Monthly Archives: June 2015

29th June


Hi All,

Well all the talk is of a heatwave this week courtesy of a peak in the jet stream that is going to pull warm air up from the continent. For this reason I personally don’t think it will be dry throughout because summer air from the continent has a habit of triggering off thunderstorms and I expect these towards the end of the week and possibly over the weekend. The graphic below, courtesy of Meteoblue, shows the way warm air is being funneled up.


Whenever I hear the words heatwave, my thoughts immediately turn to Gravesend in Kent because when you have a forecast like this, it is often quoted as the hottest place in the country, so all the best to the lads and lasses in Kent that will bear the brunt of it I think 🙂

General Weather Situation

So as is usual in these situations it’s a case of heat building and because it is quite a narrow peak, it won’t be the same for everyone as we have a West-East split. So for Monday whereas we will have a dry start over England and Wales, there is rain affecting the north-west of Scotland and during the morning more rain will push in to the coast of Connacht and Munster. Further south and east it looks a settled warm day, but as that weak rain front pushes into the west coast of Wales and England later on this afternoon, that may thicken up the cloud cover over the north and west of England. Temperature-wise, expect low high teens over the west and north and low twenties in the south of England. Winds will be light and from the west, with an increase in wind in the west and north.

For Tuesday we have a hotter day on the cards with a loss in cloud cover. This is in place over The Midlands and south of England and clears north through the morning where they’ll still be some patchy rain / drizzle first off. By the afternoon temperatures are really ramping up and I’d expect mid-twenties in the south east of England. That weak rain front sitting out to the west may just push some light rain and patchy cloud up the west coast of Ireland in the afternoon and also across the south-west of England and South Wales. The wind will swing round to the south / south-east during Tuesday and that’s what is bringing the heat up.

By early morning Wednesday we have some more rain fronts pushing up from the south and primarily I expect them to affect the west coast of Ireland and the south west / north west of England during the morning. Through the morning this rain will push up into Scotland and looks likely to be heavy along the south west coastline. This band of rain may move eastwards through Wednesday morning to affect northern England and the north Midlands as well. Further south we will see bright sunshine and high temperatures again, maybe the highest of the week with 30°C likely, especially down in Kent. Of course where you have warm air and moisture you have the building blocks of thunderstorms and these may trigger off further north over Scotland on Wednesday evening. By the evening the vast % of that rain looks to clear the U.K mainland and Ireland.

Overnight into Thursday we have the risk of rain spilling up from the continent into Kent and The Home Counties. Now as you know trying to predict where it may end up falling sitting here on a Monday morning is not for the faint-hearted, but at this stage it looks like it may affect a line east of Portsmouth stretching up to The Wash. Save for some light rain over north east Scotland and Ireland, the rest of the weather picture looks clear on Thursday, but with more in the way of cloud cover, it’ll be substantially cooler, down to the low twenties north of The Home Counties. In the south and south-east, expect mid-twenties in the way of temperatures with a light westerly / southerly wind. Again the combination of moisture and warm / hot air is likely to trigger thunderstorms in the south east of England on Thursday. Away from this area, west and north, we look to have a warm, dry sunny day with temperatures feeling very comfortable in the high teens (Ireland / Scotland) to the low twenties in The Midlands and north of England.

Closing out the week things get a bit more complicated as there appears to be more in the way of moisture around across the west coast of Ireland, possibly The Midlands and later in the day  across Donegal, the north of England and Scotland. So with more cloud cover, moisture and warmth I expect more in the way of thunderstorms on Friday, especially as that heat is set to build again across the south of England and The Midlands during the day on Friday.  So Friday evening may end up being turbulent to say the least ! For Ireland that west coast rain will move slowly eastwards through the day to affect The Midlands, whether it’ll reach the east coast of Leinster by late afternoon remains to be seen. Scotland looks to start off dull with heavy cloud cover on Friday and that’ll thicken to give rain, some of it heavy from lunchtime. This rain will slowly move north eastwards and finish up across Aberdeenshire by close of play Friday.

So how are we looking for the weekend, an extended heatwave or more in the way of rain ???

Saturday looks to be a largely dry day, but there will be exceptions. The north east of Scotland keeps that rain overnight and through Saturday so a very wet spell of weather for that area. Elsewhere we look settled after Friday night’s thunderstorms, a little cooler, down to the low twenties across the south west, Midlands and north of England, a couple of degrees higher in the south east of England. Again there is a suggestion of rain pushing up from the continent to affect this area through Saturday afternoon and into the evening, but we’ll see. On Saturday evening there also looks to be a strong risk of rain coming into the south west of England and pushing up the M5 into Sunday morning. This band of rain may end up affecting The Midlands and the east of England, north of The Wash early on Sunday. During Sunday an Atlantic low pressure system begins to affect the north and west, so we will start to see more in the way of wind and rain for Ireland, the north west of England and Scotland later on Sunday. Further south, we will still be under the influence of the high pressure so it looks dry and settled, though it should be cooler but still with the risk of thunderstorms I think if the heat begins to build again.

Weather Outlook

Last week I said I had a ‘low degree of confidence’ on what is now this week’s forecast and looking to next week it’s tricky to call again. The reason is because we have an Atlantic low pushing up against a ridge of continental high pressure and depending on who wins the day, this will dictate our weather. Currently it looks like Ireland, the west and north west of England and Scotland will lie on the path of that low pressure system, so a mixture of sunshine and showers next week with a stronger wind. (the strongest over Scotland) Further south in a line drawn I think from The Severn Estuary across to The Wash, we will still have high pressure in charge, with possibly nice, sensible temperatures for the beginning of next week, but a chance that they’ll ramp up again as we progress through to the second part of the week. The orientation of that divide between low pressure and high pressure is sure to change as we progress through this week.

Agronomic Notes

This week we have a heatwave for some areas so I’ll start by briefly covering some of the areas of turfgrass management we should consider. Firstly, if you look at your Meteoturf module you may see a clear indicator to the arrival of plant stress signified by a dip in Growth Potential even though temperatures are high enough for plant growth.


This means that the temperatures will reach a point on Wednesday when they will negatively impact the growth of Poa annua and this is reflected by a decreasing growth potential figure. This is one of the advantages of the Growth Potential calculation over Growth Degree Days as there is no decrease in the latter on Wednesday because it doesn’t have a ‘top out’ value.

