Monthly Archives: October 2014

October 20th


Hi All,

Amid the news headlines claiming there’s a ‘hurricane’ on the way, an ‘icy blast from the Arctic’, blardy blah, you sometimes wonder quite what weather forecast these guys are looking at 🙂

So yes it’ll be very windy on Tuesday afternoon / evening and temperatures may plummet to ooh, erm, high single figures maybe, golly gosh 🙂



Last week I was walking back from a late night, rainy Supermarket trip (it’s getting harder to keep my weekly shop under £23 you know), when I heard familiar bird calls on the wind. It took a minute for my brain to re-calibrate and realise it came from Redwings and Fieldfares flying at night. You may remember I’ve commented about these guys before ? They hop over from Scandinavia and Russia in the autumn to feed on our berry crop. I think they’re a good bit earlier this year, so does this mean we’re in for a harder winter or maybe it’s because its got colder, earlier, over there and they know that we have a mega berry crop this autumn to feast on??


Staying on the nature front, I set about cutting back some ivy off my fence yesterday, but quickly stopped when I realised it was in flower and the flowers were full of insects feeding on them, lot’s of them were bees. So if you have some ivy due for eradication / control, hang fire for awhile and give those insects a feed before the winter arrives in earnest.

Just a housekeeping note, I’m off on holiday next week and the first part of the week after because I’m cream-crackered, so they’ll be a two week sabatical on the blog I’m afraid 🙁 (I can hear the cheers already !)

Onto the weather….

General Weather Situation

Well although we have a pretty unsettled early part of this week coming, it won’t feature heavy rainfall for the majority of us, though Scotland will bear the brunt of the worst of it. That’s good news for some clubs / facilities in the south of England I know who received over 120mm in the last 10 days !

For Monday we have a quiet start to the day in England, Wales and Scotland after what was a barmy, balmy weekend, with temperatures topping 19.5°C here on Saturday and Sunday and only falling 3°C overnight. Elsewhere there’s already rain moving across Ireland and this will push into north-west England, Wales and Scotland later on this morning and slowly push inland, though most of it will be confined to the western coastal regions. Temperatures will be mid-teens and the wind moderate to blustery in those showers and from the west.

Overnight into Tuesday we have heavy rain reaching the west coast of Ireland and pushing quickly across country into Scotland and the west coastline of the U.K by dawn. This will be accompanied by very strong, westerly / north-westerly winds. The heaviest rain looks destined for North Wales, north-west England and the north west coast of Scotland. This rain will push inland affecting most areas during the morning. Behind the rain it’ll be brighter, but a good deal fresher even though the sun will be out. So Ireland will have a fresh, bright day after the rain, as will most of us. It will be very windy though for most of the day, with that wind swinging round to the north-west and probably at its strongest for the evening rush hour. The rain will linger in the north west of England and Scotland for most of the day though, only petering out late on Tuesday evening. It will feel colder than it actually is because we’ve had such a warm weekend.

Overnight into Wednesday, the winds begin to drop, but the cold feeling to the weather will remain, so Wednesday will start cool, clear and maybe with a touch of grass frost in sheltered, rural parts. The exception to this will be north-west Scotland where a pulse of heavy, localised rain is due to arrive in time for the morning rush hour and push eastwards across Scotland during the morning. This rain maybe very heavy on the north-west coast of Scotland and Western Isles in particular. Later on this rain may creep down the north-east coast of England as well. Further south and for Ireland as well, it’ll be a bright, crisp day with a quieter (though still moderate) westerly wind and more cloud cover arriving later on in the day. Temperatures will recover from Tuesday’s single figures to low teens, so typical for this time of year.

Onto Thursday and we have some rain fronts moving across Ireland during the morning into the west coast of the U.K later on. Further east and south, it’ll be a reasonable day with hazy sunshine for the morning before more cloud cover arrives later on. That cloud cover will be thick enough for some rain inland, especially over Wales and the north of England. Temperatures will be similar to Wednesday, low to mid-teens (in the south) and still accompanied by that cool westerly wind.

