Monthly Archives: July 2014

July 28th


Hi All,

Firstly, apologies for last week’s blog, we had to publish it twice so many of you will have got more than one notification, hopefully this week it’ll go more smoothly 🙂 Rainpattern2014Another very warm week for most last week with temperatures hitting 30ºC at the end of the week and over the weekend. This week will be cooler, but still very pleasant until the weekend that is…

We also had some very heavy thunderstorms in the south and south-east of England on Friday, prompting the veritable Kate Entwistle to complain on Facebook that I didn’t forecast it !!!!! I mean Kate using social media against me, just not fair…!! Now if you do insist on living closer to the equator down that neck of the woods, you should expect the unexpected when it comes to rainfall 😛

On a serious note, we’ve had two patterns of rainfall of late, (see image right) one from the north-west, one from the continent affecting the south-east and south of England, but that gap in the middle is extremely dry and has seen nothing of the rain, so I expect when we get to tally up this year’s rainfall, it’ll be the central and eastern belt of the U.K that’s the driest. (again)

General Weather Situation

Well it’ll be a cooler week this week than last, still pleasant though and with more tolerable night temperatures to boot. By the end of the week, we may even see some rain for most areas and certainly for the start of next week there’s a significant change on the horizon.

Monday is starting off fine and dry for most of us, except those affected by that continent rain front, so that’s the south-east of England, south coast along to the south-west of England. Elsewhere it’s dry, warm and pleasant with hazy high cloud.

* Stop Press * – Nathan at Sutton Green Golf Club, near Guildford has just reported 52mm of rain so far today with 35mm in 45 minutes, so they’re getting clattered, plenty of bunker pumping and raking for tomorrow I guess 🙁

That’s the way it’s set to stay with rain on and off in those areas during the day and later on this afternoon, a new rain front pushes into Connacht to bring a wet conclusion to the day. Out of the rain, winds will be light and from the south-east with temperatures in their low to mid-twenties.

Tuesday looks a much better day for the south of the U.K, but that rain front over Ireland looks to push south and east across most of the country through the day, weakening as it does so. Tuesday morning also sees rain into the north-west of Scotland pushing south into The Lakes and north-western England probably reaching as far south as Manchester before dissipating. Elsewhere it’ll be fine and dry, with temperatures in the low twenties and light to moderate north-westerly winds.

Mid-week sees more rain affecting the north-west of Scotland pushing south over most of Scotland through the day. Elsewhere it’s another fine, bright, sunny day with temperatures in the low to mid twenties.

Thursday sees more rain for the north-west of Scotland, but there’s also the strong possibility of some of this rain coming into Connacht / Donegal and pushing south eastwards across Ireland through the day. Again south of this line and very much like the pattern I showed at the beginning of this blog, it’ll be fine, dry and warm with similar temperatures to Wednesday. Winds will be light and from the north-west.

Friday sees a much more unsettled picture as a low pressure system starts to spread it’s influence further south. So more risk of rain for most of Friday, again it’ll be concentrated in the north-west of the U.K initially, but it’ll soon spread across Ireland, Wales and the south-west of England through the morning and it may just creep into The Midlands, but we’ll see. As the low pressure rotates around, it’ll move this rain northwards later on Friday night into the north of England and Scotland, with some potentially heavy bursts amongst it. Temperatures will be a little cooler under that cloud, high teens / low twenties the order of the day.

The weekend is looking pretty unsettled, certainly from the M4 up to the north of England inlcuding The Midlands where there’s risk of heavy rain during the day on Saturday and also with rain over Scotland courtesy of that low pressure. Between the two it should be fine and dandy, cooler though with more cloud cover, but pleasant all the same. Sunday looks much the better day of the weekend with that rain clearing the north and Scotland and leaving a dry, warm, pleasant day for many.

Weather Outlook

So lads who’ve had lot’s of rain lately will be asking if it’s going to continue and lads who have had note will be asking if they’ve going to get any ? Well I think next week will see a very rare (for this summer) Atlantic low pressure system coming into play, just in time for my annual pilgrimage to Denmark for our family reunion, so that means a wet and windy Jylland is on the cards. So after a nice Sunday, I think Monday will be quiet before rain arrives into Ireland and then the west of England pushing across the U.K on Tuesday and Wednesday. It also looks like we may have a very heavy bout of rain following it later in the week so potentially Thursday and Friday may be very wet indeed. Temperatures will be high teens, cooler and fresher with the wind from the south-west.

Agronomic Notes

Seriously High E.T and why I think the Growth Potential Model Base Temperature is wrong for Poa annua

Got some E.T data from Sean (cheers) at The Oxfordshire and as you can see we’ve shifted alot of water out of the soil over the last two weeks, despite the fact that some of you may have got it topped up again in a pretty significant fashion!


As you can see from the above, we’ve lost 65.7mm of moisture from the turf canopy over the last 14 days, I think that’s the highest I can ever remember seeing. Based on the fact that you need to replace 50% by irrigation and / or rainfall that makes a 32.85mm requirement. It means a lot of plant stress and that’s where I come on to the Growth Potential calculation.

