Monthly Archives: September 2015

September 28th


Hi All,

Firstly an apology if you had trouble accessing the blog on Wednesday last week as our server was down over Tuesday night and didn’t really want to get out of bed the next morning.

I mentioned a few weeks ago to keep an eye out for some migrants (not those sort) as they travel south towards Africa and I was chuffed to see both on my Buddleia last week, topping up on some liquid nectar before heading off for warmer climes. It fascinates me how something so fragile as a Butterfly can achieve such a migration and stay intact.


Hummingbird Hawk Moth


Painted Lady

As we edge towards the end of September, there was a reminder that we have colder days in store as my car had a covering of ice at 6.30 a.m on Saturday morning. Still it made for a beautiful sunrise over Thornton reservoir even if bright sunshine, no cloud cover and blue sky is a rubbish combination for fly fishing 🙁


Out walking (again) I noticed another reminder that winter is on the way as some plants are shutting down their chlorophyll production and allowing Anthocyanin to become the dominant leaf pigment.  This is the red, purple pigment that typifies our autumn colours.This Virginia Creeper has changed over the last two weeks from green to beautiful red and already you can see some of the tree species out and about beginning the transition as well.

So after last weeks rain are we indeed on for three weeks of Indian Summer as the tabloids say ?  Hmmmm personally I don’t think so as by my reckoning we should just get through next weekend before the weather breaks.

General Weather Forecast

It’s going to be a pretty easy weather forecast this week as we do indeed have high pressure in charge. So for Monday we have in some places a misty, foggy start but the sun will soon burn that off to leave a lovely dry, sunny autumn day across all of the U.K and Ireland. The wind will be light and from the east so that may mean it could take a little longer in some eastern coastal locations to become sunny as it’ll push Haar off The North Sea. In the west of the U.K and over Ireland that wind direction should be more southerly because of the proximity of the high pressure. Overnight temperatures were down at close to freezing, but they should soon rise up to the high teens, similar to Sunday.

Overnight into Tuesday we have a very similar picture with a cool night, though maybe a little warmer than Sunday’s. So again a misty start but the soon will soon burn through to give another beautiful autumn day for all locations of the U.K and Ireland. For sure some areas will see the fog and mist stay around for longer but it’ll be dry and very autumnal for everyone.

By midweek we have a very similar pattern but there will be a difference in temperatures between north and south because the centre of the high pressure will be over Scotland from midweek onwards. I therefore expect temperatures to climb into the high teens / low twenties in some Scottish locations from late Wednesday onwards, whereas further south they may be a little lower, just mid-teens because of a slight shift in the light to moderate wind to north easterly. Dry again for Wednesday though, so we can’t complain much can we ?

For Thursday we have a very similar picture, warm over Scotland during the day, but slightly cooler across central and southern regions of the U.K as well as over Wales and Ireland where we’ll see mid-teen temperatures in the autumn sunshine. Perhaps more in the way of cloud cover for eastern locations on Thursday and where you keep the cloud and that stronger north east wind, it’ll feel chilly for sure.

Finishing off what has been an easy week to relate to we have a similar picture for Friday. Warm and sunny over Scotland with temperatures again heading to the high teens and low twenties, but cooler and duller for some southern and eastern locations with mid-teen temperatures at best in that prevailing north easterly wind. Perhaps more in the way of sun again across Ireland, Wales and the western coastline of the U.K, as the effects of the Haar are less intrusive.

Onto the all important weekend and is it going to be another fine autumnal one ? (and therefore rubbish for chucking a fly) Well it looks to be dry and settled for the whole weekend though I believe there is a change on the way. So similar to the end of the week with substantial cloud cover giving way to sunshine over the west, but perhaps again more in the way of cloud cover and therefore lower temperatures in the south and east. Slightly cooler for Scotland as well as we move through the weekend because change is on the way (possibly)

Weather Outlook

There’s a bit of disagreement in the weather models as to how next week is going to play out with projections changing daily but I’ll put my hat in the ring nonetheless. I think we’ll see a very quick transition at the beginning of next week from settled high pressure to a strong westerly airflow courtesy of a very deep Atlantic low pressure sitting north west of the U.K. So this will mean a change in the wind direction to south westerly / westerly and an increase in the wind as well. Westerly air streams invariably bring rain and that’s what you can expect I think. (though it could easily tip the other way you know) So a sunshine and showers type week with some significant rain around as well, possibly more for the west and north, but we should all see some. You’ll know who is right weather forecast-wise if the wind swings round to the south west in Ireland and the south in the U.K during the course of Sunday. If it does then unsettled weather is on the way I’m afraid.

Agronomic Notes

Using the weather window….

A few weeks ago I used the same title to describe a calm, dry week with a forecast of rain and I’ll do the same again today. There’s plenty of tasks that you can achieve this week with a dry forecast followed by rain or a dry week when we don’t have a lot of active growth (because the night time temperature will keep the handbrake on growth) followed by moisture and milder nights when the unsettled weather arrives.

Renovating and overseeding

A great time to achieve this, though it was even better three weeks ago (more on that later) because we still decent soil temperature although it’s dropped off markedly over the weekend with the arrival of some cold nights and frost. Currently I’m measuring soil temperature at 11.4°C, but I expect that to climb over the latter part of next weekend / early part of next week as we pick up some milder nights. I’d still expect ryegrass seed to pop in 7-10 days with current temperatures so renovating tees, thin areas around greens and worn areas on sports pitches is still more than worthwhile.

Selective Herbicide

After the summer, the wet August and wetter September this year than last (unless you’re in Scotland that is where it’s been a real dry September and long overdue) there’s significant amounts of weed around within the grass sward. Hitting it with a selective herbicide this week will give you a great knock back when moisture arrives next week and allow grass to fill in the vacated area before winter sets in. For that reason combining it with a liquid or water-soluble fertiliser makes a lot of sense.

Disease Management

Currently the disease pressure is quite low though you can see Microdochium in the dew on untreated areas but as soon as the sward dries out, it fades away. Expect this to change next week, not massively because it won’t be a warm, low pressure but with extended periods of leaf wetness, I would expect to see increased Microdochium activity. If you haven’t sprayed a preventative fungicide then now is your time because you’ll get reasonable uptake this week and spraying conditions are optimum, whereas next week, job’s buggered I think for spraying.


