Monthly Archives: August 2015

August 24th


Hi All.

No sooner had I posted a picture of my massive Leicestershire Puffball last week than I was greeted with a “Mines bigger than yours” scenario from my Motherland (Danemark)


No contest I’ll admit size-wise, but judging by the impish look on the wee lads face I think the temptation to give it a swift boot is the same wherever you are 🙂 Tusind Tak Russell !!!!


Some pretty earth-shattering news reached me over the weekend that the Met Office has lost the BBC Weather Forecasting contract. Firstly I’d like to categorically deny that I am leaving my present position to take up a post at the BBC (Thanks to one of my erstwhile colleagues for that suggestion – wishful thinking eh Mr Dave Howells of Telford in a Father Ted / Golden Cleric type voice 🙂 ??), but I have to admit I probably share the same amount of hair and dress sense as the above 🙂 🙂

On a more serious note it will be interesting to see who the BBC turn to for their forecasting information as I understand they are out to tender. I’m also led to believe that the Met Office possess some of the most powerful forecasting computers available. As an ill-informed outsider I think the BBC may have thrown the baby out with the bath water in pursuit of budget, but then we see that a lot in this modern world don’t we ?

On the flipside it could be that they’re looking to modernise their offering and for me in the days of smart phones and tablets, their output is behind the times. Whether this is the fault of the Beeb or the Met Office, I don’t know.

Yesterday whilst out walking in the mountains of The Cevenne, I relied totally on the accuracy of Meteoblue for their rain radar and forecasting and came across a number of French people who benefited from it as well. (They were worried about the risk of lightning)

With 4G now more widespread enabling quicker downloads of weather data I think companies who have anticipated this technology trend like Meteoblue and yR will possibly win out over the more institutionalised offerings, time will tell.

Ok enough of the speculation and onto this week. This unsettled weather sets the theme because  all things fungal have been coming out of the woodwork since last week’s blog with the onset of rain, high humidity and high overnight temperatures.

General Weather Forecast

Last week I talked about a Bay of Biscay low pressure that was set to influence Sunday and Mondays weather and not only does it indeed look to be making an appearance but its effect will last a good chunk of this week which means we’ll see out August wet and cooler. Out here in The Cevenne, France, it is the same, with heavy rain on the horizon !


So Monday starts off with that southern rain already into the south coast, whilst additional rain fronts are across Donegal and Eastern Scotland. It’s that southern rain that poses the most issues potentially because during the morning it becomes heavier along the coast and pushes slowly northwards affecting all areas up to The Pennine’s by close of play Monday. At present the worst of the rain looks south coast and possibly south east / east coast of England-orientated, but this could change during the day. West of this across Wales, you look to have a dry start but that rain will just kiss South Wales before moving up into The Valleys, shouldn’t be too bad though. For Ireland, you look to have a dry day after that rain in Donegal moves away, but for Scotland the east coast looks to keep the rain for the day. With an east wind blowing it’ll be much cooler than the muggy temperatures late last week and over the weekend so high teens will be the order of the day.

Overnight into Tuesday and that rain clears England, but stubbornly sits over north-east Scotland overnight and into the early hours of Tuesday. During Tuesday morning however two separate pulses of heavy run push up from the south west reaching Kerry and Cornwall / Devon mid-morning. Again this rain could be very heavy along the south coast early afternoon and with Mondays saturated soil, I expect flooding here for sure. So this rain pushes north east across Ireland and the U.K during the course of Tuesday again reaching up to The Pennines later in the day. That rain over north east Scotland spends another day in situ, so wet up there as well. The wind will swing round to the south west for Tuesday and freshen so wet and windy will be the order of the day for sure and again cool in those strong, blustery winds.

By mid-week we have a repeat of Tuesday’s heavy rain pulses so again expect heavy rain pushing into Kerry and Cornwall / Devon early doors Wednesday and then moving north eastwards, If anything this rain looks heavier than Tuesday’s and at present a line drawn up the M5 to The Wash is in the firing line, as is the south coast again, sorry for you guys down there. By late morning that Irish rain front is across Northern Ireland to leave sunshine and showers behind across The Republic. It has also moved into north west Scotland by late morning and here it’ll join up with the north east rain front to give a wet end to Wednesday across all of Scotland. Further south that rain quickly pushes through to leave sunshine behind but the south east may hold onto that rain through the afternoon and into the evening as will the west coast of Ireland and north west Scotland. Temperatures will be mid-high teens in the rain, but afterwards when the sun breaks through they’ll rise into the low twenties and that may cause some issues agronomically.

For Thursday, we have a slightly drier outlook with a dry start to the day for many areas away from the west coasts. There will still be plenty of rain showers around principally affecting the west coastline of the U.K and Ireland to a lesser extent a.m. By the afternoon that rain will slowly push inland from the coasts of Ireland and the U.K to bring lighter rain to western areas and again into the south west of England. Brighter by the afternoon though between those showers or longer spells of rain so by the evening most areas should be dry and sunny with the last of Thursday’s rain sitting over The Lakes and The Western Isles. Cooler for Thursday with disappointing temperatures for late August, mid teens, maybe a tad higher if you see the sun and still with a moderate to strong south westerly wind calling the shots.

Closing out the week we have a better picture with a lot of areas starting out and staying dry for the majority of Friday, but of course there is a caveat 🙁 Yes you guessed it, the western coastlines of Ireland and the U.K look to stay unsettled with frequent rain fronts pushing in during the course of the day. Again later in the morning we see those showers push inland across Ireland, Wales and the western half of the U.K and Scotland in particular. So eastern and south eastern counties may stay dry for the whole of Friday and it’ll be sunnier with temperatures lifting into the high teens here. Elsewhere mid to high teens will be the order of the day and winds will be more westerly in nature.

