Monthly Archives: September 2014

September 29th


Hi All,


As I walked at the weekend on a beautiful Sunday which hit 23°C,  I was struck by just how many fields were ploughed or being ploughed, cultivated and seeded ready for the arrival of the autumn rain and of course I wondered when it will arrive ? Hopefully not too soon for this maize crop which offered a surreal walkway spanned by huge individual  plants. Here in The Midlands, we will have a September with no significant rainfall and monthly totals in the single figures no doubt.

It will change though because the jet stream shape and orientation is changing at the end of this week, see below….

Ordinarily a dry September should have presented a low disease pressure month, but not a bit of it with aggressive Anthracnose Foliar Blight, then Microdochium and last week I picked up the first reports of Dollar Spot on outfield areas (though it has been doing the rounds in Germany for awhile now as I’ll find out this week because I’m off on my travels again (ho hum) to Germany and Switzerland)

General Weather Situation

Ok onto this week and Monday looks a settled day after a very mild night (15°C) with hazy sunshine, though plenty of cloud cover. Later on around lunchtime, a group of showers will break out moving up the Severn Estuary towards the West Midlands. At the same time, another batch of showers will affect south-west Munster moving up the west coast to affect Shannon and south Galway later perhaps. Temperatures will be mid to high teens, perhaps higher in the south of England and the winds, light to moderate from the west.

Overnight these showers are set to fizzle out, but by early morning a new rain front reaches the west coast of Ireland and pushes eastwards in a vertical orientation. Clearing after the rain, by lunchtime this rain front will be into the east of Ireland and west coast of Scotland, progressing into the south-west of England, west Wales and north-west England by the evening, though amounts should be light. Temperatures will be similar to Monday.

By Wednesday, we see more showers moving across Ireland and pushing into the west coastline of the U.K through the day, but these struggle to move inland as they butt up against the continental high pressure, so further east and south it’s likely to stay dry, but with more cloud cover and temperatures still decent like 🙂

Thursday looks potentially the driest day of the week if you take the U.K and Ireland as a whole with hazy sunshine or longer spells of clearer weather. The key will be the wind direction because it should start to swing round to the south-west, heralding the arrival of the Atlantic low referred to above for the weekend.

By Friday a rain front is set to push into the north-west of Ireland and Scotland and move slowly south eastwards through the morning rush hour reaching the north of England by the evening. This rain will continue to move south through Friday night into Saturday potentially becoming heavy over The Midlands by early doors Saturday. So a wet start to the weekend for The Midlands and south, but drier and fresher further west and north with showers pushing in overnight into Sunday. Sunday looks cooler with more cloud cover and temperatures down to where you’d expect them to be for this time of year as that warmer air gets banished to the continent, so mid-teens the order of the day. There’s a chance of showers on Sunday further west and north and these may push into the southern part of the U.K later on Sunday.

Weather Outlook


Image courtesy of NetWeather

So are we looking at a fundamental change in the weather or just a blip before we return to our Indian Summer ? Well we are certainly in for a change, how long it lasts is anyone’s guess but the image above shows how convoluted the path of the jet stream is and has been for a good while now (4-5 weeks). We’ve been sitting under a dry, warm peak, well it’s moving off and we’re going to get a trough in which an Atlantic low will deposit itself, so for me that means at least a week of unsettled weather and potentially heavy rain for some.

So the outlook for next week looks unsettled, right from the word go with cooler weather (but not cold) and rainfall throughout the week, pushed along on south-westerly winds. Some of that rainfall will be heavy and because the projection is that the low will sit south of Ireland, it means the whole country will get the rain.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

Sometimes it must seem like I sound like a scratched record :(, but such has been the intensity of disease I can’t really talk about much else can I, particularly when you look at the fact it has been so dry, yet disease has been so aggressive, but why ?

Well the clue is temperature and humidity, without a doubt they are the drivers to the disease we’ve experienced, but the origin of that disease started way back in the dry, hot, stressy period of weather in July.

Last week we had some 15°C plus nights, but with lower humidity and therefore we got no dew formation, end result – little disease activity. Come later in the week and with the arrival of some dew, we get massive disease pressure, just like the weekend prior to it when Microdochium became extremely aggressive, especially on areas like tees and outfield areas.


Microdochium nivale and Dollar Spot in the same area of outfield turf

I looked at some fairways last week that had been affected by both Dollar Spot and Microdochium, the distribution of the disease tied in with water movement, see below


I took some samples from the affected areas but I couldn’t see much mycelium under a low powered scope, so I incubated them in a plastic bag overnight to artificially increase the humidity, the effect can be seen below ;


Dollar Spot Mycelium after incubation

So what have we learnt about disease activity ?, well it is very closely linked to humidity and temperature with plant leaf moisture being the key vector for disease movement at least for diseases like Dollar Spot and Microdochium. The Anthracnose Foliar Blight we saw kick off so aggressively in the early part of the month was is linked to the opposite, lack of moisture causing plant stress and then disease.

Fungicide Efficiency

During this period and the one we’re just heading into, many of you will have or will be applying fungicides, but may question on occasion their efficacy, if you still see apparently active disease activity.

This is occurring because the rate at which the disease population is growing is faster than the rate at which the fungicide A.I is controlling it and suggests that the drivers to disease are playing a significant part. Now sometimes those drivers are out of your control i.e the weather, however you must pay attention to the drivers that are in your control, namely plant leaf moisture levels and organic matter.

It all starts with organic matter

Organic matter remains one of the biggest influencing factors to many disease outbreaks and spraying fungicides often hides the fact that if more organic matter control was carried, the disease pressure and hence reliance on fungicides would decrease (but not disappear) Now that I know is easier said than done, particularly on outfield turf, but it is worth remembering.