As some of you may remember (or already know) the model is set with an optimum growth temperature of 20ºC and therefore if we have an average temperature of 20ºC across the day and night that means we’ll have a GP figure of 1.0, which is optimum. Looking at the chart above, the GP has been close to 1.0 all the way through the last week, except for Saturday when the maximum air temperature went to 32ºC at The Oxfordshire, so the GP dropped. For me I think Poa has been under stress for the last two weeks and so the GP model should be showing this with a lowered daily figure, but it’s not and therefore I think the optimum temperature is set too high at 20ºC, it should be more like 18ºC, so that’s what I’m going to change to in 2015.

 Nitrogen in the rain

Last week I mentioned about the fact that rain during lightning often carries with it extra nitrogen because of oxidation in the atmosphere. lightning1Well I took two samples last week, one in a morning storm that showed about 0.25kg / N / Ha per inch of rainfall and the other later in the evening recorded 1.25kg / N / Ha per inch of rainfall, which is quite a whack really and the highest I’ve measured in the U.K. So Kate if you’re getting a lot of thunderstorms down your way, take a chill pill, because at least you won’t have to go out and fertilise the lawn for a while! Interestingly the pH of both storms was the same at 6.4.

Disease Outlook


As you’d expect with the combination of temperature, humidity and rainfall, this summer’s list of diseases continues to increase….

A first for me was this Bipolaris Leaf Spot recorded on a course in The Midlands last week. Appearances are deceptive because I thought it might be Pearlwort die-back (though we’re a little early for that) or Spiral nematodes, but it turned out to be Bipolaris. Reading up it needs consistent high temperature and humidity to become pathogenic and that’s just what we’ve had over the last fortnight…

Other than that we have plenty of Fairy Ring, Thatch Collapse and Superficials doing the rounds and I think ‘if and when’ the moisture arrives, Microdochium nivale (Fusarium to you and me) will become very aggressive, more so next week when it’s cooler and wetter.

Ok that’s it for now…time to dash, Mazz put the kettle on for 1.35 please 🙂

Mark Hunt


July 21st

Hi All,

Well what a weather week that was, temperatures touching 32°C in sunny Gravesend (hope your tan is coming on Lee 🙂 ) and then that break down which actually started on Thursday night, as thunderstorms came up from The Bay of Biscay into south-west England and moved up country. I was fishing on Saturday at Thornton reservoir and saw the storm approaching over the village, I thought it was going to pass by, but 10 minutes later all hell broke lose. Thornton180714Sitting in a boat on a reservoir with a carbon fly rod isn’t the most sensible thing to do, so I beached the boat and sat in a copse getting thoroughly soaked and crossing everything when the lightning came close… nice.

I’ve put together a series of graphics from NetWeather’s lightning archive which shows the track of the storms starting on Thursday and finishing with the flooding over the east side of the country on Sunday night when Canvay Island got clattered (no jokes please!)


Images courtesy of NetWeather’s Lightning Archive

Apart from the lightning and rain, we can expect a nice nitrogen input from all those storms as nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere is oxidised to nitrate nitrogen by lightning and this then falls in the rain as a dilute liquid feed, hence the reason turf always greens up after a thunderstorm. I took 2 samples from Friday’s rainstorms as they were falling, (cue neighbours curtains twitching) so I’ll let you know how much nitrogen they contained in next weeks blog.

So how is this weeks weather shaping up?

General Weather Situation

Well, it’s going to be a lot quieter and drier this week, except for Ireland which may pick up some rain courtesy of an Atlantic front. We’ll also have some cooler nights of late, so in the low to mid-teens, instead of 20°C plus, which should make sleeping a better proposition 🙁 So Monday looks like starting off nice and dry with hazy sunshine for most, with the only fly in the ointment being rain over the south-west of Ireland which will creep slowly across country, dissipating as it does so…For the U.K it looks like being a very pleasant day, temperatures up in the low twenties and a gentle north-west wind. At the back end of the day, there’s just a chance of some continental rain drifting across The Channel to affect the far south-east of England.

For Tuesday we have a similar picture, but with less cloud cover, temperatures will pick up to low-mid twenties and it looks like being a lovely day. For Ireland again we have a rain front moving up the west coast during the morning but this time it looks to just track up the west of Munster and Connacht rather than moving inland. The wind will also move round to the east later on Tuesday.

For mid-week we have an identical day to Tuesday, warm, dry and bright across the entire U.K and with just the chance of a rain front skirting along the west coast of Ireland through the day.

Thursday again looks similar initially, but there is more chance of catching a shower particularly across Ireland as that rain front looks to extend across the whole country during Thursday. By the afternoon there’s also the chance of some rain showers pushing up from the continent into the south-east / west of England and into Wales. The rest of the country should stay bright, dry and warm with similar temperatures to Tuesday and Wednesday.

Closing the week out we have a subtle change in the weather as low pressure begins to introduce some moisture into the equation, it’ll still be nice weather, but we’ll have a higher risk of some light rain moving over from the continent for Friday particlarly for the afternoon. So potentially some rainfall (though light I think) for the east coast of Ireland during the afternoon / evening and also for the south-east / east of England tracking westwards through the afternoon. These showers hould become isolated by the evening though. Temperature’s will be a little lower, (low twenties) for the end of the week as that wind swings round to the north east.

So how’s the weekend looking ?

