Monthly Archives: April 2015

April 27th


Hi All,

Well as we nudge towards May we’re still experiencing a prolonged period of cool weather and I’m afraid the outlook longer-term into the beginning of May doesn’t look particularly promising. The cause is our old friend the jet stream and this year it is sitting much lower than normal for the end of April. In fact in the 10 years that I’ve been watching the weather closely, I’ve never seen it sitting this far south, this late in the year.

Usually by now warm air has started to push up from the equator and move the jet stream further north, allowing temperatures to rise in Northern Europe, but not this year. As you can see below, the projected path of the jet stream for the 7th May is still low with a capital ‘L’ and that means cool conditions are the order of the day for the time-being I’m afraid.

It’s not all doom and gloom though from a grass growth perspective because there is a change on the way on that front 🙂


So with that in mind how is this week panning out ? I know some of you got the promised rain at the weekend, some of us got a little and some none at all, so do we have any more on the way ?

General Weather Situation

Ok for Monday we have a bright start for most of the U.K and Ireland after yet another cold night with a widespread ground frost. Through the mid-morning we have a band of rain, sleet and snow (for higher ground) moving into the west of Ireland and across country. By early afternoon, the band of wintry showers is into western Scotland and the north-west of England and I bet it’ll leave Goatfell on Arran looking like a Christmas Pudding 🙂 Further south and east, It’ll be a lovely bright sunny day, warm in the sun, with that wind set in the north initially and due to swing round during the day. By the evening that rain will be into west Wales, but will fizzle out as it moves eastwards leaving a band of wintry showers affecting an area from Manchester north up to Scotland through the night. Temperatures will nudge double figures, maybe a tad higher in The Smoke down south.

For Tuesday those wintry showers are still in situ over north west England and Scotland with the areas south and east of this dry and bright after another overnight frost. Ireland looks to have a better morning on Tuesday though there’s likely to be some wintry showers affecting Sligo and Donegal I think. By late morning / early afternoon, a more concentrated band of rain pushes into western Ireland and Scotland, again falling as sleet and snow on higher ground. So a wet 2nd half of the day for Ireland and Scotland and perhaps some of that rain pushing into West Wales again late in the day. Further south it’ll be a dry, bright and cooler day even in the sunshine with temperatures struggling into double figures despite the wind being westerly. It will be windy on Tuesday as well and that’ll keep the temperatures down.

Moving into Wednesday after possibly a frost-free night, we have that rain over Ireland pushing eastwards into Wales and the north west of England in the early hours and moving eastwards as we approach the morning rush hour. By mid-morning it will have cleared Ireland and Wales and stretches in a narrow line from the south-west of England up to The Humber. Scotland looks to have a mixture of sunshine and wintry showers for the morning, with showers moving into Ireland as well later in the morning. By the afternoon on Wednesday this rain is moving along the south coast in a line up to The Wash and pushing eastwards finally making the south-east of England by mid-afternoon. Temperatures still nothing to shout about, high single figures and low double figures for most despite the westerly wind which will be moderate to fresh. Later into the evening we will see those showers from Ireland push eastwards across Scotland and the rest of the U.K.

For Thursday we have a band of rain pushing over Ireland early doors and moving eastwards into Wales and the south-west of England for the rush hour. This rain is set to consolidate and move eastwards through the morning in a line from the south coast up to Leeds / Manchester way. For a change Ireland and Scotland look to have a lovely day, lot’s of sunshine for sure. This rain slowly crosses the southern part of England through Thursday afternoon and finally clears by the end of the day. Temperatures remain on the cool side and in that rain are unlikely to hit double figures, that’s low for the end of April in anyone’s books.

Closing out the week we have a dry bright start projected across all of the U.K and Ireland with the chance of another ground frost. By late morning a band of wintry showers pushes into the northern Highlands and the Black Isle and moves south into The Borders and the north of England by late afternoon. These showers then push east and move off into The North Sea by the end of Friday. Temperatures will be similar to the rest of the week, high single figures and the wind will swing round to the north and then east during the day. Further south it’ll start to feel milder.

The Bank Holiday weekend is looking to start dry, bright and chilly for all, but during Saturday morning it looks like we have some pretty concentrated rain pushing into Kerry and crossing Ireland during the day. This rain looks heavy for Mayo, Sligo and Donegal. Elsewhere it looks dry and feeling milder in hazy sunshine with the risk of showers pushing across the U.K later on Saturday. Sunday is a tricky call because there’s a band of rain projected to affect a narrow line stretching from the east coast of Ireland across to The Humber. South and north of this it looks set to be another largely dry and sunny day and it’ll feel a little milder as well with temperatures nudging into the low teens as the wind swings round to the south west. That said, I expect some of those showers to be wintry in nature across The Midlands and north of England through the afternoon. There’s also the possibility of more rain further south on Sunday so it’s changeable outlook for sure. Monday is looking a bit like a re-run of Saturday with rain pushing into Kerry and tracking across Ireland through the day. Elsewhere we are dry, bright and again a little milder for Monday, with night temperatures picking up, but always the chance of a shower through the day.