So we can expect severe plant stress this week, so how are we best to deal with this ?

First-off moisture management and here we have a line to tread. During periods of high temperature the grass plant will cool itself by conversion of of internal plant moisture to water vapour (gas) and this is then released through the stomatal pores. If the level of soil moisture is too low it cannot replace moisture lost in this fashion and begins to wilt, a clear sign that the plant is under stress. You’ll notice this as foot-printing on the turf surface when there is insufficient cell turgor (internal water pressure that helps the plant to maintain its structure) to maintain the structural integrity of the plant (so the pressure of foot traffic cause the plant to flatten rather than spring back). This should serve as a warning, so one thing you can do before this happens is to cool the plant by syringing, that is applying fine droplets to the surface of the grass plant leaf. As this moisture is evaporated from the leaf it cools it, a bit like when you get out of a shower on a hot day, your body is cooled by the process of evaporation of moisture from your skin. Importantly with syringing, you are supplying the moisture rather than the plant.  This is an important point because the plant uses energy to facilitate the cooling process. Al Turgeon in his excellent book ” Turfgrass Management” quotes a figure of 570 calories of energy is required to evaporate 1 gram of water. The less the plant has to facilitate cooling in this manner, the more carbohydrate reserves it retains.

Secondly you must make sure that there is sufficient moisture in the rootzone to maintain the plant’s internal moisture status but it’s how you apply this that really matters. We know that irrigation systems tend to create areas on a turf surface with high levels of soil moisture and areas of low soil moisture (noses, ridges, etc). If you rely on overhead irrigation alone during hot spells of weather you will create a disparity in moisture levels, so this is where hand-watering is key. The idea is use your irrigation to give you a base replacement of moisture and then top up the drier areas with localised hand-watering.

During periods of hot weather, the enemy is surface organic matter because this will retain more moisture, become saturated and heat up. Once it is hot, a wet, high-organic matter content rootzone lose heat very slowly and so it may ‘cook’ the plant roots. So even though the rootzone is wet, it is not a good thing because it will not be able to dissipate this heat. The same is true of a compacted soil. So if you know you have high surface organic matter or higher than you’d like, be careful not to over-irrigate. Timing of applied irrigation is also pertinent because if a high-surface organic matter rootzone sits wet all night, it will retain that heat for longer and the plant will be less able to cool itself. (That is why we irrigate early morning rather than late at night, plus the leaf is not sitting wet for too long, a calling card for disease)

The other point to make when dealing with high organic matter is that when it is wet, it swells and this has the effect of raising the crown of the plant higher in the canopy. The crown is the division point of a plant, above the crown we have shoot development, below it we have root development. If the crown is sitting higher in the canopy because it is elevated, you have a much higher risk of scalping the turf because the mower ‘sits down’ into the spongy turf and effectively cuts lower plus of course the crown is sitting higher. If you cut the crown, you kill the plant, simple as that. This is often an issue on approaches and collars on golf greens.

So keep the grass plant cool if you can, maintain adequate, but not excessive soil moisture and look out for indications of plant wilt.

If you’re planning to apply a wetting agent this week, then I’d also suggest a tankmix with a good-quality biostimulant because without a doubt it does benefit the plant during periods like this in suppressing stress. I did some trials back in the summer of 2006 when we had similar temperatures (but for longer as they extended into August) and I could clearly see the plots where I had applied a combination of wetting agent and biostimulant because they looked the least stressed, even when the % of E.T replacement was very low. (< 40%)

Cultural work

All common sense stuff really but this week wouldn’t be the week for going out and verticutting, scarifying, etc and I’d also think twice about dressing and matting / brushing in unless you pick your day and have all the other boxes ticked in terms of moisture management (or are in an area where temperatures won’t be as high)

Nutrition and PGR usage

On outfield areas you really need your turf ‘buttoned down’ if you want a PGR to give you the most beneficial effect. What I mean by that is that you want your turf already under regulation before hot weather so the growth and clip rate is lower and hence water usage will be decreased. It’s a fact that a regulated turf will be more drought-tolerant than an unregulated one, especially if it is growing too quickly, which brings me neatly onto nutrition. During periods of hot weather you want to keep N input levels on the low side because more growth due to high N = more energy expended by the plant and critically more water required to support that growth. On the flip side you don’t want it hanging due to lack of N because you’re just playing into the hands of plant-parasitic nematodes and possibly Anthracnose, come August.

So just like irrigation we have a line to tread with nutrition, ‘little and often’ always works best for me.

Before I leave PGR’s, it’s worth commenting that during hot weather we know that the TE molecule breaks down faster and so longevity is affected. So if you’re on a regular greens program, tighten up your intervals, don’t increase your rate because it’s interval, not input rate that is key with TE usage on surfaces in the summer. There’s plenty of U.S research to support this as they’ve been at it for longer.

Ok that’s it for now, enjoy the heat, dodge the lightning and tread that line wisely 🙂

Mark Hunt





June 22nd


Hi All,

Slightly bemused to notice that the Summer Solstice passed by yesterday when I spent Saturday morning fishing in all my winter gear because it was so damp and chilly :), but yes we now begin the slow march to the autumn (a cheery thought). If that leaves you feeling slightly miserable, then I suggest you chill out like this chap I happened across on a lovely Rutland walk yesterday, for him life is truly a boar. arf arf


An unsettled weekend with a raft of thunderstorms breaking out on Saturday evening providing localised flooding for some areas and yet again we had that combination of warm temperatures and high wind strength. Those thunderstorms ran along the M40, swung right at Birmingham and left via The Wash. (see below)


General Weather Situation

Speaking of rain we start the week with some areas of intense rain, one is currently skirting along the south coast of England, the others are affecting the north-west of England, The Borders and Central Highlands. Ireland, for a change, looks pretty clear with a hazy start to the week. As we go through the morning into the afternoon those showers will cross the U.K and consolidate along the eastern coastline in a line from the south east to north of Newcastle. West of this rain will be bright, but on the cool side for mid-June with temperatures in the mid to high teens. courtesy of a blustery, north west wind.

Overnight into Tuesday, those showers clear away to leave a cool, clear night, but temperatures should hold up in double figures. So Tuesday looks a much better day with lighter winds lifting the temperature up into the high teens / low twenties depending on where you’re situated. The only potential fly in the ointment is a small, localised area of rain likely in the far north east of Scotland, (around Aberdeen) building in the evening.

