struggle to hit double figures !!!..You can see the transformation in the image below….


That cold trough will end up sticking around for 5-6 days forming into a ‘blob’ of cooler air that’ll sit over us and drag moisture in from the continent, so cooler and more unsettled is the outlook. Longer-term I can see a milder, westerly airflow pushing in next week to bring back that warmer air, but probably with rain…sunshine and showers like…

General Weather Situation

For Monday we have a pleasant day for most with a dull, but warmer start to the day than Sunday and for England and Wales I expect the sun to break through later to give hazy sunshine, high teen temperatures accompanied by light south-westerly winds. For Scotland we have rain in the north-west, part of a front that’s currently skirting the west coast of Ireland, but later on this afternoon it’ll make landfall on the west coast of Munster and Connacht and then slowly push eastwards across Ireland, dissipating as it does so. At the same time that rain in Scotland will sink south to affect the north of England / Lakes area overnight.

For Tuesday that front sinks south and west to bring light rain to the west coast of England and Wales. Further inland, a similar day to Monday with good temperatures, light south-westerly winds and some pleasant, hazy autumn sunshine. Ireland should have a dry day, dull most of the time, with maybe the sun breaking through on the east coast of Munster, Leinster later.

For Wednesday, we have the start of the change and it’ll be felt almost immediately in Scotland where the temperature will struggle to hit double figures during the day and they’ll be some rain, pushed along on an initially westerly wind, that change round to northerly during the day. Further south, (and for Ireland as well) we’ll keep see a gradual drop in temperature, so mid-teens, rather than high teens will be the order of the day and they’ll be some rain along the north western coast of England and across Leinster, Munster, though amounts will be light. Into the evening, the wind will complete its transition round to the north and that’s when things start getting chilly.

For Thursday, we wake up straight away to the change, most noticeable will be the moderate to strong northerly wind that’ll peg temperatures back to barely double figures even though the day itself will be bright and sunny across the U.K and Ireland, so wrap up well and dig that buff out from the clothes cupboard cos you’ll need it believe me.

For Friday, we have another change as that blob of cool air sinks south and that changes the wind around from the north to the north-east. The consequence of this is that temperatures will pick up a little so we’re talking low double figures for most and also the easterly / north easterly wind may well drag some rain off the continent to affect the south-east and east of the country from the afternoon onwards. Let’s add that caviat though, continental rain is hard to predict, so keep an eye on things closer to the time for a more accurate rainfall forecast.

The weekend looks like being unsettled with the ever-present threat of rain from the continent, this will be most pronounced over the south-east, south coast and Midlands areas on Saturday. That rain may though push a little further north on Sunday, but further north and west, it’s likely to stay dry, though dull. Temperatures will be low-mid teens and still with that cool north-easterly wind.

Weather Outlook

That ‘blob’ of cool air is projected to sit right over the U.K and Ireland for the start of next week (see the animated GIF at the top of the page) and that’ll mean a recurring pattern of north-easterly winds pulling across continental rain, possibly though further north and into Scotland for the start of next week. As we move into Tuesday that cool trough will be moved aside by a deep Atlantic low, so south-westerly winds (great waves :)) and milder air from mid-week, next week, but we will get rain and if anything I think that rain will become heavier towards the end of next week as that deep low pushes in. It’s the tropical storm season in America and we’re likely to see more of these Atlantic lows pushing in, in my mind, so I think a more unsettled outlook for the 2nd part of October is likely, but since they’re situated further south than normal due to the jetstream position, I think they’ll be accompanied by milder air.

Agronomic Notes

Last week I talked a lot about disease and disease pressure and it’s fair to say it continued unabated through the week and into the weekend. Late last week we had extremely mild night temperatures accompanied by high air moisture levels, so ideal forGuttationFluid disease development. You only have to look at the amount of Mushrooms and other fungi around at the moment and also the level of disease pressure off green, on fairways, aprons, sportsfields, etc, it is very high….driven on by this barmy weather, courtesy of a peak in the jetstream….This pic (below) of my weather station late last Thursday was typical….Bearing in mind that the Dew warning had been showing since 9 p.m and you’re likely to be dewing your greens at say 6.30 a.m, that means the plant is sitting wet with dew for 9 1/2 hours and if you take an hour to dewy, it’s probably closer to 10 1/2 hours of leaf wetness…



We will get some respite this week because the dramatically lower temperatures expected on Thursday will slow down the development of active disease, without a doubt. We will also lose that humidity so there’s another driving factor behind disease development that will decrease at the same time.


