Monthly Archives: March 2014

March 31st


Hi All,

The last post of March and for many it follows a lovely weekendailyExpressd, with some warm temperatures pushing into the twenties in the south-east of England. It’s early days yet, but I see the tabloids are already at it (thanks for the tip off Stewart!) predicting our longest, hottest summer since 1910. Well there’s an old saying “One Swallow doesn’t make a Summer” and for sure I can predict with absolutely certainty, they haven’t got a clue what’s coming.

That said, I do think we’ll have more of a handle on it over the course of the next two weeks because the first 2 weeks of April have proved significant in the past for setting the weather pattern for the coming months, certainly over the last 2-3 years anyway, coincidence maybe?  We’ll see…

General Weather Situation

Monday sees a dull misty start for many, with a band of rain sitting diagonally over Ireland stretching from Galway to Wicklow. Elsewhere after another mild night, temperatures will begin to climb if the sun burns off the cloud cover as it will do in The Midlands and south of England. Some areas may stay hazy for most of the day. Further west we have a rain band pushing into south-west Munster, south-west England and Wales during the early afternoon and this will progress north east over Ireland and the U.K. to bring some rain showers later in the day, though it’s likely the South, South-East and east coast will miss most of them. Scotland should be predominantly dry aside from those showers affecting western coasts in the afternoon. Temperatures inland will be similar to yesterday, so that’s high teens in the sun and mid-teens in the rain / cloud-affected areas. Winds will be southerly and light. Nice!

Onto Tuesday and that rain band intensifies early in the day to affect the north-east coast of England, the central belt and west coast of Scotland. There could also be some rain overnight for The Midlands and east coast of England. Elsewhere another lovely day once the morning mist has burnt off with temperatures climbing to the high teens, higher maybe in the south of England. Later in the day, a light band of rain will affect Ireland, probably more across central-west coast regions and also along the north-east coast of Scotland, but amounts look light initially, though they may be heavier in localised showers across Ireland on Tuesday night. Again winds will be light and swinging round to the east / south-east.

For Wednesday, we have another cracking day for The Midlands, north and south of England, however there’ll be more in terms of sunshine and showers across Ireland, with potentially some heavier rain for a time over Munster and the east coast of Leinster (though the West will get rain as well). Temperatures will be similar to Tuesday with hazy sunshine but, later in the day a band of rain will push into South Wales and consolidate into a heavier band across the south-west of England, Wales and the north-east coast of Leinster overnight into Thursday.  Scotland looks to have a dry one and mild, with temperatures particularly good along the west coast.

Overnight into Thursday, the rain band across the south-west of England and Wales tracks slowly eastwards along the south coast in time for the morning rush hour pushing up into The Midlands as it does so.  The rain is set to intensify over Wales, the south-west of England and follows a line along the M5 into The Midlands, so a wet day for many in that area. The same rain band will also affect Leinster, so maybe a wet start for Dublin. During the afternoon, that rain moves north into northern England, the north of Ireland; Donegal sort of way, so wet here for close of play Thursday. It’ll also feel much cooler particularly for Scotland from Thursday onwards.

Overnight into Friday that rain band clears most of Ireland, but is into Scotland early doors, leaving behind some light showery rain along the west coast of the U.K. and over north-west Ireland. It’ll feel a good bit cooler at the end of week as we lose those southern winds and they swing round to the south-west, so low teens are the order of the day for the close of the week.  The central and eastern side of the U.K. looks to be getting a good deal of sun for the end of the week, so maybe higher here, but through the afternoon, cloud will push over from the west, signalling the arrival of a low pressure system.

The weekend looks unsettled at this stage, with sunshine and showers the order of the day, I think, with a rain band crossing Ireland on Saturday morning and pushing eastwards to cross the U.K. during Saturday, maybe not reaching the east coast till late afternoon / evening. Sunday looks similar, unsettled, maybe drier in the central and southern parts of the U.K. but more rain is set to cross over Ireland and the U.K during the course of Sunday, so you’re never likely to be far away from a shower 🙂

Weather Outlook

With these warm winds disappearing, the weather will take more of a traditional April feel, with an unsettled outlook next week, cooler compared to this week, so low teens temperatures and windier from the south-west. It’ll feel potentially cool on Tuesday as those winds swing round to the north-west for a time before settling back down to south-westerlies from mid-week onwards. With the unsettled feel and cloud cover, we should be frost-free for the bulk of the week, however I think there’s a chance of frost by the end of next week. Plenty of rain around, particularly for the north and west.