So after a wet, cool and windy week is the weekend looking anyway better ??

Saturday looks to be a drier day for many with only some rain pushing into the south west of Ireland and England during the afternoon / evening a potential blot on the landscape. Clearer skies at the start of Saturday but cloud will push in quickly to give a dullish sort of day unfortunately, but it will feel warmer than Friday with a muggy nineteen – low twenties in the south east. Overnight that south west rain becomes heavier and moves into Wales and the south east of England, but it soon fizzles out because it looks like the wind will swing eastwards on Sunday and this will turn the tables rainfall-wise. That is to say rain is likely to push in to the east on warmer, humid air from the continent and this may mean it’ll be accompanied by thunderstorms and lightning 🙁

Weather Outlook

Tricky one for the start of next week because we still have a low pressure in place and currently it’s projected to be sitting just off the west coast of Ireland so that means the windy and rain theme may well continue for the western side of the U.K and Ireland of course on Monday with the east drier. The boot quickly moves to the other foot though as that low is projected to move eastwards so the rain and cooler weather may follow it on Tuesday, which means drier for the west and wetter and cooler for the east. The temperatures won’t be anything to shout about initially because the winds will briefly shift northwards on Tuesday introducing a chilly feel to the weather in central and eastern parts. For the west it could be warmer on Tuesday and that rise in temperatures will follow to all areas by the 2nd part of Wednesday as high pressure comes onto the scene. Calm and settled for Thursday for most areas but there’s a risk of a new Atlantic low popping up to bring rain into Ireland later on next week. So potentially the start and finish of the week may be unsettled in the west with a warmer intermission between them. For the east it looks like that high pressure will stay in situ, but whether it will dominate into September as it normally does is a different matter.

Agronomic Notes

A lot to talk about this week with the combination of high temperature, rainfall and humidity really ramping up disease pressure. I’d like to tip a nod to last weeks blog when I suggested this would be the case.

One of the key drivers to disease is high overnight temperatures and humidity and you can see from this late night shot of my weather station last week that we had plenty of this…..


Cause and Effect…

So we have identified a set of parameters that are likely to cause high disease pressure, but it’s not that straight-forward is it, life seldom is…Some people will and have said to me that they have sprayed before the onset of this elevated disease pressure and yet they have still seen disease activity, in particular mycelium of Microdochium and Dollar Spot. So why is this ?

Well we have talked about this before during periods of the year when the weather is really driving disease pressure and no doubt we will talk about it again…

Fungicide = Fungiostat

A modern day fungicide is likely to exert a regulatory effect on the speed of population growth of a pathogen so if the pathogen is growing slowly it restricts the rate of growth to a point where it is no longer damaging to the grass plant. In truth this is more accurately described as a fungiostatic mode of action rather than a fungicidal one, because the latter implies killing the fungus (‘cid’ from latin means to kill I think)

Why is this definition important ? Well because when we have climatic conditions driving disease development, sometimes the rate of fungal growth due to high temperature / humidity combinations effectively out-paces the regulatory effect of the applied fungicide. So in essence when you have applied a fungicide that you know is effective and you still see symptoms of disease activity, sometimes this is because the rate of fungal growth is faster than the suppression effect exerted by the pesticide. When the weather / climatic conditions decline (and in our climate they are usually short-lived) then you start to see more effective suppression of the disease.

Of course it isn’t always the case that the above is the only reason why we still see disease activity after applying a pesticide, sometimes it is because there is a lag in terms of uptake. I saw a really graphical illustration of this during July / August, not with a fungicide, but with a selective herbicide.

In July, I sprayed a patch of weeds on a neighbour’s lawn with what I knew to be a very good selective herbicide. I tank mixed in a feed and an iron as well, the former to facilitate uptake. It was very dry and surprisingly to me I saw no effect at all even when we’d had some rain. I thought about repeating the application but in the meantime we had another bout of rain, this time heavy. The effect on the weed was amazing as obviously now it had the opportunity to grow and it was only then that the selective kicked in and the weed died out, some 6 weeks after initial application.

The take home message here particularly with selective herbicides is that if the weeds and grass aren’t growing, don’t expect to see a quick hit, however you may end up seeing one much later in the season if conditions work in favour of growth and therefore uptake.

When we come to fungicides I’m sure sometimes the same is true because much is written about modes of action, but little is actually known in  terms of how these translate to the actual scenario of managed-amenity turf, particularly when you’re cutting at 3mm daily.

So let us look at some disease scenarios occurring at present…

Microdochium nivale (Formerly and often called Fusarium)

Plenty of this about with the combination of high night temperatures, rainfall and humidity and with the forecast of another very unsettled week for some areas you can expect this one to run and run. The problem here is do you spray a systemic + contact combination now to knock it on the head and use up one of your effective autumn sprays in late August a month before the main autumn disease period ? As is often the case there is no right or wrong answer.

One option is to spray a contact only (But not a protectant note) and if the formulation allows, tank mix this with some available nutrient to ensure you have uptake of the active (by stimulating growth) In these cooler temperatures, that nutrient should be more ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate based and you don’t need a lot of it. (5-7kg of N per hectare)

I’d always suggest tank mixing iron as well with this mix because we know the acidification and drying action of some (but not all) forms of iron suppresses disease activity.

The other is the ‘belt and braces’ approach of spraying a systemic and contact combination but for me if you have an acceptable growth rate and are therefore actively growing out the disease then perhaps you should keep your powder dry till you really need this approach (End of September)

Of course you must be the judge of this and your situation will dictate which size hat fits, if you have regulated your turf for example and it isn’t growing much then the chances are the disease will definitely have the upper hand.