Closing out the week on Friday we have that rain sinking south to affect the north of England, Wales and eventually the south of England, but amounts will be light. By the afternoon it should have cleared most areas and been replaced with some sunshine and broken cloud cover and it may feel a little milder in the sunshine. The winds will remain in the west, light to moderate and temperatures sitting in the low to mid-teens, so pretty constant really.

The weekend is looking pretty similar at this stage, unsettled for sure in the west and north, with rain moving into the west of Ireland and north-west Scotland on Saturday morning. Further south it’ll be a brighter picture initially, but with some risk of showers in the north and west and cloud cover moving across the U.K. It’s worth noting that there’s a chunk of heavy continental rain projected to just kiss the south coast of England during the morning on Saturday and it won’t take much of a change to see this slip northwards, so worth keeping an eye on. So Saturday may stay dry for most of the U.K and possibly Ireland, but if you don’t see the sun, it’ll feel cool and a tad miserable.  Sunday is looking similar, dry for most areas with a risk of showers in the west and north, these may slip eastwards later on during the day. Temperature-wise, we look to stay similar to the previous week, so low to mid-teens the order of the day.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to stay reaonably mild, perhaps feeling a little milder early on in the week as the winds swing round to the south-west, however we have another deep, Atlantic low on the way, so expect the same headlines round about this time, next week, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz yawn…..

So unsettled and mild for the start of the week, with a risk of rain, more in the north and west, as is usually the case with Atlantic low pressure systems. The wind and rain looks to ramp up later in the week, so wet and windy initially across Ireland and Scotland from Wednesday p.m. onwards and I think this low may sink south to affect southern areas of the U.K for the end of next week. Looking further is always tricky, but we may see out October into November with some potentially quieter weather.

Agronomic Notes

Before I kick off this week, I’d just like to say thanks to everyone who attended the north-west BIGGA seminar at Myerscough College last week. Thanks to Sandra and Gwynn for the organisation, it’s an impressive set up there and hopefully a good day was had by all 🙂

Disease….What else 🙁

This pic from my weather station on Saturday night shows 16.7°C and 88% humidity at 23.12 p.m. and it didn’t change much all night. The same was true of Friday night and we had rain as well to ramp that humidity up even higher, so needless to say I’ll start my agronomic discussion on disease management, but specifically Microdochium nivale.


So I’ll cover some likely scenarios that you may or may not be facing at present….

1. Your surface is clean, you last applied a systemic / contact tankmix last week, approximately 4 weeks after the last application….

Smile slightly smugly to yourself, but don’t get complacent as the weekend’s weather represented very high disease pressure.

2. You applied a systemic fungicide recently, but you’re still seeing signs of new disease activity and / or re-activity around the periphery of past Microdochium scars

Ok, a number of possible scenarios here ;

You could be in a situation where the weekend’s combination of warmth and moisture has tipped the balance strongly in favour of Microdochium nivale development. The rate of this development is exceeding the rate at which the fungicide is able to restrict growth of the population. Remember fungicides are really ‘fungiostats’, that is they affect the rate of growth of the fungal population, hopefully to a point where it is unable to manifest as pathogenic. So if the drivers for fungal growth are stronger than the fungiostatic effect, you can still see disease formation even though you’ve applied a fungicide. As the drivers for fungal growth decline (as they will this week with the temperature drop and lack of dew due to wind strength) you should see control from the fungicide. I always suggest marking new areas of disease with little paint spots to determine if they’re actually on the move or not.

Alternatively the fungicide you’ve applied may not be effective at achieving control. I’ve made this point before in terms of applying products that you expect to have a ‘contact’ effect (Often because that’s how they’ve been sold to you) when in reality they are not ‘contact curative’, they are ‘contact protectant’, in terms of their mode of action.

I refer specifically to products containing Fludioxonil and / or Chlorothalonil as their A.I’s. These are often described as contacts, but they really should be thought of as protectants because whilst they’re great products in terms of taking out spores or fungal mycelium ON THE SURFACE OF THE GRASS PLANT LEAF, they are ineffective at controlling fungal mycelium IN THE GRASS PLANT LEAF. The problem here is that by the time you see the disease on your greens, sportsfields, bowling greens, etc, it is already in the leaf and so application of these A.I’s will be ineffective at achieving control.