Agronomic Notes

Growth-Degree Days

Firstly, I’d like to build up a picture of how these are progressing across the U.K. and Ireland, because it’s clear we have some big variations and for me to just publish data from The Oxfordshire isn’t the whole story. So for all of you recording them, would you mind emailing a total for the first 3 months of the year please and I’ll plot them out just like we do rainfall?

Using the GDD total for The Oxfordshire, we’ll be at or around 120GDD total by close of play today (End of March) and looking at what’s coming; i.e. a warm week till Friday and then cooler and unsettled thereafter, I have calculated we’ll be close to 150GDD at some point during during April 7th – April 14th. Previously that’s when we’ve seen Poa seedheads start to appear, so it’ll be interesting to correlate this year’s weather and Poa seedhead formation, I say Poa seedheads start to appear, that’s when we’ve started to see plenty of seedheads on the greens instead of the usual small amounts of annual plants that seed pretty much year round I think!

Again I’d be interested in your observations linked into your GDD readings because that’s how they’re the most use.

Talking of Poa seedheads, in the past I’ve been told that Poa seedheads kick in two weeks earlier in Ireland than they do over here, which if it’s true means that Irish Poa biotypes produce seedheads much earlier than U.K. ones because your GDD figures are a good way behind ours, except in the south-west of Ireland, where you’re ahead (see below) Again marrying GDD with actual observations is key to using it successfully.


Thanks to Aine from Cropcare for this information


So I think a lot of you in the U.K. from The Midlands south will probably have seen / be seeing a growth flush, as predicted last week and that will carry on through this week. Next week however we’ll see the growth dropping back because air temperatures will decline and we’ll also be into some colder nights. So the question remains, should you be applying a PGR just yet ?

I think the answer is yes and no 🙂

If you have both grass species growing on greens during this growth flush, using a light rate of PGR makes sense to keep a nice surface, however you’ll probably see a natural drop back anyway. Where it does make sense in my mind is on shaded areas where we want to maximise the plant’s usage of carbohydrate reserves. This is particularly true where the green / area is shaded by a deciduous tree canopy because we still have a few weeks before this comes into play. Not only does a tree canopy reduce the amount of light getting to an area of turf, but it also utilises the same wavelength as grass does, so it’s competing for light, rather than just obscuring it. So on shaded areas, I’d be tempted to use a light-rate PGR on managed areas if you have good grass cover and vigour.

The same applies to tees, approaches and complexes, but again only if you have good grass cover, sufficient recovery from the winter and growth rates are good, because you’re on top of your nutrition.

Plant Pathogens

I’ve had some reports of Fusarium activity after last Thursday’s rain and then the heat of the weekend (well Sunday mostly) but I expect this to be largely grown (growing) out with the growth flush we’re experiencing.

I’ve been doing some monitoring of plant parasitic nematodes (PPN) this year, via the ever-efficient Kate 🙂 and so far we’re seeing a hatch of Endoparasitic species, like Cyst and Root-Knot nematode, but low numbers of Ectoparasitic species, like Spiral, however I expect the latter to change quickly due to the recent and forecast warm weather, we’ll see. Again I’ll be trying to match GDD and PPN populations together through the year.

A number of you have asked about GDD and insect populations, namely Leatherjacket and Chafer Grubs, but I think the former would be very difficult to predict because they appear to have a number of over-lapping generations across a season. Certainly as a fly fisherman I’ve seen mature Daddy Longlegs on the water anytime from May onwards and this multi-generation  theory seems to be vindicated by an image I received on Friday from Adam (Cheers matey) showing a mature Crane Fly emerging from a green somewhere down south.


Interestingly you can make out some seedheads in the same shot, right down in the canopy 🙂 so maybe we are only 7-10 days away from the seedhead flush ?

Ok must dash, please don’t foget to email in those GDD totals for the first 3 months and we’ll see how good or bad you’ve had it !

All the best…

Mark Hunt


26th March – Mini Update

Hi Guys,

Just a quickie (story of my life) update to mention that we’ve got some good growth coming from the weekend onwards and with any luck for most of you this will extend nicely into next week, if you look at the chart below for a number of locations across the U.K and Ireland.