September and October always strike me as ‘Steady as she goes’ type conditions in terms of plant nutrition unless you need to push the sward for recovery (renovated areas, sportsfields, etc). The intention is to keep plant health up, with no peaks or troughs and ensure that you’re not taking soft, lush growth on fine turf into the autumn. On the flipside running it in weak with low leaf tissue nitrogen levels is also a likely calling card for disease with Microdochium, Anthracnose and Plant Parasitic Nematodes, all happy to take out a weak, under-nourished plant. You’ll know what the balance point is but there’s no prize for having a low N input, a weak plant and poor grass cover going into the winter.

I appreciate some of you will read this, scoff and think that it’s just the ramblings of a ‘Fertiliser Salesman’ (Copyright Jamie :)) , but face facts.  Once we lose light levels and temperature and have no control over moisture, Poa annua will out-compete whatever desirable grass species you’re trying to keep or encourage, be that Fescue, Creeping or Colonial Bentgrass. I’d love it to be different, but it isn’t.


This picture was taken on the 8th January, 2013 during a mild, wet spell in the winter and you can clearly see which plant is growing and which plant isn’t. Perennial Poa is still in Christmas, happy mode and Creeping Bentgrass has battened down the hatches and is awaiting for longer days, more light and some higher temperatures.

Why earlier is better when it comes to renovation….

Always a contentious topic when it comes to sportsfields or greens maintenance and oft I’ve heard the comment “The surfaces were lovely and now you’ve gone and put holes in them and covered them in sand” or my mum’s favourite “The greens are like a beach….” (classic :)).

It’s so difficult to communicate why we need to aerate our surfaces before the winter, de-compact, introduce oxygen, remove organic matter, etc and I was thinking about this whilst fishing over the weekend (see Mark and Andy I need more time off to go fishing as that’s when I do my thinking….:)).

First off, you’re trying to tell a member of the public that although the surfaces look good now, if you don’t do the work they won’t stay that way. Now since most people attend the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of life, you’re skating on thin ice before you start.

Then there’s the next hurdle to overcome…“Why do this aeration now, in July / August (delete where applicable), why not wait till we’ve got our fixtures done at the end of September / October / November ?” (delete where applicable)

Quantifying an argument using data is the best way to communicate in my humble opinion and so I thought I’d use Growth Potential to do this. Now I know some of you think recording GDD and Growth Potential is just playing with numbers, but the more I do it, the more I appreciate how it allows us to quantify growth and that’s what we need to do to make a good argument to the powers-that-be.

So here’s my thinking…we know that Growth Potential (G.P) is a measurement of the potential growth of a grass plant over a set period based on optimum air temperature and that it returns a maximum figure of 1.0, if the potential is optimum and a minimum figure of 0.0, if growth is non-existent (because it’s too cold).

So if we have 7 days of optimum growth, the total growth potential would be 7 x 1.0 = 7.0. I then looked at the last 3 months, split it into 7 day periods and totalled up the actual 7-day Growth Potential and expressed it as a %. So if we had a week where the actual G.P for that week was 3.5 and the total theoretical growth potential for the same period is 7.0, then we can calculate that the actual growth potential for that week was 3.5 / 7.0 = 50%. Hopefully you can follow my logic…Here’s how July, August and September (to date) look using that principle…


So what we can see from the graph is that during July we have nearly optimum growth conditions with week 2 and 3 best  at 97 and 98%. Incidentally week 1 was down at 82% because it was very hot and that provided below-optimum conditions for growth.

Moving onto August we still had a pretty rosy picture with week 1 and 2 close to or above 90% and even the last week of August we’re still at 85% of maximum. This means that we’ll have excellent recovery from aeration.

Look what happens though when we get to September, the wheels start to come off a bit with a massive drop in the first week of September, down to 55%. So this is nearly half of what we had in August on a weekly basis. What we can assume then is that if it takes say 10 days to get recovery from hollow coring when we’re at 97%, I’d expect that to be 20 days when we’re at 50% or close to it. The reason why we had such a drop-off at the beginning of September was because we picked up some cold nights. By the time we get to the last week of September we’re looking at 41%, so 2.5 times as long to get recovery.

So that’s why the ideal is to aerate in August and as we get through September, the potential for good recovery and growth drops away significantly. I think it’s a great way to communicate a point to your hierarchy and will continue to plot this through October and November.

If you’re interested I will prepare a fact sheet using these stats and put it on the blog next week for downloading ? Comments please to the usual place…

Ok must dash, Tempus fugit !

All the best…

Mark Hunt









Tuesday 22nd September


Hi All,

Sorry to be a day late with my blog but I was tied up yesterday contributing to a research event which took all day but was absolutely fascinating, more on this when appropriate (such a tease)

Quite a change in the weather from what was for most a glorious weekend to a dismal, wet and cool Monday morning but at least the better weather was when we weren’t all working for change…:)

As you know by now if you follow this blog regularly, I am a keen naturalist and walking in the beautiful Leicestershire countryside at the weekend, I mused on the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime, one of them is the resurgence of Raptors (Birds of Prey) as the U.K ban on this organochloride finally took effect. We were one of the last ‘developed’ countries to ban DDT back in 1984, when other countries had removed it from sale as early as 1972 (USA and Norway) animage1d it has taken probably 25-30 years for its effect to diminish. I just wonder if we are making the same mistake with Neonicotinoides and insect populations, time will tell whether the link is real or not,  but we really need our opinions to be formed by impartial, ‘Good Science ‘, not media headlines or political lobbying on either side of the debate.

On my afternoon walk I saw Buzzards, Red Kites, Kestrels, a Sparrowhawk, a Hobby and 3 species of Owl, one of which, a young Barn Owl was fast asleep on a fence post next to a public footpath in the middle of the afternoon !…..So deep in his slumber was he that I think I could have walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. I chose instead to wake him up with some vague, Owl-like sounds and watch him swivel his head round to look at me in a slightly irked manner. Took this grainy image on my I-phone, but he was just beautiful to behold and nice to see nature moving forward not backwards sometimes isn’t it ? A cracking afternoon topped off with the best Flapjack ever at the Hare Pie Cafe in Hallaton, scrummy.