Wednesday looks another nice, settled day with another slight hike in the temperatures as the light winds blow in from the west. So a hazy sunny day is on the cards for most areas of the U.K and Ireland. Later in the afternoon there’s a risk of localised rain pushing across Connacht and moving over into north Leinster through the evening. This rain may also affect The Lakes as well, but it looks light and pretty localised. Temperatures will creep up into the low twenties for central southern England and maybe a degree or two lower across the west, but for most a lovely day.

Thursday looks to be a repeat of Wednesday, dry, warm with hazy sunshine and light westerly / south-westerly winds. By the afternoon there’s a risk of showers breaking out along the west coast of Scotland and pushing inland through the evening, but very much orientated across the west side of Scotland. Probably the warmest day of the week on Thursday as temperatures sit in the low twenties for most areas, nice.

Closing out the week we have a more unsettled picture as rain pushes into west Scotland and the south west of Ireland early doors, moving diagonally across the country during the morning. So much more in the way of cloud cover on Friday, particularly for the north of England, Ireland and Scotland. That cloud will bring drizzle and rain into the western coastline of the U.K by Friday lunchtime and will move eastwards across the U.K during the afternoon /evening. At this stage it looks like light rain in the south, heavier in the west and north. After a murky old day, it should brighten up across Ireland for the end of the week during the late afternoon / evening.

Now how does the all important weekend look ? Will I be sitting there in my waterproofs straining to catch a sight of Valentino Rossi at Goodwood ?

Very much a north and west split to the weather for this coming weekend with an area of low pressure set to skirt across the U.K and Ireland through Saturday / Sunday. So Saturday currently looks good (this could change depending on the path of that low pressure system) until about 2p.m ish when the rain reaches Connacht and tracks north and west into Scotland by Saturday evening. Overnight that rain clobbers most of Ireland and pushes into the north west of England, The Borders and Central Scotland during Sunday morning. By the evening it should clear all areas. Temperature-wise, it’ll obviously be cooler with that rain, I think mid to high teens depending on where you’re located. For the south of England it should be a little warmer, but a dull weekend is on the cards. Winds will be strong and from the west in the north, closer to the heart of the low pressure system, whereas down south they’ll be light.

Weather Outlook

Well, unsettled is the order of the day for next week as we have that area of low pressure moving slowly away, however a new one if projected to form off the south west coast of the U.K by Tuesday and that looks to bring more rain and cool weather from mid-week onwards. So a north-south split to start next week, windy and cool with rain across Ireland, the north-west of England and Scotland. Warmer and dry in the south with a little sunshine and milder temperatures to start the week. this isn’t set to last long though as that new low will push in rain, potentially heavy in the west again from Tuesday and Wednesday. At this point its path is to come in across Ireland and sweep across the U.K, but because it’s quite a southerly-orientated low pressure that may mean rain for some of the drier areas. Once this low pressure has moved through I think things will settle down again, so a calmer, warmer end to next week may be on the cards.

Agronomic Notes

Nitrogen in the rain continued…

Rainbow290315Had a great link sent to me by Barry Pace, (cheers Barry!!) which I’d never seen mention of anywhere in all my weather trawling work. It’s on the DEFRA website and shows the nutrient content (They call it Pollutant, we call it Nutrient !!!!) of rainfall as well as the pH throughout the year at a set location. It’s fascinating and next week if I get the time I’m going to graph some of the data for all to see. You can look at it here



By heck it’s a windy year….

Following on from my notes last week concerning the effect of our ever-present wind and E.T loss, I got some more great data on yesterday’s weather and how significant the combined effect of wind and temperature is on moisture loss from our turf surfaces.


You’ll note from the graph there’s a pronounced drop off in E.T from 18.00 hours and that was due to the arrival of cloud cover and a significant reduction in the wind strength. You can see this more clearly below where I have graphed solar radiation (the higher the figure, the stronger the direct sunlight) vs. E.T.


So what does all this mean for our turf ?

Simple really, it’s just an illustration of how much stress our surfaces are under in terms of moisture loss once temperatures begin to rise and in what appears to be a ‘windy year’ so to speak. As we reach mid-June, the potential for higher temperatures and high E.T loss increases and this is linked to many aspects of turfgrass maintenance.

Plant Stress and Pathogens – They go hand in hand sometimes…

The most important for me is pathogen management, particularly Anthracnose because last year we had a high E.T end of June and a very high E.T July and that was the beginning of Anthracnose, although no visible symptoms were present. It is a very slow-growing fungus compared to something like Microdochium and quietly works away in the background infecting your turf without any visible symptoms and then Volia ! , you start to see the familiar basal yellowing and black Acervuli. By then it is too late to stop it, the disease has been through its whole cycle and is already producing spores for the next time around. So how do we prevent it ?

Well some years we don’t see a lot of Anthracnose and that’s because I think temperatures aren’t high enough to 1) Initiate Spore Germination and 2) Stress the grass plant on a prolonged basis.

Last year was a bad year for sure and the last before that was I think 2006 ?

If you had Anthracnose in 2015 then key to preventing it becoming an issue again is balanced, consistent nutrition, don’t let the plant get weak. Moisture management is key as well because over-watering will provide great conditions for Basal Rot and under-watering will provide great conditions for stress and Foliar Blight. They are the same disease, but where they infect the grass plant and the casual factors are different. That’s why I’m highlighting E.T loss because it’s deceptive sometimes when you don’t think it’s been hot enough to cause plant stress but the combination of wind and temperature is enough to cause issues. Look at the top graph above, the maximum daytime temperature didn’t exceed 20°C, but because it was a windy day, we still lost 4.3mm odd of moisture from the turf canopy.

It isn’t just a matter of replacing a % of it either because when its windy we have poor irrigation coverage, particularly if its windy at night and as someone just remarked to me “If I rely on my irrigation, the low areas of my surfaces get wetter and it doesn’t apply enough to wet up the dry areas consistently”. Of course that’s where hand-watering comes into its own but for that you need labour and resource and in these tight times, that may be lacking 🙁

So getting back to Anthracnose, I’d be looking to maintain plant health, suppress stress and don’t be foolish in chasing a low N figure when another 5kg of N per hectare applied a couple of times through July and August may be the difference between a nice, consistent sward or one where you’re staring at Anthracnose scars right through from August to October. You can follow a ‘belt & braces’ approach and apply a preventative fungicide and for me I like to do this 1 month before I saw any visible Anthracnose the previous year, so. So for example, if it appeared in early August last year, I’d be applying in early July. Active ingredient-wise, you should be looking at Propiconazole and / or Azoxystrobin as the systemic and in the case of the former, the combination with Chlorothalonil and Fludioxonil is I believe the strongest weapon in your armoury. (Bet you’re smiling now Dan)

It’s a great time for seeding !