Organic matter holds more moisture than rootzone and so provides a key component / driver to disease activity in the shape of Microdochium and Dollar Spot (on outfield areas). It also dries out quickly, heating up faster than rootzone and becomes hydrophobic, putting the grass plant under stress and initiating stress-related pathogens like Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

It often amazes me talking to golf clubs who have a non-sympathetic attitude to aeration and topdressing “We don’t like the disruption and can’t afford to topdress much because of cost and more disruption, blardy, blah…..”, yet seemingly when they get hit with disease it’s no issue to ‘find’ the money for a fungicide application. (Roughly the same cost as one load of topdressing I think)

The reason is clear, the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude prevails in a lot of establishments when it comes to aeration and understanding why it’s required to maintain playing surfaces. In my mind it represents a clear lack of proactive management and targeting of resources. I think a lot of clubs simply cannot understand why this work is necessary when surfaces already look good, because it’s the preventative nature of the argument that is so difficult to communicate and grasp (IMHO)

When disease hits, it’s evident, real, in your face (and theirs) and so reactive management kicks in, “Of course you need to spray before we lose the greens, blardy, blah). The problem is with our ever-changing climate and the issues it brings with it, reactive disease management is for ‘La La Land’, it simply doesn’t work. We have to stop a high population of disease establishing in the first place, and that means a preventative strategy, full stop, end of discussion.

That preventative strategy involves ;

  1. Organic Matter measurement, benchmarking and control so you can make an argument for the need for aeration and monitor its efficacy.
  2. Aeration dates clearly laid out in the calendar, not pushed to the end of the fixture list
  3. Adequate topdressing to create a drier, free-draining surface environment
  4. A mix of grass species that lowers overall disease susceptibility
  5. Maximised plant health, avoiding elevated levels of plant stress
  6. Moisture monitoring to tie in with point 5.
  7. Preventative use of targetted fungicide applications

Microdochium Pressure

With all this in mind and looking ahead, we have a potential change in the weather on the way and this will bring moisture and higher wind speed, so the opportunity for spray applications will no doubt be less. So I’d be looking to get a preventative fungicide application on this week if you haven’t already done so (And most people have I think) for the control of Microdochium. I’d look to combine that application with a liquid iron (acidifying in nature the only prerequisite) in order to enhance efficacy. (Provided you know the are tank-mixable)

Moss it’s here again…

So after a dry July where we experienced sustained high temperatures, a wet and cool August and then a dry September, I’d suggest we’re going to see a good deal of moss this autumn once the rains arrive (though Silver Moss is showing already) because it can survive higher levels of dessication than the grass plant. So typically it’s going to appear on thinner areas which may have lost some density during the summer or on areas out of play which have accumulated more organic matter. For the latter if we’re talking golf greens, and if practically feasible, one of the best preventative applications is golfer’s feet, so if possible put the pin position more in the neglected areas. Now I appreciate that many times, it’s neglected for good reason, i.e the green has been designed in such a way that the pin and hence golfer’s feet aren’t going to head in this direction, but sometimes this isn’t the case.

I think if the wet week arrives on cue, then moss control straight after will be in order.flat_white

Ok must dash, have to iron, pack and catch my flight to Germany via the obligatory Birmingham Airport Costa where a nice DeCaf Flat White beckons, but no RAB (Raspberry & Almond Bake) because I’m a tad too porky for my liking 🙁

All the best

Mark Hunt




September 22nd


Hi All,

After the east-west divide in last week’s weather, we have a more traditional noWeatherStation190914rth-south one coming up this week. One big change you’ve probably already noticed is the significant drop in air temperature at night, we were 4°C last night with a grass frost, whereas on Friday night we were 16°C all night, with 91% humidity, a reminder that autumn is just around the corner for sure. I was mountain biking last night and I could feel the chill nipping at my bare legs, so the days of shorts may be numbered 🙂 That said we haven’t too bad a week coming up for the south of the U.K, but the north and north-west will see much more cloud cover and some rain as well. Last week saw rain pushing up into the south of England, torrential in nature at times, so when you hear me refer to the fact that areas are dry, that’s because it didn’t get much further north than London, so above it we’re still bone dry 🙁

General Weather Situation

Ok so how are we fixed this week ?

Monday looks like starting off cold, with a grass frost for many and hazy sunshine after early morning mist. So not a bad day once the sun breaks through with temperatures pushing up to the mid to high teens in that sunshine. Later in the day we will see the first of a series of rain fronts push into the north west of Ireland and Scotland, but it will make little progress inland initially.

For Tuesday those rain fronts are sinking south across both countries diagonally (/) so we will have rain across Ireland and Scotland, pushing into the north and west of England through Tuesday accompanied by light to moderate westerly winds. Further south it’ll be a very similar day to Monday, with a cool, misty start and then the sun breaking through later in the morning. Overnight that rain reaches North Wales and the north of England pushing more eastwards as it does so, so maybe some rain for Lincolnshire early on Wed morning. That initial rain front is closely followed by another, more heavier one that is set to reach the north-west of Scotland and Ireland on Tuesday night and this will push into most of Scotland overnight into Wednesday, but make limited progress across Ireland.

Moving onto Wednesday, we have a largely dry day on the cards once the rain has cleared the north of England and Scotland. So dry, but cloudy and with a noticeably stronger westerly wind as well making it feel slightly on the nippy side, though the cloud cover will lift night time temperatures.  Later on Wednesday night, a new rain front pushes into the north-west of Scotland and Ireland.

For Thursday we have this rain front pushing south-east across Ireland and Scotland into the north-west of England and the projection is that it’ll affect mainly the west coastline of the U.K and Ireland through Thursday though there’s a chance it’ll get further south so possibly into Wales and the south-west of England (northern coastline probably). Further south, a duller day, but with a milder night, Thursday may be the warmest day of the week and temperatures may hit 20°C across The Midlands and south of England.