Red Thread & Dollar Spot

Now here’s an example of two diseases, the activity of which is definitely affected by PGR usage. Last week I looked at some tee areas which because of poor irrigation design (I see that a lot) were very dry and had poor grass cover. The superintendent had also applied a PGR at 1 litre per hectare as was his usual practice, however with the benefit of hindsight this was a mistake because the turf areas were truly rammed with Red Thread, much more than I’d ever seen. For sure regulating your turf with a PGR will definitely increase the activity of foliar pathogens like Red Thread and Dollar Spot, if climatic conditions are conducive for their development. Much better for me to let the grass plant naturally grow it out and you decrease the level of mycelium by clipping removal.

I can hear the shouts of “Rubbish” and “Humbug” from those of you who have shares in TE, but unless you are maintaining a turf with higher pesticide inputs or where disease levels are naturally low I think using healthy plant growth to grow out disease is an effective strategy for these two diseases. So if in doubt, grow it out……

Before I leave Dollar Spot, I had a nice piece of anecdotal evidence to this effect from a good friend of mine (Ta Adam) showing some really aggressive Dollar Spot on a bowling green.


He remarked that if the grass growth on green was healthy then it typically showed little disease even without spraying, but if it was put under stress (drought = lack of moisture = lack of nitrogen) then the green would show aggressive Dollar Spot activity.

Will it or won’t it  / Is it or isn’t it active ????


Sometimes when you look at disease activity it is difficult to tell whether it is active or not so here is a tip…

Take a sample from the affected area ideally on the edge of the disease patch (because the fungus is growing outwards) and put it in a sealed plastic bag or sample jar overnight. To help promote disease development, give it a nice misting spray before you do so.

Note – I got a great ‘Mister’ free of charge recently with a bottle of Girvan’s finest Hendrick’s Gin, if ever there was an incentive to drink G & T’s, this was it for me 🙂 !!!!!!!

The above picture shows a sample of Dollar Spot which had this treatment and you can clearly see the formation of mycelium on the plant tissue so it is active and if conditions conspire it will continue to cause plant damage.



I am seeing some activity out there, in the above case the image is of Foliar Blight Anthracnose on one area of fine turf. What was different about this area ? Well it was a raised, dry area of a green that had dried out during the hot, dry, high E.T days of July and because the plant was under stress it had fallen victim to this pathogen.

With the heavy rain forecast for this week in some places I expect to see an increase in Anthracnose activity, but more Basal Rot than Foliar blight. I hope you heeded the warnings in July, however if you have signs of activity, I’d suggest applying a granular rather than foliar fertiliser because undoubtedly this will be more effective during the coming weeks wet and unsettled weather, plus you’ll be able to apply it more easily than a liquid !!!

High Temperature and Humidity = Rhizoctonia

It isn’t often I see an image that makes me stop in my tracks and think hmmmm, but such was the case last week when I got this pic from hyper-fit Alex (Cheers matey)


This image was from a football pitch but the last time I saw something like it was back in 1997 in the south west of England. ( In that case it was on a green ) This looks to be Rhizoctonia Solani and is a disease that is really driven by humidity and temperature together. Interestingly in the notes on the disease from the U.S, they also think it’s activity is encouraged by the over-use of organic fertilisers.

Algae / Squidge


I’ve had a number of texts / emails showing Black Algae colonising areas of turf and queries relating to treatment. Obviously it’s there because the areas are wet consistently at present and also because they may have thinned during summer stress (but not always). In the old days Daconil showed some activity on this phenomenon but personally I think you’re best approach if possible is to lightly aerate and topdress to naturally dry the area out. That said with this week’s forecast it may well predominate I’m afraid.

If any of you have had success treating with iron or anything else for that matter, please email me or drop a comment in.


Ok that’s all for this week, bit of a mammoth blog, my apologies

All the best.

Mark Hunt



August 17th


Hi All,

After a pretty wet end to last week, we’ve had a quiet weekend and as predicted equally quiet start to this week. Last Thursday’s rain arrived in the form of thunderstorms in the south east and a band of heavy rain that pushed up country. I watched it on the radar through Thursday evening because I’m sad like that 🙂 You can see from the image below that we actually dodged a bullet because there was some torrential downpours that just missed the east coast of England. Nevertheless I understand the south coast coped it badly as predicted in last week’s blog.


Was out walking in the beautiful Welland Valley yesterday and came across this whopping Puffball, itpuffball‘s the biggest I’ve seen and after managing to stop the lads from using it as a football I took this quick pic. I apologise for the pasty looking leg and 1930’s sock style but trendiness and me don’t share the same pie chart 🙂

It reminded me how the arrival of rain after the recent dry spell has stimulated fungal activity and no doubt a lot of you are seeing the effects of this on your facilities in one form or another.

So looking ahead are we back to dry weather and will this unsettled theme continue ?

General Weather Situation

This week we have a quiet start before an Atlantic low pushes in to give the north and west rainfall, however the east doesn’t escape the rain either. As usual it may be the centre of the country that stays the driest.


We start the week with a quiet, settled and largely dry picture over the U.K and Ireland. The blot on the landscape and there’s always one isn’t there, is an area of rain currently affecting South Munster and Leinster. This will slowly move north through the morning but stop in a line across from Galway Bay and slowly clear from the south of Ireland through the afternoon. Elsewhere we have a dry picture with light winds and hazy sunshine, a lovely start to the week really. Temperatures should be high teens to low twenties and there should be some nice spells of sunshine this morning before cloud cover moves across from the west. There is another potential rain area kicking about though and this is a strange one as it’s projected to move into the east coast of England overnight into Tuesday.