This is a picture of perennial ryegrass sown 12 days ago, it was up in 5 days and the seed wasn’t pre-treated or anything special in that respect. So if you’re looking to overseed and can manage irrigation on the areas in question, then now is a good time to do it, particularly since we seem set in a weather pattern of warm days, then some cooler, wetter and unsettled conditions. One area that often gets overlooked is greens complexes. Sometimes these have poor cover with clumpy, coarse grass species and to me they’re prime candidates for treatment. I like to use a high rate of TE to hold back the incumbent grass species, romp down the cutting height (to remove leaf tissue and clear the area) and then either hollow core and overseed (often the best way because you’re removing a potential physical barrier to root development in the newly-applied seed) or drill seed. Wherever you may be thinking of over-seeding, it’s good to go if you have the resources and soil conditions to facilitate it.

Ok that’s all for this week, just 3 more blogs before my summer sabatical when I’ll be heading off to trek and fish in north-east Alaska, 350 miles from the nearest habitation and where there’s no WIFI or Cellphone network…..In one word….Bliss.

Have a good week.

Mark Hunt


June 15th


Hi All,

A nicer morning as I sit and type with the grey clouds banished for the time-being. Last Friday’s rain arrived across the U.K and Ireland and it was fascinating to see it move up from the continent. As you can see from the ATD Lightning Archive produced by the MetOffice and run on’s website, the storms started in France and Belgium early Friday morning and then tracked northwards across the channel and into Kent.


That band of rain eventually settled in a line stretching from mid-Wales across The Midlands to the Wash and here in Market Harborough we were sitting right under it so we ended up with 25mm through the course of Friday and Saturday.

Nitrogen in the rain and the pH of rainwater….

I took a rain water sample as it was yakking it down on Friday night (neighbour’s curtains twitching at my antics) so it will be interesting to see how much N there was in the rain we received. I took some samples through April and May and you can see the variation in terms of pH and nitrogen contribution ;


The rain on the 29th April fell from some turbulent storms that came up from the continent whereas the rain over the 18th and 19th of May was from the south-west. It’s interesting to see the pH variation particularly when we expect rain to fall at around 6.5 – 6.7. That is because rainwater is actually a weak acid (carbonic acid in my college days, probably called something much more exciting now) formed from a weak association between carbon dioxide and water. The highest N contribution I’ve ever recorded was from rainwater collected during August 2008 in Dublin where we hit over 5kg of N per hectare per inch of rain falling during some torrential downpours. The N contribution is held to be a result of oxidation of atmospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) into nitrate N (NO3) by lightning and so we all get a nice dilute and free liquid feed 🙂

General Weather Situation

So starting the week we have a nice quiet day on Monday in terms of rainfall with only some light rain pushing across the Highlands and into the north east of Scotland during the morning. Elsewhere across Ireland and the remainder of the U.K we have a mix of high cloud and sunshine with that north east / easterly wind light to moderate through the day. Temperatures will range from mid-teens to a pleasant 20°C in the south of England if sunshine breaks through the cloud as it is expected to do later in the day.

Another single figure night going into Tuesday but you should start to feel the milder air as the wind changes round to the south west early on Tuesday. With high pressure safely in situ over Ireland and the central / southern half of the U.K, we will have a settled, warm day with temperatures pushing nicely up into the twenties. Further north as suggested last week, that low is reluctant to say goodbye so we will see a rain band crossing Scotland through Tuesday and pushing down into The Borders and Lakes through the course of the afternoon / evening, but even under the rain it will feel milder. There will also be some accompanying rain moving into Donegal and Northern Ireland through late evening.

Arriving at mid-week we have more in the way of cloud cover as rain pushes across Ireland and potentially some heavy stuff over the north west of England during the early hours of Wednesday. Further south it looks to be a duller day, but not a cool one after a very mild night compared to late allows temperatures to build into the low twenties through the course of the day. Those temperatures may even be higher during the afternoon if that cloud cover breaks.Winds will be light to moderate and from the west / north west.

Overnight into Thursday and another mild night as predicted last week incidentally and we have a weather map of two halves – east and west. Across the west we have a gloomy day for Ireland with lots of cloud cover and light rain through the course of the day I’m afraid. Further north we see some potentially heavy rain push in to the north west of Scotland later in the day on Thursday. South and east of this we have another bright, warm, sunny day for Thursday with similar temperatures to Wednesday. Across the south west of England, Wales and the west coast, the cloud will build through the morning and later in the day that may increase to give drizzle and light rain into Thursday evening. Some of that rain may be potentially heavy for the north of England and The Borders as well as Scotland later on Thursday evening / night.

Closing out the week that rain sinks south and brings more cloud cover and light rain to the north of England, north Midlands through the morning. Ireland and the west coast looks gloomy again I’m afraid with heavy cloud cover and a persistent risk of rain throughout Friday. Into Friday afternoon this rain fizzles out over the southern half of the U.K, but remains in place over Ireland. Scotland looks to have a drier day after the rainfall earlier in the week, but it will remain dull and some of that cloud may be thick enough for drizzle and light rain here p.m. It’s worth mentioning that there is a chance of heavier rain for the north east of Scotland through the latter part of Friday.This rain could track along the east coast overnight into Saturday but it’s a close run thing at present, one to keep an eye on really. As you’d expect there is wide temperature fluctuation across the U.K and Ireland with mid-teens only under that grey sky and light rain compared to low twenties in the far south of England during Friday. Winds will be light to moderate and westerly in orientation.

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

After the gloomy week it looks like Saturday should dawn bright and dry for Ireland and stay pretty clear through the course of the day. More in the way of cloud cover over the U.K, but there will be breaks in that cloud and we should be pretty dry for Saturday and Sunday, however that rain tracking down the north east coast on Friday night may just affect the east and south east on Saturday morning, tricky to predict at this stage. Temperature-wise we look to be mid to high teens on Saturday and higher on Sunday with more breaks in the cloud further south, so twenty degrees isn’t beyond the realm of expectation. Winds will be light and from the west / north-west.