Closing out the week, we have a dull perhaps wet start for many as that rain front has moved south and east to affect the south of the U.K. Behind it, the weather brightens up, so a much nicer day for Scotland once the rain and low cloud has cleared during the late morning. This sets the scene for the rest of the U.K and Ireland, a dull start but with the sun breaking through late in the morning.

The weekend looks like being a continuation of that north-south divide with Scotland looking dull with some rain showers and temperatures in the low to mid-teens for The Ryder Cup weekend, let’s hope it changes through the week. Further south and for Ireland, not a bad Saturday at least with lighter, westerly winds and hazy sunshine. Temperatures down in the low to mid-teens after a cool start to the day. Sunday looks like being a duller day, particularly over Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the north-west of England as cloud cover builds during the day, but it should be dry.

HighLowSeoptendWeather Outlook

Next week will see a battle royal between a very strong low pressure, the remnant of a Tropical Cyclone pushing in during the early part of the week. This will mean strong winds and rain, but it all depends on where the boundary line is drawn between this low and the Azores high pressure that’s been giving us such a beautiful Indian Summer (in the south and west). My guess is that the west and north will receive the bulk of any rainfall and the south will stay drier. So next week looks like starting off quiet, but by Tuesday those winds will ramp up and rain will push into Ireland,Scotland and the north west of the U.K. This rain may sink south for mid-week but at this stage it’s looking like the south will miss most of any rain (again) If this is the case I predict The Midlands will have the driest September on record.

 Agronomic Notes

A lot to talk about today, but slightly complicated by the fact that I’m off to Sweden early tomorrow to do a talk to The Swedish Greenkeeper Federation and I haven’t finished it yet. I must look up on Google translator the Swedish for “I’m really sorry but I haven’t finished my talk” 🙁

Ryder Cup Weather Link

HeadlandWeather_LogoFirstly, if anyone reading this is travelling up to The Ryder Cup this week, maybe as part of the volunteer network, you can click onto the Weathercheck logo on the right and it’ll give you a weather forecast including rain radar which might come in handy. May I take this opportunity to wish everyone involved in the forthcoming event all the best for the coming week and it’ll be one of the few times for sure that I’m Pro-Europe 🙂


At the start of last week I received a flurry of calls about Anthracnose and initially I was taken aback because most of the calls were from golf courses which had suffered from Anthracnose and carried out remedial work including on some of them, fungicide applications. But yet I was still getting feedback that the disease was getting worse after initially looking better, so what was going on, what was driving the resurgence of Anthracnose ?

I managed to get out and look at one of the affected courses and took some samples of both affected and un-affected plants, the results surprised me.

In the affected areas, the leaf foliage, crown and base of the plants showed the characteristic, black Acervuli – the spore-producing structures of Anthracnose on the base of the plant, some with Septae (spike like structures see below) This is what I expected to see as we know it’s been with us since the cool, wet conditions of August.


My surprise came when I looked at unaffected, apparently healthy plants in the sward, taken from areas of close proximity to the Anthracnose patches. I found the green leaf tissue and crowns of the healthy plants heavily infected with the same Acervuli, (below)

AnthracnoseFoliarBlightCrown AnthracnoseFoliarBlightNewLeaftissue

So this means that although outwardly healthy, they were highly likely to develop the disease and therefore explained why the disease would initially have looked to have run its course, but then flared up again, but why when all the correct cultural, and in some cases, pesticidal boxes had been ticked ??

September’s lack of rain and high temperatures = extremely low soil moisture status for this time of year = Plant Stress = Anthracnose Foliar Blight

As the above statement intimates, the driver for this resurgence in Anthracnose was low soil moisture status, areas drying out, creating plant stress and then playing into the hands of what we all know is a stress-related disease – Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

Moisture management in September is in my mind very akin to moisture management in April, that is to say that we usually have good levels of soil moisture in the profile, but the Indian Summer weather patterns have conspired to dry out the surface of the profile, so if no rainfall and / or irrigation is forthcoming, the surface dries out.

The key word here is surface because we know the upper reaches of the profile contain higher levels of organic matter, by virtue of the fact that this is the area where dead or decaying plant roots are concentrated. Roots are naturally hydrophobic, they have to be, in order to transport water up to the leaf and shoots, so surface organic matter is naturally hydrophobic as a consequence.

What we have seen over the last few weeks is surfaces drying out, but not always showing the charactersitic wilting of grass because E.T rates have been lower than the summer. So it’s been deceptive in its nature and that’s caught people out, particularly over the weekend before last. Light syringing, hand-watering has been a must and ideally targeted on the back of information from a moisture meter.

I have to say when people started running around with moisture meters I thought it was a bit faddy, a bit of a gimmick, but using one this year I’m convinced that they are in fact very useful diagnostic tools, particularly when it comes to determining irrigation efficacy. Indeed most people that use them come back to me and say they use far less water than they used to because they are more in control of their soil moisture status. So if you’re paying for your mains water, you could potentially save the cost of a moisture meter by using it.

The other area where they come into their own is in relation to the incidence of disease and correlating disease outbreaks with soil moisture levels.

For instance if an area sits wet by virtue of receiving too much irrigation / uneven hand watering, it is highly likely that this area will develop Anthracnose Basal Rot if conditions are conducive for it to do so. On the flipside, if soil moisture levels have been allowed to get too low, then the plant goes under stress and we have the potential for Anthracnose Foliar Blight to develop, amongst others. So it’s highly likely that you’ll see both on a golf green and their distribution is very much linked to excessive and insufficient soil moisture levels.

Other Disease Issues – Microdochium nivale – Current Disease Pressure

Now this really depends on which part of the country you’re situated in because rainfall is the driver here in my mind. So for the south of England, the west, north, Scotland and Ireland I’m guessing that you’re already starting to see aggressive M.nivale pressure and have been for a few weeks now. The cooler weather and rain will trigger off this pathogen and with colder nights, the grass plant’s growth rate will decline so the potential for the disease to damage down to the crown and cause scarring is much higher.

