Monthly Archives: May 2015

May 26th


Hi All,

There is an old English proverb dating back to the 1700’s that states “Never Cast A Clout Until May Is Out”. A Clout was an item of clothing and although there is some dispute on the meaning of the term ‘May’ as some take this to mean the old English name for the Hawthorn (May Blossom) and some the month of May, the gist is…. Don’t discard your winter cloths till we’ve seen the back of May.

Well this couldn’t be more true for this year because May will finish up being a cool month, courtesy of a trough in the jet stream (for the 2nd year in a row) and it was wet at times as well.

So how are we looking for the coming week and beyond ?

General Weather Situation

Tuesday looks to be a dry and settled day for many with only a hint of some light rain drifting into north-west Scotland later in the morning. There will be plenty of cloud cover but it’ll break from the west through the morning, so Ireland, the south-west of England and later central England and The Midlands look to see plenty of sunshine. That cloud cover may linger on eastern coasts and over The Borders and Scotland. In that sunshine temperatures will push up to mid to high teens in a moderate north-westerly wind.

Into Wednesday and we have another dry and settled day for many but with more cloud cover for most areas. This cloud cover is courtesy of a weak rain front that will push into west Munster and north-west Scotland through the late morning and slowly move across Ireland through the afternoon / evening. Further south and east it looks a dullish day with little in the way of sunshine, maybe the odd break here and there. Temperatures will be a little down on Tuesday because of that cloud cover but still acceptable with mid-teens the order of the day. Winds will be light to moderate and will swing round to the west during the day.

For Thursday we have that rain front clearing Ireland and pushing into the western coastline of the U.K overnight, so the south west, Wales and north-west England along with Scotland will see rain for the morning rush hour. This rain will push inland through the course of the morning, but will fizzle out as it does so, so you may or may not catch a shower during the course of the day. By late afternoon most areas will be dry and the cloud cover will clear to give a nice evening. The exception looks to be north Wales, the north-west of England and Scotland where that rain may linger. Temperatures will be cooler as a northerly low begins to affect our weather, low to mid-teens for most and the wind light to moderate and from the north-west.

Closing out the week that low pressure system is set to rattle in plenty of showers across the U.K and Ireland, so starting off bright and sunny, but those showers will soon kick in. The wind will be from the west but because it originates from the north, Friday will feel much cooler with temperatures just into double figures. As skies clear at the end of Friday, temperatures will drop and it wouldn’t surprise me if there isn’t a ground frost in places by Saturday morning, (so cover up your Dahlia’s !), disappointing eh for the end of May ?

The weekend looks a tad tricky to forecast with I think Saturday likely to be cool, wet and windy for many. It looks to start ok, bright and sunny for many, but then a heavy band of rain is set to push into the south-west of England and track north and westwards through the day. Now at present this looks to affect only an area south of Manchester, but we will see closer to the time. Ireland looks to get rain as well, but not as heavy as the U.K and Scotland would stay dry and bright for Saturday. Sunday looks a better day after that rain clears the U.K during the early part of the day, but overnight rain will push into Donegal and later Scotland to give a wet outlook for Sunday with some of those showers falling as sleet over higher ground. Ireland looks to get the rain on Sunday and later this rain will push into the west of England and move eastwards overnight into Monday.

Weather Outlook


Images courtesy of Netweather Extra

As we go into June is there any chance of the weather stabilising and heat building ? Well maybe because the projections show a shifting of the jet stream to a more northerly position. I’ve created an animating (above) which runs through the first 8 days of June and you can see how the path of the jet stream (shown in yellow, orange and red) changes.

Before this occurs though, we have a very deep Atlantic low pressure system to get rid of because that will dictate the weather for the very start of June I’m afraid. So Monday next week looks windy, cool and potentially wet, but more so for the north and west of Ireland and the U.K because that’s the path the low pressure system is taking. Further south it’ll be breezy but from Tuesday I expect it to warm up big time and temperatures will push up into the high teens and low twenties by the mid part / end of next week. The low pressure will drift off west (strange?) as that warm air pushes in from the continent so the north of Ireland and Scotland will pick up that warmth from Wednesday / Thursday onwards. By the end of next week high pressure looks to be firmly in control, so settled, warm and dry with south-easterly winds pushing that warm air up from the continent.