Weather Outlook

Next week’s outlook looks a bit messy and tricky to predict with a real mix of weather systems and fronts, so I’m not 100% confident what I write now will transpire. The high pressure we have over the U.K looks to come under pressure (sorry for the pun:)) from a continental and a northern low pressure early in the week and this pushes it slowly out of the way meaning we have a more unsettled outlook for the start of next week. At present it looks like the south will be settled, whereas Ireland could get rain from Monday afternoon and into Tuesday. That rain will push eastwards to affect Scotland and the north of England, but the south may escape it. (sorry to the south east lads on that one) By mid-week, next week we have a big Atlantic low pressure system winding up to affect Ireland, the north of England and Scotland. Winds will be strong and from the south west here so some big waves for all you white horse warriors out there 🙂 The south will probably miss this system during Thursday so a settled week here, but I think it may sink south to affect the southern half of the U.K at the weekend. That’s a long way off and I hope I’m wrong as I’m off to The Goodwood Festival for the first time that weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Pathogen Activity

After the end of week rain (for some) and the accompanying high humidity, I’d expect a bit of Microdochium activity out there with the typical manifestation of summer copper blotches across the grass sward. Hopefully if your growth rate is acceptable then this shouldn’t require a fungicide application, particularly with the forecast for a more settled week for most people (Ireland and Scotland excluding that is)

Humidity = Patch Diseases so I’d also expect to see a good bit of Fairy Ring activity where that rain fell and also possibly some Waitea Patch because it’s a disease that loves moisture. Superficial Fairy Ring and Waitea look really similar with their regular yellow rings but despite the similarity, they’re actually quite different fungal families – the Superficial Fairy Ring is a Basidiomycetes, whereas Waitea is a Rhizoctonia. Looking at them on your turf surface, the difference is a lack of mushroom odour and little sign of organic matter depression if you push down on the yellow / affected area with the Waitea. (pronounced by me as “Wait here” :))


Management is very different though because whereas with the Superficial Fairy Ring you have to be careful of the rootzone becoming hydrophobic due to the action of the fungus (so hand watering and using wetting agent tablets is key). With Waitea it couldn’t be more different and so if you treated it like a Fairy Ring it would actually become more prevalent and that’s why it’s key to know what you’re dealing with. Waitea Patch loves moisture and so making sure your rootzone is properly managed irrigation-wise and running it on the drier side will decrease the severity of the symptoms. Yes you can treat it with a fungicide but I think with proper irrigation management you won’t need to.



Lots of these guys running around at present, on one monitored location their activity is about 1 week later than usual so although we’ve had a cooler spring it hasn’t affected them much in terms of life cycle. This one is I’m reliably informed a Welsh Chafer (Hoplia pilanthus) and it will now be out and about looking for a mate before breeding and laying eggs to start the cycle again shortly. (ho hum)

Nutrition and Plant Stress

As I intimated last week and MeteoTurf correctly predicted, the combination of warm temperatures and that ever present north-east wind gave us some high E.T’s at the back end of last week. Using data kindly supplied by Sean at The Oxfordshire, I charted out the air temperature, wind strength and hourly E.T and you can really see how the combination of high wind speed (+40km/h – 25mph) and high air temperature (23°C) ramp up the E.T loss from the grass plant. Once the temperature drops at night, the E.T loss drops off markedly as one would expect, even though the wind kept blowing throughout the night (albeit at a lesser strength), so temperature is the driver of E.T.


Evapotranspiration (E.T) isn’t just about moisture loss, we have to consider the physiological changes that take place in the grass plant during periods of high E.T, specifically the closing of the stomatal pores (to reduce evaporation of moisture from within the leaf) . Although scientific opinion is not totally clear how much role the stomatal pores play in nutrient absorption (some references say little), we know that when a plant is under high E.T stress, nutrient uptake is less efficient.

Looking at the above chart,  if we’re applying a foliar feed early in the morning, say between 06.00 and 07.00 a.m, we can see E.T rates are low and uptake potential is likely to good. Every hour after this the E.T increases by 75% and by midday it is approaching the maximum level. What’s interesting is once it has reached this point it stays high right through till 18.00 p.m before beginning to decline again. So the moral of this story is if you’re going out with a foliar, the earlier the better is key, the same would no doubt apply to selective herbicide or fungicide uptake during the growing season.


You can see from a Meteoturf location in the south east of England (above) that we are going to be seeing some high daily E.T and high growth rates this week, the latter due to the higher night temperatures.

Food for thought (hopefully) if you’re planning on getting out with an application this week.

All the best.

Mark Hunt




June 10th


Hi All,

Bit of a late blog this week as I’ve been away in France with my dad enduring the 30°C temperatures and some mega thunderstorms Cevennestormto boot. Amazing to see them start with a single updraft in the mountains and then over the course of a couple of hours develop into a full-bloodied storm. WHaile had one day on Mont Aigoual when the temperature went from 27°C before a storm, to 8°C in it, with hail lying alongside on the roads like snow, amazing…Talking of hail, my good friend in Colorado, Andy Bigtop, reported Denver experiencing 4ft of hail falling on just one block in the city !! Yep that’s 4ft !! Everything is bigger in the States 🙂

So onto this week’s weather and for sure coming back to the chill of Luton Airport last night almost made me want to give this weeks blog writing a miss till next Monday but duty calls 🙂

Whenever I sit typing this blog and I can hear the trains at Market Harborough Railway Station, I know we’re enduring some cool / cold weather because it sits north-east of my house. When the wind is in the north east / east, it also tends to keep blowing at night and so we’re continuing this run of cold night temperatures, which as we all know doesn’t help growth or leaf colour 🙁

So today we have a real split in the weather with the east and central regions of the U.K experiencing our old friend ‘Haar’, so it’s cloudy, dull and cool, colder than the beginning of January here would you believe. We also have a pronounced split in temperatures with Scotland enjoying some really warm weather today, likely to hit 20°C, whereas the east coast of England and anywhere else sitting under the effect of the Haar is only just struggling into double figures and may hit mid-teens by early afternoon, the same being true for Ireland. So Tuesday looks like starting off dull, cool, but dry for the south and east, brighter and warmer in the north of England and Scotland. Through the morning that cloud will thin over Ireland and most of the U.K, except The Wash area and we will see more in the way of sunshine. This will serve to pick up the temperatures as we go into the afternoon. Winds will be moderate and from the north east / east.