Last week Headland Amenity presented at the S.T.R.I Research Event and I for one found it very useful. We were showing some plots of treated and untreated fine turf (pesticide vs. non-pesticide) and the areas had been misted to create higher disease pressure. The results in the untreated areas were clear to see…


So if you already have disease pressure I’d be looking to mix a contact and a systemic together because with the cooler nights of late and forecast at least for the early parts of this week, uptake of a systemic fungicide alone will be too slow. It follows that there’s a high probability that M.nivale will develop into your sward before the systemic fungicide is taken up in sufficient quantities to be fungiostatic. (Slow the growth of the pathogen)

If you’re clean at the moment, then a systemic should do the trick but I’d be wary because you have to remember that you cannot visually identify Microdochium on your grass plant until it is well advanced in its development, so what might appear healthy now, may soon go downhill. Personally I’d go for a half-rate contact, like Iprodione mixed in with my systemic and I’d look to apply this week because next week may be too windy for any applications, particularly the further west and north you are.

Nutrition and PGR’s

Again this is highly dependent on soil moisture levels, but on fine turf I’d be looking to just tick things along with light-rate foliar applications, importantly making the switch to low temperature N sources now the night temperatures are dropping. Personally and it is just my own viewpoint, I’d have stopped applying a PGR to fine turf a month ago and certainly don’t see the benefit in continuing application late into the autumn.

On coarser turf areas now’s a good chance to build up grass cover for the forthcoming winter season of play, so light rate granulars and or foliars are both good weapons of choice, but again it depends on where you are in the country as to which one will work best.

Ok that’s me for now, now where is that Google Translator into Swedish, let’s see “I’m sorry but I accidentally flushed my memory stick down the gents and now have no talk to present”……or maybe “I’m afraid my pet Hedgehog ate my talk” , doesn’t sound good does it ? 🙁

Have a good week

Mark Hunt



September 15th


Hi All

Whilst the news is full of a potential north-south split, trust the weather to bat on regardless and provide us with a week of east-west split instead, how refreshing……..Blackberry

“Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness” wrote  the English poet John Keats in his poem ‘To Autumn’ and we certainly have both, as I look at out the window at a dull and damp start here and walked in the Leicestershire and Rutland countryside at the weekend. The hedgerows were positively heaving with Elderberries, Blackberries and Sloe Berries and provided a nice snack stop whilst out and about 🙂


Photo courtesy of

A really lovely weekend capped off with watching Valentino Rossi stuff all the young guns in MotoGP, at the tender age of 35, in front of his adoring crowds at Misano. (his home track) What a class act and an inspiration to many (including myself) that age is only a number !


Onto the weather and as the wind continues to blow from the north-east / east this week, it will push cloud cover in from The North Sea and gives us mizzly and dull starts to the day, with the cloud heavy enough for rain inland as well….It certainly won’t be a dry week for all, as rain fronts will nibble away at either end of the U.K and eastern coasts, but the further west you are, the brighter it will be, with some lovely autumn sunshine 🙂

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have for many a dull start, with some rain overnight, here we only had 0.7 of a mm, but it’s enough to wet everything up. That rain will linger along eastern coasts, particularly north of The Humber, right up to the tip of Aberdeenshire. By late morning though the cloud will thin over Wales and the southern part of the U.K and Ireland to allow the sun to break through. So a bright, warm end to the day for those areas, but that rain over the north-eastern coasts may linger all day.

For Tuesday we have a very similar picture with cloud again building overnight to give us a dull start to the day in the same areas as Monday. There’s a risk of rain over The Highlands of Scotland and eastern coasts, but again further south and west including Ireland, it looks to be another nice day after a dull start. Later on in the afternoon, there’s a risk of rain pushing in off The Channel into the south-east of England and moving north and west across The Home Counties.  Under the cloud in the north, temperatures will be mid to high teens but breaking 20°C in the sunshine, maybe higher in the west. Winds will be moderate and fluctuating between the east and north-east.

MBlue170914This image from Meteoblue neatly sums up the east-west  split in terms of cloud cover and hence temperature. Wednesday promises to be a pretty much dry day for all, with the sun perhaps breaking through a little earlier to warm things up. There may again be just enough cloud to give some rain, drizzle along eastern coasts, but elsewhere a cracking autumn day, if and when the cloud cover lifts. With the ever-present cloud cover, night temperatures will be mild and that may be an issue for us this week.

Thursday pretty much sees a repeat of earlier in the week, dull and grey to start with and cloud gradually breaking through, however through the afternoon, that Bay of Biscay low pressure throws some rain fronts up towards the south coast, so the south and south-west may see some rain in the afternoon. Elsewhere a nice day, temperatures similar to earlier in the week, mid to high teens under the cloud and twenty degrees plus in the sunshine 🙂

Closing out the week, we have a very similar picture again, there’s some uncertainty if rain from that low will influence the south and south-west of England, it all depends on pressure, at this stage it says it’ll be pretty clear, so a nice dry, sunny end to the week. Further north and over Scotland, it’ll be the east coast, but also the central Highlands that remain dull and cool as that cloud cover threatens to thicken over the latter.

The weekend follows a similar pattern, with dry, sunny weather for most areas, especially the south and west, east coasts will have more cloud cover, but this will burn off in the south and mid-part of the country. Further north that cloud cover stays thick and entrenched, so a dull, cool and disappointing weather weekend for Scotland. Winds remain easterly and moderate in nature.

Weather Outlook

This time last week it looked like low pressure would eventually win the day and push the September high out of the way, but as with all things weather related, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Despite the low sitting down in the Bay of Biscay having 3 attempts to shift the high out of the way it won’t be successful because there’s an equally strong high over northern continental Europe and Russia and this is rebutting every attempt to shift it. So for next week we look set to remain settled, warm and dry, perhaps a little cooler than this week though.