So for Tuesday we have that area of rainfall projected to affect Norfolk and Suffolk from the early hours so a soggy start to the day in this area. This rain front will consolidate and affect more northerly and southerly locations on the east coast and at the same time move inland so by late afternoon you’ll see rain from Kent right up to Aberdeenshire, but confined to the east coast and eastern side of the country. How far inland it spreads is of course a bit of a lottery because this is continental rainfall, but at present it looks like it may just reach up to a line drawn up from London, the east side of Birmingham and Leeds. West of this rain we have another calm, dry and settled day with more in the way of sunshine for Ireland, especially in the afternoon / evening. Winds will be a little stronger and from the north west so this will hold temperatures down to the high teens in most places, maybe a little higher in the sun and out of the wind.

By Wednesday we start to see the first effect of that Atlantic low pushing rain into south west Munster. Across to the east of the U.K and that rain is still affecting the eastern coastline and the further north you go, the further inland it has moved so the central and eastern side of Scotland looks to be wet overnight whereas the west will miss this particularly chunk of rain. Between the two we are dry for the morning, but by lunchtime that rain front although not progressing much further across Ireland than between Galway and Wexford is now into the south west of England. By late morning that eastern rainfall has finally cleared but the western rain is now into Wales and moving north east.  East of this rain we will have a nice, sunny day and with a change of wind to the south west, it’ll feel warmer as well with temperatures in the twenties for The Midlands and higher in the south potentially. For Ireland, Wales and the west / north, it’ll be more like high teens in a light to moderate south westerly wind. By close of play Wednesday that rain has pushed into most western locations along the U.K coastline and across Ireland as well though it doesn’t progress much inland of the Severn Estuary.

Overnight into Thursday and that band of rain affecting the west coast gets new impetus and begins to track inland across the U.K, so by the early hours it’s into central U.K and by the rush hour all but the east coast. Through the morning and afternoon this rain slowly tracks eastwards so a potentially wet day for Thursday for all areas even if amounts won’t necessarily be that heavy. Wet means dull, so temperatures will be down in the areas that saw the sun on Wednesday so high teens the order of the day and again south westerly winds. So for all parts of Ireland and the U.K except the far eastern coasts I think Thursday will be wet and dull 🙁

Closing out the week that band of rain clears leaving behind a very unsettled, showery theme in its place early doors. As we reach Friday morning rush hour the showers will decrease in intensity and become confined to western coasts, the south west, west Wales and Ireland. Through the morning these will die out leaving a rain band affecting the north east coast as the only significant rainfall on the chart. So south and east of this rain Friday looks drier than Thursday and a little milder with temperatures touching the high teens / low twenties.

Onto the weekend and how are we looking ?

Not bad for Saturday although Ireland looks to be in line for sunshine and showers type day, particularly p.m. For the U.K it looks predominantly dry at first but there’s a twist because we have another Bay of Biscay low forming and if you remember last time this happened a few weeks back, it pushed rain up from the continent in bands. So for the latter part of Saturday it looks cloudier with a high risk of rainfall for the south east of England into Saturday night / Sunday morning. Sunday looks potentially wet and though there’s some disagreement where the bulk of this rainfall will fall I think we all stand a chance of seeing some rain on Sunday, maybe more so in the south west and west, but because it’s coming up from the continent it’ll move across the south coast first.

Weather Outlook

So with an unsettled close to the weekend, how is next week looking ? Well not too bad but for me there’s a question mark on how and where this southerly low will move and with it rainfall. Currently the projections are showing the rain should stay south of the U.K and Ireland in the main with high pressure keeping the low away from us after Sunday / Monday’s potential rainfall. So with maybe some rain at the start of the week I think from Tuesday we will go drier across all parts with light winds and pleasant temperatures. That should be the order of things to later in the week when I think another continental low will push in to bring further rainfall for the south and east in particular later in the week.

Agronomic Notes


With heavy rainfall falling on warm, dry ground (for the central and southern U.K) it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a sharp increase in disease activity from Friday morning with numerous reports of Microdochium coming in. With Friday being a dull, wet and overcast day with humidity levels in the high 80%, it was ideal for the development of disease and particularly Microdochium. Thankfully the drier weather over the weekend should have lowered its activity level but I expect it to be a bit of a continuing feature from now on as we go through the latter part of August with the potential for more rainfall on the horizon.

The question is whether you spray or not , though I expect this question will most likely have been answered already. Although I like to keep fungicide applications to a minimum it’s important to stop the Microdochium population establishing in August because if it does it has a nasty habit of sitting in the background through this month and increasing the disease pressure going into late September / October.

Growth Flush

One factor in your favour though that is also a consequence of the arrival of heavy rain is the amount of growth stimulated by this event. I’m sure we’d have had a significant amount of N in the rainfall (I did take a sample), particularly where you got thunder and lightning with it (south east mainly). So I anticipate a strong flush of growth over the weekend and most likely this morning you’re coming into work to see a pronounced growth hike on all areas courtesy of the N input along with some disease activity. It’s not just the nitrogen in the rain that is stimulating growth, we also have higher soil moisture levels making soil nutrient more available and a likely increase in microbial conversion of organic N into mineral N. If this is the case I’m sure your clip rate will be growing the disease out (or disease scarring) as quickly as it came in so hopefully any disruption to the surface is temporary. and you may not have had to spray.

Etiolated Growth

As discussed last week the arrival of moisture, high humidity and rainfall has stimulated a good deal of this phenomenon but I hope some dry cuts and more settled weather will peg it back. No comments on anything slowing down its effect from you guys so we can only hope that the research in the U.S yields some answers because we’re struggling at present.