The key is some good night temperatures from Saturday onwards which will take the ‘handbrake’ off growth for both Bent and Poa species in my mind…


The graph above is downloadable here

What it shows is the value of GDD usage from a predictive perspective because we are looking at a growth flush and then nice gentle growth, fueled by Spring ‘sunshine and showers’ weather next week.

This may indeed also trigger some Fusarium but since we’ll have the growth as well, you should cut out most of the active disease without requiring a fungicide hit hopefully, but be on your guard nonetheless.

So if you’re sitting there with mottly greens, with the bent growing, the Poa sitting there not quite ready to wake up, this growth period should get things moving nicely especially if you have your nutrition in place.

The reason I’ve sent this through on a Wednesday is that you still have time to react before the weekend. So if I’m looking to kick the greens on after aeration, then I’d expect to use a granular product prior to the weekend to achieve this, if you have one down already, you should see a nice response from the weekend onwards through next week.

If you have a good surface, but you’ve lost some colour of late with the frosts on Monday morning and since, then a light liquid tonic using low temperature N forms (ammonium sulphate, nitrate, potassium nitrate, etc)  with iron will work really well to bring in the colour and most importantly uniformity.

Enjoy a ‘normal Spring’ for the next 7-10 days or so 🙂



By the way, being a sad b*****d I looked at the GDD figures for 2014 and 2013 and discovered that my Hedgehogs came out of hibernation more or less exactly at 95 GDD, measured since Jan 1st. Sad for them to know that they’re part of a scientific experiment !



Mark Hunt

March 24th


Hi All,

As I type this I’m listening to the neighbour scraping ice off his windscreenShadePic (resplendent in his dressing gown I’d add!) That after a ‘four seasons in one day’ weekend with sunshine, rain, hail, flat calm and howling winds all in the mix. Took this pic of the shadow from my car on my lawn, you can see how shade effects temperature and hence frost formation / thawing.

Spring for nature though continues at a pace, my Hedgehogs came out of hibernation a month earlier than last year, (and they’re well hungry)  I reckon I can develop a GDD model for them ! The first Sand and House Martins were buzzing over Thornton and Ravensthorpe reservoirs over the weekend, filling up on hatching midges after their long trek up from Africa… so whatever you think / thought first thing this morning, Spring is well on the way !

The underlying weather patterns are also changing, bear in mind over the last 2 years we have seen a shift in the jet stream at the beginning of April that has set the tone for the Spring / Summer, I’m watching it intently. One thing that appears to be happening at the moment is that the very strong jet stream current that we’ve had since mid-December is weakening markedly and you can see that from the lack of movement on the Unisys plots, it’s a very strange mix of high and low pressures, haven’t seen anything like it before and it’s going to be difficult to intepret over the next week or so…

General Weather Situation

Ok, so Monday looks fine and frosty for a large swathe of the U.K, but a rain front is already into Kerry and pushing north-eastwards across Ireland. By early – mid afternoon this will be into south Leinster and the south-west of England and gradually it’ll push up north-east. Overnight it’ll fizzle out, with the heaviest rain tracking along the M4 corridor, but the east of the country will stay dry. Winds will be from the south, but later in the day they’ll swing round to the south east for Tuesday. Scotland should be dry to the wee hours of Tuesday when that rain flirts with the north-west coast overnight into Tuesday.

This change in wind direction stops the rain from moving across to the east coast, with any remaining rain sitting over the south / south-east corner of the U.K and the north of Ireland. As the wind changes to the south-east, it pushes the rain back the other way, westwards, over Ireland and down across the south-west of England during Tuesday evening, so a wet end to the day there. Away from this rain it will be bright and breezy, with light to moderate winds and temperatures in the high single figures. Another dry day for Scotland.

Moving into Wednesday we look to be dry for most of the U.K and Ireland, however later into the afternoon, a rain front is projected to move off the continent and into the east coast of England, so although you guys missed the rain in the early part of the week, you’ll likely get it on Wednesday. Away from this rain front, it looks to stay dry, cloudier than of late as it drifts in from The North Sea and feeling cooler too, as the wind swings round to the north / north-west, so pegging back temperatures. That rain will fall as wintry showers over the higher ground of the north-east of England overnight into Thursday and may push all the way across to Wales and the east coast of Scotland overnight, again falling as wintry showers.

By Thursday morning, those wintry showers are into the east coast of Leinster and falling as snow over the higher ground of Wicklow no doubt. That band of weak rain / wintry showers will hang over Wales, the west coast of England and the central Highlands, so feeling cold in that wind which has now swung round to the south-east.  As we go through the day those showers die out and a lot of areas will see the sun, lifting temperatures a little to close out the day.