Agronomic Notes

Last week we had a typical September week for many, dry, warm days with nice sunshine and clear, cool nights, however the week before was different and we had humid nights with cloud cover. Since we have an east-west split this week in terms of temperatures and cloud cover, we’ll see both types of weather in different parts of the country. These two weather scenarios will also provide very different conditions on the turfgrass leaf. On this subject, I got some great data from Sean’s weather station at The Oxfordshire to have a look at the two scenarios because undoubtedly there remains a huge number of disease issues out there, judging by my calls, texts and Inbox 🙁

Clear sunny days, cool nights


So this is the scenario most likely for the south and west of the U.K and Ireland this week.

If you follow the humidity (blue trace) on the graph, you can see there is high humidity from around 9 p.m. at night through till about 8 a.m. the following morning, so there’s a good chance the grass plant leaf is sitting wet for around 11 hours.

Dull days, sun breaks through in the afternoon, cloud cover at night


Here you can see a different scenario as the temperature only climbs slowly through the day because there’s cloud cover and although it reaches the same maximum temperature as the previous day when the sun breaks through in the afternoon, it does so for less time, so the result is very different. If you look at the humidity trace, it’s much flatter which means the atmosphere is saturated with moisture for longer. In this scenario, the grass plant leaf is likely to be wet / damp for pretty much 20 hours of the day.

Hopefully the 2 scenarios above show you why disease pressure can vary so much during September, these are 2 successive days, but you can see the pressure from disease is likely to be much worse on the cloudy, dull day, though having a wet leaf for 11 hours is hardly ideal.

Current Disease Pressure

If you’re in an area where you have the cloudy, dull conditions forecast, then I expect quite high disease pressure from Microdochium this week for the reasons I have explained above, however if you’re in the sunnier south and west, it should be less so.

Plenty of diseases doing the rounds at present though, with Anthracnose and Ectoparasitic nematodes continuing to cause issues. It’s important to remember that these don’t have to occur seperately and sometimes what looks like Anthracnose is actually Ectoparasitic nematode damage and vice-versa. Indeed ‘complexes’ of diseases are pretty common nowadays, that is two diseases affecting the same plant and the give-away is when you’ve ticked all the fungal boxes, but the grass plant continues to show symptoms or is slower to recover than usual.One of the give-aways of Ectoparasitic nematode activity is white and green banding on the leaf of the grass plant, so take a close look in the affected areas to see if this is present.



It’s clear that disease pressure has been high this year from Anthracnose because I managed to find some affected plants by the side (not on) a path the other day, no stresses from cultural work, cutting or anything, but the plant was still showing the symptoms at the base of the crown.



Another disease I noted at the weekend was rust, a tell-tale sign of a dry month, so remember to keep your rootzone at the correct moisture status. This one will be doing the rounds on uncut rough, sports pitches and the like and always tends to occur when the plant is dry and stressed at the tale end of the summer. It’s easy to spot (look at the top of your shoes, they’ll go yellow as you walk through the affected areas)

PGR’s definitely encourage Rust because one of the best ways of removing it is by cutting, normally after applying a light liquid feed, but if the plant is regulated, this doesn’t occur. The same is true of Red Thread and with a bit of moisture in the air this week in places, it’ll be another pathogen doing the rounds.

Ok got to dash, a lot more to say, but no time to say it 🙁

All the best

Mark Hunt





September 8th


Hi All,

After a warm and humid week last week, punctuated by some lovely autumnal sunshine and thick grey cloud cover, thick enough to bring us 4mm in a downpour that caught me on the way out for a curry on Saturday night, but courtesy of Meteoblue’s RainNow, I had a brolly !

We have a continuation of September’s nice start with high pressure in charge again this week but the weather will be subtly different and hopefully that will be good news for disease management.

General Weather Situation

Well a pretty easy forecast this because of the stable high pressure situation with a dry week in prospect for all of the U.K and Ireland, but as hinted above it will be different and this difference relates to the wind direction and also cloud cover. What you’ll notice this week is that the night time temperatures will be much lower than last week (with the exception of last night which was well parky) and that means that disease pressure will be lower for sure.

The best sunshine of the week should be reserved for the first part of the week, but it’ll depend where you located because it’s likely that we’ll see greater cloud cover in the north, over Scotland, but particularly along the eastern coastline of the U.K. and that’ll peg back temperatures considerably.

So in the warmer sunshine, you can expect temperatures to push up into the low twenties, but under cloud cover, it’ll be more like mid-teens. Night time temperatures will be lower under clear skies, so I’d expect single figures here, maybe dropping down enough to give a grass frost, particularly at higher elevations and in Scotland. Nothing unusual here, I can remember fishing the River Dulnain in Speyside as a wee slip of a lad on the last day of August and there was a good frost 🙂

Winds will be light and mainly north-easterly / easterly and that’s why cloud cover will come into play, particularly at the back end of the week because it’ll pull cloud off The North Sea. So the east / south-east may well end up running cooler than the west because of the ever-present threat of cloud cover.

Weekend-wise it looks more of the same, but with a higher risk of cloud coming into play, so staying dry, but perhaps cooler over a wider area because of the more widespread cloud cover.

Weather Outlook

At this stage it looks like we will remain under the influence of high pressure next week but it’s getting squeezed by some pretty deep low pressures so I can see it eventually moving off towards the end of next week and low pressure coming back into play in the shape of strong winds and rain. That said, it looked the same last week, but the high strengthened and maintained the status quo, however I think the odds on it staying in situ for the whole month are pretty low.

Agronomic Notes

DUNCEFirst off I’ll start with an apology, last week I said that with high pressure in charge, we should have a lessening of disease pressure, I couldn’t have been more wrong….