Agronomic Notes

Next Monday is the 1st of June and it’ll be very interesting to look back at the first five months of this year and compare GDD stats because it’s been a rocky ride for sure in terms of growth and in particularly cool night temperatures. Before we do that though let’s look back at May so far and analyse why it’s been a characteristically tricky month for growing grass.


Data courtesy of NW3 Weather –

The first thing you can see is the up and down nature of both day and night temperatures with some cool nights right through till the current date. Now this isn’t anything unusual, it is typical May weather and I always say that until we get to the end of May, temperature profiles tend to look like the side profile of the Andes.

The up and down nature of the month has made life tricky though, both for managing grass growth on outfield and maintaining good surfaces on fine turf. I’ve charted out the corresponding growth potential profile for these temperatures and you can see how they map out. Take into account that a G.P of 1.0 is optimum grass growth and a G.P of less than 0.4 is a slow growth rate.

I tend to use Growth Potential from June onwards over GDD when looking at growth because it takes account of above optimum temperatures for grass growth in its formula whereas GDD does not. The advantage of this fact is that as we progress into summer (hopefully) we can highlight potential periods of plant stress and change our management styles accordingly.


You can see we have had 4 growth flushes and 5 growth checks through the month up until the 26th May.

The consequences of this type of growth profile for May

Outfield Turf

Over the U.K Bank Holiday weekend you can see we had the beginnings of a growth flush as the G.P rose on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of May to near optimum levels for growth, so outfield areas have been growing strongly. This is particularly the case on un-irrigated areas because last week we also had rain for the start of the week so soil moisture levels were acceptable to carry this growth forward. Fortunately on the 25th we had a cool day and this has pegged back growth somewhat (with the cooler night temperature) so once these areas are back under control (and fortunately we have some dry cuts for the start of this week for most areas), they should stay that way this week because of the cooler outlook. (See the projected growth potential pattern on Meteoturf below, you can see how it is set to drop through the week)


Looking forward for outfield areas if we do get the rain at the end of the week and then the rise in temperatures next week I would expect a significant growth flush from the end of next week onwards so if you want to hold this back and extend viable presentation (because a slower growing plant uses less water) then once the low pressure moves through next week, that’s the time to do it with a PGR.

Fine Turf

Fine turf has definitely had a rocky ride this spring because of the low growth potential earlier in the year, the extremely poor March and the cool and dry April. Skip forward to this week, we are still in the Poa seeding flush so surfaces are tending to look pale . This look has further been compounded by the cool night temperatures which have tended to drop the colour out of the grass plant. This will carry on through this week and into the early part of next week because of that cold air flow from the North Atlantic low pressure system.

On the plus side, if we pick up warmer temperatures next week this should move us QUICKLY towards the end of the seedhead flush, so the grass plant will start shifting carbohydrates back into the leaves (instead of the seed) and it’ll begin to green up and blend in with the other grass species present. For the time-being you could apply a drop of iron this week to keep things looking good but really I don’t think it will achieve much because we will lose colour again at the end of the week / over the weekend with the cold nights that are forecast.

Plant Pathogen Activity

Quite a bit of Microdochium nivale activity around last week because of the moisture and then the elevated temperatures as we closed out the week. As we go through some drier weather for the early part of this week, it should decline in activity but I expect it to kick in again next week after the projected rainfall and temperature increase.

An increase in temperatures in June will mean the start of Fairy Ring activity and if they rise as high as predicted then I also expect the first real plant stress (although we did experience some in April’s dry weather) so the symptoms of plant parasitic nematodes will become more prominent I’m afraid.

Loss of Chlorpyrifos

Last week (21st May) we had the sudden withdrawal of Chlorpyrifos insecticide, with an almost instant use up period. This has now been extended to the end of August in terms of using up any product you have in stock, but no product can be sold / supplied anymore. You can read and download a pdf copy of CRD’s latest statement here.

This is going to make life pretty tricky for us in terms of management of Leatherjackets as it was our only A.I for the job. I’m not sure what the future holds in terms of replacement products, I know there are quite a few new insecticide actives being introduced into the U.S market, but getting them through E.U legislation will be challenging for sure.