Dollar Spot

Normally we don’t see a lot of this pathogen in the U.K (and especially Ireland) with it more confined to the south west and south coast of England in my experience. That said it does pop up particularly on lighter soil type sites, on pitches and golf course tees / approaches and fairways. Normally the pattern is we see a small amount of activity in late June / early July, but this then declines during the summer heat until the weather breaks and heavy morning dew and higher humidity levels kick in. We often then see a resurgence in its activity with widespread fungal mycelium.

This is particularly the case on the continent where I think the more stable weather patterns tend to promote the activity of this pathogen. So with rain over the last 3 days across Germany, Austria and Switzerland accompanied by high humidity and lower night temperatures and this following some record dry spells / high temperatures I think you’ll see an increase in Dollar Spot activity.

One of the best ways of combating this pathogen on outfield areas is to literally grow it out because in my experience its effect is primarily foliar in nature. So you want an un-regulated grass plant and very good N levels to literally stimulate growth and physically remove the mycelium by mowing. The image below left (cheers Chris) shows a fairway affected by Dollar Spot in early September 2014 and the same fairway 2 weeks later after receiving a good hit of granular N and no fungicide of course because of cost and in some countries regulations forbidding the application of fungicides to outfield areas.


Please keep me posted if you’ve noted Dollar Spot activity on your site by dropping an email to me at


Quiet (ish) still on this front though I’m getting more and more reports of activity, principally Basal Rot and with the rainfall of late last week I suggest you continue to keep your eyes peeled. That said all the advice from a few weeks back still hold true – Keep nutrition ‘little, but often’, and ensure good surface moisture movement by light aeration and topdressing. One another feature to keep an eye on is Anthracnose occurring ‘off green’ and then being walked onto the green by foot traffic.


This was quite a common phenomenon last year and if you do encounter it I suggest aerating the affected area, overseeding with a non-affected species like Ryegrass / Fescue and topdressing to lower the risk in future.

GDD Comparison

A bit late this month owing to various summer holiday’s but we should be back on track at the end of this month 🙂


The graph above depicting the daily GDD for July highlights the heat at the beginning of the month and the variable nature of the daily temperature thereafter. It also shows the temperature drop-off at the end of July which co-incided with heavy rain.


Year to date you can see that we are still lagging behind previous years in terms of the total GDD and that July 2015 was a lower GDD month than 2014. That’s why we haven’t got as high a risk of Anthracnose foliar blight and more of a risk of Basal Rot because high temperatures = increased plant stress = Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

Ok that’s all for now, but don’t forget to drop me a comment or email if you’re seeing Dollar Spot activity as it’s a pathogen I’m interested in.

All the best.


Mark Hunt




On some sites and particularly on the continent where they have endured a prolonged heatwave, the arrival of moisture is sure to kick off




August 10th


Hi All,

This time last year we were sitting looking at a trough in the jet stream that resulted in August 2014 being a cool wet month with frequent rain and low temperatures. This August so far has been a mixed bag, cool and wet for the west and north, but in central and southern regions we are dry once again however that may change this week with the formation of a low pressure system to the south of the U.K later in the week. If this forms as predicted it’ll be a case of role reversal with the south copping the rain and the north missing a lot of it…but we’ll see as continental rain is a fickle beast at times..What’s for sure is that August 2015 will see more troughs in the jet stream just like prior years so cooler and wetter is the prognosis going forward.

General Weather Situation

So for the start of Monday we have rain fronts pushing into the south west of Ireland, England and Wales and along the north west coast including Scotland. This is already giving heavy rain in these areas and this rain is set to move diagonally north-eastwards across the respective countries through the morning so a wet start to the week for Ireland, Wales, the south-west of England and the west coast. By late morning more rain will have pushed into the west of Scotland and moved into central Scotland. Further south the rain pushes inland but will principally affect a line northwards of and along the M5 up to The Wash so just skirting south of Birmingham. By late afternoon the rain will have cleared most of Ireland save for Donegal, but will be entrenched across all of Scotland and the north of England. The south east will sit dry for most of the day with just the risk of an odd shower pushing into the south of England. Temperatures will be variable, mid-high teens in the rain and low twenties in the south of the U.K. Winds will principally be from the south west / west and light to moderate in nature.

By Tuesday this rain will have cleared all but the far north-east of Scotland and northern Highlands to leave a dry picture over all of Ireland and the the U.K. Initially dull with heavy cloud cover in the north, this will break through the day to give some longer spells of sunshine and pleasant temperatures, high teens in Scotland and low twenties in the south. Winds will be lighter than Monday so a good spraying day for anyone considering it.

Overnight into Wednesday this is when things start to get a bit tricky to forecast because we have a continental low pressure forming in the Bay of Biscay and this will push moist air up into the south of England from mid-week onwards. Early Wednesday morning there’s a risk of some rain pushing into the south coast of the U.K and possible the far south east, but it’s one to watch closer to the time. For the rest of the U.K and Ireland we have another pleasant summers day with warm temperatures possibly pushing into the mid-twenties in the south and high teens for Ireland, the north west and Scotland. The wind will again be light but the warmer air in the south is due to a switch round in the wind to the east which heralds the arrival of the Bay of Biscay low pressure for Thursday.

So overnight into Thursday is when life gets interesting as that low pressure system pushes heavy rain into the south west of England and along the south coast. Now with warm air sitting over us and moisture pushing in, I think this is likely to mean some thundery outbreaks through Thursday as the two air masses meet. By the Thursday morning rush hour that rain looks to be pushing up to The Midlands with the heaviest bursts over Wales and the south west of England. Ireland should miss the worst of it but you never know with this type of rain event if it’ll swing westwards and push into south east Leinster / Munster. Further north away from this southern rain front, it’ll be dry and pleasant with warm hazy sunshine, your turn to have some nice weather whilst others have the rain 🙂 Throughout Thursday the rain is set to slowly push northwards and at this stage the heaviest rain is projected to be a band up from The Isle of Wight across Bristol and into South Wales. By Thursday evening some of that rain may just be into the east coast of Ireland and The Lake District / Borders, but all areas look to be getting more than a drop with 20mm+ threatened along the south coast.