In fact we saw the opposite because with that high pressure came some very mild, muggy humid nights with mid-teen night temperatures and this meant that conditions were in fact ideal for fungal development, so go to the back of the class Mr Hunt on that one 🙁

As well as the ongoing situation with Anthracnose, which I covered in detail last week, I also received numerous reports of active Fairy Ring and Thatch Collapse, along with Fusarium and even some Dollar Spot on tee areas. It’s enough to make you weep sometimes, but lets be pragmatic, this is the rub, this is our industry, we just need to knuckle down and sort it 🙂

Fairy Ring and Thatch Collapse has been significant this year and most of this is down to the weather for sure, however if you suffer from these, take a look at where they are occurring on your surfaces and try to determine if there’s a pattern both in terms of the surfaces it’s affecting and the specific areas. This should be your mindset with all diseases, i.e “Why is it occurring where it’s occurring?” With Anthracnose for instance I have seen two distinct patterns, the first related to stressed areas, wear pathways across a green for instance and here the Foliar Blight has been the most active form of the disease. Conversely on non-stress areas, lower parts of greens for example where moisture levels are high then here I’ve seen Anthracnose Basal Rot, rather than the Foliar Blight.

With the latter you need to look at where it’s ocurring and then plan accordingly to try and remove the background issue, be it sub-surface drainage, organic matter content, etc

For sure greens with a high organic matter content will be more susceptible to most diseases, but particularly Microdochium nivale, Superficial Fairy Ring and Thatch Collapse to name but a few.

With Thatch Collapse, you should look at the affected areas and gently press down on the patches. If there’s a clear depression in the surface, deep enough to affect ball roll, well then you have too much surface fibre whatever you think and if your club is one of those that doesn’t like you aerating and topdressing, then now is the time to use this disease activity as a lever. Take some photos, explain why it’s occurring and what needs to be done to combat it and explain that if preventative / curative aeration isn’t undertaken, then all 18 greens will be like this. No one in their right mind will want this and hopefully sense will prevail 🙂


Thatch Fungus across a golf green

Once you have Thatch Collapse then it’s just a case of aerating (trying to avoid heaving in the affected areas is sometimes difficult I’d accept) , topdressing to try and maintain levels and let it run its course. For sure you can blat it with Azoxystrobin, but you are only dealing with the symptom, rather than the cause.

Microdochium nivale pressure

As we enter the start of the main disease preiod for most, I’m going to try and predict (better than last week) when we’re likely to have the highest activity from this pathogen. Looking at this week we have a dry scenario so that’s good in terms of discouraging disease, we will also be cool at night, another plus point. On the negative side, we will have some heavy dews if your night time coincides with clear skies, so that’ll increase leaf wetness and encourage disease activity. In balance I’d expect any Microdochium that’s already present to bubble away, not becoming too aggressive, but it’ll be there in the background, particularly on shaded areas that don’t get the chance to dry out during the day. I was out on a blat on my motorbike at the weekend and noticed the areas under trees were staying damp all day despite the warmth so a tad tricky. An indication that on sportsturf surfaces in shade, the plant leaf will be staying wet for long periods of the day now that the sun is sitting lower in the sky. So disease pressure will be higher on shaded areas this week, so that’s the area to keep an eye out on.

If you’re clean at the moment, then I’d expect you to remain so and as I intimated last week, try to keep your powder dry with your systemic + contact mix for as long as you can this month, it’ll pay dividends later in the year.

GDD & Growth Potential Outlook

The cooler nights this week will start to drop soil temperature and also GDD / GP figures. I just programmed in my anticipated day and night temperatures for this week into our spreadsheet and it gives a predicted G.P range from 0.6 dropping down to 0.4, in other words growth will be slowing down and so that means outfield areas should come nicely under control, but also fine turf will start to need a bit of a helping hand in the form a light foliar tonics to maintain health and density.

Worm and Insect ActivityCraneFlyMar2014

Lot’s of people reporting high levels of casting worms on turf surfaces last week, specifically because of the end of August moisture and the heat, however these too should be starting to decrease as the top surface dries out and the worms move deeper. (Expect them to reoccur when the rains arrive)

I’ve had a few reports of pecking, Leather jacket and Chafers doing the rounds, the former seem to have had a mid-summer egg laying spell in order for their grubs to be active now. I find it quite difficult to keep up with quite where we are life cycle-wise with Leatherjackets but it figures as I had pictures sent to me of mature Crane Flies back in the spring.

Ok that’s all for this week, enjoy the sun if you get it up or down your way, I love autumn sunshine and the colours that come with it, I know it means winter is next up, but that’s the rub…

All the best…

Mark Hunt








September 1st


Hi All,

Back to work today after a nice mini-break down at St David’s, Pembrokeshjetstream010914ire and as so often is the case, as soon as you get home the weather improves !!! Good news on the weather front though as we are in for a typical early September run of weather, that is stable, high pressure, courtesy of an elevated jet stream (see image right) that took a hike up north over the weekend and looks set to stay there for the next two weeks….Yesterday was such a beautiful day here, lovely temperatures, sunshine and clouds and it seemed the air was full of insects aHummingbirdHawkMothnd butterflies.

Indeed I had my annual visit from this guy, that looks like a Hummingbird in the air, but it’s actually a moth, the Hummingbird Hawkhead Moth, a migrant from France that’s visiting our shores every summer in ever-increasing numbers. Like most Butterflies and Moths they seem to love Buddleia and it nipped around mine for a good 10 minutes….smart

Onto the weather and matters turf….

General Weather Forecast

It may not seem like it looking out of the window today, (it’s raining here and very overcast) but we are in for a nice spell of weather after we get Monday out of the way. So today we’re seeing a weather front move south-east over the southern half of the U.K (/). it’s already cleared Ireland and Scotland and here you’ll should be seeing the sun. For the rest of us it’ll sink slowly south and east through the day so if it’s not with you yet, it will be in the south-east of England. Once it moves through we’ll all see some sunshine and in that warmth, temperatures will pick up to high teens, maybe even topping 20°C in some places. Winds will be light and westerly / north-westerly in nature.