One final scenario is that you have resistance or ‘insensitivity’ to a fungicide A.I within the Microdochium population in your sward. This is often talked about, but it’s a tricky one to deal with. Although we have many fungicide products available to us, the actual choice of A.I’s is very limited. (Many products are just parallel import copies of an existing formulation or they’re supposed to be anyway), furthermore, the choice becomes even more limited if we talk about A.I’s that control Microdochium effectively in the field.

During active growth periods in the autumn, I think this is pretty much confined to the following A.I’s ;

Iprodione / Propiconazole / Tebuconazole + Prochloraz

And that’s it in my eyes….

I think you can effectively forget the Strobilurin family unfortunately, because the potential for development of resistance is high (That’s what we’re seeing in our field research anyway) and they’re pretty ineffective on Microdochium as a chemical A.I, better on other diseases though like Take All and Anthracnose.

There is also potential for resistance to Iprodione as an A.I, particularly because we’ve been using it for years and many applications are made as the sole fungicide. Again we’re seeing partial resistance to Iprodione in our field work. This doesn’t mean it will no longer work as a product, it means that it would good management practice to either use different A.I’s or combine them with Iprodione when you’re applying, (provided the tankmix is recognised as compatible) so the disease population is subjected to different modes of action, rather than just the same one all the time.

Fungicide resistance doesn’t manifest itself in the same way with all fungicide A.I’s. For some it is like a light switch, one minute it works, the next it doesn’t and it appears there’s little or no going back from this once situation the transition has occurred. For others there’s a gradual loss of efficacy as resistance slowly builds up within the population over time. Of course the longer the product has been available, the greater the risk of this occurring.

The benefits of Vertidraining…..

Some times I get sent some really great pictures and this morning was one such occasion, so I’m extremely grateful to Mark Todd at The Wildernesse for this one. (and for letting me use it, cheers Toddy!)


Above is a picture of a fairway at The Wildernesse taken on the 22nd of September 2014, three weeks down the line from precious little rainfall and a hot, dry month to boot. You can clearly see the box shape, vertidrain passes on the semi-rough and where they stop going into the rough. The areas of semi are healthy and lush, whereas the rough is clearly under drought stress.

To me the picture strongly suggests that the benefits of aeration, in this case vertidraining has enabled the grass plant to develop a better, more efficient root system and thereby survive the drought. It’s also likely that the rootzone has better moisture availability because it isn’t just sitting in a compacted, surface layer. This isn’t just a picture about the benefits of aeration though, the message goes alot further than this.

Last week and for most of September I know, I spoke about the stress-related driver behind Anthracnose Foliar Blight and also the fact that this disease has been occurring ‘off green’ and has been effectively carried onto green by foot traffic, in some cases. You can imagine therefore the potential benefits of vertidraining complexes, surrounds, approaches, etc in order to de-compact the soil and enable better root development. In so doing you reduce the level of plant stress and the hence the potential for the occurrence of Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

I’d also extend this argument onto the green and put it forward as a potential benefit to better rootzone characteristics here. Again, better moisture distribution = better rooting = less stress = less risk of Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

Ok that’s all folks, I look forward to touching base after my break.

All the best.

Mark Hunt




October 13th


Hi All,

As I type this the rain is lashing down against the window and I can hear the London commuter train announcements from Market Harborough Railway station drifting on the wind. This is always a bad sign because in order for me to hear it, it means the wind is in the east or north-east and so the weather is usually grim, and it is, grim…..

Such a contrast to the weekend which started with beautiful, foggy, still mornings and not a breath of wind. I fly-fished Thornton Reservoir on Saturday morning and you could hardly see an oar in front of you (I row the boat for exercise rather than use an engine much to the displeasure of the Saturday Thornton fly fishing crew who just claim I’m tight !)