Since Chlorpyrifos is staying in agriculture (for the time-being anyway) I wonder if it’s worth someone (golf club, etc) applying for a SOLA (Specific Off-Label Approval) for managed-amenity turf on the basis that we have no other control for this pest ? It may be worth it, but until we know the rationale behind why the authorisation to use Chlorpyrifos disappeared so quickly, it’s unclear whether this approach would have any mileage in it.

This won’t be the last of the product withdrawals for our industry as I expect our fungicide options to narrow as well in the future with respect to Microdochium nivale management and then that will really make life interesting in terms of producing a clean, consistent playing surface from October through to April.

Happy Days…

Mark Hunt












May 18th


Hi All,

As I look at the steady rain falling outside and note how we are still hanging on to the cool spring weather, I was surprised to hear mention of the fact that the longest day is next month…next month, next month ????, and we are still waiting for summer….ElNino

A number of you commented on the news last week that a strong El Nino signal is reported to be building in the Pacific and the last time this occurred was back in 2010. El Nino is a complicated weather phenomenon but one of its documented effects is to create a trough in the jet stream off the west coast of the U.S and this tends to cause the position of the jet stream to sit lower than normal. The effect tends to be strongest during the winter period and you may remember December 2010 happened to coincide with a trough pattern forming in the jet stream that allowed Siberian weather to dominate for the winter period so we had snow and ice and a long hard winter.


You may also remember it was also one of the barmiest / balmiest October / November periods as we hit 20°C in late October / early November 2010, because we were sitting under a peak in the jet stream.  Then in a matter of days the peak shifted, we went into a trough period and temperatures plummeted. So I’ll be keeping a close eye on this through the year to look for changes in the speed and pattern of the jet stream and will report back accordingly….

General Weather Situation

So we are starting off Monday with a bit of a dreary, wet morning, but for some the rain is welcome 🙂 So we have a slow moving rain front over the U.K and Ireland with very few breaks in it that would allow sunshine through. Maybe the east coast of Ireland could be a little brighter than most this morning, but that’s a maybe. As we progress through the afternoon this rain becomes more fragmented allowing for some brighter spells to form especially in the west of the U.K. By evening the rain is confined to the east and west coastline of the U.K and Ireland with brighter spells elsewhere. Temperatures will be low double figures and winds light to moderate from the west.

Tuesday looks a slightly better day with a dry start for the U.K, but showers will soon build from the west and push into Ireland and the western coastline of the U.K. Through the morning these will intensify and move eastwards to affect most places, except the north east of Scotland that looks to have a good, sunny day. The south of England may escape the worst of these showers as well. As the sun sets it’ll clear up to leave a cool night. Winds will again be westerly, light to moderate and temperatures still on the cool side in the low teens, maybe a little higher if you see the sun.

Wednesday is a much drier affair on the whole, still with the chance of a shower over Wales and the north west coastline of the U.K, but these look to die out reasonably quickly to leave a cloudy day. During the afternoon this cloud looks to break across the east coast of Ireland and west coast of the U.K to give some nice afternoon sunshine. So a drier day for most, staying cool though in the north-west wind.

Thursday looks to be a similar day but for a front of rain pushing into north-west Scotland and lighter rain moving over Ireland to give a duller day there. Still a chance of a shower across the west coastline of the U.K and into The Midlands maybe.Further south and east across the U.K, it looks much better and with the winds swinging round to the south west, milder as well with temperatures pushing up into the high to mid-teens as high pressure tries to assert itself. In that warm air we could see temperatures up in the high teens.

Friday closes out the week with a battle between high pressure over Ireland bringing warm air into the south and west vs. low pressure sitting off the north east of Scotland. So a forecast of two halves really with rain over Ireland and Scotland, maybe more persistent in the west of those countries. Further south and east it really depends with the risk of a few of those showers pushing into central England and The Midlands later in the morning, but I think this is marginal. It looks to be a duller day, maybe with the sun breaking through in the late afternoon / evening. Temperatures holding up in the south of England, mid to high teens, but lower in Ireland and Scotland with the more persistent rain and cloud cover. Winds will be light to moderate and from the west / north-west.