What you’ll see if you’re using Weathercheck is that the daily projected amounts for Thursday and Friday will change almost hourly as we get closer to the rain event because they have more idea where the rain is actually going. Winds will again be easterly, perhaps with a sniff of north-easterly for a time so a cooler feel to Thursday with high teens the order of the day in the south of England. Ireland may finish damp along the eastern coasts as we move into Friday.140815MB

Overnight into Friday that rain won’t have left us as the low pressure system sits off the north east coast of England. So we expect another unsettled day for Friday with some heavy bands of rain swirling across the U.K, with rain right from the early hours for Scotland as well. Right is an image of how it looks for the start of Friday and you can clearly see the swirls of rain pushing anti-clockwise across the U.K. This rain will push north through the day reaching Scotland by and at this stage it looks like the west and east coasts will get the bulk of it as it does so. Ireland as you can see from the graphic should miss most of this rain but it all depends on where and how the low pressure tracks. By close of play Friday the rain is confined to a line stretching up the east coast from The Humber to The Shetlands. Again cooler in that easterly air flow so high teens the order of the day for Friday.

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

Well not too bad actually with Saturday looking a little cloudy and unsettled in the north west, particularly over Scotland where it’ll be dull and cool with low teens disappointing for August 🙁 Further south we look to have a reasonable day but like the north it’ll be on the cool side with only mid to high teens likely. It does look dry on the whole though with light westerly winds.

Sunday is looking a better day as high pressure asserts itself and pushes that low away. So a little more in the way of sunshine and temperature but only touching twenty degrees in the far south. To the west and north and over Ireland, expect high teens but crucially dry in light westerly winds.

Weather Outlook

Another tricky one to forecast because of the battle between high and low pressure. Monday looks like being the quietest day of the week with light winds and cool temperatures, but crucially dry for most areas with just a risk of some light rain crossing the west and south of the U.K. By Tuesday we have another intense Atlantic low pressure system set to swing in though there’s some disagreement in the models as to how this may manifest itself in terms of how far south it comes. Presently it looks like the low will begin to affect Ireland and the west coastline of the U.K on Tuesday with increasing winds and rain before it pushes across eastwards to bring more rain and wind to the U.K as a whole. As always with an Atlantic low it’ll be the west and north that receive the majority of wind and rain so an unsettled week on the cards after Monday. For the south and south east it should be drier on the whole but staying on the cool side everywhere as that low pressure systems forms another trough in the jet stream, par for the course now for August it seems. So I’d expect mid-teens in the rain-affected areas and up to twenty in the south and south east next week.

Agronomic Notes

It’s sometimes tricky to write this blog knowing that say the north and west have endured a pretty wet last two weeks whereas the central and south of England has been dry and warm with some pretty high E.T figures over the last few days. Saturday hit 26.5°C here in The Midlands and was still low twenties going into the evening. One size hat doesn’t fit all in for sure but I hope you can bear with me this week when I try to cram you all into the same one ! 🙂

Anthracnose Basal Rot Alert


Looking at the diverse weather patterns we have had this summer (heat early in July, wet end to July, wet for the north and west in August and dry for central and southern areas of the U.K) I think we are likely to see more in the way of Anthracnose Basal Rot this year rather than the Foliar Blight. With this in mind it is key that good aeration practices are adhered to in order to keep surface drainage functioning and allow the rootzone to breath. Oxygen is key to turfgrass growth and there is simply no substitute to punching holes in surfaces that allow growth-limiting gases like hydrogen sulphide to escape and for this to be replaced with oxygen. Remember call it ‘venting’ rather than aerating to keep the masses happy 🙂

With heavy rainfall it is very easy for areas to be hypoxic (oxygen limited) and this in turn will reduce the ability of the grass plant to grow so having a rootzone that can cope with rainfall and ensuring you have light channels (ideally filled with sand) through the surface organic matter layer is crucial. Grasses that are growing in a low oxygen environment don’t often show symptoms till it’s too late. Fertilising alone could actually make the situation worse as the grass plant tries to take up more oxygen in order to support the growth initiated by the fertiliser application but is unable to do so because there are insufficient levels in the rootzone. So my first advice whether you’ve had wet weather and have a dry week this week or are dry and expecting rain this week is aerate and topdress to keep the surface functioning.

Cool Weather Nutrition

The second issue is more nutritionally-orientated. Looking at this week and next we can see that temperatures will be cooler than normal for August, although I would argue that this is now the norm for August with the peak of temperature occurring in July. If you have Weathercheck you can clearly see the predicted drop off in growth as the cooler temperatures are set to arrive in both the GDD and G.P graphs shown below ;


So if we do indeed go cool and wet then liquid fertilisers will not give the longevity nor the speed of response, especially if they are summer-orientated analysis with high urea and / or a slow release content. So you have two options depending on how your turf is looking ;

  1. If you have good sward integrity and just want to keep things ticking then I’d look to use a light rate liquid that is more orientated towards lower temperature-available N forms like ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate. As a guide I’d want at 50% of my nitrogen to be derived from this type of nutrient source in water-soluble or liquid form. You’ll want to use iron as well with that application because the cooler air and high rainfall levels will take the colour away quite quickly and my advice would be to apply from Tuesday onwards in the south before the rain arrives and get it into the plant whilst we still have good conditions for uptake.
  2. If you need to push on some growth, recover sward density, etc, often an issue on non-irrigated areas, then I’d be looking to apply a light rate granular product with at least 25% of the nitrogen from ammonium and nitrate sources so you get a good response during the cooler temperatures.