The weekend finished extremely wet for the south-east corner of the U.K, as that continental rainfall slid up from the Bay of Biscay and brought heavy rain to Kent, London and The Home counties, it’s now moving north across the U.K and I can confirm it’s reached Leicestershire at dawn this morning !:(

So are we set for a wet week ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees that heavy rain moving up the central and eastern coastline of the U.K and I’ve already had reports of 25mm falling overnight down in Surrey. Ireland, Scotland and the west coastline of the U.K seems set to escape this rain and here it’ll be a bright and breezy day :). By Monday night that rain will reach Newcastle and affect an area down to the south Midlands, so a soggy end to the day in prospect here. Winds will be strong and blustery and from the north-east for most with temperatures low to mid-teens under the cloud, a tad higher if you see the sun.

By Tuesday, that rain stays pretty much in place, so principally affecting a line up from the M4 to Newcastle, though it may shift westwards a tad into Wales and the north-west of England. A duller day for Scotland, some light rain here, but Ireland again looks ok, more in the way of cloud, but you’ll see the sun, particularly down in Kerry. (that’s nice for you guys) Through Tuesday, the wind shifts round to the north-west and that’s because Tropical Cyclone Cristobal (What kind of a name is that ?, they must be running out of good ones, I think they should use more imaginative names for their weather systems, like Hurricane Big Mac or Cyclone Shitefest, Tropical Storm Awesome, you know something to keep us smiling) I digress (as usual, it’s a family trait you know, we’re past masters at switching topics in the blink of an eye, catching everyone unawares and wondering quite where that subject came from ?)

Ok back ‘on message’ and onto Wednesday, and the boots on the other foot this time with a quieter, drier day for central England, but the first rain front from Cristobal is set to reach the south-west of Ireland in time for the morning rush hour in Dingle and head quickly across Ireland, bringing heavy rain to most areas. By lunchtime it’ll make landfall on the south-west coast of England, Cornwall and Devon will have a soggy afternoon in prospect. Further north and east, save for some rain lingering along the north-east coast of England and Scotland, it’ll be dry and you may even see the sun for awhile. That rain is on a diagonal trajectory, so heading up the M5 in a line towards the Humber Estuary, which means the south-east corner of England may miss it completely. Winds will be much lighter and from the south this time as the low butts up against a continental high pressure (A remnant from our good weather in September).

Onto Thursday and that change of wind direction will mean that temperatures will lift and it’ll feel much milder than of late, especially ‘down souff like’ (purposeful mis-spelling) That rain though will already be into The Midlands by the early hours and through the morning it’ll move north-east towards The Humber Estuary. So the south-east may see some rain early doors, but it should clear away eastwards as dawn breaks. By late morning we’ll see more rain from Cristobal moving north-east into Kerry and the south-west of England, pushing along the coastline through the afternoon in the latter and across country in the former. Late on Thursday night that Irish rain pushes into the north-west of England and Scotland and moves across country in the wee hours of Friday.

So a wet start for Friday in a line drawn up the east coast from the Thames estuary right up to Scotland where the rain will affect most of the country. By late morning the sun should be breaking through and temperatures will lift nicely to give a nice end to the day in central England. Further west I’m afraid more rain fronts are amassing from Cristobal and these are due into Kerry in time for the Friday rush hour, again another wet end to the day for Ireland.

The weekend is looking very mixed 🙁

For Ireland, Scotland, the north-west of England, it looks to be a very wet Saturday with heavy overnight rain through Friday night into Saturday morning. This rain should clear Ireland by late morning / lunchtime, but it’ll hang around in Scotland for most of the day. Further south, it’ll start dry, but there’s more rain sweeping into the south-west and pushing across country, so sunshine and showers on the way here, but hopefully amounts will be light. It’ll feel mild, especially in the south of England, with temperatures in the high teens and likely to touch 20°C potentially over the weekend. Sunday looks mixed again with more rain for the west and north, but for the south-east, it could well be a cracker of a day, dry and warm with frequent sunny intervals.

Weather Outlook

We have Cyclone season in the U.S and so at present are set to be on the receiving end of some pretty intense low pressure systems. What’s more the jet stream is settling into a similar pattern to the one it was in at the start of 2014, (see below) so that means it’ll pull some heavy low pressure systems over from The Atlantic and potentially give us a wet end to October, following on from the driest month of the year, September.