Looking ahead to the weekend, things are delicately balanced, particularly when it’s VE day at Duxford and World Superbikes from Donington 🙂 As commented earlier we have high pressure trying it’s utmost to bring some summer temperatures in from The Atlantic and that could indeed be the case for Ireland and the west of England. In the north and east it really depends on which weather system wins the battle because although it looks dry, the further east you go, the more cloud cover you could have.  Over Scotland we should have two much drier days, still duller because you’re nearer the low, but less threat of rain, maybe a little for Saturday night / Sunday morning. In the south I expect mid-teen temperatures, possibly higher if the sun breaks through, maybe cooler on Saturday with a north wind, but milder on Sunday as this swings round to the west.

Weather Outlook

Well for the start of next week I think we will still have that vestige of low pressure sitting off the north east of Scotland so unsettled for the early part of the week for Scotland. Further south and west, that high pressure system seems to be projected to gather strength, so dry and settled conditions with heat building from the west through the week. Potentially it could be the warmest weather we have had so far this year for the south west and Ireland I think. It all depends on cloud cover but a much drier and milder week in prospect for many :).

Agronomic Notes

GDD Comparison

Had some data in last week from the south-west and north-east of England so I thought it would be interesting to chart the two locations against each other and see how they compare. Thanks to James and Adrian for their input, appreciated lads.


It’s quite interesting considering the  two locations are nearly 210 miles apart as the crow flies because you see the growth pattern was very similar for the first three months of the year, but from the start of April, the milder temperatures in the south west of England push the growth on faster, so by the middle of May, Long Ashton is two weeks ahead of York from a growth perspective.

It’s all relative though because last year Long Ashton hit the the same GDD total at the end of April, so they are two weeks behind still from a growth perspective, year-on-year.


Nutrition and PGR’s

Well the cool wet outlook for the first part of this week will curtail most activities in the spray department but as that rain draws away at the end of the week then we have some decisions to make…..

Notably if there are areas that could benefit from a TE-based PGR application to hold back growth. If the heat arrives as predicted next week for The Bank Holiday (U.K only) then we could see a growth flush with the combination of warmer night temperatures, a moist soil and warm days. You can clearly see the increase in growth potential on the Meteo Turf schematic for the coming week shown above with the growth building from Thursday onwards as those temperatures creep up. There’s no point in applying a liquid fertiliser until the back end of the week so you could easily combine the two and also add some iron for extra colour.

Of course the boot may be on the other foot in that you may still need some extra growth and like last week I’d be using a light-rate autumn / winter type granular product to move things along.


Plenty of seedheads around at the moment as the perennial Poa. seeding gets into full swing. I expect this to continue and possibly peak through the next 7-10 days. With the dry outlook for next week at least you’ll be able to kick in some cultural management to lessen the surface disruption.

My greens are still bumpy….

A lot of people appear to be still having issues with bumpy surfaces but for me with the combination of rainfall and temperature I’d expect this type of problem to diminish with a more consistent growth window and the opportunity to verticut, groom, topdress and roll to maintain a smoother surface. I know a lot is written about cutting height, but the fact is a tighter cut will decrease the physiological differences between the grass species on your green and for sure running through the winter at a consistent height will pay dividends in the spring. Firm greens with managed-surface organic matter and good topdressing levels will always come out on top when we have a spring like this, but convincing your club that the work, labour and money need to be targeted in this manner is often another ball game, sadly 🙁

Selective Herbicides


Weed growth which is already quite impressive this month will need to be knocked back and many clubs / venues are struggling with the lack of spray days and available labour to do so, but with a better outlook from the end of the week, this could tie in nicely if you have the right conditions for a spray window.

Pests & Plant Pathogens

On the lawncare side I’m afraid you’ll see a resurgence in the dreaded Ant population / activities this week and next week because they seem to love moisture and then temperature. On the subject of insect pests there is still plenty of evidence of Leatherjacket activity and whilst fishing on Saturday morning I saw a number of hatching Daddy-longlegs.

I also expect to see some increased pressure from Microdochium nivale with the wet spell of weather this week and the arrival of milder temperatures at the end of this week. Some will choose to grow it out, but if you are spraying I think you’ll get a good result from a systemic if you’re applying at the end of the week.