Weather Outlook

It’s an interesting one meteorologically-speaking next week because we have an Atlantic low in charge so that means south-west winds, changeable, kind of ‘April Showers’ weather for the start of May. Although it won’t be warm, it should be mild and I think next week’s weather if it transpires will be a significant game changer from a grass growth perspective.

Why ? because it’ll be mild and I think we will move away from this ‘growth handbrake’ caused by low night temperatures. So I think we will have milder nights next week, showery on Monday, clearing then to be dry and mild with moderate south-westerly winds. Mid-week, next week I expect some more showery weather to move over the U.K and Ireland, pushed along by those south-westerly / westerly winds and clear for Thursday. Friday looks set to be a quieter day as we enter a brief hiatus but we will still have the risk of rain before another deep Atlantic low is set to come our way next weekend possibly. It’s a pretty deep low so that means windy and potentially pretty wet.

Agronomic Notes

As intimated above although we have a pretty cold week coming up I reckon there’s a fundamental change in the weather on the way and that will hopefully make life easier for everyone maintaining grass for a living, looking on the bright side :). This is particularly the case for those people who are chasing growth and recovery be it from winter wear and tear, aeration, etc.

I’ve charted out the projected minimum and maximum temperatures for the next 10 days or so to highlight how the arrival of a westerly airstream and milder air will make a change to our growth prospects.


So that means we should see minimal growth this week on all areas even outfield, though with the arrival of rain for some over last weekend, this will kick in growth of Poa annua var. reptans (Perennial Poa),. Up until now this species has been sitting back and doing very little. So although growth rates will be nothing to shout about, we should see more uniformity in the grass sward going forward.

From the end of the week the combination of rainfall for most places and milder night temperatures pushing into next week will see a continuation of this growth pattern and I think with at least another low on the way behind next week’s one, the pattern will be set for the time-being (Provided of course the weather plays ball that is)

Poa annua seedheads


With Poa annua var. annua seeding now on higher height of cut outfield areas and the clean up strip / thinner areas on fine turf,  I think we will slowly see the perennial form joining the party through next week, kicked off with the combination of milder night temperatures and rainfall. I don’t think it’ll be a massive flush of seedheads because we’re not projected to see really high temperatures, just a gradual increase in visible seeding I think as we go through the week.This will continue as we go into May.

Disease Activity

There’s a chance with the increase in night temperatures and more prolonged leaf wetness that the unsettled outlook brings that we will see some Microdochium nivale activity. That said though I’m hoping that with better growth rates we will be able to keep pace with this without having to resort to a fungicidal application. Fingers-crossed there because I think the drier start to the year experienced by some of the U.K and Ireland has kept this pathogen’s activity at bay…which is nice. Other than Microdochium I don’t think we have too much to worry about, maybe a  little in the way of Fairy Ring likely to show it’s head as well as the humidity increases, no great shakes there though.

PGR Usage

With the cool start to the year and the projected uplift I think we should start to look at applying TE. Now I know there’s lot’s of discussion on the various forums and websites concerning rates and frequency, with some end-user’s already applying PGR, but for me I just don’t see the point. I’m not sure it’s going to do any harm, but let’s face it the TE molecule itself isn’t being broken down quickly because temperatures are low, the rate of grass growth is slow, regulated by it’s own PGR (The Weather…)

In some cases people require growth whether it’s on outfield turf to recover from winter play on sports pitches or tees for example, that have been battered through the winter, overseeded and dressed and now need to build coverage before the summer. On greens if you’ve aerated, you need growth to get those holes filled in, you need growth through topdressing in order to keep a nice surface, why regulate now if this is the ballpark you’re in ?

One other thought, if we’re regulating the grass plant for most of the year, isn’t that going to play into the hands of other competitive plant species like Silver Thread Moss in terms of reducing the competitive advantage of grass vs. moss ? You’d have thought this would be the case particularly when light levels are low.

I’m a fan of PGR’s for sure, but it’s horses for courses and no one size hat fits all. My advice is look at your own situation, where your growth is, where you want it to be and cut your cloth to suit accordingly. (I now claim the prize for squeezing as many Idioms into one paragraph on turf!!!)

Ok off the soapbox and onto the in tray !