More of the same really with a higher potential for rain over the north-west of Ireland and Scotland on Saturday, plus the risk of some isolated showers over the U.K during the day. Temperatures will still be low twenties, perhaps a tad higher, but sunny between those isolated showers. The same is true for Sunday, a mix of sunshine and showers, more prevalent in the north-west of the U.K and Ireland, but pleasantly warm during the day. Winds will be from the north-west.

Agronomic Notes

As predicted, last week’s warm, hot, humid weather turned up some of our more exotic diseases, with an abundance of Fairy Rings and Superficial Fairy Ring to boot. One disease that made an appearance on a number of courses was Waitea Patch. (Pronounced “Wait-here”)


Closely resembling Superficial Fairy Ring (SFR), this disease is actually a Rhizoctonia sp. and tends to pop up at pretty much the same time as well. It’s tricky to tell the difference between the two diseases, certainly Waitea doesn’t have as strong a musty smell, nor can you see the cottony white mycelium as I discussed last week with SFR.

Waitea Patch loves moisture so it typically occurs on wetter greens, those in the shade are a favourite. Hand watering will actually make it even more pronounced, so that’s why it’s important to know the difference because if you treat it like SFR, you’ll only make things worse. Normally it doesn’t take turf out totally (Unless you know different Kate ?) , but does look unattractive because it’s bright yellow, however as conditions change (temperature and humidity lower and areas are dried out) it will tend to fade into the background, often re-occurring again with rainfall and / or irrigation. The most effective treatment is Azoxystrobin applied in a good water volume (600L / Ha) and accompanied by a couple of passes of irrigation to just push it off the leaf into the surface, rather than drenching it through.

Fairy Ring Update

Last week I showed you an image of Type 2 Fairy Ring with the different moisture %, within, on the edge and outside of the patch:


As I commented, the inside of the Type 1 Fairy Ring was hydrophobic (water repellent) and consequently showing low moisture levels to the point of stressing the turf.

The areas were then treated with a wetting agent tablet and hand-watered (along with some rainfall). As of Friday, the moisture levels have increased to around 10% within the patch and the turf is recovering.

It begs the question when we look at Fairy Ring management whether we should bother with application of a fungicide ? In my mind we are dealing with the symptom, not the cause, by doing so, i.e Fairy Rings tend to occur where there is surplus organic matter, often in areas away from the pattern of play (on a golf green this would mean away from traffic paths and pin positions), so unless this is dealt with by aeration, we will just see the same pattern occurring year after year. (requiring the same fungicide treatment)

Now before you all comment that you have Fairy Rings, but no fibre, I accept that it’s perfectly normal to sometimes see them where fibre levels are under control. In this case, simple pressing down on the affected areas will show no dishing and therefore no disruption of the playing surface. So a bit of hand-watering, wetting agent usage will clear it up no problem. My concern is where fibre is excessive just treating with a fungicide is dealing with the symptom not the cause.

Plant Pathogenic Nematodes (PPN)

Plenty of activity around from these little buggers at present because being Poikilotherms (Organisms that are unable to regulate their internal temperature), the warmth through this spring and summer to date is boosting their activity. Now I know we have a very good support system in place for dealing with PPN’s, but it’s worth noting that if you have an analysis done and it identifes a number of species, it won’t always highlight which of the PPN’s present is causing the actual turf symptoms, so here’s a few images and notes to help you on the way…


Symptom – Loss of Poa in sward, ingression by bentgrass species, can resemble thatch fungus, but doesn’t have musty smell or localised hydrophobicity,

Likely Cause – Endoparasitic species probably Sub Anguina, Heterodera


Symptom – Yellowing of sward in irregular patches, can be complete circles, but more often irregular, horse shoe shaped, During July-September may result in turf loss where very high localised PPN populations are present.

Likely Cause – Ectoparasitic species probably Spiral, Stunt, Sheath species (or all three)

One of the single-most important points to take on board when dealing with PPN’s is that there is usually a contributing factor present that weakens the plant and thereby causes expression of the symptoms. It’s also fair to say that removing this contributory factor (rather than the nematodes) often results in turf recovery.

It’s quite possible for a healthy grass plant to withstand the presence of a PPN, but when the plant goes under stress, sometimes it cannot cope with the combination of PPN and stress and begins to suffer.

Types of stress that I have seen cause issues are ;

  • Inadequate aeration results in poor root system due to thatch, compact fibre, bridged rooting and renders plant more vunerable to damage by a PPN.
  • Over-use of PGR (rate) causes Poa to weaken and reduces growth rate.
  • Excessive N fertilisation produces poor root system as plant puts its efforts into leaf and shoot growth at the expense of root development.
  • Inadequate N fertilisation produces a weak plant unable to produce enough leaf, shoot and root growth to ‘grow away’ from effect of pathogen.
  • Tornament conditions – use of grooved rollers, low cutting heights, frequent cutting, etc applies increased stress on the grass plant.
  • High sustained temperatures applies E.T stress to the plant and damaged root system is unable to provide necessary moisture ot the plant.

I’m sure most areas of turf have PPN populations, the rub is that they only become an issue when management or the environment (or both) applies a stress to the grass plant.

If you don’t agree with the contributing plant stress theory, explain the picture below that shows Spiral nematode patches in the three lines caused by driving a triple over a green during high temperatures when the plant was at wilt point…


Ok that’s all for now, back to the grind. Enjoy the week…

Mark Hunt


July 14th


Hi All,

Well another World Cup is over. Personally I love a good World Cup FiWorldCupnal, everybody is so fixated on the telly at home that the roads are deserted, so I always make a point of using the opportunity to have a nice flat out blat 🙂 On a serious note congratulations to Germany, well deserved I think…..