By Friday we have two narrow bands of rain projected to affect north-east Scotland and the other the south Midlands, but I think the latter could pop up anywhere in the south to be honest. As we go through the day, those showers are pushed out to sea by a south-east wind, but there’s still a chance of rain affecting the south-west, Bristol / Bath area and the north-west of Scotland as well. Temperatures will feel milder than of late, hitting low double figures as warmer air is pushed up from the south-east.

The weekend is looking ok ish, with Saturday at present the best looking day of the weekend as the wind swings round to the south, picking up the temperatures markedly in the south of the U.K, possibly to mid-double figures. For Ireland a rain band is expected into Munster by lunchtime Saturday and this may affect Connacht and Leinster through Saturday afternoon / evening. Sunday looks potentially wet along the west coast of England and Wales, though this may spread further east and cloudier elsewhere, with more cloud everywhere pegging back temperatures a little over Saturday. Winds will be moderate and from the south, dropping down as we go through the day. By late afternoon, that could cover may break to give a nice spell of sunshine over central areas.

Weather Outlook

As commented on earlier, the weather is a bit mixed up at the moment, however I’ll take a punt at it. W/C 24th March looks to start resonably well after the easterly winds that’ll dominate the end of this week are set to swing round over the course of next weekend and push in from the south. This shift in wind signals the arrival of an Atlantic low pressure system that brings milder air and rain to the west for the start of next week and by Tuesday some of this rain may be heavy over the U.K. This wet period will extend into Wednesday accompanied by some strong westerly winds, so mild temperatures are predicted. The remainder of the week looks to stay unsettled with the winds shifting round to the north-west at the end of the week, cooling things down a little. It will mean good growing weather though because with the cloud cover, we’ll lose some low night temperatures and that’ll allow some good daily GDD figures.

Agronomic Notes

Speaking of Growth-Degree Days, how are we looking for March so far in terms of the growth potential of the grass plant ?


From the chart above you can see that the growth pattern for March 2014 and March 2012 are similar and what’s more distinctly different (thank god) from March 2013, when nothing was actually happening due to the prolonged cold spell. Comparing March from 2014 and 2012 shows that up until yesterday we are ahead in growth terms (23rd March), with 38.0 total GDD in 2012 and 47 total GDD in 2014. As you can see the figure for 2013 was 12.5. With the cooler daytime temperatures expected this week, I don’t see us adding much to the total above, not least till Friday when temperatures begin to pick up again.


If we add up GDD to date, that puts us on 102.5 total GDD for the year to date 23rd March, we didn’t reach that total in 2013, till the 24th of April, so that suggests we’re 4 weeks ahead of last year from a growth potential perspective and 7 days ahead of 2012. Of course a lot will depend on what Mother Nature serves up for April, but if we carry on tracking like this, I’d say we’ll see the Poa Seedhead Flush at the end of April over here in the U.K and earlier usually in Ireland.

I say usually because currently the east coast of Ireland is tracking a good way down on the figures above from The Oxfordshire with total GDD’s up until yesterday varying between 45 (Cork), 65 (Wexford) and 50 for The Midlands. Over on the west coast, the figures are naturally higher (115 down on the tip of Co. Kerry). It will be interesting to see if the Poa does indeed seed earlier this year with these GDD’s….because in theory it should be later than central U.K for the east coast of Ireland and earlier by a week or so on the west.


There are an awful lot of Leatherjackets around currently, varying from small, Bibionid-size, right up to much larger larvae. If you are coring, aerating, vertidraining, etc make sure that you do a test plot to see if the area needs treatment beforehand because I saw a lot of countersunk patterns around old vertidrain holes last week indicating their presence. I guess the milder winter has meant much higher survival and more larvae closer to the surface…The same goes for Chafers…If you note an area that isn’t responding to nutrient applications, rainfall, aeration, etc particularly on outfield areas like fairways, winter sports pitches, do a test spray plot or put down a Hessian sack overnight to see if anything emerges.

Application Timing

With milder weather at the end of the week and rain expected in the early / mid part of next week, now is a good time to get your soil surfactant down and if you’ve noted grub activity, why not combine it with a Chlorpyrifos application (provided the products are tankmix compatible that is) to ensure that it is mixed into the soil layer uniformly.