Overnight into Thursday we will have another cool night, maybe a little warmer than earlier in the week, but still single figures 🙁 Bit of a west-east split on Thursday as a clear, sunny start for most of the U.K (maybe a cloud belt affecting The Wash and The Midlands initially) and Ireland is soon replaced with increasing cloud for Munster and the far south west of England and that may bring some rain to south east Munster / south Leinster and later in the afternoon, Cornwall, Devon and the south west of England. Cloud cover will increase in these areas and across Ireland during the afternoon. Further east of this it’ll be brighter and warmer with temperatures pushing into the high teens / low twenties by the afternoon. That cloud cover will keep temperatures up overnight compared to earlier in the week.

Overnight into Friday and that rain will move across Ireland giving some heavy bursts through the night. Similarly that belt of rain across the south west will drift north east up the M5 and along the M4, probably reaching as far east as the Isle of Wight by the morning rush hour. Through the morning, that rain intensifies across Ireland and the south-west of England and continues to push eastwards across the southern half of the U.K. With the combination of moist air hitting warm temperatures, I’d expect to see some thunderstorms later on during Friday. Temperature-wise I’d expect to see some very warm air over the south and south east of England, possibly in the low to mid-twenties and that’s what will trigger the thunderstorms on Friday night.

ATD Lightning Detector run a continual loop of lightning strikes as reported by the ATD Lightning Detection Service operated by the Met office. This shows lightning strikes and updates every 15 minutes so if you’re worried that lightning is heading your way, it’s a useful service to track storms and storm intensity. You can find it here

A Caviat Warning 🙂

This rain is pushing up from the continent so its exact path may prove different to the above, however as it stands today, it looks to provide some heavy bursts across central and eastern Ireland, the south west of England, South and then North Wales and later into Saturday morning, it’ll move up the north west coast of the U.K into The Lakes.Sat13thJune

If you haven’t already guessed the outlook for the weekend doesn’t look exactly fab 🙁

That band of heavy rain that started on Friday will consolidate during Saturday and affect an area along the Irish coast across to North Wales, the north west / east of England and Scotland. Now I’ll repeat the caviat, this is continentally-driven rain so it has the potential to change in terms of areas affected and amounts received. You can see from the Meteoblue image (right) where it is projected to fall.

With the threat of rain for some on Saturday comes more cloud cover for most, so we dull down big time and of course that will affect the temperatures with a cooler day on the cards for Saturday, temperatures in the low teens initially. Through the day that rain looks to stay pretty much as shown, maybe tightening within the band so dropping away from Scotland and the north Midlands. North and south of this rain band we will see the cloud thinning and the sun coming through so that’ll pick up temperatures to the mid-high teens in the south of England, lower in the north and west. Sunday looks a forecast of two halves, with Scotland, the north of England, Northern Ireland, Donegal and Sligo looking to start off and remain bright, sunny and dry. Further south over Ireland, Wales and the rest of the U.K, Sunday now looks to be a dull, dull day with cool temperatures and Haar again affecting the east coast and central areas. Temperatures will be back to cool I’m afraid, low to mid-teens, but dry anyway as a token consolation. That cloud cover may be thick enough for some light rain and drizzle along the south coast of England.

Weather Outlook

So have we anything better in store for us than this up and down weather pattern accentuated by a jet stream that doesn’t seem to want to shake the trough-forming habit ??

Yes, I’d like to think so because we look to get a change in the wind direction from the start of next week, some may get it on Monday, some early Tuesday. After a cold night on Sunday we look to pick up a largely bright and sunny start to the week with more in the way of cloud cover for the west of the U.K and Ireland. That said the warmer air will be over that way so mid teens, maybe even high teens for the Ireland, the west and Scotland and a couple of degrees cooler further south and east. As we finally lose that trough pattern on Tuesday we have high pressure trying to assert itself, now I’ve been wrong before on this recently, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that next week looks to be warm, settled and dry. The wind direction will be westerly and by mid-week, next week I expect some warmer air for Ireland and the west / south of the U.K. Cooler over the north east of Scotland as that low stays in touch here and continues to bring the risk of some rain next week, but even here temperatures will hold up nicely, perhaps not as warm as down south, but fair set anyway.

Agronomic Notes

With the changing nature of our weather, dry for the main in the central and south of England and the run of cold nights, the start of June hasn’t brought with it the consistency of growth and certainly colour that we would have hoped for.

For most areas we are 5-6 weeks into the Poa seeding flush and this is now on a backward curve as the plant begins to return to a more balanced growth pattern. It is however experiencing stress and with the high winds of late combined with some high temperatures last week I don’t think it’s in a particularly happy place. Throw in some low single figure nights and you can understand why everything isn’t necessarily looking nice and peachy at the moment.

My concern is running the grass plant at too-low N levels during such a time. I mean you can’t expect it to kick back from seeding, tiller and thicken, if you’re only applying very light rates of foliar N.

Furthermore if the rootzone is dry, particularly at the surface (and remember you’re testing below the organic matter layer with most of the conventional moisture meter probes) then the combination of low N and low soil moisture could cause problems. Remember the effect of this wind is deceptive because when it continues to blow at night it can have a significant effect on plant moisture loss and rootzone surface drying.


Looking at Meteoturf you can see the projected E.T for Thursday  is running high enough to cause plant stress at the back end of this week so keep an eye on nutrient input and soil moisture levels. If you don’t at the very best you’ll have a pale plant with limited recovery potential, at the very least you’ll have a weak plant that is much more likely to become affected by stress-related pathogens.

That said I wouldn’t be reaching for the foliar fertiliser this week unless you’re applying to outfield areas and combining a wetting agent. (which Friday evenings rain will wash in nicely :)) On greens I’d get this weekend’s rain and cooler temperatures out of the way and apply on a hopefully upward-uptake curve next week.

Pathogen Activity

The two that come to mind are plant-parasitic nematodes (PPN) and Anthracnose.