Weather-wise, we’ve been a bit topsy-turvy, with an east-west divide along the A1 / M11 sort of orientation, with some unforecasted rainfall popping up from the continent on Saturday night, we knew the rain might come, but it was the amount…we collected 13.5mm overnight into Sunday and another 4mm during Sunday morning….

The coming week is going to give us more of the same, not for the first part of the week, but the second, as we’re set to have some pretty high temperatures and then moisture mATDLightningoving up from the continent so that means a high likelihood of thunderstorms at the end of this week and possibly into the weekend…If you have an event on this weekend at your facility remember you can use the UK – Lightning Detector (I think it works for Ireland as well) as a guide to see where the storms are occurring and if they’re coming your way. You can access the page directly on Netweather’s site here


So how are we looking this week ?

For Monday we have a dry start for most except western Ireland where a band of rain is pushing in during the morning and set to move across the whole country and into Scotland by lunchtime. By early evening it should clear Ireland but by then it’ll be in to the north-west of England and Wales pushing inland during late evening on a brisk westerly wind. Temperatures will be high teens in the rain and low twenties out of it. (Midlands south)

By Tuesday that rain will have fizzled out for everywhere except the far north-west of Scotland to give a bright start with hazy sunshine and a moderate westerly wind. Temperatures will be high teens in the west / low twenties in the east and south and a lovely day really. By late evening a pulse of rain is due to afffect Connacht 🙁

Overnight into Wednesday that rain front will bring showers across Ireland though more orientated along the west coast. By the morning that rain will also be into the Western Isles of Scotland, so a wet day there in prospect. South of this it looks like being another lovely day, but there’s a subtle change on the way as the temperature will begin to climb, tipping into the mid-twenties for the south of England on Wednesday afternoon.

By Thursday you’ll note that the wind will have swung round to the south and that’s the precursor for three things, higher temperatures, continental rainfall and thunderstorms for the end of the week / weekend. So we have a southerly wind and the prospect of continental rain (again, how many times have I written that this year ??) with showers over central and western Scotland popping up late morning co-inciding with a pusle of rain pushing up from The Bay of Biscay into south-west England during the morning and heading northward and eastwards through the 2nd part of Thursday. You know the drill by now, look at the weather closer to Thursday and the radar images to see where it’s coming from and heading to….

So we have rain, some of it potentially heavy moving up from France early doors on Friday, now at present the heaviest rain is expected to make landfall east of the Isle of Wight and then head up the east coast of the U.K (probably along the M11 / A1 !) . They’ll also be some lighter showers for Ireland and the west coast of the U.K, but the west will miss most of the worst rain (again). By lunchtime that rain should be up into The Midlands and north of England clearing the south to leave bright skies and high temperatures. The afternoon will also see rain into the north-west of Ireland and this may move south and east through the afternoon on Friday to affect most of Ireland. (though the east coast may miss it) Later on Friday night that rain is into Scotland, but amounts shouldn’t be too heavy. The wind will also be blustery, sometimes from the south, sometimes from the east, depending on where you’re situated.

Temperatures will be bloody warm into the high twenties in the south of England, possibly touching 30°C for the first time this year and with high humidity, so it’ll feel right close like.

With the combination of moisture and high temperature I think Friday night may mean thunderstorms, which is great because I love looking at lightning at night, it’s kind of surreal isn’t it ? (or maybe I’m kind of strange ?…no comments please…)


So how are we looking for the weekend ?

Well, we look to be unsettled for Saturday at least with rain pushing into south-west Ireland early doors and the south of England not long after. This rain will push northwards getting heavier as it does so and possibly accompanied by thunder and lightning. Scotland should stay dry till late afternoon before the rain reaches there as well. It’ll still feel very warm, humid with temperatures remaining in the mid to high twenties over the southern part of the U.K. Sunday looks to carry that rainfall over, but it should be the drier, brighter of the two days with the biggest threat of rain along the eastern coastline of the U.K, though the south-east may pick up some rain later on Sunday.

Weather Outlook

Well it looks like continuing warm, though perhaps not quite as warm as the end of this week, so more like low twenties, temperature-wise and with high pressure in charge we should be set fair and dry till the end of next week when there’s a possibility of a low pressure swinging down to bring a fresher feel to the weather and a more unsettled theme to round out July. (maybe)

Agronomic Notes

Looking at the upcoming combination of temperature, rainfall and humidity, it’s likely to bring some of the more rarer turf diseases out to play, namely Oscillatoria, Brown Patch and Dollar Spot, so be on your guard. We will also see another surge in Fairy Ring activity, more on that below.

I appreciate it won’t affect the whole country, but where it does it’s worth mentioning that turf tends to become quite ‘puffy’ during these kind of conditions and so it’s critical not to go into it with too much nitrogen in the leaf and / or moisture in the rootzone. I’d be looking for low N inputs at the moment, 5-6kg/N/Ha and using slow release N sources as well because they won’t release quickly. A fast growing plant will require more moisture from the rootzone, but when the air is very warm and saturated, it is unable to lose it to the atmosphere, so it effectively cooks. A bit like us not being able to sweat as well in high temp / high humidity conditions.