Projected Jet Stream pattern 22/10/14
Image courtesy of NetWeather

This week we’re enduring Cyclone Cristobal, next week will see more unsettled weather whisking in from The Atlantic, so I expect next week to start unsettled, with widespread rain, pretty mild, even warm for awhile in the south of the U.K on a south-west / west wind, before the next low pressure arrives. The winds will then swing round to the west, the temperatures will drop and push a small, but intense low pressure system into Ireland by mid-week, with heavy rain. This will quickly push across to affect most of the U.K mid-week onwards, so a wet and windy week for sure. As the low pressure moves through, the winds will swing round to the north / north-west dropping the temperature temporarily. So staying mild, wet and windy for the foreseeable.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Pressure

Continuing last week’s theme and starting with Anthracnose, you’d expect the disease pressure to drop off now that the weather has changed and plant stress levels have faded into distant memory, however I’m concerned because of the level of Anthracnose we saw this year and the potential for repercussions later this autumn.

What I mean by that is this year we saw plenty of Anthracnose on stressed greens, but also stressed approaches and surrounds. Lately, I’ve been noticing a pattern where the ‘off green’ area looks to have been the source of innoculum for the Anthracnose that developed on the green, with transmission by golfers the likely vector. So effectively the disease is walked onto and off a green in a ‘V’ shape. Of course it may just be also that these wear areas are more stressed and therefore more likely to develop Anthracnose Foliar Blight or a combination of the two.


If you do see weak areas around the green, now is a good time to vertidrain, overseed, (with a straight Rye mix as this is less likely to be affected by Anthracnose), topdress and fertilise, while we still have temperature in the ground and moisture is more freely available. (Perhaps too freely available!) If these areas are stronger in the future, they’re less likely to develop Anthracnose and allow walk-on / walk-off transmission of Anthracnose spores. If you think it’s too late this year, why not photograph the affected areas now and then you have a definitive blueprint of where you need to concentrate on next Spring ?

Will the Foliar Blight of September become the Basal Rot of October and November ?

My concern is that now the weather has changed, the nature of Anthracnose will change with it and the Foliar Blight-affected areas of August and September will become the Basal Rot areas of October and November, if it stays mild and particularly if it stays wet for prolonged periods. We know there were large amounts of Acervuli on Foliar-Blight affected plants during August and September (see below) and these will have produced viable spores which may allow the fungi to develop into the more familar Basal Rot later into the autumn. After all, it is the same disease, just forming on a different place on the grass plant due to a different ‘driver’ (Excess stress or excess moisture)


Acervuli of Anthracnose on a Poa annua plant

 Optimal Nutrition for Anthracnose – Acidic Fertiliser Sources may not be the way forward…..

A couple of years ago when I was attending the GCSAA classes in the States, I did the ‘Diseases of Cool Season Grasses’ course run by Bruce Clark from Rutgers University. It’s a great class because 6 weeks before he asks you to list your top 10 diseases / issues and then he collates everyone’s responses and organises his talk accordingly. Anthracnose barely made it into the top 10, 10 years ago or so, but over the last 5 years, it’s shot up the order of importance and now ranks 2nd only to Dollar Spot in terms of worst diseases in the U.S.

The USGA has responded to this change in significance by focussing research on Anthracnose and has published a number of papers. Their last one is available in pdf form to download here It investigates some of the potential theories for an increase in Anthracnose, like changes in PGR usage, Rolling, Shallow or Deep Verticutting and it is really interesting.

During his class, Bruce Clark commented that the first year of research had seemed to indicate that the severity of Anthracnose was influenced by the type of nutrition and strangely that acidic fertiliser sources appeared to encourage the disease.

I had forgot this until I was reminded of the fact at last week’s South-West BIGGA AGM where I was talking (Cheers to Darren and Chris for organising and to Jaey for the prompt!) I had a look on the web and found this link to the research, again it makes interesting reading. Now this was only the first year of work, but it gets you thinking for sure.