Ok that’s it for now…all the best and expect a blog on Tuesday next week because of the Bank Holiday.

Mark Hunt

May 11th


Hi All,

Well for most we have an all but brief reminder that summer is round the corner this week, but I’m afraid it isn’t going to last as our old friend the jet stream is set to introduce some cool, fresher weather both this week and possibly next. We appear to be stuck in that familiar trough pattern that allows cold air down from the north and stops warmth building from the south. Still we’ve had some moisture and will get some more over the next week or so which will ensure growing conditions aren’t too bad.Bluebells

Had a lovely walk yesterday afternoon across Northamptonshire to visit Coton Manor and look at their gardens and their lovely Bluebell wood. Everything in the hedgerows is in full steam with the Keck (Cow Parsley) pushing up almost visibly. Interestingly I looked at last years date for the same visit and it was the 21st April vs. the 10th May in 2015, so yet again proof that we’re enduring a lag-behind-year from a plant growth perspective. I make that 3 weeks difference for 2015 vs. 2014.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a weather map of two halves.  From the north Midlands south we have a largely dry and settled picture with the temperature already in the low teens and set to peak at 22°C in the south of England later. To the west we have a band of rain into the south-west of England, Wales and the north west of England and this will slowly push eastwards fizzling out through the morning. The same is true for Ireland where a band of showers is into west Munster and Connacht and pushing across country leaving behind a lovely bright afternoon and some nice mid to high teen temperatures. Scotland is the reverse, a duller start for the west with some light showers, but this will turn to heavier rain through the later morning. The east should hang on to the sunshine and here a nice day is in order providing the rain doesn’t push further eastwards than projected. Winds will be moderate and from the west.

For Tuesday we have a duller day on order as a band of showers pushes across Ireland and Scotland early doors and into Wales through the morning. This rain will affect most areas but as it’s showery in nature, some will get it, some won’t. By the afternoon it should have cleared all but the north-west of England and Scotland to leave some hazy sunshine and again some warm temperatures for the south of England, but not as warm as Monday. So a better end to the day than the start with warm evening sunshine for most and a moderate westerly wind.

Mid-week brings us a hiatus as high pressure takes over temporarily so a dry settled day, but cooler owing to a change in the wind from westerly to easterly. Everywhere looks dry so a good spraying day for sure with just a slight chance that some scuddy rain will spoil play in the extreme south west of England. Temperatures will be cooler, low teens and dull for most though more chance of sun first thing and down the east coast. The night temperature will dip into single figures as that high sits over us so that’ll slow things down a tad as you’ll see later.

Thursday looks  very different day as a band of rain pushes into Kerry overnight and quickly pushes across Ireland so a very soggy start there, particularly along the Leinster coast, the rain for Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin looks potentially heavy. At the same time this rain will push into the south west of England, The Home Counties and Wales and move north eastwards across the England. At this stage it looks like only getting so far up as Manchester, but everything south of this looks wet. Ireland has a better second half of the day and for the north of England, The Borders and Scotland, a dry day is on the cards, with that rain staying south of you. Temperature-wise we’re looking at a really cool day on Thursday, high single figures in a chilly easterly wind, so noticeably cooler and that’ll knock the color out for sure.

Friday sees another cool day as the wind changes round to the north, heralding the arrival of a low pressure system. So a dull, cool day to finish out the week but hopefully a dry one after Thursday’s rainfall. With the wind in the north, temperatures will sit low and disappointing in high single, low double figures, pretty crap for mid-May let’s be honest 🙁

The outlook for the weekend is unsettled, but milder with a change to a westerly wind which will push showers into Ireland and the western coastline of the U.K during Saturday morning. Not much chance of seeing the sun as it looks like we have a dull weekend on the cards. Sunday looks similar, drier in the west and south, but dull as that low pushes cloud over from The Atlantic on a north-westerly wind. Cool with temperatures in the low teens maybe and later on sees some significantly heavier rain for the north of Ireland and Scotland.