All the best…

Mark Hunt









April 22nd – Mini Update

Hi All,

Just a quick ‘heads up’ concerning the arrival of the promised rain as I know this week has seen high E.T rates already (after night frosts ! ) and some of you guys are struggling without irrigation.

The good news is the rain is still on track as forecast on Monday’s blog, so it’ll be moving into the south-west of Ireland on Friday morning and then pushing north and eastwards across Ireland, the south-west of England and Wales. This first rain will miss most of the south-east and south Midlands, It’ll also be cooler as projected with wintry showers over high ground in the north and Scotland. Friday’s rain will push into the north-west / north of England and Scotland later in the day.

Saturday will see more rain pushing in from the west and this will tend to affect northern counties initially but showers are set to filter through The Midlands and the south of England through the latter part of the day.

Sunday’s rain follows a similar pattern initially affecting the west and north, but it’ll sink southwards through the day to give The Midlands and later the south of England rain. The north of England, Scotland and Ireland will be brighter but chilly.

Monday will see more rain and wintry showers pushing in from the north west after a potentially very frosty start and this rain will track southwards and eastwards, again most areas will receive showers.

Thereafter we are looking distinctly unsettled with low teen temperatures during the day and a mix of sunshine and showers through the rest of next week. Hopefully this rain and slightly milder temperatures at night (after the early part of the week) will get growth moving and some recovery if you need it.


Agronomic Notes

With rain signal being strong and the fact that next week will be unsettled, it leaves the rest of this week to get some preemptive applications in, if time and labour is favourable.


Weeds are really moving on a pace now, especially Dandelions so the run up to this weekend is a good time to knock them back with a selective herbicide. Depending on your product choice and tank mix compatibility, you could mix some liquid fertiliser and iron in with that, but only if they’re tank mix compatible mind. (That’s if you need to up growth and colour on the areas in question)

It’s likely that we will see a bit of a growth flush with the arrival of this rain, however with the cool temperatures that accompany it, this shouldn’t be unmanageable. With one eye on the upcoming Bank Holiday, you may want to apply a PGR to hold growth back on outfield areas if you’re wary of them becoming hard to maintain with a combination of rain and growth. I would stress though that the cold nights forecast will help to naturally ‘PGR’ your turf anyway 🙂 Once these are out of the way though it might be better to time an application then, but it depends on getting a spray window with the unsettled outlook.

Conditions for uptake of both of the above operations will be great right through to Sunday, thereafter they’ll drop off a cliff agronomically-speaking because of the predicted night frosts for Sunday and Monday. (see Meteoturf above)

Lastly granular fertilisers on outfield turf, (if they’re planned) we definitely have a good application window this week before the rain arrives, so if you can, use it.

Ok just a heads up, I’m sure you’re all on top of your game and this mini-blog heads quickly into the recycle bin 🙂

Mark Hunt


April 20th


Hi All,

Well another week of weather contrasts, super-warm mid-week, last week and then blooming freezing this morning….these two pics sum it up really…(along with my taste in music!)


I won’t explain the graffiti on the car roof, but needless to say it isn’t my car and the owner should know better 🙂 (It’s my nickname for a now retired ex-colleague).

Had a lovely picture from Chris Knowles from G.C Hanau, near Frankfurt, Germany, who queried me on why a Hedgehog was wHedgepigalking around his golf course in the day ?

As some of you may know I’m a keen naturalist (as is Chris) and I have a fond spot for these critters having successfully helped the resident Hedgepigs in my little back garden rear broods for the last three years. (By creating a Hedgehog-friendly habitat and feeding the young to get them up to hibernation weight before winter sets in) Normally if you see a Hedgehog active in the day, it’s in distress and so needs looking after, preferably by an animal welfare hospital. Cat food, mealworms and water (not milk) are the order of the day if you can get it to feed and this one obviously had no problem on that front judging by Chris’s pic…To me it looks to be smiling….

When is it going to rain Mr ?

I know, the mice have eaten your satellites, your mains has burst and your decoders are up the swanny, so you need it to rain and fast. 🙁 Well you’ll have your wish because we do indeed have a strong signal for rain on the way arriving by the end of the week and staying cool and unsettled for maybe a week following on from that. It won’t be bucket loads, but sunshine and showers-type weather interspersed with some heavier rain.