Depending on what you’re trying to achieve nutritionally, the end of this week is a good time to fertiliser with a granular fertiliser, equally if you’re using liquids you should get good uptake on Friday prior to a warm (ish) weekend.

Poa – It’s one diverse species !

I took three little plugs from a golf green of similar looking Poa annua early on this year and transplanted them into a pot with a nice rootzone mix and then let them grow on (and up). The plugs looked pretty much identical when mowed at greens height, but look how different they are when they’re allowed to grow upwards. You can see tight, bunch type growth habits along with elongated, paler plants as well.


It’s no wonder that when we get to this time of year and we see mottling on the surface following aeration / fertility or both, when you have distinctly different Poa plants from a morphological perspective…These grow differently, uptake nutrients differently and have different leaf colours to boot !

Ok that’s it for this week, sorry it’s a bit late in the day, but you know the reason  (It’s that bloody full intray again)

All the best…

Mark Hunt

March 17th


Hi All,

LyddingtonWell I hope you have all enjoyed some cracking sunshine and yesterday, for the 2nd Sunday in succession, some lovely warm temperatures for most areas. Sadly, it isn’t going to last because our fickle friend the jet stream is taking a trip down south and that’ll allow a trough of much cooler air to follow it, so colder and wetter / unsettled is the outlook, with night frosts by the end of the week…(but don’t worry it’s not set to last, it’s just a reminder that we’re in March, not May…)

Coming to a beach near you..

Had to laugh the other day when I was following the movements of ‘Lydia – The Great White Shark’ on the web. (Click hereLydia to see where she is) You may have seen the news explaining that Lydia is the first electronically tagged Great White, who so far has swam 19,000 miles since tagging and is the first to have been tracked crossing the Mid-Atlantic Shelf, briefly heading towards Ireland.  The headline read “Great White off the Irish Coast!” conjuring up the prospect of a big dorsal breaking through the surf off Lahinch beach, sadly (cos I’d love to see one) it was just the power of the media again. Off the Irish coast turned out to be… 780 miles off the Irish coast to be exact! Shame 🙁

Ok back to matters more meteorological as I know a lot of you are doing aeration this week, so how many dry days have you got?

General Weather Situation

Monday looks to be starting off dry for most, but with a good amount of cloud cover (which has kept the frost away for most). There’s a weak rain front affecting the north-west coast of Scotland and this will slowly sink down south along the coast during the morning, with maybe some of that light rain reaching north-west England. During the afternoon, a weak rain front will also drift into west Munster and Connacht, but it looks nice and light at the moment. Temperatures in The Midlands and south of England will be mid to high teens and winds will be lighter than the weekend and from the north-west to west.

Overnight into Tuesday, the rain will also move south and east to affect most of Ireland, but also the North of England and mid-Wales and possibly the tip of the south-west of England. As it does so it’ll intensify, particularly over the north-west of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, sinking south into north-west England and principally affecting a line up from The Wash. Later in the afternoon, it may affect The Midlands and the eastern counties of Norfolk.  By the evening it’ll fizzle out in all but the extreme north-west fo Scotland. Temperatures will again be fine and dandy out of the rain, but a little down on Monday and winds still from the west.

Into Wednesday and a dry day for a lot of areas with only a rain front pushing into north-west Ireland and Scotland to spoil a completely dry picture. In most areas the sun will break through to push up temperatures, so a warm, dry day for The Midlands and central England, but enjoy it because we start to slip downhill from here 🙁 Later on Wednesday, that rain front affecting the north-west of Ireland and Scotland sinks south bringing heavy rain for the start of Thursday for Ireland and Scotland, with that rain falling as wintry showers further north over higher ground. By early afternoon, that rain band (/) is well into the north of England and Wales, clearing the north-west of Ireland though as it moves.  By Thursday evening, only the south-east of England looks dry, but the rain and cloud cover will keep overnight temperatures nicely up.