Onto the weather and already I hear murmurings that we have an Indian Summer on the way to close out September, is this true ?

General Weather Situation

Well no Indian Summer for the start of this week anyway because as predicted that low pressure has slunk in and given us a cool start to the week with plenty of rain around. For Tuesday we still have plenty of rain on the weather picture for the U.K and Ireland with a band of heavy rain moving west from The South West / Wales all the way up to The Lakes, eastwards overnight to bring localised heavy rain to The Midlands, North London and the eastern counties of England. Another burst of heavy rain will also track along the south coast at the same time to give a very wet rush hour in southern England. Ireland will also see some lighter rain just touching Kerry and another front of showers moving across Leinster to settle on the Wicklow mountains through the morning, but this will clear in the afternoon. Scotland looks to have rain overnight in the north east and during the course of the morning this will sink south over Fife, The Borders and into the north east of England, so most places seeing rain on Tuesday. Temperatures will be nothing to shout about, sitting in the mid-teens and aided by a cool north-westerly / westerly wind.

Onto Wednesday and we have a much better weather picture for the U.K, but not for Ireland as another band of rain pushes in to the west of Ireland early doors and moves east to cover most of the country by the morning rush hour. Through the morning this rain crosses the Irish Sea and into the north west coast of England and south west of Scotland pushing eastwards all the time across Scotland and at the same time affecting North and South Wales and The South West of England. Away from this band of rain across central and southern England we have a dry, settled picture with hazy sunshine and in it temperatures will rise to the high teens feeling much more pleasant in a moderate, westerly wind. By the close of play Wednesday, Ireland has said goodbye to the rain but it will still linger over Wales and the north of England into the night.

Moving onto Thursday and we have a dry start for most places but already rain is into the north west of Scotland and then soon after it pushes into the west coast of Ireland during mid-morning and at the same the west coast of Wales and the north west of England. So an unsettled day for westerly areas on Thursday but apart from the north west of Scotland where the rain will be heavy and localised, elsewhere it will be punctuated by periods of sunshine. East and south of this rain we have a pretty dry picture although some rain is threatened over the north of England during the afternoon. Temperature-wise expect it to be cool in the north and west with temperatures struggling into the low teens, but further south in the sunshine it should reach the mid to high teens with a nice westerly wind.

Closing out the week we still have some rain lingering along the western coastline of England, Wales and Scotland, but Ireland looks to have a nicer day and across central and eastern England it should be another pleasant, dry day with temperatures similar to Thursday and again a light to moderate westerly wind. As we close out the day we should lose most of that westerly rain with just some light showers affecting The Western Isles and the north west of England.

For the weekend we have a pretty much totally dry picture for all of the U.K and Ireland, a little dull with plenty of cloud, but you may see some hazy sunshine along the south coast and across southern England later. By close of play on Saturday we have some rain pushing into the west coast of Ireland and overnight this will move eastwards into West Scotland by Sunday morning. By lunchtime that rain should have cleared Ireland to leave some nice sunshine, but elsewhere I think we will see that rain persist across Scotland during Sunday and duller, but dry weather south of this across the remainder of the U.K. There may be some hazy sunshine and if there is expect temperatures to peak in the mid to high teens, maybe warmer along the extreme south coast of England and Ireland, so all in all not a bad one.

Weather Outlook

Onto the all-important outlook and is a nice settled end to September around the corner ?

Well it certainly looks to be warm and settled for the start of next week with high pressure well in charge over most of the U.K and Ireland with the exception of The Highlands where it’ll be cooler. Further south I expect temperatures to climb to the low twenties through the first part of next week, aided by a southerly airstream, so lovely autumn weather for most.

From mid-week, next week onwards we have a potential fly in the ointment as a deep, Atlantic low threatens to spoil the party. The weather pattern projection shown below from Unisys Weather for next Thursday (1st October) highlights the deep low pressure system sitting over Iceland and the high pressure system bringing ‘Hugge’ to Northern Scandinavia. Similar to the other week where we ended up sandwiched between the two, we have a northerly airstream coming into play and this time it’ll be more likely to affect Ireland and the west coast of the U.K towards the end of next week with the east coast still sitting in the southerly airstream. (So if you’re thinking of taking a few days off, maybe head east :))

Which one wins the battle will dictate how we go into October, interesting…My money is on the high winning out and giving us a dry, settled start to October.


El Nino = Cold Winter ?

I discussed the effects of El Nino last week but I note that Paddy Power are running much shorter odds on a White Christmas in 2015 than they have done for a number of years, coincidence ? hmmmm I wonder…. 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

Microdochium Nivale

With plenty of rainfall of late and some significant humidity associated with it, we are currently experiencing some high disease pressure from Microdochium nivale. A few weeks back we discussed the option of either applying a preventative fungicide early or trying to grow the disease out. I think the smart play was going early because we’ve had a succession of alternating warm weather, then rain and sometimes with significant humidity as well.

Thankfully with the advent of high pressure building later this week and extending its influence into next week we should lose the high disease pressure although don’t forget dew formation and extended leaf wetness can be just as significant a driver, more so I think on some of the foliar diseases like Red Thread and Dollar Spot, but also on Microdochium.

Guttation Fluid

With the combination of high soil moisture levels and then high pressure we are likely to see significant Guttation Fluid formation on the tip of the grass plant leaf over the coming week. This often forms after dew removal in the morning so you can remove the dew and then go back an hour later and see droplets glistening on the sward. Some of this could be dew re-formation, but often it’s Guttation Fluid (Pronounced Goo-tation), which is probably best described as exudates of Xylem sap pushed out through small openings in the tip of the grass plant leaf called Hydathodes. I’ve found that it typically occurs when soil moisture levels are high and the droplet is physically forced from the tip of the plant by internal water pressure.


Guttation Fluid on Poa annua

This drop of fluid isn’t just water (unlike dew) but contains plant sugars and nutrients so effectively can function as a food source for microbes, in our case these can be pathogenic fungi in the form of Dollar Spot, Red Thread and / or Microdochium nivale. I took this picture a while back of a Fescue-dominated tee box with Guttation Fluid clearly visible, but what was even more telling was the presence of Microdochium mycelium within the fluid itself. You can see them in the picture as what looks like small balls of cotton wool.