PGR’s definitely help if the plant is regulated prior to the onset of the conditions, I wouldn’t for example go whapping around with high rates of TE at the end of this week. Keep the rootzone moist but not over-watering and use hand-watering (if time and labour are available) to keep on top of those dry patches.

TE and application rate / frequency during the summer

I mentioned this earlier in the year but some of the work coming out of the States suggests that TE is less effective when applied in the summer because the TE molecule is broken down faster in the plant duirng periods of high temperature. For this reason I’d suggest shortening the frequency of application rather than increasing the application rate to achieve regulation of the grass plant during the summer months, but only if you are experiencing warm conditions and less efficacy than usual with your PGR applications…

Fairy Rings and Moisture levels….


Sampling a Type 1 Fairy Ring showing stressed turf in centre of patch

Last week, I had the pleasure of taking a works experience lad, James Kier, out for the day for him to experience ‘agronomy on grass’, (Hope you’ve recovered James !!! 🙂 ), so I put him to work looking at Fairy Rings using a moisture meter and we got some really interesting results…

The greens we were looking at had both Type 1 and Type 2 Fairy Rings present. Type 1 Fairy Rings show stimulated turf and also hydrophobicity, whereas Type 2 Fairy Rings just show the stimulated area of turf. Not on all the greens mind, just a couple out of the 18 that had higher organic matter levels in the surface..


Type 1 Fairy Rings and Moisture Content

So James and I sampled the stressed area in the centre of a type 1 Fairy Ring, the stimulated area on the ring itself and then compared them with an unaffected area immediately adjacent to the Fairy Ring. The samples were taken using a Delta-T moisture meter which measures moisture at 60mm depth. (and that is key as you’ll note later). The results are shown in the image below ;


As you can see from the results, the stressed area of the grass is running at extremely low moisture levels caused by the hydrophobicity imparted to the sand / organic matter by the mycelium of Type 1 Fairy Ring fungal species.
The stimulated area of turf on the outside of the ring has much higher moisture levels, typically + 50% to +100% more than the centre, but it is still lower than an unaffected area which suggests that the fungal activity in the stimulated area is causing some hydrophobicity, but not to the same degree as in the centre of the Fairy Ring.


We took a core from the centre of the ring to determine at what depth the Fairy Ring mycelium where active and found that mycelium were visible in the top 10mm of the core and that this region was hydrophobic. Now if you remember the moisture meter was sampling at 60mm depth, so it looks like the activity of the fungus in the surface is preventing water ingression further down the profile. This will obviously have a bearing on plant stress because the activity of the fungus in the surface is actually affecting moisture levels deeper in the profile, so the plant will be experiencing moisture stress on all of its rooting depth.

Type 2 Fairy Rings and Moisture Content

We repeated the same exercise on the Type 2 Fairy Rings present and found that the centre of these rings were not hydrophobic, nor were the stimulated area of the ring either.


The question in my mind is whether a Type 2 Fairy Ring has the potential to develop into a Type 1 and hence become problematic ? , anyone seen this happen ?

Management of Type 1 Fairy Rings

As we already now treatment of Fairy Rings is difficult, but the above work has shown that the biggest issue appears to be the very low moisture levels that occur inside the ring itself and so to my mind it’s here that the efforts should be focussed in terms of using a wetting agent to combat the hydrophobicity and then hand watering to move moisture from the surface down the profile. I also think micro-tining, Sarrell Rolling, etc would all be beneficial in conjunction with the above.

The findings also re-iterate the fact that just applying a fungicide like Azoxystrobin to the affected area is not going to be effective and I think you need to apply the wetting agent first, neutralise the hydrophobicity and get moisture moving down the profile by hand watering before you go with a fungicide.

It turned out to be an interesting day out indeed 🙂

Enjoy the weeks weather, all the best..

Mark Hunt



July 7th


Hi All,

Well after a packed weekend sport-wise that saw my favourite team: Costa Rica, knocked out of the World Cup (now England that’s what you call passion, committment and discipline), the Tour De France done in quirky Yorkshire style (and didn’t they do it well!) and Lewis Hamilton breezing to a well-earned win at Silverstone (even though his trophy looked like it came from Poundshop and fell apart on the rostrum), it’s back to the more down-to earth task of weathWeather070714er watching 🙁

Most of you will have got some rain on Friday night and maybe on Sunday evening as there were some very localised downpours floating around.

This week’s weather is all about that battle between a warm Atlantic high and a wet, humid, continental low (see above right). Depending on where the dividing line is drawn between the two at the back end of this week will determine where and how much of that fickle continental rainfall will occur. The rain, if it comes, will form into a vertical line up the U.K. stuck between the two competing weather systems. The question is where does that line form and when?

General Weather Situation

Ok, so starting the week we have a dry start over much of the U.K. and Ireland, but during the morning a rain front pushes in from the West over Ireland and Scotland, but also reaching Wales and the south-west of England by early afternoon. East and South of this, it’s a lovely settled day after a cool night, so temperatures are set to climb to the high teens / low twenties with a moderate south-westerly wind. Through the afternoon and evening, that rise in temperature will kick off some rain inland, so you could catch a shower anywhere really, but they appear to be concentrated in a line drawn from the south-west to The Humber.

