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