Microdochium nivale growing on Guttation Fluid on Fescue

When I discuss dew removal with end-users it always surprises me that the dew is often removed from the same sequence of greens every time the job is done, but you know some of your greens will be more susceptible to disease than others so if you can remove the dew from these greens first, you’ll be giving the grass plant a helping hand by reducing the period of leaf wetness. DewRT

Some work was done on Dollar Spot by the USGA regarding physical dew removal and they found that removing the dew at 4 a.m. (ahahaha I’m going to be popular in the mess room when this is read out :)) was the most effective method for reducing Dollar Spot. You can read about it here



Whilst on the subject of the USGA, I happened upon their Digital Collections recently which is an electronic library of very useful articles and research information.  It features titles like Naturalised Rough Management, Managing Bunkers, Dealing with Problem Greens, etc and is a really useful source of information, as is the USGA RECORD, which is free to subscribers. You can find it here


If we do go dry…..

It is difficult to relate to this next item when you look out of the window and it’s raining significantly or your waterproofs are hanging up trying to dry out after a sodden morning accompanied by the obligatory pool of water underneath !,  but last year we had an extremely dry September with high pressure in charge for pretty much all month.

This year has been different for reasons I’ve already eluded to in earlier, blogs but if we do go dry for a long period of time this autumn we need to remember some lessons of September 2014. One of those lessons was that we let areas dry out too much last autumn and because we weren’t getting the high temperatures of summer at that time of year, we didn’t get wilting or easily-noticeable Dry Patch. This presented a tricky management issue because for sure a lot of people didn’t manage soil moisture levels well then, areas dried out and that contributed to an extended and elevated period of Anthracnose Folar Blight.

Now I am not advocating going out and dumping the irrigation on as soon as we have a few dry days, but if you’re lucky enough to have a soil moisture meter and we do go dry for any period of time, just keep an eye on the areas of turf that you know are prone to desiccation. A few hours spent hand-watering those areas could save you a lot of hassle from disease perspective later. It’s a big ‘If’ but worth mentioning nonetheless.

Ok that’s it for this week, sorry for being a day late, I’ll be back to ‘normal’ next week…

All the best.

Mark Hunt

September 14th


Hi All,

I hope you enjoyed the little slice of Indian Summer last week because it’s already a thing of the past as I watch the temperature gauge on my weather station edge past 11°C accompanied by 6mm of rain already this morning.

ElNinoLooking out of the window it’s not difficult to believe the tabloid headlines that have kicked off regarding the strongest El Nino event that’s taking place in the Pacific and the likely effect on our weather this coming winter. (Cheers Dave, Scott for the heads up)


As usual a lot of this is media hype but the truth is we are seeing a major El Nino event in the Pacific and it will affect our weather in some shape or form, I actually think it has already. If you look at the current situation of the jet stream and last year at the same time you can see what I mean ;


If there is any consensus on the effects of El Nino for us, it’s that the jet stream has a tendency to sit lower and that means colder, wetter air in the autumn and possibly a colder winter in general. The headline about massive storms is likely to be totally wrong because past evidence shows us that there are far less Atlantic storms during an El Nino event. You can read about it here.

So what does this week have in store ?

General Weather Situation

Today looks to be a damp one for most areas with Ireland, the south west and south of England picking up the worst of the rainfall. That said there is another rain front sitting across The Pennines and edging into The Borders of Scotland as we speak. It’ll be a pretty dull affair as well with little chance of seeing the sun 🙁

Through Monday that swirl of low pressure rainfall moves south across Ireland and spins north across the south west of England into South Wales by late morning. So anywhere up to The Humber is likely to get rain today whereas aside from that Scottish front that looks set to fizzle out, the north should be drier than the south. It will feel noticeably cooler though with temperatures climbing to the low to mid-teens at best with a changeable south-easterly / south-westerly wind, light to moderate.

Overnight into Tuesday that rain continues to circulate across the U.K and Ireland and follow a similar pattern though Ireland looks to be set for a drier day. Elsewhere the south west will pick up that rain again as will South Wales I’m afraid. Through the morning that rain will push along the south coast into the south east and then move northwards across The Home Counties and into The Midlands. They’ll also be rain for western Scotland through the day, light on the whole, but persistent nonetheless. There will be a chance of some breaks in the cloud, possibly across Wexford, The Midlands and the east of England,enjoy them while you can. In these breaks you may see slightly higher temperatures on Tuesday, but it’s still likely to feel coolish compared to last week. (Unless you sat under The Haar like we did in The Midlands !) Winds will be changeable in direction again shifting more westerly but it’ll be a real ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ job depending on where you sit in relation to the low pressure system.

For Wednesday we have a much drier picture for nearly all of the U.K and Ireland initially. Note I say nearly all because there’s a high possibility of some pretty heavy rain pushing into the south west and south coast of England during Wednesday morning and tracking northwards through the course of the day reaching The Pennines by close of play Wednesday. Ireland looks to miss this tranch of rainfall which is a good job as it looks particularly heavy with some localised flooding possible. Cool in that rainfall, low to mid-teens and accompanied by an easterly wind so all in all a pretty rubbish day for England and Wales, but not so bad for Ireland and Scotland.

Onto Thursday and we have still have that rain in situ affecting the U.K up to The Pennines early doors. Through the morning it’ll slowly move north east and decrease in intensity so clearing the south of England first to give a dry afternoon picture. Ireland picks up a weak rain system so light rain moving into the west of Ireland on Thursday and tracking across the country as it does so. Scotland again misses the worst of this and looks to stay dry through the morning and early afternoon, but later on we will see that Irish rain move into western Scotland and The Lakes. Like a stuck needle on a record, temperatures will be mid-teens at best and that changeable wind direction theme continues with some northerly and westerly winds thrown into the hat just for good measure.

Closing out the week, the unsettled theme continues with more rain pushing into the north west of England and then tracking south east into The Midlands early doors and east of England. Ireland looks to be dull and with some light rain, whereas Scotland sees some potentially heavier bursts across the north east in particular. As we move through to Friday afternoon we have a much better picture with some breaks in the cloud and some sunshine across all areas. This will allow temperatures to rise up just a tad from the weeks norm so possibly high teens if you see the sun to any great extent 🙂 This slight rise in temperature will be aided by a westerly air flow / wind direction.