Etiolated Growth

The last issue will be notable I think in the north and west and due to appear once we have rainfall in the central and south areas and that is Etiolated growth.

Etiolated Growth

I noted some newly-published research earlier this year from the USGA because it’s an issue in the U.S on Bentgrass and Poa swards so they are throwing some money at it to try and understand what’s causing it. ($70,000 over 3 years is significant I think !)Etiolation

Last year when I wrote about this subject I suggested that I’d seen and had feedback along the lines that PGR applications of Trinexapac-ethyl (TE) made the phenomenon worse. I received a number of comments that didn’t agree with this observation and in fact suggested that turf showed less etiolation when under the effects of TE than when not. Now it’s interesting because the latest work from the USGA carried out at North Carolina University which you can download here suggests that the effect is indeed exaggerated by applications of TE and their advice is to reduce the frequency of applications of TE if you are affected by the symptom. They also have the luxury of being able to use different classes of PGR’s that affect Gibberellic acid production at different points in the pathway to still gain regulation without the potential side effect of encouraging Etiolated Growth. All well and good ? Well no, because I still don’t think we have the answer and for sure I’ve seen Etiolated Growth on areas of turf that have received no PGR application. Their summary is that more work is required to  isolate the bacteria or fungi that stimulates GA production in grass plants affected by Etiolation.

So if you’re seeing this issue please feel free to drop me a comment either related to TE applications or anything else that you’ve seen that either appears to encourage or better still decrease the severity of the effect.

Ok that’s it for now, have a good week, keep an eye on that rainfall because believe me it will change from today’s forecast !

All the best.

Mark Hunt






August 3rd


Hi All,

Fresh back from Alaska and primed and ready to tap into our lovely summer weather 🙂

A true experience out there, definitive wilderness and so so nice to have no phone or internet ! Had no close encounters with bears you’ll be pleased to hear though one did stalk me when I was fishing a side channel only to return and find fresh bear tracks over my footprints ! Obviously he / she considered me inadequate as a dining partner. (Not for the first time on that front I’d add)


Talking to the guides out there and would you guess, their autumn season is the most changed of the four with warmer weather extending longer into the autumn / winter and then very sharp fluctuations in their weather from warm to cold and vice-versa, sounds familiar doesn’t it ? Their glaciers are also in full retreat with one that I visited likely to disappear in the next 25 years, truly sad as they are simply beautiful.



Ok enough of the holiday snaps and back to the matter in hand…

Current Weather Situation

With no internet out in the wilderness, I was oblivious to the marked change in the weather over here, the high level of rainfall and the cooler temperatures that accompanied it though looking back at my last blog there was a suggestion that this was on the way in the outlook projection.

So after cool temperatures and rainfall followed by what was a lovely weekend for some, how are we looking this week ? ‘Mixed’ is an apt description with the west and north sitting in the path of an Atlantic low and the south and east catching more of the continental warm air flow.

Monday looks to start off as a tale of west and east as westerly coasts across Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland are wet with some of that rain intruding inland across Ireland and particularly Scotland. Through the morning though this rain is set to clear most areas. Away from the wet west, it’s a dry start with hazy sunshine following a warm night. By lunchtime that rain looks to be confined to north west Scotland and The Highlands with an isolated area sitting over Connacht / Donegal as well. Elsewhere it looks to be a lovely warm, sunny day with temperatures pushing up to the low twenties though the cloud cover looks set to last most of the day from The Midlands south. Later in the evening a new rain front looks set to move into the west of Ireland and push potentially heavy rain across Ireland overnight. Winds will be blustery and from the south west across the west and north keeping temperatures down in the mid-high teens.

By dawn on Tuesday this rain is into north west Scotland to give a wet rush hour. Further south we have a repeat of Monday with perhaps more in the way of direct sunshine over the east and south coasts of England. Through the morning that rain pushes into Wales and The Lakes and by the afternoon it’ll reach the north east of England. South of this though it remains dry, bright and sunny with some hazy sunshine across the west as cloud cover is pushed ahead of the rain front. Closing out Tuesday, the rain clears Wales and most of Ireland, but remains in situ over the north of England, Donegal and Scotland. Similar temperatures to Monday with that north,west / south split in the temperature and wind strength.

Moving onto Wednesday we have more rain for Ireland unfortunately as a new front pushes into south west Munster early doors and tracks across country through the morning. There’s rain as well for the north of England, The Lakes and Scotland. And yes further south we carry on blissfully ignorant of the Atlantic low pressure system with nice temperatures and a moderate south-westerly wind direction. By the afternoon some of that rain will push into the south west of England and track eastwards potentially along a line north of the M4, so a more showery end to the day.

Moving onto Thursday, a drier day for most of Ireland beckons, except for the tip of Donegal. Yet again Scotland is set to pick up some heavy rain, particularly along the western coastline. This band of rain looks set to extend all the way up the west coast of the U.K with showers and cloud cover over Devon and Cornwall, the Welsh coast and the north-west of England too. South and east will have another dry day with temperatures picking up into the low twenties, perhaps higher further south. By early evening though the rain clears all areas to leave a fine and settled picture going into Friday.