Now I’m starting to get more of more reports of PPN activity over the past few weeks with Spiral and Stunt nematode well up the list. Ectoparasitic species live in the soil and attack the plant root from the outside as this excellent image shows – can’t remember where I got it from but it’s a cracker. Turf symptoms can take many forms, but typically it can resemble irregular patches, sometimes coalescing into a general bleached area of turf.


Spiral and Stunt Nematode Damage on a Poa / Bent Green

Spiral and Stunt Nematode Damage on a Poa / Bent Green

Some of this damage doesn’t look dissimilar to Anthracnose activity with the familiar yellow basal leaf down in the sward. One of the quick diagnostics you can perform if you suspect either PPN or Anthracnose damage is to take a small plug from the affected area and then try and detach the affected plants from the soil. If they detach easily then it’s likely that Anthracnose Basal Rot is the problem, if they don’t then you might suspect PPN’s. At this stage of the year it’s too early (IMHO) for Anthracnose symptoms.

It’s also worth remembering that in the majority of PPN cases I look at, there is nearly always a contributory factor that makes the PPN damage worse, this can be high organic matter levels, poor rootzone characteristics, low N status, over-regulation by PGR’s or a combination of these.

Anthracnose – Don’t forget the lessons of last year

Last year was our worst Anthracnose year since 2006, with a number of courses suffering issues. The symptoms became evident during August, but the damage started off I think towards the end of June when we had dry, hot weather and greens were run too lean and too dry (in the pursuit of what exactly ?)

Now we aren’t close to those sort of conditions yet I’d admit, but it’s worth just making a mental note and keep an eye on those growth potential and E.T figures on Meteoturf. If you see high day time and night air temperatures accompanied by a decreasing G.P figure , that’s your signal that the grass plant is likely to be experiencing stress. I haven’t seen this pattern yet so far this year, but when I do I’ll flag it up.

Fingers crossed for a consistently warm week, next week 🙂

Ok time to go and tackle the in tray of doom… 🙁

Mark Hunt





June 1st


Hi All,

I’ve been on my travels again last week, into Slovakia, worked in Austria and out of Slovenia. (Cheers Michael and Gerhard for putting up with me )

It’s interesting looking at turf situations in different countries and their issues, most of them are similar to ours, a cold, late spring, high levels of disease pressure, lack of aeration and topdressing slots to carry out the fundamental cultural work required and an obsession from a usually vocal minority for faster greens and lower cutting heights. (sound familar??)  I was surprised though to see the range of pesticides available to greenkeepers in Austria bearing in mind that the E.U’s thematic strategy (aimed at reducing pesticide availability) originated just down the road in Germany. Why is their situation different to ours ? Well it’s because their industry has lobbied successfully on their behalf with the legislators.

I’ll talk more of this later in the blog, but BIGGA and IOG, you want to get yourselves out to Germany and Austria to see how a greenkeeping federation really supports its members on issues that affect them.

When is a Weasel not a Weasel ?, When it’s a Ziesel !

As usual when I’m travelling abroad I try to make an effort with language and so it was when I visited a club south of Vienna. Ziesel(Hi Wayne :))

As we were looking at a green I noticed a little brown animal scurrying across the fairway. “A weasel I think?” said I, “Yes it’s a Ziesel” said my host, “You mean Weasel”…”Yes Ziesel” came back the retort. Clearly thinking this was another Germanic wind up (remembering the legendary Field Hamster of Frankfurt last year) I tried to clear this up. “It eats Rabbits doesn’t it?”, My hosts looked perplexed “Rabbits?”, “Yes you know meat, it’s a meat eater” says I. “No it eats seeds and grass” Ah, clearly some mistake. So a little browsing on Google revealed that there is indeed an animal called a Ziesel and it’s vegetarian, just so you know 🙂

Onto the weather…

General Weather Situation

So after another chilly night, how are we looking for the first day of June ? For most of the U.K we have a bright, cool start to the day, but cloud cover is set to build. Over on the west coast of Ireland and north west Scotland, we have rain just pushing in from The Atlantic and moving eastwards across Ireland and into central Scotland by early afternoon. This rain will reach Wales by mid-afternoon and push eastwards in a line north of The Wash, intensifying over Leinster and north-west Scotland as it moves east. The south east will stay dry until well into the night. Temperatures will be still on the cool side, low double figures in that rain and mid-teens out of it. Winds will be moderate to blustery, if anything increasing in strength as we go through the day and from the south west.

Tuesday sees that rain sitting over the south east of England and north-west of Scotland and over higher ground in the latter, it’ll fall as sleet and snow, for the first week of June would you believe ! Ireland should have a much drier day though there’s a likelihood of rain pushing along the south coast of Munster and Leinster through the morning. All in all, an unsettled day, drier in a band south of Scotland and above London, but by the afternoon I expect showers across most areas of the U.K. Between the showers they’ll be some sunshine and in it temperatures will lift to mid to high teens, but still we’ll have that ever-persistent, south west wind pushing the clouds along.

By mid-week, that deep Atlantic depression is pushing away into Scandinavia and things start to settle down a tad. So a much drier day for everyone on Wednesday, still some vestiges of rain over the north west of Scotland and Ireland and scurrying across, but elsewhere it’ll be a quieter day, with lighter winds, dull for most, so that’ll keep the temperatures down to mid-teens, but at least the night will have been milder and that’s key.

For Thursday, we have a very similar day to Wednesday, dry for the main part save for some light rain initially over north west Scotland and later in the day there’s a chance of some light rain pushing into the south coast of Leinster. It’ll remain cloudy for most, but again the night temperature under that cloud will serve to keep temperatures up. So mid-teens again the order of the day, perhaps rising a little higher as the winds drop right away.

Closing out the week and our warmer settled weather is put temporarily on hold (unfortunately) because it looks like a low is building, squeezing itself between the high pressure that was promised, to give an unsettled end to the week. (sorry) This low will ramp up the winds over Scotland, the north-west of England and Ireland for a time on Friday and of course it’ll bring rain. This rain will have moved into and across Ireland overnight into Friday and into the south coast of England and central Scotland, so a potentially wet start for the day for most (‘cept for a band between where it’ll be initially dry). This rain will push quickly northwards clearing the south of England by late morning and then reluctantly sit over Scotland to give a very wet end to the week there. The good news is this low isn’t going to hang about.

So how’s the weekend looking ?, in a word better.