Overnight into Friday that rain is projected to affect the south of England in a diagonal line from the south-west of England to The Wash, with some rain falling as wintry showers over Wales and the north-west of Scotland. By Friday morning, you’ll notice a typical March ‘nip’ in the air because even though the winds will be still be westerly, their source is a cold, north low on it’s way to a place near you 🙁 For many areas Friday will be sunny and bright, but they’ll be plenty of spring showers popping up in the morning affecting the west side of the U.K. and Ireland and tracking eastwards across the latter again falling as wintry showers over the higher ground of Wales, The Pennines, The Lakes and north-west Scotland in particular. That won’t be the last of the wintry showers mind…

The forecast for the weekend looks tricky, with a very unsettled feel to the weather, cold in the south-west wind and the chance of significant snow showers over higher ground and perhaps even inland early on Saturday morning.  Later on this will fall as rain, but most areas will see some during Saturday with Ireland, Scotland and the west coast of England the most likely recipients early doors. The wind will still be from the west / south-west, but it’ll feel cold with temperatures in the mid to high single figures, but feeling colder in the wind. Sunday looks to stay unsettled with snow showers continuing over The Highlands of Scotland and a further heavy band of rain pushing down into Donegal and then sweeping across Ireland into the west of the U.K. later in the morning. There’ll still be some sunshine around through. It’ll also feel much colder at night with a chance of frost for both days of the weekend and the early part of the following week.

Weather Outlook

Monday next week looks to start off cold, dry and frosty by my reckoning, but by Tuesday the winds will flick round to the west and that’ll bring slightly milder temperatures, along with some rain which is projected to cross the U.K. and Ireland. As we move into mid-week, an Atlantic high nudges the low pressure trough in the jet stream out of the way, but unsettled conditions are never far away and so it looks like sunshine and showers towards the end of next week, as another low sneaks in. The air temperatures are set to be a little milder than the early part of the week, so hopefully we’ll lose the frosts and get back to some growth.

Agronomic Notes

A nice bit of positive GDD over the back end of last week, the weekend and probably till mid-week, this week, after which you can expect growth to pretty much shut down for the next week or so after that, as the air temperatures tumble. So if you’re aerating, don’t expect them to fly back out of the ground and heal quickly as the combination of colder air temperatures from Thursday onwards and some night frosts will knock growth on the head. We should come out of this next week though, as slightly milder air pushes in, so you won’t have to look at too much sand on the surface for too long (unless you have a Sweep and Fill Brush that is).

I know it sounds daft and some of you will probably get my voodoo doll back out of the cupboard, (thanks Michael) but some areas of the U.K could do with a little drop of rain just to wet up the surface. I say that because I know a lot of people are finishing off delayed winter project work and therefore they have turfed areas, or have overseeded worn areas from the winter and these are as dry as a bone in the top 10-20mm. The soil beneath though is still sitting comfortably wet with 50-60% soil moisture levels measured at the back end of last week at 3″ depth on outfield areas.

Disease Pressure

With moisture arriving at the end of this week onto a warm soil surface, I’d expect us to see some Fusarium pressure. Again please send through your feedback on any that you see and where it’s ocurring (wet, shady, microclimate greens or dry, open ones). Many of you have gone through the winter clean, despite it being one of the mildest and wettest and you may wonder why that is, I mean surely aren’t they perfect conditons for Microdochium Nivale? (Have to call it that, or else Kate will get her big latin stick out of the cupboard) Well not necessarily it seems and later on this year when I’ve hopefully completed some research on this area, I’ll elaborate further.

In the meantime please keep your comments on disease coming because it does help me to see a wider picture.

Why cutting label rates isn’t a good idea longer-term…

Talking of disease, I was sent in this picture (below) from a golf course in Germany where as you may know, they have reasonably restrictive fungicide legislation. I say reasonably restrictive because people often say to me: “That’s where they’re not allowed to use fungicides isn’t it ?”. Well no that’s not right. They have Azoxystrobin, Propiconazole, Boscalid (not over here), Pyraclostrobin and in some regions, they’re allowed to use Iprodione, but the rate is much lower than ours, equivalent to 4 litres a hectare of our standard 250 – 255 gm/l formulations I think (so they have no effective contact chemistry available).

Using fungicide chemistries at lower than label rates makes economic sense to some, but it isn’t good practice by any means. What it does is significantly increase the potential of the disease to become resistant to the active ingredient because rather than controlling the pathogen population effectively, you end up only controlling part of it and a portion will have been affected, but then re-grow. So gradually over the years you end up with a population unaffected by the fungicide active you’re using and if you don’t practice (or can’t because of the lack of available product / chemistries)  good rotation of A.I.’s, this is where you’ll end up… It’s a lesson also for the legislators, who came up with that rate? Because they obviously had no idea of plant pathogen populations and the potential for resistance.


Anyone like to pick a pin position here for the next hmmm 10 – 12 weeks ???

(Looks like some significant shading issues as well judging by the fairway in the background !)