Friday sees a change in the wind direction from the south west to the north west and this in turn pushes that cooler moist air further south so quite a noticeable drop in temperatures is projected for the south of England. So a duller day for the south and east on Friday, especially for the 2nd half of the day. Light rain and heavy cloud cover is projected for Scotland, with rain showers also projected to move across Ireland during the course of the day accompanied by some chillier winds so feeling cool everywhere with temperatures in the low teens over Ireland and Scotland and mid-teens further south. That change will be quite radical especially over the south where we’ll be looking at an 8°C temperature drop. They’ll also be some scattered showers for the north of England, Midlands and the south possibly later in the day. The only area that will likely hold onto the temperature is the south-east of England which may just make the twenties as it dodges the cooler airstream.

Onto the weekend and another change in the wind direction as it moves westerly and pushes milder air in so an upturn in temperature for all of us. A dry, warm picture over most of the U.K, but for Ireland there’s a risk of a rain front pushing into Connacht and Donegal p.m. on Saturday. This rain front will move east and affect the north-west of Scotland for the 2nd part of Saturday. Sunday looks drier for Ireland and warm to boot, but still a chance of rain over the north-west of Ireland and England for that matter. Further south and east it looks drier and warm again as high pressure begins to push warmer air into the south and west of the U.K. Later in the day there’s a new rain front expected to hit north-west Scotland.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks like starting off in a similar pattern to this week with a west/north vs. south split in the weather. The west and north will come under the influence of an Atlantic low, whereas the south west and south will sit under the influence of high pressure. The demarcation line will be somewhere across The Pennines I think at a guess. So unsettled, cooler and wet initially next week for the west and north, but fear not Ireland and Scotland because high pressure is projected to win this battle and so from Tuesday onwards you should start to see some sunshine, less in the way of rain and some warmth as well. For the south it’ll be a dry and settled week as a split in the jet stream allows warm air to push in and influence our weather for the week.

Agronomic Notes


July 2015 turned out to be an interesting month agronomically-speaking, with a spell of high temperatures accompanied by fierce winds at the beginning of the month. This combination provided some of the highest daily Evapotranspiration (E.T) figures I can recall seeing and undoubtedly kicked off the Anthracnose development cycle (more on that later). At the end of the month, we had the opposite, with a northern air stream driving down temperatures and giving significant amounts of rainfall as well, again this will have served to move on disease development by providing good conditions for mycelial growth. The rainfall was welcome for sure particularly on non-irrigated outfield areas which had been suffering significantly. As usual rainfall bounced these areas back far quicker than irrigation could ever do ! There was also a marked north-south divide as can be seen from the graph below showing growth potential from two different locations ;


This growth difference was even bigger the further north you got with Scotland showing less growth and higher rainfall levels.


I’m focussing on this disease because for some clubs last year it was extremely damaging and the period of surface disruption carried on for a number of months. As intimated above, I referred to the start of July kicking off the Anthracnose cycle and what I mean by that is that the spores need high temperatures to germinate, I’ve seen figures of 25°C quoted and we easily exceeded these at the start of July. Once germinated the fungus develops mycelium which are slow-growing and quite sensitive (like me:)) and therefore require conditions of good soil moisture and humidity to develop. We got these conditions through the latter part of July and so it was no surprise last Friday when I observed infection mats on the base of untreated Poa annua plants. I say untreated because as you’ll know from earlier blogs, my advice is always to treat preventatively with a fungicide approximately a month before the commencement of observed symptoms. If you look at this year’s timeline, the stress and high temperatures started in early July (as opposed to late July in 2014) and we now see the commencement of infection at the beginning of August, hence the advice to apply a month before the beginning of symptom expression.



The top image above shows the familiar dark discolouration on the stem of a Poa plant, the lower image shows a (poor quality) close-up revealing a structure known as an infection mat of Anthracnose and this marked the point of entry and development on the plant itself. Normally the dark discolouration on a Poa plant associated with Anthracnose is the presence of Acervuli (spore-producing structures) but these are only present once the disease has been through its complete cycle. As I understand it the infection mat is at the beginning of the cycle and so we can expect to see full symptom development later this month depending on conditions.

Since we are aware that Anthracnose is in the process of development within the grass sward, there are a number of practical actions that we should / could take to alleviate the development of full-blown symptoms.

  1. Maintain little, but often nutrition levels without running surfaces too lean during August. Often this may mean using a light rate granular fertiliser if conditions are cool and wet.
  2. Keep the surface open, so light aeration such as solid tining, sarrel rolling, etc is the way to go. This serves not only to maintain an air and water channel through surface fibre, but also encourages more root development.
  3. Don’t put the grass plant under too much stress so alternating cutting and rolling can be advantageous rather than cutting daily, particularly if it’s hot.
  4. Light topdressing in combination with the aeration detailed above will ensure an more open fibre habit and thereby allow good air flow and surface drainage.
  5. Don’t over-regulate your Poa plant because the ability to grow away from disease will be advantageous if Anthracnose comes knocking on the door.

 Other Diseases

The cooler wetter weather at the end of the month will have served to push on many diseases not just Anthracnose. For the west and north with their more frequent rainfall I suspect Microdochium will be an issue a.

Further south, Red Thread on outfield areas, particularly those with a high Fescue and Ryegrass content has already been reported but I’d hope this will reduce in intensity as swards dry out and soil / leaf moisture levels drop this week. Fairy Rings will have increased over the last week of July with the increase in soil moisture and humidity, again I suspect their activity will drop with the drier conditions in the east and south. Maintaining good nutrition and not over-regulating the turf are key to managing your way through this period of weather without resorting to fungicidal inputs. This is particularly true for Red Thread which I think can be encouraged by the use of PGR’s that slow down top growth. This is because one of the means of control as we all know is to fertilise i.e initiate top growth which allows cutting to physically remove the fungus from the sward. If you’ve over-regulated your turf this won’t be the case.

Ok, that’s all for now, have a good week and all the best.

Mark Hunt