General Weather Situation

Monday has started with fog and a ground frost for many, but the sun is through now and warming things up nicely for most areas. There’s a bit more in the way of cloud cover over western Scotland and Northern Ireland, but even that will clear as the day progresses and give a beautiful ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ type of day for all. Winds will be lighter than of late, but still from the east / north east. Temperatures will climb to mid-high teens in the afternoon sunshine, but as soon as that sun goes down, it’ll get chilly again and we could see another light ground frost coming into Tuesday.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday look a dead ringer for Monday with a cold start to the day, possibly with a repeat of Monday’s mist and fog, followed by a bright sunny day and temperatures again climbing into the mid-high teens, depending on where you happen to be situated. There may be a little more cloud cover spilling in from The North Sea on Wednesday night, so that’ll keep temperatures up a little going into Thursday.Winds will remain light and from the ENE, but will start to freshen towards the end of Wednesday before calming again as we go into Thursday.

Friday is the change day and the first thing you’ll notice is the wind direction which will do  180-degree about face through the course of the day, so it starts off as north-easterly early doors, then blows from the south and finishes off as a south-westerly. This wind change signals the arrival of a low pressure system, our first for weeks and it’ll bring rain into south-west Munster overnight into Friday. By the morning rush hour this rain is heading diagonally across Ireland and by mid-morning it’ll be into the south-west of England and South Wales. It is set to track diagonally across the U.K and Ireland through the course of the day, making it into the north of England and Scotland by dusk. Eastern areas always receive the least rain when it’s from this direction but I think everyone will have some rain over the course of Friday and Saturday.

So the weekend is looking distinctly unsettled with a wet start to Saturday for the U.K and Ireland, after a much milder night then the previous 4 or 5. Wet initially but from the afternoon this rain should clear western areas leaving a much brighter finish to the day. By late afternoon the rain is confined to the north-east of England and Scotland where it will fall as a mixture of rain, sleet and indeed snow on higher ground. (The same for the Lake District I think with a covering of snow likely on higher ground) Sunday looks by far the better day with a mild night and just rain confined to the north-west of Scotland at the start of the day. This should clear as we go through the day though. Temperatures will be nothing to shout about though even in the sunshine with double figures barely the order of the day, perhaps creeping into the teens down south.

Weather Outlook

If you look at the Unisys animated-GIF at the start of this blog you can see we look to have a cold, low pressure in charge for the start of next week. This means cool and unsettled with the wind coming in from the north-west taking the edge off the temperature somewhat. This low pressure system features some closely-packed isobars so that means pretty windy and plenty of rain for all areas as the low traverses down the west coast of the U.K. So cool, windy and unsettled for the start of next week, but by mid-week the winds move round to the north and that’ll make it feel even chillier for a time with a high chance of night frosts I’m afraid. Now after mid-week, next week it’s a tricky call, we could see some warm weather follow on with an Atlantic high moving in for the closing part of the week or the low may come around for another lap. My hunch is the former, (the eternal optimist) so maybe warm by the end of next week going into the Bank Holiday.

Agronomic Notes

Growth – Where we we at  ?

With the up and down nature of the weather and the continuing dry spell for most of the U.K (with the exception of Scotland I know), it’s always interesting to look at how the start to this year is comparing to last year, which as we know was an ‘early year’.

Now I appreciate GDD totals aren’t the same country-wide, that’s the whole point, it gives you a frame of reference where your site is compared to others and also where you are vs. prior year. So looking at one site, in this case, The Oxfordshire, reveals how far back we are vs. 2014 ;


Looking at the comparison above you can see that we are approximately 3 full weeks behind last year in terms of cumulative GDD and therefore growth.

So if you have members asking why greens aren’t at their summer level yet (especially when it’s summer for 3 hours of the day when they are playing!), here’s a good piece of information to impart and you can download the above chart as a pdf here

Growth Forecast – The week ahead and nutrition….


The first thing you notice from the MeteoTurf module on your Headland Weathercheck is the really pronounced up and down nature of the day and night temperature’s through till Friday, but from mid-week onwards, we should lose those really cold nights (not for long mind) and that means the growth should be reasonable this week from mid-week onwards. With the arrival of moisture from the end of the week that should start to move perennial Poa on a bit and help to blend it in with bentgrass which is tending to grow better in drier, brighter conditions.

For all of you suffering with a dysfunctional irrigation system, you can see how the daily E.T rate drops off from Friday, so that means stress levels will decline somewhat.

So how do we approach this week from a nutrition basis ?

Well of course it depends on where you’re at really – You could just program in a foliar feed to keep things ticking whilst the daytime temperatures are reasonable, mixed with iron for a little extra colour.

On the other hand if you need to move on areas then this week offers a window to apply a granular fertiliser before the rain hopefully arrives, whether it be to greens for aeration recovery, outfields and tee areas to boost some growth after the slow start to the season. With the arrival of some long awaited rainfall, ok it won’t be bucket loads, but it should be enough to get things moving on areas that are dry. The light winds before Friday will also help to gain an accurate spread pattern if you’re applying to outfield.