Weather Outlook

As you’ll see from the animated GIF at the top of the blog, next week doesn’t look great really with a cold, Scandinavian low in charge of affairs for the bulk of the week. Low pressure means unsettled and so we will see rain pushed down on a cool north easterly wind from Tuesday onwards with Monday looking like the mildest day of the week. So cool, windy and unsettled from Tuesday through to Thursday, but as we approach the end of the week, the winds will drop and we should have more chance of seeing the sun. As we close out the week that cool low pressure system slinks away and high pressure takes charge so that means potentially warmer in the day, drier and settled weather, but of course cool nights for the end of the week and weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Growth is a roller coaster ride this spring…

When you look back at the start of May you can see the pronounced growth hike we experienced at the beginning of this month once we got some milder night temperature. These stats are from York (Cheers Adrian)


And of course this week we are seeing the same pattern with the milder temperatures that arrived over the latter part of the weekend (for some, not all I know) set to give a growth surge this week before dropping off markedly on Thursday with the advent of a cool, chilly night. Your MeteoTurf module and Headland Weathercheck is showing this nicely….


This up and down growth characteristic matched in with a late spring can make life tricky from a turf management perspective so let’s look at some of the calls we may need to make in the coming week.


Well this really depends on at what stage in the growth cycle your turf is at, how good your coverage is and how much growth you really need to produce.

If you’re needing growth then this weeks growth surge will be welcome, but it’ll be short-lived because of the predicted drop-off at the end of the week. Next week is looking unsettled, staying on the cool side till the end of the week and so to maintain good growth (if that’s what you require) then granular fertilisation will be the most efficient. Why ?….well because you can apply more kg per hectare of N and with a low soil temperature and unsettled conditions forecast, these are most appropriate for use of a granule.

If you have good turf density, then it’s likely that you may just need to manage colour because the boom to bust nature of growth this week and some chilly winds at the end of this week will knock the colour out of everything. If you’re managing fine turf then you’ll be seeing plenty of seedheads now, pushed on by that early May boost and this weeks as well, so we have a pale, pasty sward as the Poa plant puts all of its efforts into reproduction, diverting carbohydrate reserves from its leaves. So any foliar application of nutrient and iron to maintain colour will have to be done before the arrival of Thursday’s rain because thereafter I think it’ll be too unsettled and possibly too windy. You’ll also have better uptake conditions with the milder air.

It is also important to maintain growth through the seeding cycle of Poa because it allows you to brush, groom, topdress and manage the seedheads. If your turf is of good health and your nutrition spot on, then the early part of this week will allow you to verticut (not too deep) to help this process along as well.

For me these ‘boom to bust’ cycles of growth are typical of spring in the U.K and Ireland, they take some managing and invariably don’t settle down till the arrival of stable night temperatures at the end of May. That said we have better forecasting information now so it’s a matter of picking your nutrition and identifying your growth window.

Selective herbicides

Lot’s of weeds around now that the growth has arrived with Dandelions in full swing and Daisies as well. With good uptake and spraying conditions for some of us in the early part of this week, now’s the time to get out and get a good hit because uptake of selective A.I’s will be much slower from the end of the week onwards and spray windows harder to come by.

PGR usage

With seedheads in full swing, obviously there’s nothing we can do from a PGR perspective to affect these because we all know TE doesn’t affect seedhead production 🙂

Rather it shortens the seedhead pannicle length so the actual expression of the seedhead will be deeper down in the canopy. This may or may not be a good thing as in my mind it makes it much harder to groom out if the turf is regulated.

In terms of growth suppression on outfield areas well you really needed to apply your PGR last week because the growth flush is already upon us, however if you’re applying this week, do tankmix in some iron for colour because the effect of the PGR (on Poa primarily) and the cooler nights at the end of the week will drop colour out of treated turf quickly and I don’t think it’ll be quick in coming back.

Evapotranspiration (E.T) and surfactant usage

Another timely application (as if you didn’t have enough on your plate) is soil surfactants or wetting agents this week because we have a forecast of rain for most areas on Thursday and this will wash it into the soil and set you up well for next weeks weather. It’s not unknown for us to run into high pressure systems in May and so this may be one of the better windows that presents itself for wetting agent application. As we can see from the E.T chart above, the combination of wind and reasonable temperatures at the early part of this week will give us some quite high E.T rates, particularly if you’re in the south of England. As you can see from the graphic above, we are looking at a predicted E.T loss of around 20mm this week in some parts of the U.K. (Scotland and Ireland would be closer to 15-17mm)


I accept these are very much broad brush comments / suggestions and your situation, your forecast, resources, etc will dictate what if any of the above are priorities. Thankfully though with the advent of liquid applications, the ability to be able to tank mix safely a number of different product types can ensure maximum efficacy is gained from one application, saving you time and money hopefully.