By Tuesday that rain front has moved off to the continent, so that means all areas of the U.K and Ireland will be dry with variable amounts of cloud cover and light winds, though they’ll be easterly in nature for the immediate future. Temperatures will sit in the high teens, maybe a little higher if the sun comes out for any length of time and it’ll be just fine and dandy, pity we all have to work really :(…Scotland will sit a few degrees lower than the south of England due to more cloud cover through the week in general.

Wednesday sees a similar picture, perhaps with more in the way of sunshine, so temperatures up a degree or so on the early part of the week. Winds will be light and easterly and again the prognosis is dry everywhere…

Thursday may sees even less in the way of cloud cover so temperatures pushing into the low twenties during the afternoon and it’ll feel well pleasant. Maybe only the west coast of Ireland will sit slightly cooler and cloud cover persists here during the day, heavy enough possibly for some missly drizzle. Temperatures should be up in the twenties if you have sunshine, maybe 4-5°C lower if you have cloud cover.

Closing out the week we have more of the same, dry, warm, even hot by the afternoon with temperatures peaking in the low twenties I think in some areas on Friday. Winds will be light to moderate and maybe shifting round slightly to the north through Thursday / Friday. There’s also a risk of some showers being triggered off by the high temperatures, particularly over South Wales on Friday.

The upcoming weekend looks settled and dry with warm temperatures in light winds. There’s some disagreement in the weather models, how much cloud cover we will get, but if it’s overcast that’ll peg things back somewhat temperature-wise and that cloud may bring with it a risk of rain on Sunday, particularly in the morning.

Weather Outlook

As you can see from the animated Unisys GIF above, we have high pressure very much in charge so that means stable, dry conditions, warm during the day and perhaps foggy and dewy in the morning. Next week looks like following a similar pattern to this week then, but maybe at the very end of the week there’s a chance that the high pressure will get moved out of the way by low pressure which is stacking up to the west of Ireland. That may mean a wet and unsettled weekend for the middle of the month.

Agronomic Notes

As we approach the autumn, disease and increasing disease pressure is never far from our minds, but after a wet and dismal last week where a number of you reported active Fusarium (Microdochium nivale) , I think we will see a drop in disease pressure over the coming 10-14 days because surfaces will dry out nicely.

If you have got active disease you have a decision to make, either hit it with a systemic+contact tankmix early or apply a straight contact fungicide. Now that decision will depend on where your course is located because we know that Microdochium pressure in Ireland and Scotland starts earlier than it does in the south of the U.K. In the latter I always look at the 6 weeks from the start of October to the middle of November as the key period to minimise Microdchium populations in the sward, whereas in Ireland and Scotland I think it’s more like the start of September through till temperatures drop in November. (earlier in Scotland normally)

My preference would be to use a straight contact at the moment (not a protectant mind) and keep your systemic powder dry for later in the month.

Anthracnose Recovery Measures

Anthracnose Poa annua var annua

This year has seen a lot of areas affected by Anthracnose, not just greens, but collars and approaches as well, so we can see that the pressure for this particular disease has been high, but why ?

Well firstly we have to understand Anthracnose as a disease and that it can manifest itself in two different forms – Foliar Blight and Basal Rot. I stand to be corrected, but I feel that the Foliar Blight version of the disease is the one we tend to see more of after the plant has experienced stress, particularly prolonged high air temperatures during the day and night.

When I first came into this industry (1989 be jaysus) Anthracnose was a winter-only disease, always showing up as a basal rot and typically from November onwards. It wasn’t until really post -2000 that we started to see more and more Anthracnose during the summer months. I remember attending a GCSAA lecture given by Bruce Clark in 2012 and he typically covers the top-10 diseases in the U.S. He made a point of remarking that 15 years ago, Anthracnose didn’t make the top 10 diseases (As reported by Superintendents over there), but now it’s top 3 and has been for the last 10 years or so.

Over here I think we tend to see both Foliar Blight and Basal Rot occurring in the same sward, the difference between the two is that the Foliar Blight is held to attack the older leaves first and then spread to newer growth, whereas the Basal Rot goes for the base of the crown every time. Recently I took some pictures with a small microscope of Anthracnose-affected turf and you can clearly see the fruiting structures of the disease (Acervuli) on the leaf tissue….


Once you see the type of symptoms shown above on your turf, your perspective should be focussed on remedial action because curative control of Anthracnose using a fungicide is largely ineffective in my books, it’s like a mobile speed trap by the side of the road, once you see it, it’s too late to do anything about it, well it is with my driving / riding…. Sure a chemical application may ‘ring fence’ the affected areas, but the turf you see yellowing off won’t instantly get better overnight.

So getting back to the first question ;

“Why have I got Anthracnose this year when I’ve done nothing different from other years ?”…

For sure the main driver for Anthracnose is climatic conditions and the optimum ones are high daily air temperatures that put the plant (Normally Poa annua) under stress followed by high rainfall or heavy irrigation events that saturate the turf surface and encourage spore germination and fungal movement from plant to plant.

So looking at July and August we can see we’ve had ideal conditions for Anthracnose.

Firstly, we had a hot July with two pronounced periods of plant stress, these are highlighted in dotted red circles on the green growth potential line on the stats from Long Ashton Golf Club (Cheers James)…

Long AshtonJuly2014Stats

It wasn’t only high temperatures, it was windy as well and that means high daily moisture loss from the turf canopy by evapotranspiration (E.T). You can see from the graph below using stats from The Oxfordshire (Cheers Sean) that we had 14 days when the E.T > 4.5mm during July 2014, (shown as red columns) which in my books signifies plant stress and requires hand watering to control moisture loss.