Microdochium Nivale Disease Pressure

With the arrival of the autumn rain I expect Microdochium pressure to be high for the next month or so, particularly towards the end of this week and over the weekend when temperatures will pick up, especially for the south of England. Hopefully you’re all done and dusted in terms of preventative applications  because you had enough notice and spraying days will be few and far between over the next week or so 🙁



There’s still plenty of rust around on higher-height of cut areas like semi-rough / rough and sports pitches. If budget and other resources are available, a light liquid feed with iron will get these areas growing again in time to gain sward density before the winter months. A late application on these areas will never be wasted because if the plant is healthy going into the autumn / winter, it’s invariably healthy coming out. What’s more any nutrition that’s left will be there in the Spring to get the grass plant off to a good start.

Spring Carryover

Taking on board the point above, exploiting the potential of longer-term controlled release / slow release fertilisers at this time of year on areas that will be receiving continual wear i.e Sports pitches, tees, approaches and surrounds is always a good strategy. You’ll get some release during the autumn, it’ll shut down over the winter and then kick in again early next year as soon as the weather warms up. This isn’t a sales pitch, you guys know the blog isn’t used for that purpose, but if you have some bags kicking around the shed, get them out over the next 7-10 days on the areas I mentioned, you won’t regret it. 🙂 (Why not do a trial if you’re sceptical of the benefits ?)

Moss Control

With rain arriving for most of us, now is a good time to look at knocking back moss growth and trying to tip the competitive advantage towards the grass plant, especially on turf that has thinned during the dry September and areas like back tees, which often sit neglected, build up fibre due to lack of play and in so doing provide a perfect environment for moss.

Worm Activity

Another unwelcome issue associated with the arrival of rain will be the increase in casting worm activity on outfield areas. Always a difficult one this, especially with the sometimes ‘hit and miss’ nature of Carbendazim, I’ve already heard of clubs that have had to re-apply due to poor control and for sure low soil moisture levels are responsible for this.


Wet, cool weather with few spray interludes is ideal for light rate granular fertiliser application, especially if you need to thicken areas up before we lose good soil temperature (usually in 3-4 weeks time). So take the opportunity to boost sward density on and off green (for the reasons mentioned above) and for sure put the PGR back in the ChemSafe till next Spring on fine turf areas.

Ok that’s all for now, have a talk to finish which I’m doing at Myerscough College on Wednesday morning. I’m first on (Cheers Gwynn :))

All the best

Mark Hunt





October 6th


Hi All,

Back from my travels  for the time-being and what an interesting jaunt it was covering Germany, some of the U.K and Switzerland last week. Saw a lot of disease on my travels, particularly Dollar Spot, so I know a little bit more about this disease based on my findings… (more of this later).


I’m real I am….

You know I meet some odd people and come across some strange local traditions on my travels. None more so than an indigeneous population of rodents to the Frankfurt area called “Field Hamsters” or “Feldhamster” as they are known in Germany. Seemingly there are only 2 places in Germany where these wild Hamsters still survive. Now I thought all Hamsters came from Asia, but no I was assured by a course manager, who shall remain nameless (Chris Knowles – G.C.Hanau) that they are indeed wild and in fact living in a field close to his house !


But they were here yesterday…

I was extremely sceptical so agreed to go with Chris and his young Son, Olly, to see these mystery rodents. So we set off down the road to see the field where they lived….Imagine my scepticism when it turns out the field had been ploughed that very morning, how convenient…Fear not because apparently they burrow down 2m to escape the plough !

Yeah right……


A day later I was enjoying a pint (or a litre) in my IBIS Budget hotel in Winterthur, Switzerland and couldn’t help laughing at the name of the drink “FeldSchlosschen”, which means Field Castle, presumably it’s where Feldhamsters live ???

So onto the weather and what a change we had at the weekend, well that’s what happens when we move from a peak (20-22°C) to a trough (10°C) overnight…..

General Weather Situation

So starting today, we have a vertical band of heavy rain moving across the U.K from west to east. If you’re dry now in the east, that might not be the case for long. Under the rain, it’s cool and well, miserable, 9-10°C, with a strong, blustery south-west wind. Still it’s marginally better than the frost we had on Sunday because we do need the rain. Further west that rain has cleared Ireland, though the western counties will remain showery. By 5 p.m, the west of the U.K is dry and bright with that rain band situated over the east of the country.