Onto Tuesday and we follow a similar pattern though maybe the rain front that pushes into Ireland in the morning may feature heavier rainfall. This will form a diagonal line firstly affecting west Munster / Connacht, but then it’ll drift across Ireland reaching Leinster by late morning. Across the Irish Sea, that rain front will push into westerly coasts of the U.K. by rush hour and progress across country through the morning. By early afternoon the west of Ireland should be pretty much clear of the rain and by then it will have reached the eastern coastline of the U.K. lightening as it does so. Temperatures on Tuesday will be similar to Monday, however as the two weather systems begin to butt up against each other, the wind will swing round to the north.


Image courtesy of Meteoblue

By mid-week, that battle starts in earnest and though there is still rain out to the west of Ireland, you can see from this Meteoblue graphic of projected rainfall bullding up over the continent for Wednesday, that the threat comes from the east now.

So this is where things start to get a bit shaky from a weather forecast perspective because we’re talking continental rainfall. At present it appears that the rain will stay just off the eastern coastline of the U.K. on Wednesday, so a dry day for most places though there may be some rain flirting into the western coast of Ireland during Wednesday morning, but it’ll be light in nature. Temperatures will be up on Wednesday for the west into the low twenties, as that warm Atlantic high pushes in, though it’ll stay similar to the early part of the week elsewhere, the wind will strengthen though from the north as the weather systems push up against each other in earnest.

By Thursday, that rain has pushed into the eastern coastline of the U.K. during the night making landfall in a line done from the Forth estuary to The Wash. As we go through Thursday the rain consolidates and drifts westwards and south affecting northern England down to the Midlands and further south during the late morning. Now all this has a high potential for change, so update your weather forecast during the week to see how it progresses. By lunchtime we have a true East / West divide with the East under heavy rain and the west, bright sunshine and low twenties temperatures.

Quite where the dividing line is remains to be seen, presently it’s projected to be east of Birmingham for the rain and progressing right down the U.K. to the South Coast later on Thursday. Rainfall amounts could be heavy as this rain is likely to stay static and dump over one location area. As we go into Friday that rain eases and drifts into the west of the U.K. overnight, but it’ll take most of the day to clear the east coast of the U.K. So again, another west / east divide, dry and warm for Ireland on Friday and for most of the west side of the U.K. until late in the day when that weakened rain may eventually push across, but all the time it’s fizzling out, so the south-west should stay dry all day hopefully. So still a northerly wind, though a little lighter on Friday and maybe high teens under the cloud.

So how is the weekend looking ?

Hmmm tricky to say as the line tilts a little and that allows rain into the west of Ireland, but also there’s a risk it will build through the day and produce showers and heavier spells of rain in a line from The Wash right across to The Western Isles, south and west of this, it should be a pleasant day with lighter winds allowing the temperature to increase through the day and there’ll be some sunshine as well. Sunday looks to continue that unsettled theme with rain for Ireland, particularly the west and the risk of further showers over the U.K. merging into heavier rain. Here the threat is for the south-west up the west coast of the U.K. initially but later in the day that rain spreads eastwards and northwards, so maybe only the South-East may miss it. Temperatures will stay up in the high teens / low twenties though as the wind swings round to a more south-westerly orientation from Saturday lunchtime.

Weather Outlook

I think the outlook is continuing unsettled with similar temperatures to this week, but particularly for the first part of next week, plenty of showers around in the south-west of the U.K. and Ireland. So high teens / low twenties, south westerly / westerly winds but not bad really. Later on next week there’s a threat of a new low pushing in and that’ll bring a risk of more sunshine and rain for the end of the week / weekend.

Agronomic Notes

ETS (Etiolated Tiller Syndrome) and TE

Had some really interesting feedback so thanks to everyone that contributed. The general impression is kind of mixed, certainly no one is saying that TE causes ETS with many people commenting that their greens suffered from ETS long before they started using TE. That said the question relates to whether the symptoms of ETS are exacerbated by the use of TE and one piece of feedback from a Sports Pitch showed an overlap with TE and etiolated growth more pronounced in that area compared to non-overlapped, clear as day, in a line. So the jury’s out in my mind on this one, let’s see how some of the trials I’m doing pan out through the summer and autumn and I’ll let you know.

Growth Potential and Growth-Degree-Days  – June

Looking back at June, we can see we had a good growth month in general though it was characterised by some pronounced flushes through the month as this chart of GP through June shows.


If you look at the period from the 6th-7th June, the growth potential went from 0.2 (low) to 0.96 (nearly a theoretical maximum) in the space of a day, so a real struggle here to keep good greens speeds and on top of growth on outfield areas. I remember seeing my local council cutting verges at the time and you could have bailed the grass there was so much of it!

Using GP Data

The GP data also shows that for 16 days of the month of June, grass growth was at 70% or higher of its potential maximum, so that means a lot of cutting and therefore a high diesel / fuel cost for June because of this. You can also see from the GDD data below that June as a month represented the highest cumulative growth for the last 4 years.

