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