This intense weather system isn’t done yet and overnight into Tuesday it swings round to push into north-east Scotland, so a very wet start to the day on the cards there (and for much of the day really). Further south, a new rain band pushes into south-east Munster and edges up the coast into Leinster during the morning. This same rain band pushes into south-west England and Wales and tracks along the south coast, so again the south-eastern corner will get some much-needed rain. Again temperatures are disappointing. This rain pushes north slowly, but lightens in intensity as it does, so by rush hour it’ll be into the Midlands.

Overnight into Wednesday, that rain is still in situ over Scotland and the east coast of Ireland, so a mixed picture. If skies clear, temperatures will drop to low single figures, but maybe just high enough to avoid a ground frost, what a difference a week makes ! There’s more rain on the cards for Wednesday as that low pressure system swirls around again and as predicted last week, when a low sits in a trough, it doesn’t move anywhere fast. So another mixed day of showers, heavier spells of rain, pushed along by cool, south-westerly winds. It looks like the western coastline of the U.K (and Ireland) is in for most of this rain, though you may just miss it in Connacht as it passes south of you 🙂

For Thursday, that rain is still lingering, but by mid-morning it moves off from most of the U.K to be replaced with brighter, warmer weather, with temperatures pushing up into the mid-teens, hurrah ! They’ll still be some rain around though for Ireland, projected at present to affect south-east Munster and north-west Connacht. It will remain windy though, from the south-west, so a blustery day on the cards.

Closing out the week, we have some rain for the north-west / east of the U.K in the morning, but elsewhere it looks like remaining dry, bright and we’ll be keeping those temperatures, so nice compared to the beginning of the week. Those winds will drop back as well, so that’ll help.

So how is the weekend looking ?

Well not bad, but a little cooler (low teens) as the wind swings round to the north-west signalling that the low is moving away to pastures new. There’s a chance that rain may push off the continent on Saturday morning into the south-east of England, but we all know how unreliable this type of rainfall is, so your best bet is to keep an eye on the forecast as we near the end of the week. Dry on the whole though, but with the risk of showers over western coasts of Ireland and the U.K and some of these may move inland on Saturday.

Weather Outlook

Since we are in a trough, it’s only a matter of time before the next low comes in, but it looks like there will be a gap between them. So for the start of next week things looked similar to the weekend, a little cool because of the north-west winds, though these will be light in nature. The lighter winds and lack of cloud cover will push night temperatures down to a chilly 4-5°C in rural parts. for the early part of the week. From Wednesday we have a new low pressure arriving, another intense one as well, which is set to bring driving rain and strong winds into Ireland for Tuesday night / Wednesday. This low will track across the U.K on Wednesday / Thursday, but should move off by the end of the week. It all depends on its orientation, currently it looks like affecting more northerly and western climes.

Agronomic Update

I thought I’d start the blog this week by looking back at September because personally I found it a really tricky month from a turfgrass maintenance perspective.

The first area that I think was difficult to manage was soil moisture content and for sure a lot of greens dried out too much during the month and that compounded issues in terms of plant stress and associated diseases, like Anthracnose Foliar Blight. As you’ll see from the graphic below, although September 2014 was a dry month, in fact one of the driest on record (full stop), it wasn’t a particularly high E.T month. What I mean by this is that the loss of moisture from the rootzone rarely exceeded 3mm per day, whereas in the summer, we could easily hit 5mm plus on a hot, windy day, Therein lies the key because September was by and large, a light wind month and this is the driver of high E.T days, high temperature and strong winds.


A consequence of this low rainfall / low E.T combination is that the plant didn’t show drought stress as we’d normally see it in the summer, because it seldom reached wilt point and so areas of turf were under stress, but not showing it visually. This made it very difficult to intepret and act accordingly and for sure where a moisture meter would come in handy. Although even then with a moisture meter, because it’s reading at 60mm or 75mm (depending on the probe length / model) it doesn’t always pick up when the top 20mm is going dry.