So pity the course managers working in this scenario, for the U.K. and Ireland, we may also end up with less fungicide A.I.’s in the future, so remember when you do have to apply a fungicide, practice good A.I. rotation, don’t over-apply the same active repeatedly just because it’s working and don’t cut rate on a single A.I. It’s not big and it’s not clever!


Bit of a mixed bag depending on when you’re applying, but liquid foliar applications with iron made at the back end of last week and the beginning of this will work well whilst the air temperature stays up but, closer to the end of the week if you want a turf response (for aeration recovery for instance), it’s got to be granular, particularly with the moisture arriving as well. Even then this will be slow over the weekend and start of next week because of the return of night frosts.

Don’t despair though, it is still March and night frosts are to be expected. I looked back and even in the warmest Spring we’ve had for a while (2012), we had 8 night frosts in March down to -3°C.

With the return of moisture at the end of the week and over the weekend, it will be a good time to hit moss this week with high rates of ferrous sulphate.

Ok that’s it for this week, hopefully I’ll have some better weather to chat about next week.

Ciao for now

Mark Hunt


March 10th


Hi All,

Firstly, I’d just like to say thanks to the organisers for the Scottish Regional BIGGA Conference for making the day such a good one. It was good turn out and hopefully everybody enjoyed the talks, so cheers to John Young and all of the BIGGA team for their efforts.

Well I guess it would be remiss of me not to mention the beautiful day that we had yesterday, with temperatures peaking at 18.5°C here in The Midlands. Bloody hell though, wasn’t it parky first thing Saturday! I was on the ressie at Thornton and it was absolutely freezing until the sun broke through later in the morning. All that faded into insignificance yesterday with 11 hours of full-on sunshine. Everyone was out; everywhere; it was great to see. I took a picture of the same area of countryside, whilst out walking and it struck me how fickle the weather can be.

Last winter was long and drawn out, sometimes it felt like it was never going to end and you can see why when you look at the comparison in these pics, it’s the same ridge and field in both pics..


So how are we looking for the week ahead ?

General Weather Situation

Monday is quite a different day to Sunday for some of us because the wind has shifted away from westerly to the north-east, so that is dragging cloud cover off The North Sea and pegging back temperatures. It will be dry practically everywhere with the best chance of the sun over Ireland and the west coast of the U.K. I expect temperatures to be low double figures for most, maybe higher out of the wind and in the sun.

Overnight into Tuesday, the effect of that north-easterly wind is even more pronounced with lot’s of cloud cover – Haar, over the U.K. and central Leinster, Munster. This will mean it’ll be dull and very cool in the wind, such a difference from Sunday, but fear not, it is getting better… Temperatures for Tuesday will be single figures, but it will remain dry and with the cloud cover, frost-free.

Into mid-week, that high spins around a bit and we look to lose those cool winds and cloud cover. So temperatures picking up everywhere as that cloud cover breaks, so a dull start, but for most, the sun should break through in the afternoon giving a really lovely end to the day for Wednesday. Temperatures should hit the low to mid-teens, though the winds are easterly, so I expect lower temperatures along east sea coasts. The exception to this rosy picture may be the east coast of Leinster (Dublin) because there’s a chance that the winds will pull in cloud cover from the sea and peg back both temperatures and sunshine 🙁

Moving into Thursday, which promises to be the best day of the week with warm sunshine from the off after the early morning cloud cover has broken. The winds will swing round to the south, so temperatures will pick up nicely for most, touching the mid-teens, smart.

For Friday we have a bit more in the way of cloud cover about as a weak rain front pushes into northern Scotland and sinks slowly south. For central areas we look grand again, with warm temperatures, may be a tad down on Thursday, but nice all the same.  Ireland is a mirror image of the U.K. with more in the way of low cloud and drizzle for Donegal and Connacht. Further south and east it’ll be a grand day in terms of sunshine and warm.

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

Well not bad because we have another high pressure looking to establish itself, however they’ll be a low lurking as well and the battle between the two will force the winds into more of a northerly aspect, particularly for Saturday, so cooler with more cloud cover I’d say for Saturday. There’s also a chance of rain down the north-west coast of Scotland / England during the morning. Further south the cloud cover will clear and it looks fine and dandy.

Next Sunday at this stage is looking like a repeat of this Sunday just gone, with warm temperatures and lovely sunshine, so ‘Carpe Diem’ to you all. The exception to this will be over Scotland and the north of Ireland where more cloud cover will peg the temperatures back for most of the day.