Growth-Degree Day Data

Although I’m using Growth Potential through the summer (because it takes allowance of when temperatures get too high for growth and GDD doesn’t) it’s worth looking at the GDD information to see how the year is stacking up, particularly since temperatures didn’t actually get high enough to actually shut the grass plant down from a stress perspective. Since temperature is only one part of the growth equation however, we have to qualify that statement because moisture levels were variable across the U.K. depending on whether you got that continental rainfall or not. So on outfield areas although the GP was high, you would not have seen that growth because moisture became a limiting factor in some, but not all of the U.K. In fact I think the east side of the U.K. e.g. Norfolk and Suffolk were probably the driest. There was also a period from the 18th to the 28th June when no rain was recorded at The Oxfordshire, so GDD and GP doesn’t tell the whole story, but it does help I think.



In general then, I think we are having a ‘normal year’ growth-wise, no extremes of temperature yet and although June was a dry month, for most, just enough rain to keep things ticking over. Why are we having this type of weather? Well it’s that fragmented jet stream that’s still in-situ, it hasn’t allowed one type of weather to dominate as of yet.

Disease Activity

The combination of warm temperatures, rainfall and humidity has mantained a pretty high disease pressure for most areas with ‘Summer Fusarium’ (ok Kate, Summer Microdochium :)), Fairy Rings, Superficial and Thatch Fungus doing the rounds of late. I covered this a few weeks ago so I won’t repeat the information other than to say that it’s key at this time of year to maintain low levels of plant stress and where we’ve been dry, keep up with your wetting agent / biostimulant mixes because they do help. Low levels of plant stress now will carry over to low levels of Anthracnose next month, but if you have a stressy plant, you might as well print a calling card now.

That’s all for this week, have a good one and key your eye on that rain from the continent, it may well change its position and intensity as we get closer to the end of the week, so don’t throw your toys out of the pram if it says no rain today and you get hammered on Thursday or vice-versa.

Mark Hunt



July 1st


Hi All,

Another late blog, yes I know, but such is the way of the world at the moment, a tad hectic to say the least… 🙁

Well some of us got clattered with rain over the last four days in the form of some really heavy, localised downpours. I’ve measured 45mm over that timeframe here in Market Harborough, deep in the Welland valley, but I know barely 10 miles from here, they only had 10mm, such was the localised nature of the storms.

Some very nice thunder and lightning mixed in with that over Thursday night / Friday morning.  I lifted this image off Netweather’s lightning site archive which shows the track of lightning strikes over the U.K. last Friday and the time they occurred. You can clearly see the path of the storms…

270614Lightnin g

That big bunch of yellow crosses in the west country is around Glastonbury. Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not, but thunder and lightning storms tend to track along deep valleys and of course Dolly Parton was appearing around that time, need I say more… 🙂

On a serious note, if you want to see where lightning is occurring in the U.K. at any given point in time, you can click onto the Met Office ATD (Arrival Time Difference) system which logs lightning strikes and updates every 15 minutes (though there is a 15 minute delay to allow for processing). Netweather have a link to it on their site here

General Weather Situation

Ok, so how is this week looking and is that low pressure I predicted last week still on track to appear at the end of this week and provide Lewis Hamilton with a nice wet qualifying at Silverstone on Saturday? In short, yes… possibly, though the rain may have passed through by then. We have a low pressure system on the way down to us which will bring general rain across the U.K. and Ireland later in the week, more in the North than the South (because that’s where it’s coming from), but we all should see some showers from Friday onwards.

So, for Tuesday we have a dry picture across the U.K. and Ireland after that localised rain that affected Wimbledon departs stage left. Early doors some more rain is expected to move into the south-west and north-east of England where it may sit for the majority of the day, perhaps tracking inland a little to affect northern England. Elsewhere it’ll be another lovely day: warm, bright and sunny, with temperatures tipping into the low twenties. As we move into Tuesday evening that rain dies out to leave a dry picture across the U.K. and Ireland for the start of Wednesday.

Wednesday sees an about face with the wind changing from easterly to westerly and that marks the impending arrival of low pressure from the North, but fear not because Wednesday looks a cracker, lovely temperatures; sunny and warm. Later in the day a wet front, the first from that low in the North, tips into the north-west of Scotland and gives a soggy evening in the beautiful Western Isles of Scotland and Donegal (with one ‘n’ Michael, I haven’t forgotten :)).

Moving into Thursday, that rain peters out by the morning rush hour to leave a dull start for the north of the U.K. and Ireland, with some localised light showers, but still brighter in the South away from the cloud cover. That’s the way it stays for most of Thursday: bright, warm and sunny from The Midlands south, but duller, cooler and eventually wetter in the north and west of the U.K. and Ireland overnight into Friday.

So for Friday we have a pretty solid rain front pushing into Ireland and Scotland early doors and then affecting the west coast of the U.K. through Friday morning into the afternoon when it begins to move eastwards across the U.K. So by Friday evening, it spans across most of the U.K. having cleared Ireland by now. There’s a chance that the far South-East may stay dry all day, but we’ll see as this looks like a pretty solid front. There’ll be a marked temperature difference, just like on Thursday, with the South still touching 20°C, whereas the west and north will be 4-5°C lower with a brisk, north-west wind.