Variable Growth Characteristics

I’ve charted out 3 sets of weather stats from The Mere in Cheshire, The Oxfordshire and Long Ashton, near Bristol. If you look at the green lines showing growth potential (G.P using 18°C as an optimum temperature), you can see just how variable a growth month it was. You can also see how different the shape of that line is between different sites.

For example, The Oxfordshire being a very open site and located in what is traditionally one of the coldest areas of areas of the U.K and Ireland, you can see how cold the nights got during September. This pushed the G.P down particularly during the 2nd week and last week of the month, so growth characteristics were very variable to say the least.


Disease Activity during September 2014

Anthracnose Foliar Blight

Looking at the stats above, you can see why Anthracnose Foliar Blight (in particular) was such an issue. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the north, middle or south of the country, we had no rain for the first 18 days, so areas were dry, under stress and ideal for development of this disease. During the middle part of the month we had a peak in E.T, hot days and mild nights and therefore heavy dews and this really motored Anthracnose Foliar Blight on, particularly on golf courses which had already shown the disease developing during August.

The image below taken on the 18th August shows mature Acervuli on the leaf and stem tissues of a Poa annua plant. Acervuli are the spore-producing structures and so here we have a disease that’s already in reproduction mode, ready to push it’s spores out and infect other plants. These spores are moved by water, traffic, machinery, golfers feet, anything really and so were nicely distributed across the green during late August, ready to infect new plants come a stressy September.


 Thatch Fungus

Thatch fungus really raised it’s head this year and particularly in early September when we had some very warm days after heavy rainfall at the end of August. So in other words excellent conditions for the development of Basidiomycete fungi, so the key driver was the weather, but also the presence of organic matter. As I commented earlier this month, Fairy Rings and Thatch Fungi aren’t the worst of our diseases, if and it’s a big ‘IF’ you have your organic matter under control. If the areas dishes significantly, then I’m afraid you don’t 🙁

Microdochium Nivale

The main driver here to Microdochium was the rainfall that ocurred at the end of August which kicked Microdochium off early in September. We then saw a second spike later in September, around the 19th, when we received our first rainfall of September for nearly 3 weeks. this ramped up the humidity and pushed on disease significantly. It also gave us some heavy dews, a wet plant leaf with little evaporation (because the winds were light) and so the plant stayed wet for long periods of the day, ideal for Microdochium.

Dollar Spot

I mentioned earlier that I have learnt a bit more about Dollar Spot on my travels and at this stage I have to thank the course managers I visited who allowed me to take samples from tees and fairways and look at them under a scope. Most of the affected plants I looked at showed mycelium present on the leaf tissue as shown in the image below…Quite pretty really..:)


The crowns of those plants however were largely healthy and this is important because it means the capacity for the grass plant to regenerate itself is still there. So fertilising to grow out the mycelium definitely is an option, much the same way as it is with Red Thread. This was really brought home to me on one course I looked at in Germany where they had bad Dollar Spot on fairways in mid-September, but when I visited last week the areas were much healthier (see pics of the same fairway areas below seperated by 14 days) The difference was a healthy input of granular N.

Dollar Spot

Of course the ability to grow out the disease depends on a number of factors, the weather being one of them and PGR’s being another. It would seem to me common sense that on areas affected by Dollar Spot, you should stop applying PGR’s in order to grow the disease out of the turf.

GDD Stats

Wendy has kindly knocked up the yearly stats for 2014 including September and we can see that as a month it rated highly in terms of growth potential. The rub though is that this growth was only realised if moisture was present, and for many areas it was not. So GDD and G.P models, though useful do not show the whole picture in terms of grass growth potential and this is important because a lot of you guys are using GDD models to make PGR applications. What I mean by this is that if the plant is under moisture stress it doesn’t make sense to apply a PGR and further regulate its growth potential.

As usual I’d be interested in your feedback here…..


Ok long blog today, thanks for everyone’s feedback, weather data and comments, I do appreciate all of them and it enables me to keep this blog going…


Mark Hunt