Poa Seeding

Poa seedheads

I think if we get the moisture and then better temperatures from the end of next week (that’s a big ‘if’ on the latter), then we’ll see Poa seeding really come to the fore. At the moment I’m seeing a good deal of Poa annua var. annua starting to seed, either on higher height-of-cut areas or managed areas that are under drought stress.

It’s not just temperature (IMHO) that drives Poa annua to seed, soil moisture levels play a big part, particularly with the annual Poa plant that you tend to find on outfield areas, rather than greens (unless they’ve thinned out in areas). I went to 2 golf courses last week, maybe 100miles apart, but very similar in design and grass species composition, one had almost no seeding Poa annua, the other had plenty. The only real difference between them was the site with more seeding Poa was under drought stress, so as a survival mechanism it makes sense that the Poa will start to produce seed.

I reckon if the weather plays out as projected, we will start to see perennial Poa seed in the beginning of May. Bets are on then 🙂

Ok that’s it for now, sorry the blog is a bit late today, factors beyond my control 🙁

All the best.

Mark Hunt



April 13th


Hi All,

Not the sight I was expecting to see first thing this morning, but with the pattern of high pressure dictating the weather of late, these big swings in temperature are to be expected, especially when skies clear. This coming week will be MidAprilFrostanother of temperature contrasts with very warm temperatures till mid-week, then a significant change in temperature and wind direction.




Before I move on to the weather, a big shout out to Sam Lowes and Danny Kent, our grand prix riders in Moto2 and Moto3, who both took wins in the MotoGP World Championship yesterday in Texas. It’s the first time since the mid-seventies that we’ve had 2 British winners at the same G.P, and Sam’s debut win. Add to that Lewis Hamilton’s processional win in Formula Snore (Can you believe Rosberg’s whining?…”Lewis drove too slowly”, so why didn’t you overtake him then ????) and Johnny Rea and Chas Davies sharing the spoils in World Superbike, it was a brilliant weekend for British Motorsport and something to be truly proud of. If anyone saw Sam Lowes highside crash in practice, he went into orbit, but picked himself off the ground, got his head straight and pinned it, so cool, and a maybe two future world champions in the making ? Of course there was no acknowledgement on the Beeb as usual.

OK, onto the weather…

General Weather Situation

As intimated above we have high pressure calling the shots this week so Monday looks to start cool, calm (after yesterday’s winds !) and dry for most. The only fly in the ointment is some light rain moving up through Connacht / Donegal this morning and pushing into the north west of Scotland by the afternoon. Further south and east of this, temperatures will pick up into the mid-high teens with warm sunshine and light, south westerly winds.

Moving onto Tuesday, a much milder night will mean we carry over temperature into Tuesday, so a warmer day in prospect. That rain will continue to sit in a band across north Connacht, Donegal and north-west Scotland so here it’ll be cooler and of course damper. Away from this it’ll be a cracking day, warm, bright and temperatures pushing right up into the twenties I think in the south of England. Winds will be moderate to strong and from the south-west / west.

By mid-week we still have that rain affecting the north-west of Ireland and Scotland, but again further south after another mild night we see temperatures cranking up for what will be the hottest day of the week with temperatures set to peak in the low twenties I think. Winds will be lighter for Wednesday and that north-western rain will eventually fizzle out as we close out Wednesday.

By Thursday we have another of those big contrasts in the weather as the wind changes direction to the north-east and pulls in some much colder air from Scandinavia over The North Sea. Of course any mention of north-east winds and The North Sea means ‘Haar’, i.e. cloud cover, so a cooler, duller day on Thursday after Wednesday’s heady heights with temperatures probably a full 10°C lower ! Now we have a possibility of rain drifting over on that north-east wind from the continent to affect the east side of the U.K and possibly The Midlands Thursday late afternoon / evening. This as we all know is really tricky to predict, so it’s best to keep an eye on your Weathercheck forecast closer to the time to see if it’s heading your way.

Closing out the week we are set in a pattern of east winds, cool and dull, but largely dry, so temperatures in the low double figures, lots of cloud cover courtesy of The North Sea and that north-easterly wind. When we have north-easterlies, it’s the other side of the country that often benefits so the west looks to have the better ‘rub of the green’ so to speak with more in the way of sunshine and in that sun temperatures will climb to the mid-teens.

The weekend looks set to follow this pattern, that is dry and cool, however we lose those north-east winds, so temperatures will start to pick up on Saturday and without the Haar, it’ll be brighter, still with an easterly wind flow, but these winds will be light. Sunday looks milder than Saturday with more in the way of sunshine for most areas and remaining dry.