Onto the weekend’s weather picture then and it doesn’t look too bad because that low pressure is moving off to the continent and behind it we have a finger of high pressure pushing in. So the forecast looks dry, settled and some nice temperature as well though it won’t be warm-warm, just pleasant and it’ll depend largely on cloud cover how high the temperature gauge climbs. It does look dry though and winds will be light on the whole across all of the U.K and Ireland.

Weather Outlook

Quite a complicated picture for next week as we have a sort of battle between an Atlantic high pressure system and a low pressure sitting above it. At present it looks like the high pressure will sit out in The Atlantic and stream that low pressure in on a northerly air flow so that may keep temperatures on the low side, similar to where they are now I think. So after a dry, settled weekend we look to have the possibility of bands of rain, light to moderate at this stage pushing down into the north west of the U.K and Ireland and then moving south east across both areas. As hinted above it looks like the prevailing wind direction will be north west / northerly (later in the week for the latter). As we approach the end of next week there’s a suggestion that the high will edge in towards Ireland so this means warmer and settled weather moving firstly into the west  later on next week.

Agronomic Notes

Anthracnose Activity – 2015 vs. 2014


Last year we had a very bad Anthracnose late summer / autumn will lots of Foliar Blight and Basal Rot moving into greens through August and continuing into what was a very dry and warm September 2014. It was sparked off by a perfect storm weather-wise, with high temperatures and high E.T late July 2014, followed by a cool wet August and then a dry, warm September.

2015 to date has been subtly different with July’s heat arriving at the beginning of that month, not the end. We then had a cool, wet August, but not quite as cool and as wet as 2014 (except for Ireland and Scotland) and now we’re having a much more changeable September with cooler interludes and rainfall, nothing like 2014 in that respect where we were very, very dry.

The behaviour of Anthracnose has been very different in 2015, not least because end-users affected by the disease in 2014 learnt their lesson well and put in place, good preventative practices to avoid a repeat of this disease. These included an early July preventative fungicide, regular light nutrition to avoid troughs in nutrient availability and good cultural work to suppress plant stress levels (more hand-watering targeted at dry areas rather than blanket irrigation).

What I’ve seen is much less Anthranose in general and particularly less Foliar Blight version of this disease. That said I have seen a number of incidents of ‘walked on’ Anthracnose where the disease has occurred / initiated on an un-protected collar and / or the approach to a green and then been moved onto the green by foot traffic presumably. The affected areas tend to be mounds, ridges, the more stress-prone areas on greens and the disease has again shown the characteristic trait seen last year in that some weeks it appears to be on decline and then all of sudden it seems to flare up again. Last week I had a number of end-users feed back to me that the cooler weather and particularly cold nights appeared to have increased the intensity of the disease when previously it appeared on the decline. So what’s happening when we see this ?

Well firstly you have to remember that Anthracnose is a real slow grower, fungus-wise. It doesn’t come in super fast, like Microdochium nivale (Fusarium to most, but not all), take out it’s selected host and then depart on application of an effective fungicide. It works away at the grass plant quietly in the background and you don’t see symptom expression (picture above) till it has gone through its whole disease cycle and is producing spores.

Now because Poa is usually the affected plant, we often see Poa recovering from Anthracnose if climatic conditions favour grass plant growth over the fungus, but as we saw last week, when temperatures drop and so growth / clip yield also takes a nose dive, the balance shifts in favour of the disease so you often see what appears to be the disease increasing in activity again. This isn’t new plants becoming infected, it’s pre-infected plants that are fighting the effects of the disease and when the balance tips against growth of the plant vs. growth of the fungus, we see what appears to be increased symptom expression. It also explains why even if you’ve applied an effective fungicide on Anthracnose, you still see continued symptom expression thereAnthracnoserecoveryPoaafter.

So in order to try and tip the balance back in favour of the grass plant, you should ensure that you have effective nutrition in place – Often I find light rate, granular applications are more effective than foliars when you have Anthracnose (as opposed to before) and since we’re dealing with Poa, the great survivor, anything you can do culturally to stimulate new root development will be advantageous. Here you can see an image of an Anthracnose-affected plant (note yellowing on older leaves) initiating new root development and growing away from the symptoms with new leaves clearly visible. So if you have this issue, don’t lose heart and keep trying to tip the balance in favour of your plant.

Worm Activity

This has started much earlier this year than last because of the arrival of wet conditions at the beginning of September and this week as well. Every year I always get the same questions about Carbendazim efficacy on casting worms and often these relate to the pH of the spray tank water. For sure it helps to have an acidic pH in the spray tank for the couple of hours the product will spend time in there but the over-riding factor in terms of Carbendazim efficacy is the pH of the soil it is applied to and weather conditions, particularly soil moisture levels. If the organic matter levels in your fairways /  sports pitches are high and therefore usually hydrophobic after a dry summer, I wouldn’t expect the applied spray solution to move through this organic matter layer in a uniform manner and therefore contact on your target pest will be largely hit and miss. This will especially be the case on high organic matter soils early in the autumn after a dry summer. So my advice is wait till your soil is uniformly wetted before applying.


At this stage of the autumn, I also normally be talking about the application of Chlorpyrifos, but for the first year since I’ve been in the industry we don’t have this chemical available. Now I’m kind of split on this because undoubtedly it was one of the worst products we had available in terms of chemistry and toxicity but on the other hand we have nothing else on the table to use and so it’ll be interesting to see how much of an issue insect damage is on our maintained areas going forward.

For sure the main damage is not the insect itself but the activity of its predators, Corvid species of Birds (Crows, Rooks, etc), Badgers and Foxes as well and I guess our attention will now turn to methods of discouraging these species digging for grubs ? I can see the demand for Harris Hawks taking an upturn !! 🙂

It appears that the reason we lost the use of Chlorpyrifos on managed-amenity turf was because the manufacturer didn’t want to stump up the money to defend its usage in this market sector.