As that low slinks away over the weekend, it’ll still give some rain over Scotland and the north west of England, but this will die out over Saturday to leave a more settled picture. Further west over Ireland and south of this rain into England and Wales, it’ll be a much nicer day, settled with light winds and hazy sunshine. Temperatures should build nicely into the high teens, so lovely really. There maybe more in the way of cloud cover for Ireland and western parts of the U.K on Sunday, but save for some light rain touching the west coast of Leinster and Connacht, it looks a dry picture for all of the U.K and Ireland for Sunday as high pressure begins to build.

Weather Outlook

High pressure looks to be set to build on that nice weather from the weekend to give a calm and dry start to next week for all areas except the far north east of Scotland where that low pressure is still slow to clear. Elsewhere we look to have a very stable week with an Atlantic high pressure firmly in charge so that means dry and warm, with heat building through the week for most places. Initially in the north it’ll be cooler, but this will change as we progress through the week so be patient and nice weather will come to you as well.

 Agronomic Notes

Pesticide Availability – Do as I say not as I do…

We are as an industry subject to ever-increasing legislation courtesy of the E.U and with the recent introduction of CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging Legislation – live today), REACH (The Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and of course the E.U Thematic Strategy for pesticides, the effects of this legislation is starting to filter down into our industry. We saw this a week or so ago with the withdrawal of Chlorpyrifos, we also know Imidachloprid’s days appear numbered and that the best fungicides we currently have available for Microdochium control (Triazoles) are under the spotlight.

So it’s the same for every country in Europe isn’t it ?, after all we are in the E.U (currently)

Well no it isn’t and what I’m seeing is that in some countries in Europe, their range of available products for the control of pest and pathogens is actually increasing, despite everything I said above. So they’re working under the effects of the same legislation, but their situation is different to ours, why is this ?

Well the answer is lobbying, communication and interaction with the legislators, the countries that are on the upward curve are doing this job far better than we are.

Take Germany and Austria for example. Both have very well-organised, Greenkeeping Federations with a strong and professional emphasis on education. Well so do we, we have BIGGA and the IOG to represent us. So what is different over in Germany and Austria ?

The difference is that their education extends to the legislators, so they have consistent, well-organised, interaction with the people responsible for legislating on their industry. They have a well-funded, central research program clearly aimed at showing the efficacy and environmental benefits of managed-amenity turf and using this research they are able to prove the case for products they need to manage their turf. The same is true in Scandinavia with S.T.E.R.F. If you haven’t heard of STERF, they are and I quote “A research foundation that supports existing and future R&D efforts and delivers ‘ready-to-use research results’ that benefit the Nordic golf sector. STERF was set up in 2006 by the golf federations in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and the Nordic Greenkeepers’ Associations”

If you go on their website you’ll see for example that they have done some excellent work on fungicide leaching into the environment and have demonstrated which A.I’s are less susceptible to leaching and so safer to use in terms of environmental exposure. Have a look here

So what’s my point ?

My point is that in the U.K, we lack a clear industry body that communicates effectively to our legislators. We have the Amenity Forum, which is doing a good job within the resources it has available, but it does not have centrally-coordinated and targeted research to back up its arguments.

We simply don’t have an central research program dedicated to support our industry, instead we have a disjointed approach with minimal interest from BIGGA and the IOG, as far as I can see. Until we fundamentally change this approach, we are a sitting duck for the legislators, mark my words.

Turf Appearance

I’m getting a lot of reports of off-colour turf at present with a mottled appearance, especially true on fine turf areas. This is hardly surprising when you look at the up and down nature of the weather in May (see below) and the run of cold nights that has extended right up to the beginning of June this year. So we have the many different biotypes of Poa annua, some growing, some not, some seeding, some not and of course they appear differently across the turf. When an annual Poa plant is seeding, it is putting most of its efforts into seed production, so we see a paler leaf colour, wider leaf and poor vigour. Even if nutrient is available, this biotype won’t be too keen on taking it up, whereas a perennial Poa plant sitting next to it is likely to be producing less seed and so will appear greener and healthier. If your green or turf has a mixture of biotypes (as most people have) then you will notice this variability in colour and growth and none more so than at present because of the weather. In particular since the beginning of March we have had a trough pattern in the jet stream pulling down cold air from the Arctic and this has impacted on growth in general (we know we are behind 2014). One feature of this weather pattern has been the cold nights, I mean look at last night, here we were down to 4°C until the cloud cover arrived, you can clearly see this on Meteoturf with the sharp contrast between day and night temperatures.


The good news is that our night temperatures are set to pick up and give us a much more consistent growth pattern so my advice is let the low move off in the early part of this week and squeeze in a light feed with iron mid-week before the rain at the end of the week and this should take out that mottled effect nicely. In Scotland the ever-persistent rain and wind will make it difficult to find a spray window so perhaps here it’s better waiting till next week and the arrival of high pressure (I’m confident)

The year so far from a growth perspective…

So where do we stand when we look at the first 5 months of 2015 vs. 2015 ?

Well I’ve used the stats for The Oxfordshire as a starter..


We can see that May 2015 was a so-so month, with on average 30% less growth in total than last May, if you compare the stats above. We also know were running about 14 days behind 2014 in terms of cumulative GDD at the end of April, so have we caught up in May ?

Well no, in fact we have slipped further behind. Look at the graph below and you can see that we reached the same growth point at the end of May 2015 as we did on the 11th of May in 2014, so that means we are just under 3 weeks behind last year at the end of May.


An analysis of the growth patterns of both years shows the following ;


You can clearly see that in 2014 there was more growth through the month and it reached higher levels more consistently.

I plan to update the GDD information later today hopefully if I get time as I have some good stats from other areas of the U.K and Ireland to add. You’ll receive an update message later to this effect.

Pathogen Activity

Lots of Microdochium doing the rounds last week following on from the previous weeks mild weather and then rainfall. Some of it has scarred the surface but with the more promising forecast I think we will see good recovery from this outbreak with some light brushing, verticutting (to remove the dead tissue) and a topdress. With moisture and temperature we can expect to see more in the way of Fairy Ring activity and likely some Waitea Patch as well.

GDD Data Update

This evening I’ve collated the Irish GDD data painstakingly compiled by Aine (Cheers me dears) comparing 2015 with 2014. In addition I’ve also looked at 3 sites across the U.K (Cheers Sean, Adrian and James) and compared their 2015 data with 2014.




All the best..

Mark Hunt