So how are we set for the weekend? In a word, ‘unsettled’… That rain from Friday will push south east overnight into Saturday to cover most of the U.K. So Saturday at the moment looks like starting wet for the south of the U.K. then drying out through the morning. The opposite is true for Ireland where it looks to start dry, with arriving later on Saturday in the form of blustery showers pushed along by a brisk north west wind. The boot may well be on the other foot for Sunday with a dry start for most of Scotland and Ireland, but with rain over the U.K. tracking in from the North-West down to the South-East, so it may be a soggy race for Silverstone. Oh dear! Hope Bernie doesn’t get his car stuck again… 🙁 I expect the temperature to be a good bit cooler as well for the weekend, mid-teens the order of the day in a chilly north-west wind.

Weather Outlook

So is this the end of summer? No, ’tis not… Ok it’s going to be cooler and unsettled for the weekend and the start of next week, but I expect things to improve by mid-next week, with the arrival of a warm Atlantic high pressure. The fact that it’s coming from the Atlantic means the West will benefit first from this better weather, so I expect Ireland to warm up first (for a change) from Tuesday onwards and slowly for this warmer weather to push eastwards across the U.K. for the latter part of the week. Now, at the moment, that low is set to sit over Scandinavia, so the dividing line may mean that the north and east of the U.K. stays unsettled right up to the back end of next week and cooler as well with northerly winds.

That’s the only potential fly in the ointment really, the wind direction will stay northerly, keeping things a little cooler than normally would be the case, as the high pressure on the west side of the U.K. butts up to the low pressure over Scandinavia and the wind gets squeezed down between the two. The best way to envisage it is imagine Dolly Parton’s… no, forget that 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Etiolated Growth

Back on track after a slight deviation there…. As has been my way over the last few weeks I’m going to pick one main subject to focus on and this week it’s etiolated (pronounced eti-o-lated) growth or etiolated tiller syndrome (ETS as it’s known across the pond) because no doubt we are seeing more and more of it around on managed turf surfaces.

Before I go on to talk about it I’m assuming that you’re all familar with this phenomenon of grass growth normally restricted to Poa Annua biotypes across fine and coarse turf surfaces. It’s usually more pronounced on collars and aprons, but fairways, sports pitches and the like can also show this bleached, extended/stretched grass poking up above the cutting height only hours after the area has been cut. I did a fact sheet about ETS last year which you can find here

For sure the weather is a key driver to this phenomenon because it tends to occur when we have a combination of dry, warm weather and then moisture (be that natural or irrigation). That said, a query from the field sparked my grey matter into action last week (thanks Rob) when the question was asked whether there was any link between PGR applications and ETS ?

I’m not saying there is, but something is making ETS more and more prevalent on amenity turf and I’m not 100% sure the weather is the only driver.

We know trinexapac-ethyl affects Gibberellic Acid production, specifically GA1 and this is one of the hormones responsible for stimulating growth/cell elongation. Interestingly Wikipedia states that: “isolated GA was first identified in Japan in 1935, as a metabolic bi-product of the plant pathogen Gibberella fujikuroi (thus the name), which afflicts rice plants; fujikuroi-infected plants develop bakanae (“foolish seedling”), which causes them to grow so much taller than normal that they die from no longer being sturdy enough to support their own weight”. Sound familiar? Yes it does because the phenomenon of ‘Bakanae’ in Rice plants looks almost identical to ETS in Poa. Compare the two pictures below, Rice on the left, Poa on the right, note the extended growth between the leaf nodes in both plant species….


So logically we’d assume that the phenomenon in turf we are dealing with has a similar causal agent and indeed that is one of the theories postulated behind ETS i.e. a Fusarium fungus that stimulates the production of a gibberellin in affected plants and causes the extended, etiolated growth habit. Maybe we’re seeing more ETS because the causal fungi is becoming more widely-distributed due to changes in our weather patterns that suit it’s growth and development ?

Maybe it’s as simple as that, but does TE have a part to play as well, because I’ve noted that areas treated with TE show more ETS than areas that haven’t been and I’ve also had this  feedback from the field anecdotally.


You can test this theory if you are one of the courses / sports complexes that are seeing ETS. The next time you spray a mix with TE, put down a small cover / plastic sheet on an area that normally shows ETS and spray over it, lift it off once dry and you’ll have an untreated area in amongst your treated. Mark the area (photograph it) or use some spray paint if it’s in a non-critical area and see if it produces more or less ETS over time.

You can do the same test with a triazole fungicide because as the fact sheet states it’s been postulated that an application of a triazole fungicide (like propiconazole, tebuconazole, prochloraz) has an affect on ETS by controlling the causal fungus. So if you’re spraying a triazole for a labelled disease, put down a small test area as above and see if you see more or less ETS after spraying? I did this last week so I’ll let you know how it fares.

So how could TE be having an effect on ETS? Well maybe there’s a relationship between how grass grows in the presence of the gibberellin (produced by the Fusarium fungus held to be responsible) and GA1 gibberellin that TE inhibits ? Maybe we see more expression of ETS because GA1 is inhibited? Now I could be entirely wrong on this and maybe what I’ve seen is purely coincidental and just down to the distribution of ETS across the areas I’m treating, but it’s worth taking note of and of course reporting back to this blog what you see, where you see it and what your experiences are. As usual I’d be grateful for your experiences either way…

I reiterate that this is a SWAG of a theory at present (Scientific Wild-Arsed Guess) and at the end of the day it’s not going to stop us using TE because the benefits far out-weigh the negatives, but if there is a correlation, maybe it will help us manage ETS over the longer-term.

All the best…

Mark Hunt