The flipside concerns what will happen to the efficiency / speed of uptake of fungicide applications made this week and particularly close to Thursday because that dramatic drop in temperatures will really shut down growth and hence plant nutrient / fungicide A.I uptake, so if you’ve got active disease, either spray soonest this week or add some low-temperature N to the tankmix, provided its compatible of course 🙂


Grass growth has been amazing over the last week or so, pushed on by unusually high day / night temperatures and a soil temperature sitting +4°C higher than the same time last year (15.7°C vs. 11°C)

If we use GDD calculations we have GDD daily totals of 12 at the moment, whereas this time last year, they were only 4, so that means the grass plant is able to grow 3 times as much at the moment. To give you an idea how abrupt this week’s temperature transition is going to be, I expect a GDD of 1.5 on Thursday, so in other words growth will come to a grinding halt for a few days.

Plant Nutrition…

If you’re planning to apply nutrient this week, unless you an apply today or first thing tomorrow, personally I’d skip it and just apply iron to keep the colour through the transition and then wait for the weather and the grass plant to settle down again before making a nutrient application. This won’t take long, probably the early part of next week before it’s receptive again I reckon…

Worm activity…

I expect to see a lot of worm activity with the arrival of unsettled weather over the coming weekend  and into next week, so maybe if you’re timing a Carbendazim application, you may want to take this into account…


Thanks for all the feedback from last week’s blog, all comments are appreciated, we don’t have to always agree, for sure life is a balance, we’re all entitled to our opinion :)…so cheers, it does make doing this blog easier and worthwhile for me..

All the best…

Mark Hunt








October 2nd


Hi All,

As predicted last week, I missed my blog slot on Monday as I was attending my first European MonteCarloTurfgrass Society (ETS) field trip in Monte Carlo. It was quite an eye-opener on lots of fronts, firstly Monaco, what can you say, on the positive side, the weather and normal people were nice, on the negative side, every scrap of space is built on, underground, sideways, upwards, whatever… for me it’s one big chicken coop. That yacht in the background cost a cool £62 million, but the good news for any of you who fancy it, is that it can be hired for a snip….well I say a snip, it’s actually €399,000 a week + of course expenses, whatever that might be ! 🙂 😛

So ok I can see you’re looking at this picture and thinking what a jollie Mark’s been on, lazy so and so, couldn’t be a**ed to do his blog, too busy sitting on the front sipping a lime Cachaca, people watching (ahem), whilst you guys battle the highest disease pressure we’ve probably known….. That’s not an accurate version of events, so what is ?, what do ETS do ?


Well they organise very good field trips and conferences on turfgrass research and I have to say after my first experience I’ll be going back because it was invaluable in terms of sitting with researchers from the U.S, southern and northern Europe and talking turfgrass, that’s what floats my boat, big time…

If you want to learn more about them, follow the link here , but here is a flavour of the topics covered…

ETS Program

I’ll be chatting through some of what I learnt in the agronomic notes, but the weather awaits and after having one lad telling me it was 18°C as he drove into work this morning and close to 100% humidity, it needs some discussion….


Courtesy of Meteoblue

General Weather Information

As you can see from the image above, we are still in the grips of a warm peak in the jet stream and although we’re receiving welcome rain in most places, this combination of weather is making life tricky from an agronomic perspective, so what’s in store for this slightly shorter than usual weather forecast ?

Looking to the rest of Wednesday, we have a heavy band of rain pushing into the south-east corner of Ireland (Munster / Leinster) this evening and that will mostly affect the east coast of Ireland overnight, but it will also push into western Wales and the west coast of the U.K as well later into the night. Elsewhere it’ll be a dull, misty, mild night (again) so not great from a disease perspective I’m afraid.

Moving onto Thursday, that rain band will stay in position overnight over Ireland and the U.K and if anything intensify for the morning rush hour, so potentially some more heavy downpours affecting the east coast of Ireland, particularly Munster in the afternoon. Temperatures will remain mild, high teens, low twenties even in the south-east, accompanied by a south-easterly wind. The rain affecting the west coast of the U.K will drift eastwards to affect the south coast, south-east and Midlands during the afternoon. Later on, a heavier band of rain moves into the south coast of England and rapidly pushes up affecting all of the U.K overnight into Friday. That rain will be heavy, particularly in the north, north-west of England and Scotland.