Al the best…

Mark Hunt










May 5th



Hi All,

Welcome to May or should I say April judging by the weather 🙂AshOak

You’ve probably all heard the old country saying “If the oak before the ash, then we’ll only have a splash, if the ash before the oak, then we’ll surely have a soak”? 

Well according to the picture right sent in from my old friend Mr Butler, we should be breaking out the factor 30, except it’s pouring down outside. That makes 18mm since Saturday night here…Not that I’m complaining as we need the rain but this is one country saying that I’ll consign to the recycling bin.

Of course election fever is inIMG_4403 full swing over here, you can’t turn on the telly or listen to the radio without some prat prattling on about it (and that’s just the politicians)

As you may have gathered I’m a bit apathetic when it comes to politics, but I had to laugh when I received this image of the local UKIP candidate for Market Harborough….Poor bugger he’s got no chance with a name like that…..Thanks to Paul and John for that titbit 🙂

General Weather Situation

After one of the driest April’s on record it seems somewhat strange to be starting my May blog with a weather picture that looks wet for most areas as we kick off Tuesday morning. So we have some heavy rain moving northwards, currently it’s clearing The Midlands and pushing through the north of England and into Scotland later in the day. It’ll leave behind a showery morning for the south of England and Midlands but you should see the sun at some point. Ireland looks to start off very wet, but again the rain clears north though not for long as another band of rain pushes into Kerry and West Cork by lunchtime and tracks along the east coast into Leinster for the afternoon rush hour. So rain isn’t far away for most people today with blustery showers pushed along on a strong south westerly wind. Temperatures will be mild after another mild night with mid-teens the order of the day for most.

Wednesday looks to be start drier for the north of England, Midlands and south of England, but that low pressure system will already be pushing rain into the west coast of Ireland, Scotland and north-west England. This rain will move eastwards through Wednesday morning into Wales and south-west of England by late morning and continuing to push south eastwards through the day, lightening in intensity as it does so. A cooler end to the day as the winds shift round to the north west for the close of the day, so mid-teens through the day, but falling to high single figures later. Again the wind will be strong through the day.

Thursday looks to be a much drier and brighter day for most areas with some rain affecting north-west Scotland and a tight band pushing through Wales into The Midlands, but this will mean rain showers will be few and far between. So a much brighter day and with a westerly wind feeling reasonably mild in the strong sunshine. That rain over north-west Scotland will push into The Highlands through the day and fall as wintry showers.

Friday sees a more or less 180° shift in the wind direction as the low pressure tilts and brings in south-easterly / easterly winds. This means two things, firstly more in the way of cloud cover, so a dull day in store for the end of the week and a much cooler one under that cloud 🙁

So temperatures barely breaking double figures and feeling chilly in the breeze I’m afraid as we close out the week. By Friday lunchtime that dry start comes to an end in the south-west of Ireland and England with a band of rain pushing in and moving north west through the afternoon. This rain intensifies and pushes across Ireland and the U.K as we go through Friday evening / night bringing heavy rain to some places. Feeling a little bit milder on Friday, but still lower temperatures than the start of the week and still with that easterly wind in situ.

The weekend looks like getting off to a cool and wet start on Saturday with that rain slow to clear from eastern Ireland and most of England. Scotland looks to start off drier thankfully. By the afternoon the rain sits stubbornly over The Wash, but elsewhere the clouds break to give long spells of afternoon sunshine particularly over Ireland, The Borders and Scotland. Still feeling cool as that wind swings round to the north, but it’s for a good reason 🙂 Sunday looks a much better start with that wind completing its swing round to the west / south-west and pushing up the temperatures. Of course a south-west wind tends to be a harbinger of rain and that is true in this case as heavy rain is set to push into Ireland on Sunday morning and affect most of the country during the day I’m afraid. Further east it looks much better, milder, drier and some broken sunshine through Sunday. Later in the day this rain pushes into Scotland, so a wet end to Sunday there. Temperatures should be low to mid-teens in that milder south westerly wind.

