Hi All,

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

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

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


So how are we looking for the week ahead ?

General Weather Situation

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

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

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

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

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

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

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

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

Weather Outlook

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

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

Agronomic notes

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


Here’s just 2014 on it’s own….


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

We all have to deal with these……


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


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

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

Mon     Tue    Wed    Thur     Fri    Sat     Sun

0.5         0        2.0        3.5       3.0    2.0       5.0

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

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

My greens have gone purple again….



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


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


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

Ok I must dash, time to earn a crust…

All the best….

Mark Hunt