Commercially we are small beans compared to other markets like horticulture and agriculture and this sets a worrying precedent because if it’s the case for Chlorpyrifos, then for sure it’ll also be the case for other products, fungicides amongst them. You could argue that one of our issues compared to most of mainland Europe is that we have a separate registration system in the U.K and Ireland for managed-amenity turf and because the process is separate, it’s clear to the manufacturers the volume that goes into the market sector as opposed to a system where it’s all lumped in under agriculture.

So like a lot of things in the modern world, it comes down to pounds, shillings and pence in the U.K, and Euro’s across the Irish Sea and the ludicrous situation that you’ll still be able to eat Strawberries and Raspberries that have been treated with Chlorpyrifos, but you won’t be able to use it on a managed-amenity turf where we don’t happen to eat our crop.

Logic and legislation, they very rarely sleep in the same bed it has to be said.

Plant Nutrition

With a cool week in prospect and very little chance to get a good spray on, it’s granular sort of weather for sure but we have to bear in mind on fine turf that we’re edging towards the period of the year when Microdochium nivale becomes a lot more aggressive (Again here it’s a case of climatic conditions favouring the pathogen over the grass plant).

So it’s a tricky line to tread between stimulating growth and recovery but not disease. If you’re turf is looking healthy and doesn’t need an immediate N input I’d be tempted to leave it till later in the week when conditions look a bit more favourable for spraying a foliar, even if it is just an iron / hardener to keep things ticking.

Ok that’s it for this week, hope you stay dry.

All the best.

Mark Hunt








September 7th


Hi All,

“Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness” wrote Keats in his ‘Ode to Autumn’ and that is exactly what we’re going to get with a lovely Indian Summer, September week on the cards for all areas. So that means nice warm days, cool nights with the temperature dropping sharply as soon as the sun sinks behind the horizon and heavy morning dew.


On a nature note – keep your eyes peeled for these guys particularly if you have Buddleia nearby, around your site or at home because they’re fascinating insects. They look and move like a Hummingbird and in fact that’s there name – The Humming-bird Hawk-Moth. They’re feeding up before migrating down to Africa for the winter and if you see one you can report it on the Butterfly Conservation website here.

General Weather Situation

So with high pressure finally pushing the low out to the continent over the course of the weekend we have a very stable weather picture in place for the coming week.

So for Monday we have a day of hazy sunshine with the only variable being temperature depending on whether you get good breaks in the cloud cover or not. Looking at the weather maps, the east / south-east corner of England may be favourite on this count but as I sit here in the heart of The Midlands, there isn’t a cloud in the sky 🙂 Temperature-wise for all areas of the U.K and Ireland, we should be looking at mid to high teens, perhaps tipping 20°C if you get a spell of prolonged sunshine. Night time temperatures though will be a different matter with the familiar sharp drop as soon as the sun’s warmth sinks behind the skyline, so expect 8-10°C as the norm. Winds will be variable, northerly in nature, but light to moderate for the early part of the week.

Tuesday follows a very similar pattern with hazy sunshine and dry for everyone (Don’t say that very often do I?) The south of England, but also the west, Wales and Ireland should see more in the way of sunshine on Tuesday, particularly in the afternoon, so here expect temperatures up in the high teens, possibly touching 20°C. Eastern coasts look to be a little cooler because the wind swings round to this direction and that will mean more in the way of cloud cover (Haar) and therefore slightly lower temperatures, expect mid-teens here.

Onto Wednesday (I wish all week’s were this easy to forecast :)) and another lovely autumn day with perhaps only a risk of some mizzly, drizzle across the north east of England in the morning blotting the landscape. Again we’ll have hazy sunshine and broken cloud but some nicer spells in the afternoon once that cloud cover burns off are likely, more so in the west. Still that west / east divide apparent with the wind coming in off the North Sea so slightly cooler across eastern and central regions with more in the way of cloud cover.

For Thursday we have a rain front projected to just nip at the toes of the Irish Teddy bear so that means south west Munster may just see some rain overnight into Thursday, but at this stage it looks to be confined to the coast. Elsewhere another cracking autumn day, such a shame that we all have to work when the weather is this nice. With the wind swinging round to the south east pushing cloud cover away from early doors, Thursday looks to be the day with the longest duration of sunshine and consequently the warmest for many with temperatures into the 20’s down south I think. A slightly windier day on Thursday as we have the opposite to last week that is an Atlantic low trying to push into Ireland and being kept at bay by a continental high pressure system.

For Friday that Atlantic low pressure system is still just off the coast of Ireland, but it’ll only need that high pressure to weaken slightly and it’ll be in to the west like a shot. So some rain again for the west coast of Ireland on Friday, but moving east into Wales, the south west of England, in fact all areas of the England, Wales and Scotland look to enjoy another day of long spells of sunshine and good temperatures. Again it’ll be breezy with the wind coming in from the south east so not a cold wind by any means.

The outlook for the weekend is a tricky one to predict because we have low pressure systems ganging up to the west and one of these is projected to slip south under the rim of the dominant high pressure system and this may put a spanner in the works for Sunday / the start of next week. So I think Saturday looks ok, dry on the whole except again for the west of Ireland and possibly the south west of England. Maybe more in the way of cloud cover later on Sunday, but not bad for the weekend really. Changes are afoot though as that low pressure sinks below the south coast of England and this looks to swing rain into the southern half of the U.K for Sunday. Now as usual there’s some disagreement on when this rain will arrive, I think we may get through the weekend dry, but not much further than that 🙁

Weather Outlook

As hinted above this high pressure is not set to last as we get assaulted by two low pressure systems over the course of next week. The first sitting below the U.K will add moisture to the south east air stream and that will manifest itself as rain for the start of next week. Some models say Sunday, some Monday, I think the latter.

I also think this low will form a trough in the jet stream into which a northerly low pressure will sit later on next week. So some detail. We can expect rain for the south of England possibly Monday next week and then as go into Tuesday we see rain into the north west and west joining up with the southerly rain front to give potentially heavy rain on Tuesday. We may then get a brief hiatus in terms of rainfall before that Atlantic low gains strength and whips the wind round to the south west and pushes rain into all areas for the later part of next week, possibly from Thursday onwards.