Weather Outlook

I know a lot of you have got aeration in the diary for w/c 17th March, because I’ve already had the emails asking for a ‘Mystic Meg’ job on how the outlook is 🙂

It’s a tricky one because the projection is for the high pressure to decline and that’ll allow a weak low pressure to push in to the north and west bringing more cloud cover and some rain, though not heavy. The winds will swing round to the north-west, so for sure it’ll be cooler, but I expect it to stay dry in central areas and the south of England. The same for Ireland though the weather will be more unsettled here, particularly mid-week. As we go through next week, the winds will swing round to the west again and that’ll pick up temperatures from Thursday onwards, so a mild end to the week but a breezy one. Thereafter we’re stretching it, but I think a low will push down to bring rain for most the weekend after next (though that’s really pushing it forecast-wise!).

Agronomic notes

Last week I talked about how we are looking from a GDD perspective and showed how we are 4 weeks ahead of last year (my photos back that up). I have put together a chart showing how the growth has tracked according to GDD over the last 3 years and it really tells a story. Things to look out for are flat patterns on the yearly graphs which indicate no growth and steep patterns which indicate good growth potential.


Here’s just 2014 on it’s own….


So why isn’t my golf course looking like Augusta ??

We all have to deal with these……


The majority of golfers live in a bubble, one which seems to have its own weather system totally un-related to what we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Throw in a lawn at home that gets no foot traffic ‘cept for the neighbours cat and cut once a week at an inch if you’re lucky and they’re instantly qualified as a Greenkeeper… That may be doing them a disservice, but we know the craic, especially when we have that combination of night frosts and warm days, which keep soil temperature and growth down. I plotted out the first 10 days of March and you can see what I mean… (It’s downloadable here if you need it…)


Even though the first 5 days of March had ok day temperatures, it also had night frosts and so we had no positive growth-degree-days, so no growth potential. Even when we got to the end of last week and day air temperatures picked up, because the nights were still cold, the GDD is no higher than 3.5 – 4.0, which means slow growth. To give you an idea, a GDD of 6 is moderate growth and 12 is really strong growth, so that means we’re only just ticking along at present.

Looking at the week coming up I reckon we’ll see the following from a GDD perspective…

Mon     Tue    Wed    Thur     Fri    Sat     Sun

0.5         0        2.0        3.5       3.0    2.0       5.0

So that means very little growth for the early part of the week, getting a bit better as we approach the end of the week and then a good growth day on Sunday, before dropping back again. Of course if you’re sitting higher up elevation-wise or have shaded greens, that’ll be worse.

For me that’s the beauty of using GDD, it explains potential growth patterns in a way far better than just saying “The ground is still cold and saturated”……

My greens have gone purple again….



Here’s an abridged explanation from Dr. Peter Dernoeden, University of Maryland:


“Why do putting green grasses turn red, blue, or purple?  The cool to cold temperatures trigger the color responses.  The sunny, bright, and warm days stimulate plants to produce large amounts of sugars (through photosynthesis) in leaf blades and sheathes.  At night, the sugars must be translocated out of the leaves to crowns for storage or use in other physiological processes.  When nights are very cool or frosty the sugars are not completely moved out of the leaves and they accumulate.  There are many types of sugars.  Glucose is a common plant sugar and sometimes glucose molecules are chemically bound with anthocyanins.  Anthocyanins are pigments and their function in plants is unclear.  They provide the red, purple, and blue colors in flowers.  Anthocyanins are always present in leaves, but normally are masked by the presence of chlorophyll.  They are expressed in the foliage of trees during cool and bright weather to provide the spectacular colors in autumn leaves.  Hence, bentgrasses may experience a similar accumulation of sugar, and therefore anthocyanins, following the first cool or frosty night of fall.  Frost injury may denature the green chlorophyll, thereby exposing the anthocyanin pigment.  These colors may intensify and persist throughout winter months and slowly disappear in mid-spring after the turf begins active growth”


In our situation we see it on Poa biotypes in the Spring and often you see it first on the more exposed, open greens as these exhibit the widest temperature differentials, i.e. they heat up more in the day and then cool down at night. Shaded greens don’t tend to show it as markedly at this time of year… It will grow out when we lose cold, cool night temperatures and we then get some good GDD’s on the chart…

Ok I must dash, time to earn a crust…

All the best….

Mark Hunt