The total E.T figure for July was 135mm compared to a more normal 100mm, so July was 35% harder on the grass plant than normal in terms of regulating moisture uptake and loss.

Secondly in some areas we also had high rainfall events in July that saturated the turf surface. In others we had very little rainfall which meant increased reliance on irrigation and thereby hangs the rub…

I think irrigation is one of the least-understood management practices because a lot of golf course managers don’t measure (in mm) how much water they’re putting on, how much they need to put on (they don’t measure E.T rates) and how variable moisture levels are across a green surface.

A harsh statement maybe, and I accept some of this is down to under-investment in resources, particularly manpower because you need more bodies if you want to hand water, you need a weather station to monitor E.T accurately and you need money to be able to afford a moisture meter.

A direct consequence of this is that a lot of golf greens receive too much water from their irrigation systems during hot, dry conditions and because we know that water will not be distributed evenly across a golf green, some areas will sit wetter, some areas drier. Without the factility to measure this, we are weeing into a strong prevailing air flow and creating an ideal environment for disease, particularly fungal pathogens that are influenced by leaf and soil moisture levels.

So the answer to the question is mainly climatic conditions, but we also influence Anthracnose by how we maintain greens. I’ve covered irrigation / watering, but there’s also nutrition and without a doubt it’s one of the best ways of preventing Anthracnose, that of tightening application frequencies during and after stress periods and thereby ensuring the plant doesn’t slip into a nutrient level trough, i.e it’s weak and not growing sufficiently well enough to overcome the threat of disease. All the work has shown that regular, light foliar applications are the best way of achieving this, as effective as putting down a preventative fungicide it seems and certainly a lot cheaper ! If this isn’t workable, then a light rate granular fertiliser can work wonders during this period.

Anthracnose Damage

“Yes the greens are poor but at least I only applied 70kg of N this year…..”

Chasing low N numbers is an admirable cause some would say, but not at the expense of turf quality. I’m sure all your golfers and secretary managers/ committees, etc aren’t going to shake you by the hand when you say you’ve applied less than 100kg / N / hectare, but your sward is full of thin areas because you have been hit by Anthracnose as a consequence. Too little N is just as bad as too much N and none more so than when we talk about this disease…

Remedial Work

Once you have Anthracnose your focus should be on getting surfaces back as quickly as possible and that means remedial work.

Firstly we need to take the stress off the grass plant, but in our climate because we tend to see Anthracnose after the stress the biggest part of this has already take place in that the weather has changed (cooled down), however there are other changes you can do ;

Raising the cutting height, using rolling to keep your pace and switching to smooth rollers on your greens machines will all help plant recovery. AnthracnoserecoveryPoa

As commented on earlier, we often see Basal Rot Anthracnose as well as Foliar Blight, so trying to encourage the damaged plant to initiate new roots is a good idea. The first part of this is spiking, hollow coring, solid tining to encourage root development and sometimes if the weather plays ball, this in itself will go a long way to turning things round, remember although Anthracnose is a pain of a disease, the fact we are dealing with Poa means we have one of the greatest surviviors in the plant kingdom as an ally. The pic right shows a Poa plant initiating new root development from a damaged crown after an attack of Anthracnose Basal Rot….

If you feel the need to overseed areas, hollow coring beforehand is without doubt the best way because you’re dropping the seed into a hole filled with new rootzone material and without the barrier of organic matter present which oftens provides a barrier to the newly developing grass seed root system. The plant is also slightly below the canopy so the cutting height is actually higher. Some people look at Anthracnose as an ideal opportunity to introduce more Bentgrass (by way of overseeding) into the sward.

Upping the nutrition, lowering or omitting PGR usage until you have a consistent turf canopy across the green and frequent spiking and topdressing are all conducive to aiding recovery, especially the topdressing part because it encourages tillering.

A number of people have commented to me over the years that they feel Anthracnose is a ‘wound-related’ disease and that summer topdressing encourages its presence. Research work has failed to show this, nor has there been proven a correlation between increased rolling and Anthracnose, in fact the latter has been the case because a firmer surface means a more consistent (bench to turf) cutting height with less sinking down of the mower into the turf canopy (resulting in a lower overall cutting height and more plant stress)

You’ll note I haven’t spent much time on fungicide applications and that’s because I think the most effective fungicide applications for Anthracnose are preventative in nature, rather than curative, I’m really not sure in my own mind if a post-Anthracnose application achieves anything apart from putting a hole in your budget and peace of mind.

A good piece on Anthracnose research is readable here….

Other consequences of the summer

After a hot, dry summer we often see an increase in moss on golf greens and this is because the moss will outcompete the grass on areas that dry out, such as mounds, noses, ridges of greens. Silver Thread Moss is one of the worst for this and will withstand a much higher degree of dessication than the grass around it. I’ve already had reports of moss populations increasing and I expect this to continue.

Monthly GDD update

Continuing our look at how conditions have been, Wendy has kindly collated the GDD info for August and you can see as a month it fared poorly to other years, in fact it’s the lowest GDD total for August since we’ve been recording GDD information and reflects that it was a cool and disappointing month in general. 🙁


Headland Weathercheck Problem

weathercheck_logoSome of you set up on Meteoblue’s weather forecasting system that we run under the name Weathercheck have been having some issues with the RainNow part of the forecast, sometimes it is showing, sometimes it isn’t. We are trying with Meteoblue’s assistance to get to the bottom of this, but if you are still experiencing problems can you please email with your internet browser name and version and if possible a screenshot, that would be most useful, cheers….Paul will liaise with you on this.


Ok bit of a mammoth blog for this week, so now back to the daily grind…

All the best.

Mark Hunt








If you want more background on this disease, there’s an excellent Podcast by Karl Danneberger available here