For Friday, we still have that rain affecting the east coast of Ireland, northern England and Scotland and I expect flooding here for sure. Further south it’ll start off dry, but a weaker band of rain will push into the south-west of England and move across the U.K during the morning / afternoon, so more rain, albeit lighter in nature than Thursday’s for many. Temperatures will be mid to high teens and again that wind will be south / south-east in nature, but much lighter.

For the weekend, it’s not looking too bad….Firstly it’s going to be dry, a little cooler, down to mid-teens, dull, light cloud cover, breaking towards eastern coasts first on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and the winds will be light. Can’t be knocked for early October, except the dew will be back I guess….

Weather Outlook

At this stage it’s looking like high pressure is set to build over the continent and bring back the Indian Summer for next week, so warm during the day (high teens I think) , cool at night (single figures, prompting the return of heavy dews) and dry, with light winds. Looking even further I can see a low forming in the south Atlantic that’ll push up, most likely for late weekend after next and this may bring back the unsettled theme to the weather mid-month.

Agronomic Notes

Ok what to talk about, well it has to be…..

Disease Pressure

Last month saw perhaps unrivalled disease pressure for September, with very warm days, warm / mild nights and very high humidity, > 90% for alot of the U.K. (particularly The Midlands south..). To make matters worse, we also had periods of heavy, localised rainfall and very cold nights, down to 2°C in places and this really affected fungicide uptake and performance.

The GDD and rainfall chart below highlights the periods of the month when disease pressure was high ;


The same graph below highlights periods when uptake of systemic fungicides was poor because of cold nights, low GDD and hence low uptake potential of systemic fungicides.


So it was a real bitch of a month to be plain, periods of high growth potential when fungal populations were stimulated  and applied fungicides were removed from the leaf over short periods of time followed by sudden drop off in temperatures when uptake of systemic fungicides was poor.

Fungicide Lag

The latter generated a lag in uptake for root-absorbed, XMS (Xylem mobile systemic) fungicides, during which time the plant was un-protected and so disease got a hold. Examples include Tebuconazole, Propiconazole, Azoxystrobin, to name but a few. There was however another problem, just to really make life interesting…

Question – When is a Contact not a Contact ?

The answer is, when it’s a Contact Protectant…. I’ll explain…

At the risk of getting hauled over the coals by certain companies in our industry I’m going to tackle this subject, but a word to them first….any subsequent correspondence will be published in this blog.


Currently we have two types of ‘contact’ fungicides available to us in various products / formulations / concentrations / combinations from various companies, they fall into the following categories ;

Contact Protectants

These active ingredients remain by and large on the surface of the leaf and in so doing they affect pathogenic fungal mycelium and spores on the plant leaf surface. They are excellent protectant chemistries for use when the grass leaf is clean or during / prior to periods of dormant growth because their longevity is increased. (They are not removed as fast because the clip rate is low) These include Fludioxonil and Chlorothalonil.

The problem is they have “little or no systemic activity” (to quote one of the companies own literature from the agricultural market). So if you have active disease, (which can be either visible as scarring or if in the early stages, invisible to the naked eye) and you apply a contact protectant, you will not get good control of the disease because the fungus is already IN the leaf and your active is ON the leaf.

To get fast control of active disease (visible or invisible to the naked eye) you’ll need to apply a local penetrant contact chemistry and here we have just one active ingredient, that is Iprodione. This A.I will move from the leaf surface into the leaf itself and thereby control active disease and that’s the difference. You may also achieve control by applying a local penetrant systemic fungicide, again there are a few of these available.

In trying to clear up the confusion on this subject area, I’m not saying one type of chemistry or one companies products are better than the other, that’s not my purpose. They both have advantages and disadvantages, but the key is to understand the difference, understand where your turf is at and select the right type of A.I, regardless of company…

The problem is end-users are being sold products under the broad term ‘contacts’ and as such the understanding is that they will control visible disease quickly, but when they contain contact protectants, they will not, that is not an accurate description of their mode of action and it is not an accurate expectation from the end-user.