Weather Outlook

So is this changeable, almost April feel to May’s weather likely to remain or will high pressure return to bring us some warmth ?

Well I think next week looks to start off milder, possibly even warm / hot for the south of England as the wind pushes up warm air from Africa. We look to be sandwiched between a southerly high and a northerly low next week and that means a number of things. Firstly it’ll be windy, particularly from Tuesday onwards, warm in the south, cooler in the north, but generally mild everywhere and we’ll keep those milder nights and that’s crucial for growth (see below)

Rainfall-wise next week, Monday looks unsettled for Ireland, the north west and Scotland, drier and warmer in the south. Tuesday looks dry for all initially with rain moving in later to the same areas as Monday. Wednesday again looks unsettled for the west, but that low really ramps up the wind and that pushes rain across all areas for Thursday and Friday. So very much an unsettled theme to the weather next week, warmer though in the south.

Agronomic Notes

GDD Figures

First a look at our GDD figures till the end of April kindly prepared by Wendy :)….You can see from the graphs below that April was a so-so month for growth and nothing like 2014 in terms of good growing conditions.

The cumulative chart at the bottom shows us to be a long way behind 2014 in terms of total GDD at the end of April.


Irish GDD

Interestingly when you compare the figures above with sites across Ireland, you see that Cork sitting at a cumulative GDD of 157 at the end of April is very similar to The Oxfordshire, whereas the other sites are sitting behind, with the exception of Valentia which I think will be on a similar GDD figure to the south coast of England !


Growth Characteristics

A look at 2 consecutive days over The Bank Holiday….



When you look at two consecutive days in May (2nd and the 3rd), you can see the difference the arrival of the milder air made in terms of milder morning and evening temperatures and greater growth potential.

In terms of outright growth, the cool 2nd of May  yielded a G.P figure of 0.32, the much milder 3rd of May, a G.P figure of 0.75, in other words 2.5 times more growth potential !


So with that in mind you should be seeing plenty of growth out there, maybe too much to come back to after a Bank Holiday :(, but I think the combination of rain and temperature will mean more consistent growth across all surfaces with Perennial Poa kicking into gear. That of course means seedheads and I expect a significant hike in seedhead numbers through this week and again if we get the heat the early part of next week. Bearing in mind that Perennial Poa tends to seed profusely from 200GDD, we will be hitting that figure early next week.


PGR usage on outfield areas

When you consider that last week we were looking at a total projected GDD figure of 1 for the week and this week it’s 24, you can see that the growth outlook is much better, so that means thoughts may turn to using TE to hold back that growth and I think that makes a lot of sense, particularly in the south of England which may receive some warm weather at the start of next week (Note I say ‘may’)

Pathogen ActivityLeatherjacket

I’ve had a good number of reports of Leatherjacket activity, particularly with respect to the larvae emerging from core holes and feeding at night, leaving that tell-tale, chamfered exit hole. This can be especially problematic if you aerated during March / April and are seeing poor recovery even now that the weather has turned in our favour. A test spray or a sheet placed on the ground and left overnight can soon reveal if these guys are making a name for themselves.



I also received this picture from Ireland to show that some of these larvae are already hatching out into mature Crane Fly. (Cheers Bren) Makes a lot of sense to me because of the exceptionally mild autumn / winter we had up until mid-January. It also explains why I’ve done particularly well fly fishing recently using one of my home-tied Daddy Longlegs patterns (Cue collective yawning from all of you !)

Of course mild nights and moisture will also mean that Microdochium nivale will have made an appearance over the weekend as predicted in last week’s blog. I expect it’ll be pretty active but since growth will be as well, you’d like to think it will grow out soon enough. Of course this may be wishful thinking but finding a spray day may be tricky this week because of the rainfall and strength of the wind.

Ok that’s it for now, bit of a mega blog really in terms of content, sorry about that but a lot to say this week 🙂

All the best…

Mark Hunt