Agronomic Notes

Before August slips totally away from your memory I managed to get some more weather data through just after I published last week’s blog (Cheers lads) so I thought it may be worth looking at. Firstly I graphed out the GDD data from 4 locations but split them into pairs (see below)


Interestingly what this shows is that during August the south west and north of England were very similar in terms of day and night temperature, as were the central and south coast locations. This is because any low pressure systems tend to affect the west and north during August, whilst the central and southern half of the U.K tends to come under the effect of continental weather systems, hence the similarity in temperature.


Any similarity in temperature between locations doesn’t extend to rainfall patterns because it’s the two locations where the respective rain fronts reach first that bear the brunt of the rainfall. So Long Ashton picks up the south westerly rainfall first and Bournemouth picks up the continental rainfall first before the systems move inland. So by the time they reach central and north eastern locations, there’s a lot less rain left to fall.

Agronomic Significance – Microdochium Management

Rather than this just being a nice exercise in the graphical representation of weather data, there is an agronomic relevance to it in terms of disease management.

On all sites you can see that the GDD graph showed a significant increase from the 20th to the 23rd August as temperatures and humidity increased. This was then followed by a pronounced drop-off in temperature as rainfall arrived and fell from the 23rd to the 26th August.

This combination has resulted in significant amounts of disease in the sward for the beginning of September which is earlier than we would like because we know that our main disease pressure period really starts at the beginning of October and extends into the middle of November. That said for Ireland and Scotland I think the situation is markedly different with an earlier start to the disease pressure cycle in August, so maybe we’re beginning to see the start of a double peak in disease, one in August and the other one from the end of September to Mid-November.

Our disease pressure pattern is starting to look like this from a Microdochium perspective ;


So we have a situation now where we’ve carried over a significant disease population from August (assuming you haven’t treated already that is) and although we have drier weather now in situ the question is should we treat or try and grow it out ?

I think it’s all to easy to reach for an effective fungicide to do the job now and knock it on the head. In the cold light of day however September is a very busy golf month, revenue levels and therefore golfer and management expectations are high and if untreated it’s likely that we’ll carry this M.nivale population forward into October so as soon as the weather turns it’ll become active again.

Looking ahead weather-wise, I don’t think we’ll make it to October before the weather turns and therefore on balance I’d treat now to try and reduce the population to a point when it’ll be less aggressive come October’s mild and muggy nights when you can seemingly smell the disease in the air.  I would suggest either a systemic or a contact mixed in with some foliar nutrient to ensure good uptake and to encourage the grass plant to actively grow away from the disease. (Of course you must ensure that all components are compatible first) The systemic should be from the DMI / Triazole family as these are more effective against M.nivale in general and show very little resistance potential at least from the research work that I’ve carried out so far.


On outfield turf we can see a lot of Red Thread activity out there because of the weather combination that kicked it off at the end of August. Now we have warm days and heavy dews it will continue to be an issue because the period of leaf wetness is getting longer with the shorter days and longer nights, though as the sward dries out it’ll lessen in intensity. Obviously we don’t normally treat Red Thread from a pesticide perspective with many people choosing to grow it out or at least try to do so, but this year it’s been extremely aggressive on Rye and Fescue turfs.

Using this weeks weather to your advantage

So we have a nice dry week across pretty much all of the U.K and Ireland and I think it’s a great time to get some of those jobs done that really need doing (if you have the resources and budget of course)

After the heat in July and dry year until we got to August, there’s been a resurgence in weed growth particularly in areas that have thinned out over the course of late spring and summer. So this week is a good time to get out and hit those areas with a selective herbicide.

With dry weather this week and rain on the horizon next, it’s a good time to work tired areas like tees, approaches, fairways and winter season pitches, get an overseed in if you can and drop a granular fertiliser into the mix. Use the temperature while we still have it for recovery before we lose the day length.

Areas on fine turf that may have thinned through disease activity, now is a good time to do some localised aeration, overseed, topdress and fertilise to try and get these areas back before the winter.

Moss – Now is a good time to treat Silver Moss that may have populated your sward after July’s heat and August’s rain. With minimal turf stress and settled conditions, it’s a good time to apply, but make sure the moss is wetted up before you do so and of course follow the manufacturers label recommendations.

Weather Stations – What’s working for you ?


I had a query last week regarding weather stations and what I would recommend and since I know a number of the people that read this blog have their own weather stations I thought I’d open the question out to you.

So who is happy with their Weather Station, it’s reliability and the support you get from the supplier ? On the other foot, who isn’t happy with theirs and why ? You can either post a comment to this blog or email me directly on

Any comments / feedback gratefully received.

All the best.

Mark Hunt




September 1st


Hi All,

The current picture on my weather station says it all, 13.1°C, temperature with wind chill of 12.3°C, 95% humidity and 14.8mm of rainfall over the last 24 hourWS010915s. Welcome to September 🙂

This week isn’t going to be like our usual high pressure, Indian Summer-style start to September that we’ve been getting used to over the last few years, however there are signs that more stable, drier and warmer weather is on the horizon, but first we have to get through what will be a chilly week with some winter northerlies to keep you company 🙁

General Weather Situation

The Bank Holiday (For England, Wales and Northern Ireland-only I know) passed for many under leaden clouds, cool temperatures and with heavy rainfall and this is because of the now familiar situation we find ourselves in during August of picking up a low pressure trough in the jet stream. This week will see that low pressure off the east of the U.K and high pressure pushing in from the Atlantic, so we are sandwiched in-between. The upshot is where high and low meets it funnels the wind down from the north and gives us a taste of October / November temperatures. I’ve put together a schematic so you can see what I mean…


So Tuesday looks to start off drier than Monday, but it won’t stay that way for long for some areas as rain (light and scattered I think) pushes into the east and south-east of England and further up the north east coast by mid-morning tracking westwards across the country. At the same time we also have some potentially heavy rain over the north of Scotland. By early afternoon this rain has pushed south to cover most of Scotland and at the same time we see the eastern rain moving across the north of England and may reach The Midlands. The areas driest areas look to be South Wales, the south west of England and Ireland (Remember last week I said the boot would be on the other foot this week with the east getting the crappy end of the weather stick instead of the west ??) It’ll feel cool everywhere with similar temperatures across all of the U.K and Ireland, mid-teens the order of the day and the light to moderate winds will be north to north-westerly depending on where you’re situated. If you see then sun then temperatures will creep up to 16-17°C.