So we have a situation like we had last month, It’s mild, muggy and humid….Johnny Bloggs goes out to his greens, sighs as he sees how wet the plant leaf is, even though he’s already taken the dew off once, sighs again when he sees how much grass is in the box and then curses as he sees the first signs of active disease on his greens.  So out comes the fungicide, let’s call it product A, with systemic and contact activity, except the contact features protectant-only chemistry (ies). He applies following the label recommendation and trots off home, content in the knowledge that he has applied the right product.

The next morning he comes in and the disease has got worse, pushed on by the high temperatures, humidity and dew. Ok he thinks, just a little lag before the fungicide kicks in. The next day the scars are growing, they’re much worse and on one or two of his problem greens, he has active mycelium clearly visible, how come ? he thinks, I’ve sprayed a contact and systemic fungicide ….. Not good, not good at all. Overnight the weather changes, we lose the high temperatures and it goes cold, so soil temperatures and growth drops, but the disease carries on moving because the systemic part of the product isn’t yet in the plant at high enough concentrations to achieve control.

What’s more it’s not going to get any better, any quicker, because the slow down in growth rate means less A.I is being taken up from the soil on a daily basis so the balance between disease populations and fungicide concentration in the plant is shifted in favour of the former. By this time a good % of the green is affected, enough for his members to start questioning why he hasn’t sprayed a fungicide or taken any other measures to control the disease.

It can then go a number of ways…..

  1. He can wait, confident that the systemic will eventually build up in sufficient concentration in the plant to achieve control. To make this judgement confidentally, he needs to look at the weather and see if the air / soil temperature and so uptake is likely to improve…This is a big balls approach, particularly if the members are kicking up, but ultimately it’s a balance between how much of the green is affected and how much pressure he’s getting…
  2. He might go back to the ChemSafe and repeat the application, with the same A.I’s and of course he doesn’t achieve any more immediate control than with the first application, plus he’s blown a lot of the clubs money.
  3. He applies a local penetrant chemistry to try and achieve control, this may or may not work by now, depending on how high the disease population has established, how conducive the conditions are for uptake and of course how quickly the chemistry is being removed from the leaf by cutting..

There are other factors in this complex equation, fungicide resistance and fungicide A.I microbial breakdown to name but two…

On the latter subject area, it was reported at the ETS that research work in Norway has shown that in certain situations (presumably where the same product has been applied year after year i.e poor fungicidal rotation) a specific microbial population develops that effectively feeds on the fungicide A.I, because after all these are often carbon chain compounds and that’s what some species of soil microbes feed on. (Actinomycetes for example) So the soil microbes break down the fungicide A.I and in so doing they effectively reduce the amount available for uptake by the plant leading to poor fungicide performance. I’ve read about this before with insecticides in the States like Nemacur, an organophosphate once used to control nematodes, but I’d never read about this ocurring with fungicides.

Now, I’m not saying this is happening everywhere, but it does again highlight the need to practice proper fungicide rotation, that is varying the products applied in terms of active ingredients. It also makes me concerned for the future when we will have less A.I’s available and so carrying this out will be harder to achieve.

I’ll end on a positive….At the ETS, there were two great presentations from researchers in Denmark and Norway, countries where I’d expected the attitude to be completely against pesticides and their use. This wasn’t the case, the presentations highlighted the political agenda present, which by and large was not based on factual evidence, “..not reality, just politics”…But to the contrary, these people had carried out excellent, applied-turf research to show how pesticides behaved in a proper rootzone, how little leached from that very effective grass filter system we all maintain and which A.I’s performed best in this scenario.

They had generated facts, facts that allowed them to make a case, an argument and in so doing, they had actually added a fungicide to the very small list available to the greenkeeper, totally against the political agenda.

Our industry needs more of this work, a lot more of this work if we are to make a case to the politicians / legislators, who make / shape our law. In the U.K, we have the Amenity Forum, a platform to have and take this discussion to the politicians, so we’re on the right track (good work by all those involved), but we need research, much more research, non-partisan in nature, to generate facts, to make our case, for our industry and thereby avoid being lumped in with agriculture.

Ok off the soapbox for this week…

The following GDD data for y.t.d, compiled by the ever-efficient Wendy, can be found at the links below ;

1. Monthly GDD data 2010 – 2013 hereGDDmonthlycomparisonJantoSept2010to2013image

2. Monthly Cumulative GDD data 2010 – 2013 here


3. Daily GDD data September 2013 here


All the best…

Mark Hunt