Weather Outlook


Well you’re going to hear the term ‘Blocking High’ a lot over the next 7-10 days as it neatly channels rainfall above us and into Scandinavia. It’ll also mean we keep that easterly wind flow, so cool and dry is the order of the day for next week, though the early part of the week will keep that warm end to the weekend theme going. It’ll probably mean we’ll have a repeat of the air pollution concerns we had at the end of last week as well, though I tend to think this is more of a ‘London Phenomenon’.

So the question will come “Is there any rain on the way ?”, especially for outfield areas that aren’t irrigated. Well at present I can’t see any on the long-term forecast, but because we’ll be easterly in terms of winds there’s always the chance of some continental rain popping out of nowhere and nipping across The North Sea. So next week looks cool, dull on the east coast particularly, but brighter and warmer across the west. Like this week, temperatures will be better at the beginning of the week than the latter part and winds should remain on the light side.

Agronomic Notes

So let’s talk turf management when it’s cool and dry….

Root development and maintaining it….

The very low shoot growth we’ve experienced to date has some very positive benefits as intimated in earlier posts to this blog. One of them is root development, because if the grass plant isn’t utilising carbohydrate reserves producing leaves it tends to channel its efforts into root growth. Just this morning I had a WhatsApp (Cheers Chris) showing enhanced rooting on what traditionally is a poorer rooting green.


So if you’ve aerated early and have a healthy grass plant, there’s a good chance you’ll be seeing the same. The trick now is keeping them.

When we have cool, dry conditions in spring, what we see is that the surface of the rootzone dries out. If you remember my diagram from a few weeks back, it is typically the L1 area and the upper region of L2 that dries out first.

Rootzone schematic

Now if you have a grass plant with a healthy root system it is imperative to try and maintain it through the next few weeks till we receive consistent rainfall. As we know L1 is high in organic matter so when and if this dries out it’ll be very difficult to re-wet because it is naturally hydrophobic. The roots will desiccate and you’ll lose them as quickly as you gained them. That’s why I mentioned last week that it’s a good time to apply your wetting agent so moisture is distributed evenly through the profile and so it is used more efficiently by the grass plant.

All this is grand of course if you have irrigation up and running (or irrigation full-stop) because you’ll need this to move the surfactant into the profile and also wet up the dry areas in the surface with just enough moisture to maintain consistency through the depths of the rootzone. We aren’t talking flooding the turf, just enough to maintain adequate moisture levels in the surface before you start to lose roots.

If you’re lucky enough to have a moisture meter I’d be monitoring this area and checking to make sure you’re not sitting below 10% in the top 0-20mm of the rootzone surface. Of course one of the issues with moisture meters is that the probes are much longer than this, so if you push them in to the full depth (as you’re supposed to) to get an accurate reading, you’re sampling past the surface. One way to get around this if you’re managing golf greens is to check the moisture levels when you change holes and have the hole plug removed. You can simply push the moisture meter in laterally from the side of the hole plug and monitor different depths down the rootzone.

Now it’s often said that the grass plant benefits from going through drying cycles before the summer so it’s attuned to low moisture levels and therefore I can’t stress enough I’m not suggesting irrigating for the sake of it. Rather you keep an eye on the plant, especially after the first 3 days of this week and make sure that the rootzone doesn’t get so dry in the surface that you risk losing all the good root development you’ve gained. A tricky balance for sure.

 Poa seedheads


This time last year we were much further on in the growth cycle of Poa annua and looking back at my notes from 2014, by yesterday we’d reached a cumulative GDD figure at The Oxfordshire of 187.5, whereas in 2015 y.t.d, we’re only at 93.5. Now I think that annual Poa on greens tends to start to seed at 150GDD, whereas on outfield it’s often earlier (120 GDD last year). Looking at the week coming up we’re due to get roughly 25 cumulative GDD because of the warm weather at the start of the week, so that puts us around 120 cumulative for the end of the week. I’d expect therefore to start to see Poa seedheads on annual biotypes in longer height of cut areas off green and on sports field turf by the end of the week.

As for the perennial Poa biotypes, I think we have a good way to go yet because once we go dull and cool in those easterlies, the weekly GDD total isn’t going to be anything to shout about (maybe only 13.5 for the whole of next week for instance)

Nutrition / Growth Characteristics

With these warm days it’s not only the temperature that is rising, it’s also customers expectations.

With The Masters just finishing, we’ll all get that comparison floating over the air waves “Why aren’t our greens true like Augusta, why are they bumpy ?”. Well regardless of the fact that at Augusta they utilise undersoil heating, lights and fans to produce their own weather :), we are a long way behind the growth curve vs. last year. As I attempted to explain last week, even though we have warm days, it’s the cold nights that act as the handbrake to growth and you can see this in the stats below. Even when it’s very warm in the day, it has precious little effect on the soil temperature because it takes soil much longer to warm up so the daily growth potential is low.


Nutrition-wise it’s definitely still foliar’s that are the order of the day and applying early on this week to take advantage of the warm air will reap benefits going into the cooler, duller period thereafter.

Light brushing or verticutting in conjunction with a light dressing and a roll should do enough to keep the surface consistent, but of course if you’re at a high height of cut on greens, this will serve to exacerbate the issue.

Growth Flush Anticipated – First half of this week.

The milder nights anticipated for Monday through till Wednesday combined with seriously warm daytime temperatures will provide a growth flush of its own for the first half of this week but it’ll be short-lived once those easterlies kick in. You should be able to see this on your Meteoturf information.


Pathogen Activity

With dry weather for most, except the north-west of Ireland and Scotland, Microdochium nivale will be on the back foot, but where there is moisture I do expect a threat of enhanced activity after the rainfall of the first part of this week in the north-west of Ireland and Scotland.

Ok that’s it for this week, enjoy the heat and sun because you won’t see it much after Wednesday in the south of England 🙁

All the best

Mark Hunt





April 8th


Hi All,

A very late and slightly abridged blog this week, it took me 3 hours to type the first 2 words because I was prepping all the very useful data that’s been sent in, so thanks to Aine, James, Paul, Wendy, Adrian and Sean, it’s both invaluable and appreciated as hopefully you’ll see later down the blog.

Last week I said I couldn’t see a consistent signal for warmth and here we are sitting in the third lovely warm day on the trot, so it shows how tricky forecasting is because the only 3 things I got right about Easter were that Good Friday was a wash out, high pressure will be in charge and it’ll be dry and getting milder, but I didn’t say warm, so hands up I didn’t see the warmth building as much as it did. That said I’m very happy to make this type of mistake because you don’t moan as much as if I said it’ll be dry and it yaks it down  🙂


I get a number of comments most weeks on this blog and again I really appreciate your feedback, but one thing I ask, no product or company names please because it isn’t an advertising portal for product, be that someone else’s or the company I work for, for that matter. The aim of this blog is non-commercial, sharing of information within our industry, full-stop.

Imitation is the best form of flattery they say..

Whilst I’m on the subject of content, as you know I’m very happy for you guys to reproduce anything I put on the blog, whether it’s circulating it to your club or linking to it, no problem there. For the trade though using the data I publish is a no no, so when I see other companies using the GDD data I’ve collated, I’m not chuffed. Either pack it in or acknowledge where you nicked it from, you know who you are….tut tut.

General Weather Situation

Ok, whinging over…..

Kind of a short one today because we’re already half-way through the week so I’ll really focus on the end of this week and the outlook because our weather is set to change.

Looking at Thursday and Friday for that matter we have another two cracking days, almost a shame to be sat inside isn’t it when everything is looking so fresh and the sun is out ?

So on both days we see early morning cloud cover burn off through the morning to give plenty of sunshine and temperatures probably peaking on Friday in the high teens and possibly low twenties in the Costa Del Sud of the U.K (Andy R please wear a hat and use your factor 30 down in the sunshine capital of England 🙂 ) As intimated above we have a change on the way and that takes place overnight Friday into Saturday morning when cool air pushes in from the north-west. The two graphics below highlight the temperature change from, Friday to Saturday.


Maps reproduced courtesy of Meteoblue

Close of play Friday then we see some light rain and cloud cover pushing into the south-west of England and Wales and moving north to affect north-west England later into the night and Scotland early doors Saturday. As we go into Saturday morning that cold air pushes in and brings wintry showers to north-west Scotland and a big drop in temperatures. Further south it looks sunny again but feeling cooler as the winds freshen. That rain lingers over the north-west coast of Scotland and Ireland for Saturday, elsewhere it’ll be bright and sunny with a strong / moderate westerly / north-westerly wind. Sunday looks like being a much wetter day with the arrival of rain, some heavy into west Ireland and Scotland during the morning. Through the day this sinks slowly south but the heaviest rain may affect Wales and the north of England, further south and north it’ll be dry and bright again until later.

Weather Outlook

So how are we set for next week ?

Well not bad really depending on where you are located, as that low pressure slinks away over Monday we start to build temperature again, particularly in the central and south of the U.K. Further north, a new low will bring cooler, windy, unsettled conditions and the risk of rain, some of it heavy, through Monday to Wednesday.  This rain will be chiefly confined to north-west Ireland, England and Scotland, with it staying dry and warm further south. As we approach Thursday we begin to lose that warmth with the winds switching round to the north / north-east. High pressure looks to stay in charge though so turning dry, but cool for the end of next week.

Agronomic Notes

GDD Data – End of March

Thanks to Wendy for putting this together, this is how we compare year on year till the end of March. Aside from the long winter that included March 2013, March 2015 shows the lowest GDD total since we began charting this in 2010.


So the data confirms a slow start to the year, but because it’s been drier on the whole I think many people will take this over a milder, wetter spring when we have growth surges and poor cutting conditions causing lots of clippings.

Looking across the U.K from 3 sites we can see that the poor spring GDD totals y.t.d were mainly due to a period of non-existent growth between mid-January and the end of February, that’s when the tracking of the cumulative GDD is flat in nature. (see below) You can clearly see when we got growth in March and the burst of growth at the very tail end of the month because all 3 traces show a sharp incline indicating good daily GDD totals.


I also charted the data from Ireland (Cheers Aine) and the differences across Ireland are quite marked particularly in the far south west (Valentia) where the milder (and wetter) airstream means it always gets off to a better start than the rest of Ireland.


Aside from Co. Kerry, we have Cork next up in terms of highest GDD total across Eire, followed by Wexford (Johnstown Castle), Gurteen (Co. Tipperary), Dublin and ClareMorris in Co. Mayo, the lowest of the 6 locations in terms of total growth for the year to date. To put it in perspective Valentia achieved the same GDD total on the 11th of February as Dublin did on the 31st of March !, that’s some difference across a country. Comparing to the same point in time with 2014, Dublin, Wexford and Claremorris are behind last year, Cork is ahead and Valentia and Gurteen are pretty similar.

Warm days and cold nights don’t equal good growth on fine turf…

A statement of the blindingly obvious you might say, but I’ve tried in this week’s blog to put some science behind it and analyse how this type of day actually relates to grass growth or more precisely the potential for growth. Using hourly temperature data from the 6th and 7th of April, (cheers Sean) I charted this out against GDD, so we can see how each hour relates to actual grass growth. (see below)

GrowthProfile060415 GrowthProfile070415

The first fact to highlight is that although these days hit a maximum air temperature of 17.6°C and 16.3 °C respectively, the average air temperature for the 6th and 7th April was 7.6°C and 7.3°C respectively, because of the cold nights. (-0.2°C and -1.7°C)

If we look at the growth profile in green that shows GDD, we know that once this hits 10 we have good growth and you can see that this occurs for 5 hours on the 6th and only 4 hours on the 7th, so really good growth is limited to this time. That isn’t the whole story though because although at this point it’s warm enough for good growth, the plant is experiencing reasonably high E.T stress (we’ll be nudging a daily E.T total of 4mm by Friday I reckon) so this will be growth-limiting, as will daily wear and tear, which also peaks during this time period.

So the maximum potential for grass growth is only present for about 4-5 hours of a given 24 hour period, when we have a combination of cold nights and warm days.

The handbrake for growth in the spring is often low night temperatures and this is the case again in 2015. If we plugged in a minimum night temperature of 10°C, the GDD is positive for a 24 hour period and granted the grass plant won’t be photosynthesising 24 hours a day because of light availability, but you can clearly see the difference in hours of the day growth is possible.



Very dependent on which part of the country you’re in because we have a good window this week for foliars, with the warm air temperatures during the day facilitating good response and bypassing the cold soil. Come next week, the north of the U.K and Ireland will be wetter and unsettled, whereas further south up until later on next week, foliar’s still remain a good choice.

Early Spring Stress


As you can see from the Meteoturf module on Headland Weathercheck (set up for my home location), the forecasted weekly E.T loss from today is 17mm, which is much higher than of late and indicates that areas will begin to dry out quite quickly now, particularly in the surface. So it’s a good time to make sure that moisture is uniformly distributed through the rootzone by making your wetting agent application  and ideally I’d be mixing in a biostimulant because it helps the plant when we go through this type of period. (Assuming they’re all tank mixable that is)

Pathogen Activity

With the warmth in the day and some moisture late last week it’s no surprise that some Microdochium nivale is waking up for its first spring cycle and so I’ve had reports of copper blotching on greens, not scarring, but just sitting there. Fortunately the dry outlook should knock this on the head, but it may be more of an issue in the north and Scotland where more moisture is expected. If you can generate sufficient growth, you can grow it out, but as I’ve explained above, when we have cold nights, this isn’t always possible.

Ok that’s it for this week, normal Monday blog from next week.

All the best.

Mark Hunt