For Wednesday we have a drier picture with only light rain sitting over The Borders at the start of the day. This will push down south across The Pennines into northern England during the morning and into North Wales and the north Midlands by the afternoon, but it’ll be light. With Ireland being furthest away from the low pressure system, you’ll be dry again as will The Midlands and south of England. During the afternoon that rain will fizzle out in most areas except the north east of England. With cloud cover across much of the U.K and Ireland, you’ll be lucky to catch some hazy sunshine, but temperatures will stay firmly in the mid-teens due to that continuing northerly / north-westerly wind.

Moving into Thursday we have an increasingly drier picture as that low pressure reluctantly edges east across Scandinavia. Again they’ll be plenty of cloud cover and that cloud may be thick enough for some drizzle / light rain across Connacht and the north of Scotland. Elsewhere it’ll be a dull, cool day with very little in the way of sunshine and because of this it may feel even cooler on Thursday with temperatures sitting between the low to mid-teens. The winds will stay in the north / north-west and will remain light to moderate in nature.

Closing out the week we have a slightly better picture with more in the way of sunshine for some areas of the U.K, particularly the north east and eastern counties. So temperatures may just perk up to 16°C (Gosh Golly) when the sun peeps through the cloud cover. It’ll be another dry day for most areas, however late in the afternoon we can expect to see some rain pushing into The Highlands of Scotland and northern counties of Ireland. Winds will still be north westerly and light to moderate.

So how do we look for the first weekend of September ?

Well more of the same really looks the way of the world with that cool theme continuing, though maybe slightly better on Sunday with more in the way of sunshine for most areas. In particular the west and central areas of England and later on on Sunday, the south of Leinster / Munster maybe will see the sun. It does however look dry on the whole, however a note of caution as there’s a lot of wet weather sitting just off the east coast of England through Saturday and Sunday and it wouldn’t take much of a change in the weather for this to affect eastern coasts. At this stage it is projected to miss but you never know 🙂 Winds will continue to be northerly in nature and that’s why we’ll keep a lid on the temperatures.

Weather Outlook

So this week was a battle between a westerly high pressure and a reluctant-to-leave easterly low, how is next week shaping up ?

Well pretty good you’ll be pleased to hear..:)

We should have high pressure in situ from the start of week for most of the week so that means dry and warmer with some lovely sunshine and in it I’m expecting temperatures to pick up to high teens, maybe higher in the south of England. Will it last though ? , that’s a tricky one to answer because there is a possibility of a continental low pressure system pushing in during the latter part of the week and that may push rain in from the south towards the end of the week. If it does we can expect rain for the west and south at the end of next week and possibly over the weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Now is the time to look back at August and see what a month it was for turf management and for me I think it was quite difficult because of the combination at certain points in the month of high day and night temperature, high humidity and rainfall that led to high disease pressure.

GDD Data



Looking at the GDD data for The Oxfordshire we can see at first glance that August 2015 looks on balance similar to July 2015 in terms of temperature, but totals always hide a story don’t they ?

It’s like looking at the rainfall total for a month and saying it is similar to the same month last year, but when you look at the pattern of the rainfall you see that it all occurred over 2-3 days ! It’s the pattern of rainfall and temperature in August that tells the real story.

So lets drill down into that data in a bit more detail….



The two graphs above graphically illustrate why the end of August was so hard from a consistent disease pressure period. First off on the bottom graph we can see at both sites they had a massive spike in GDD between the 21st and 23rd of August. (We can also see that the south west location had less temperature spikes in August compared to the Thame location)

To give you an idea this GDD spike was caused by day and night temperatures of 17°C, 27°C and 16°C, 30°C respectively at the Long Ashton and Thame locations.

You can then see a pronounced drop off in GDD caused by the arrival of cooler and wetter weather on the 23rd August when Long Ashton received 37mm of rain ! The rain took a little longer to reach Thame , but even at this notoriously dry location, they received 25mm odd over the course of the next 3 days.

So there we have it, high temperatures, high humidity and rainfall, the perfect witches brew for disease development and that’s why I wrote about disease last week !

Current Disease Conditions

So on the back drop of last week’s high disease pressure what can we expect to see going forward ?

Well with the loss of temperature (and humidity as we go through the week) this week it’ll mean some of the more exotic diseases like Rhizoctonia will fade away, however the cooler temperature-biased diseases will hang around a bit longer I’m afraid.

So I expect to see Microdochium nivale, Anthracnose Basal Rot and surface Algae continue their activity through this week but as we progress through the week we should see a lowering of disease pressure even here as things dry out. This will continue through next week because of the arrival of high pressure so the outlook going forward in my books is for declining disease pressure and that can only be a good thing.

That said with the consistent wet conditions I also expect to see Red Thread carry on its merry march through our turf this coming week unfortunately.

ETS – Etiolated Tiller Syndrome (Ghost Grass, etc)


Thanks to Colin Jones for this picture of an issue that I think is growing in severity year on year. He also sent me a pdf of some of the latest research findings that I highlighted was in progress in a blog 2-3 weeks ago. You can download it here.

In these research findings they appear to be pointing the finger not at a fungal species causing the increase in gibberellic acid production, but a bacteria and that is significant. It means that if you wanted to treat it you’d have to apply not an anti-fungal product, but essentially an antibiotic to your turf ! This has already been used in the U.S (surprise, surprise) to treat an issue they have there called Bacterial Wilt. For me we still have some way to go here to ultimately prove the causal agent, clearly identify the role of PGR’s in its expression and find a solution.

I expect plenty of this around this week after the rainfall of last week and The Bank Holiday, particularly on areas that haven’t had a cut because of the latter.


With the loss of temperature this week and the cooler, northerly air stream I think I’d be continuing to look at low temperature available nutrient forms for the best result, so light rate foliars using ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate and of course iron will be the order of the day. Similarly if you have to apply a granular product for aeration recovery then this should be following the same line in terms of nitrogen form.

Ok that’s all for this week, time to catch up with my in tray…last time I saw it it was legging for the door 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt