Monthly Archives: December 2015

December 21st


Hi All,

A shortened blog today because technically I’m supposed to be on holiday, but alas my dedication to what will be my last blog of 2015 comes before everything 🙂

So we are one day away from the Winter Solstice, our shortest day of the year and likely to be wet, dull and mild. I often mention this day as the turning point for the winter (from a daylight perspective) but it certainly won’t be one from a weather perspective as many areas are still waiting for winter to start. What does the Winter Solstice mean ? Well here’s a diagram to show you…


Courtesy of The Daily Express

As you can see it marks the point in the year when the North Pole is tilting furthermost from the sun so the Northern Hemisphere is at its furthest point from the sun and the Southern Hemisphere is at its closest.

I always judge this point by my TomTom in my car because it typically switches from daylight to night light mode at its earliest point in the day around now.

Speaking of my TomTom, I was gadding about ‘down south’ last week and I put a route in to take me from Kent to Cambridge, I couldn’t help but smile when it showed London (not my favourite place as you’ll know) in all of its glory 🙂


Another weather-related shot from the warmest December weekend I can remember allowing me to mountain bike in shorts and a T-Shirt, was this shot of my car dash (not by me of course) as I was Fen-bound on the way to a nice evening’s Zander fishing (speedo not featured for obvious reasons ahem) 17°C ! just mad….

So onto an abridged weather summary for this week and a look ahead to the end of this year weather-wise.

General Weather Situation

Well starting the week we still have that strong westerly jetstream in place that’s been wafting warm air over The Atlantic (which must be the warmest its ever been in December)  so that means an unsettled, windy and sometimes wet week ahead, with possibly a cold snap for Christmas Day just to bring us to our senses temporarily anyway.

So Monday sees a general band of rain already into Ireland and pushing east to make landfall with the western coastline of the U.K mid-morning. It’ll then continue its march over the U.K to give a wet afternoon and evening for many. This rain may fall as wintry showers across The Highlands. Temperatures staying mild (but not as high as last week) with a strong westerly wind. Tuesday sees a continuation of this wet theme with another heavy pulse of rain over Ireland moving eastwards. This time it’ll tend to affect westerly regions more with some heavy rain across the North Wales, the north-west of England (sorry everyone) and south west Scotland. Towards the end of Tuesday those winds change from south-westerly to north westerly and that’ll drop the temperature, especially for the north and for Ireland.

By Wednesday we still have that rain affecting the north west and south west of Scotland, but as we go through the day it’ll begin to fizzle out, so Ireland should have a sunny afternoon after a dull start. Away to the south and east you’ll miss any rain and have a bright, sunny day, though feeling a good bit cooler than of late as that cold air sinks south. It’ll remain windy in all areas with a westerly wind in place. As we head towards Thursday we have a heavy rain front pushing into Ireland during Wednesday night and again this will push into western coasts bringing some heavy rain to the south west, Wales, the north west and western Scotland. This rain will push eastwards falling as wintry showers at elevation in the colder air that we now will have with us, so a potentially wet Christmas eve for central and eastern areas.

For Christmas Day we have some wintry showers over Scotland kicking off the day and that should the first of my Paddy Power White Christmas bets (placed in September mind) safely in the bag (and it’ll nicely compensate the ones that won’t come in :)) These wintry showers will affect north west England, The Pennines and down to Manchester / Leeds M62 country. Elsewhere we look to have a dry, bright, breezy start to Christmas day and a chilly one perhaps with a night frost in places if the skies clear on Christmas Eve. By evening on Christmas Day a new rain front will push into south west Munster and move north east across Ireland to give a wet end to the day.

This rain will move with milder air into the west coast of the U.K in the early hours of Boxing Day. So Boxing Day follows that very familiar path pushing over from Ireland to affect the west coast of the U.K. Unfortunately it looks like North Wales, the north west of England and south west of Scotland will cop it the worst. Further south and east of this, the equally-familiar story of drier conditions plays out.  It’ll be cooler again than of late with light westerly winds.

Looking ahead to the end of 2015 we look to have some very windy conditions kicking in from the start of next week with initially some pretty mild temperatures on a southerly airstream. So, very windy, mild and unsettled initially, but was we progress towards mid-week we see cooler air coming into the west and also some pretty heavy rain around especially as we get closer to New Years Eve. So it could be a cool, but potentially pretty wet end to 2015.

Agronomic Notes

Rainfall Data 2015

I’ve already had some year-to-date rainfall stats coming in but obviously once we’ve kissed goodbye to 2015, please send them on to

I’m sure we’re going to see some strange readings for this year with some locations in the south and south east reporting a dry year overall even though everywhere is pretty wet as we stand now. Indeed if you look at lake and reservoir levels in The Midlands and south of England, they’re a long way down on where you’d expect them to be in late December. Some end-users are reporting 50% capacity which will contrast markedly with the west and north where we have far too much water for rivers and reservoirs alike to cope with.

GDD / Growth Potential Spreadsheet 2016


True to form Paul has kindly updated the above to 2016 specification so if you want to download it in readiness for the new year ahead you’ll find it here

As I hope you’ve all seen it generates some very useful data as we go through the year. For me it allows us to put some meaningful figures behind how growth is year-on-year and spot uptake windows for PGR’s, fertilisers and pesticides alike. For sure November and December 2016 will check out as the highest GDD / G.P figures we’ve measured to date.

Carrying on the theme from last week here’s how this autumn / winter looks to date in terms of daily growth patterns vs. the same period last year.

GP211214 GP211215

December 2015 (to date)  represents a 370% increase in total growth potential vs. December 2014 with a total figure of 8.65 for the month to date.

To put that into perspective the total G.P for March 2015 was 4.26, so that means we’re likely to have had twice the growth potential in December 2015 than we had in March 2015 !!!!

Balmy / Barmy…..

Look at the last 5 days of this month and you can see the extremely high growth potential figures indicating strong growth of not only grass, but also pathogens I’m afraid so it’s hardly surprising I’m going to cover them next 🙁

Disease Activity

I’d anticipate plenty of disease activity about at the moment, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that 5 days on the bounce of 16ºC and night temperatures in the teens will mean that Microdochium nivale is on the march again.

So we will see that familiar sight of activity around old scars and on turf that should currently be under protection. As I have explained before this is not because the control isn’t working, it’s because the rate of fungal growth (due to high temperatures) is faster than the rate of fungal growth suppression by the fungicide. So you’re likely to see mycelium on your turf for the start of this week but happily with a cooler day today and some colder days this week, that should tip the balance back again.

If you haven’t got a control in place and you can find a spray window (unlikely in the west and north I’ll grant) I’d just apply a high rate of acidifying iron with the option of tank-mixing a fungicide (if your outbreak is particularly bad) if it’s mixable of course. I’m finding some good results with this strategy this autumn in terms of just knocking back the disease growth, sure it won’t eradicate it, but it does help.


Ok, all that remains is to wish you all a safe and happy Christmas wherever you end up spending it and I look forward to 2016 and hopefully a blast of winter before we start the spring. If not we’ll have our Poa seedhead flush in February at this rate !!!!!

All the best..

Mark Hunt






December 14th


Hi All,

Just  a week away from the shortest day and winter has yet to really show its teeth. This is normal though because south of the Scottish border and across to Ireland, winter doesn’t really seem to start till after Christmas. Meanwhile we have the rain and a succession of dull days to keep us company 🙁 Yesterday was one such day, dull, drizzling and cold with the night warmer than the day ! Thoughts are already turning to the Christmas Break and whether we will see any change in the mild airflow and for some areas I think we will, especially over Scotland. For the south it is delicately balanced for Christmas Day. My Snufflepigs are still happily consuming a very expensive packet of mealworms a week and only Mum and Dad have curled up and hibernated for the winter, the 4 offspring are making hay while the sun shines, or doesn’t to be precise 🙂

Ok onto the all-important weather and for many the last chance to get a pre-Christmas tonic on.

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with a mix of rain, sleet and wintry showers sitting over Scotland, primarily looking to affect a line from Stirling / Perth sort of way and northwards. At the same time we have a band of rain / heavy rain making landfall in West Kerry. This will push up across Ireland during the morning and will likely give some heavy bursts along the east coast of Wexford and up to Dublin. For England and Wales it looks to be a dull start to the week and by mid-morning we’ll see some rain pushing into the south west and Wales, slowly moving inland through the day to affect western areas. They’ll also be a risk of some rain over The Midlands through the later morning. The sun will be taking yet another day off so expect high single figure temperatures and light southerly winds for most areas, maybe stronger over Ireland and along the west.

Overnight into Tuesday we have that rain still affecting the south and west of Ireland by dawn and also a lighter band of rain over northern eastern England and Scotland. Dull and dreary everywhere else I’m afraid with little sight of the sun. By mid to late morning we see more rain pushing into the south west of Ireland and England and some of this will be heavy in nature. Through the afternoon this rain sweeps north and east across Ireland and England so by the evening only the north and east of England will have been spared. Winds will remain light to moderate and the temperatures similar to Monday, high single figures so nothing to write home about. Through Tuesday night that rain carries on moving north into The Borders and north east of Scotland so a wet end to the day pretty much everywhere, but it’ll be noticeably milder through the night.

Moving onto Wednesday we still have that rain sitting over the U.K and Ireland by the morning rush hour, though it’ll be more fragmented and lighter in places. We will see a change in the wind direction to the south west and this will pull in milder air for mid-week, so milder and windier at the same time. Through Wednesday morning / early afternoon that rain becomes more localised along the west coast, but across the east coast we may even see a yellow round object previously known as The Sun gracing our presence 🙂 These breaks in the cloud cover look to be primarily along the north east coast of England and Scotland, so a mild, sunny end to the day there. Elsewhere we should see that rain gradually fizzle out to leave a mild might going into Thursday with temperatures not likely to drop below double figures.

For Thursday we have rain pushing overnight into and across Ireland so by dawn it’s affecting all areas though perhaps heaviest over Leinster. That same band of rain will also be into the west coast of the U.K in time for the morning rush hour and as it moves inland during the morning it’s likely to become localised and heavy over Wales. By lunchtime that rain is still affecting the west coastline of the U.K from Cornwall all the way up to The Highlands but it will have cleared the east of Ireland to leave some sunny spells would you believe. As we approach dusk more rain moves across Ireland and inland across the U.K to give another mild, wet night concluding with heavy rain for the south east of England. Winds will be moderate to strong especially over western coasts and it’ll feel very mild with temperatures in the low teens.

Closing off the week for Friday and we have light rain affecting the west and north west coast of the U.K and some showers over Ireland. Elsewhere it looks like a dull and slightly cooler start to affairs on Friday as that mild air moves through. By lunchtime we still have some rain across the west coast of Ireland, the north of England and Scotland, but they’ll also be some short breaks in the cloud as well as we move through to Friday afternoon, principally in the south of the U.K. By Friday night that rain over Scotland and the north of England looks to slowly drift down into The Midlands for the start of the weekend. Cooler on Friday with temperatures just making it into the low double figures with a strong to moderate westerly wind.

How are we looking for the last shopping weekend before Christmas ?

Well Saturday looks like being wet as another band of heavy rain pushes in from The Atlantic across Ireland during Saturday morning and into the western coastline of the U.K. The main path of this rain is north and east so it’s possibly that central, eastern and southern areas may miss the bulk of it. The flip side is that Wales, the north west and Scotland won’t. This rain looks to clear Ireland by late afternoon but there’s still a risk of some rain hanging on over west Munster. This western theme extends to the U.K because as we move into Saturday evening the rain will mainly be confined to western coastlines (again) It’ll be feeling mild again in a strong to moderate south westerly wind so temperatures up into the teens again. Overnight into Sunday looks to show more rain moving in a belt up from the south west of England over The Midlands into East Anglia with other areas drier and for Ireland brighter 🙂 It looks to go cooler and windier for Sunday with some cold air pushing down into Scotland and the north of England so any moisture here will fall as wintry showers.

Weather Outlook

My 10-day projections take me right up to Christmas Eve now so we nearly have a handle on the Christmas period. Here’s how it looks…

Monday looks to start extremely windy with some very closely-packed isobars, particularly for Scotland and the north. Initially this will pull cool air down but it’ll be a north-south divide with cold air over Scotland and milder air over the southern half of the U.K. As the wind will be westerly in nature it’s no surprise that this combination will push rain across Ireland and the U.K on Monday with some of this moisture falling as snow over The Highlands. The windy, mild (for the south) and unsettled theme continues into Tuesday with more strong, westerly winds and rain rattling across the U.K and Ireland. For Wednesday those winds, still strong, swing round to a more north-westerly aspect and that pulls cooler air down into the north of England and The Midlands. They’ll still be showers around, some of them wintry in the north for a time before turning back to rain as the wind shifts round to the south west and pushes milder air in (Blast, bugger and damn for my Paddy Power bets :() Christmas Eve looks to be dry and mild across the south with decreasing winds, but Scotland could pick up a dollop of snow potentially over The Highlands. For Christmas Day I think we could see a sneaky southern low push southerly and therefore mild winds across the U.K and with it some rain, potentially heavy for the south. This pattern of strong westerlies and unsettled milder weather looks to continue through the Christmas period so a potentially mild end to the year in store. That said it’s no different to most years now with mild, wet weather for the close of December courtesy of a strong jet stream that shows no potential to dip south and allow colder weather to prevail.

Agronomic Notes

2015 Rainfall Stats and GDD / G.P Excel Spreadsheet

As we approach the end of 2015, I’ll make my customary appeal for end of year rainfall stats once we have kissed the year goodbye. If you could kindly send them to Paul will do his usual excellent job of trying to cram them all onto a U.K and Irish chart so we can see how we’ll all compare. We will also have a new 2016 GDD / G.P Spreadsheet available on next week’s short blog (I’m trying to finish early for Christmas ahahahaha)

This year has really demonstrated to me the benefit of having GDD and G.P information available, especially in the spring to highlight what a difficult start to the season it was with very slow growth up until May. To be able to show when things were growing and when they weren’t and to be able to compare year on year data was invaluable. Growth Potential data also proved its worth in highlighting summer stress levels in early July and pinpointing uptake windows for fertilisers, PGR’s and fungicides. I freely admit I’m learning as I go along here how best to use both models but what can’t be denied is that they are both useful.

To highlight the above I have charted out the growth potential from the beginning of October till the 14th December for this year and last year using data from Sean at The Oxfordshire. (Cheers me dears)

It dramatically illustrates how this autumn / winter has been so much milder than last year (which wasn’t particularly cold anyway) with growth continuing strongly into mid-December (and beyond I’d bet)

GP10122014 GP10122015

You can clearly see that the only real cold snap we’ve had occurred in the third weekend of November…

Rainfastness and Sprays….

Speaking of uptake windows and spray days it looks tricky this week for some of you with strong winds but rainfall the main issue.

I often get asked how rainfast formulations are, particularly fungicides and there’s actually very little credible information kicking around. I am aware that data has been generated for Iprodione (we generated it :)) and the following has been found. (Please note this will vary according to manufacturer / formulation for this active)

Amount of Iprodione lost with 10mm of rainfall following application ;

10mm rainfall 1 hr after application = 45% lost / 55% retained

10mm rainfall 2 hrs after application = 40% lost / 60% retained

10mm rainfall 4 hrs after application = 28% lost / 72% retained

The above represents a pretty rainfast formulation that I do know.

Now 10mm of rain is pretty heavy rain following application but you can see that in essence you need a minimum of 4 hours between application and heavy rain in order to retain nearly 75% of what you’ve applied on the leaf. I think that’s a pretty good benchmark for most sprays whether they are fungicidal or not, so that’s what I work to. Of course once it’s washed off the leaf then it depends upon how well the active binds to organic matter (and thereby resists leaching) and indeed whether the plant can take it up through the root system to determine plant uptake. Either way it’s likely to be a lot slower at this time of year with a definite lag between foliar and soil applications in favour of the former being the quickest uptake option.

Spray Windows

So how are we looking this week for spray windows to put on that Christmas tonic ?

For The Midlands and south of England I think the best spray day is likely to be Wednesday after the overnight rain has moved through because you aren’t due more rain until late on Thursday so that’ll give a window of nearly 18 hours. Add in to that the arrival of milder air mid-week means your uptake will be pretty efficient too. Failing that then Friday looks like being half-decent with little or no rain on the horizon though it will be cooler.

For the north of England, Wales and Scotland this one will be tricky because you have stronger winds and more persistent rainfall in your forecast. Your window is likely to be shorter because of this but again I’d plump for Wednesday morning (wind-allowing) once the overnight rain has moved through. Friday also looks better with light rain forecast though the wind will still be a likely issue.

For Ireland it’s a pretty similar picture to Scotland, Wales and the north of England with the bulk of the rainfall passing through up to mid-week and therefore the best opportunity either on Wednesday or Friday. The west of Ireland is a much harder call because you guys get Atlantic rain first and so your windows are short and sweet. Again Friday looks the best window in your week with the heavier rain not arriving till overnight Saturday.

In terms of composition of any spray you’re likely to want to apply, we certainly don’t need much N because as you can see from the above we still have good G.P and therefore growth rates in December so I’d be looking for a small amount of N, a good hit of iron for sure and a little potassium to round it out.

Ok that’s it for now, next week will be an abridged version of my blog all things considered.

All the best.

Mark Hunt








December 7th


Hi All,

Well the weather certainly made some headlines over the weekend. An estimated 12-14″ (300-350mm) of rain fell over the course of a 24-hour period across the north-west of England and parts of Scotland it was reported, courtesy of Storm Desmond . (What a crap name for a storm)

Such rainfall is unprecedented, but these events are likely to become more regular in my mind with the changes to our climate and the warming of the atmosphere. When you see pictures like this of Carlisle Football Club with flooding over the height of the goalposts according to the Carlisle manager on BBC Radio 4 this morning, it puts it all into perspective.


So first off I’d like to wish all the best to everyone affected in the above areas by flooding. From a weather perspective I’m afraid it looks like there’s more to come specifically for that area over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, thereafter things should settle down as we get a break in these westerly low pressure systems.

A barmy, balmy 15°C as I stretched my legs in the sodden Leicestershire countryside yesterday. Walking, slipping and sliding at times, it was noticeable how advanced the crops are in the fields and how much grass growth there was in the pastures.

For sure things are still growing at a pace, I have Roses coming into flower in my garden, the Penstemon’s are still blooming and my spring bulbs / flowers are well on their way !


All of the above said I can see that coming to a steady halt over the course of this week and perhaps beyond. (more on that later)

General Weather Situation

So we start the week and as predicted last week we have another north-south divide in terms of the weather as a low pressure system pushes in from The Atlantic. This will bring strong winds and significant rainfall I’m afraid over the course of the next 2-3 days for the west side of Scotland and the north west of England.

Putting some detail on it we have rain over Ireland, Wales, the north west of England and western Scotland early doors on Monday and this will gradually move north and east to affect central and eastern parts of northern England and Scotland through the course of the morning. For Ireland we have rain over most of the country during today, but later a more significant rain front pushes into West Kerry. (That one’s for the two JJ’s :)) and pushes north and east across Ireland tonight with some heavy rain bursts likely for south eastern Munster and Leinster. Further south and east of this, it’ll be a dull, dreary kind of day for England and Wales, but mainly dry with it and after lunch we see that cloud cover breaking to give a bright end to the day in some areas. Winds will be strong up to gale force in the north of Ireland, England and Scotland, lighter over The Midlands and south. Temperatures will be on the mild side, reaching double figures in most areas and perhaps even mid-teens in the far south of England if you see the sun.

Moving onto Tuesday we have that new storm front pushing in overnight into the early hours of Tuesday so some heavy rain likely to affected the entire western coastline of the U.K, right from the south-west of England up to the north west of Scotland. By morning rush hour we have two vertical bands of rain, one just approaching the west coast of Ireland, the other moving across central England stretching from Newcastle to the Isle of Wight. Through the morning this rain pushes eastwards and between it a brighter spell of weather will open up so for the afternoon for central areas it could be sunny and mild. Either side of this we will have these rain bands in situ. By dusk that rain has cleared most of Ireland and pushes into the west coast of Wales and northern England, lighter though in intensity. Temperatures will be a little down on the start of the week and still we will have strong to gale force winds over western parts of Scotland and the north of England.

Starting Wednesday we have rain over Ireland and a significant rain front pushing into north west England and Scotland through the course of the morning. South of this looks to be dry and bright with a cool start to the day. The Pennines appear to be the demarcation line, with rain north of this and brighter, cooler weather to the south. Through the course of the early afternoon, the rain over north west England moves off and pushes northwards into south west Scotland. At the same time we see another heavy rain pulse pushing into Connacht. Into Wednesday evening this rain spreads and intensifies in a line across all of Ireland, the north of England and Scotland, so a very wet night in prospect I’m afraid. South of this line we finish the day, dry, bright, but noticeably cooler as the temperatures start to drop away.

Overnight into Thursday we still have that heavy rain pulse sitting over the north west of England and North Wales, so more flooding for sure here. Further north we have another rain band stretching from Connacht, Donegal across to Scotland and this will fall as snow over higher ground as we start to see those temperatures drop.  As we move through Thursday morning this rain will push east over Ireland and slowly clear the west coast of the U.K, moving inland as it does. Again another north-south contrast with The Midlands and central areas having a dull, drizzly, cool day. Through the afternoon that rain moves south and eastwards into The Midlands and south of England so a wet end to the day for the south and a drier end to the day for the north. Scotland though will keep that mix of rain, sleet and snow right into Thursday evening. Wind-wise we will still have a prevailing south westerly wind, but it’ll remain cool with temperatures struggling to hit high single figures everywhere.

Closing out the week we have much cooler air moving in so that moisture sitting over Scotland will convert to a more wintry feel as we move into Friday. They’ll be some rain sitting over Donegal and North Wales and that will be slow to clear through Friday morning. Elsewhere it’ll be a cold, dry and bright start, potentially with an overnight frost if the skies clear overnight. It’ll also make the roads a tad slippy first thing with that combination of overnight rain and falling temperatures so please beware. Through Friday afternoon those wintry showers sink south along the north west coast of England and into Wales, so again some white stuff on the high stuff 🙂 The wind will still be from the west, decreasing in strength after a windy week, but as commented earlier, it’ll be noticeably cooler, even in the sunshine. The Midlands and Central England look to have a dry end to the week, dry, but cold mind.

Onto the all-important weekend and Saturday looks to be dry and cold for most areas with some wintry sunshine and a widespread frost for many areas. By dusk though we have a rain front pushing into West Kerry (there’s another mention lads so you can’t complain now :)) and this will move rapidly north and east across Ireland on Saturday night and into the western coastline of the U.K during the early hours of Sunday. You can guess then that Sunday looks to be extremely wet in places with some of that rain falling as sleet and snow, particularly over The Highlands which may pick up a lovely dump in time for some Scottish skiing 🙂 So a wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards and chilling out, inside Sunday I think for many, though it will feel much milder.

Weather Outlook

Thought inevitably turn towards snow at Christmas around now, whereas I’m more Paddy Power-orientated courtesy of my spread of White Christmas bets placed in September 🙂 Still too early to say as we’re more than 10 days out but next week’s blog will give an inkling I think. That said we are definitely in for some chillier weather next week. So Monday looks to have a continuation of that low pressure system sitting over the south of England and although mild initially, it’ll start to pull in cold, moist area from Scandinavia and Russia. That means wet, cold and windy with a prevailing north westerly wind. So some of this moisture will fall as wintry showers, particularly over higher elevations. That low looks to stay in situ till mid-week when it reluctantly skulks off towards the continent. This has the effect of pulling in colder, northerly winds from Wednesday next week onwards and possibly some wintry showers, this time for the eastern coastline of the U.K. So the 2nd half of next week looks drier, especially for the west you’ll be pleased to hear, but blooming cold with some strong northerly winds in place.

If I took a guess after that I’d say we’ll see Atlantic low pressures start to dominate on the run up to Christmas so a return to mild, wetter weather and another win for Paddy Power 🙁

Agronomic Notes

Soil Temperature & Grass Growth


Checking the soil temperature on my monitor just now, I see it’s sitting at 13.3°C, on the 7th December ! Looking back at this year’s soil temperature readings from the spring, that is the same as I measured in Mid-May 2015 !

It’s hardly surprising as I go round that outfield areas (and my own lawn!) are currently on the verge of being out of control with many end-users finding it difficult to get a cut on fairways, semi-rough, tees and sports pitches. Not too mention sloped areas like tee and bunker banks. This growth will definitely come to a halt by the end of this week with the predicted decline in air temperature and from what I can see next week it won’t be going back up again after a brief period of milder weather passes through Sunday / Monday.

The problem is when do you get that cut in ?

I fully accept / appreciate many areas particularly across the west and north of the U.K / Ireland will have absolutely no chance of cutting anything this week and next week for that matter. For the guys in central and southern areas I’d say you may just have the opportunity this week despite some of that westerly rain pushing eastwards. It’s probably going to be a case of making the best out of a bad lot i.e cutting even though you know it’ll make things look worse initially, but with next week’s low pressure set to bring more rain to the south, this may be the last week that presents any opportunity at all this side of Christmas. Sorry to be a bit doomy and gloomy but that’s the craic I’m afraid.

Changing our approach going forward ?

Bearing in mind this will be the longest spell of consistent mild weather that I can remember extending not only through October (which is normal now), but November and half of December as well, should we change our approach to turf maintenance accordingly ?

Ok, one Swallow doesn’t make a summer, next year may be different but maybe we have to adapt our thinking going forward ?

PGR’s on outfield turf in November ?

Last week I discussed the very evident fact that temperature is driving grass growth more I think than light availability. This has to be the case because November was the dullest on record for the last 80 years or so with a total of 36 hours sunshine for the entire month.

Grass species like Lolium perenne (Perennial ryegrass) has always I think been a notoriously poor grass (growth-wise) in the winter and I had put this down to lack of light being the main driver. I have to question my conclusion now because I’m seeing thick, lush ryegrass swards even when we have had poor light levels, so temperature must be the main driver for its growth ?

Considering it is one of the least-affected species in terms of trinexapac-ethyl applications, is there not a case to continue PGR applications right into the back end of the year if we are seeing this trait of mild soil and air temperatures continue ? Surely locking down the growth by using a high rate of TE combined with iron would give excellent presentation, but without the clippings headache.

Now I’d admit to being one of those that doesn’t like the idea of extending PGR applications late into the year with my reluctance mainly orientated towards fine turf, rather than outfield, but we must think out of the box and change / adapt to our changing environment. I know some of you apply PGR pretty much all-year-round and report excellent results (on fine turf I mean) so if this years weather trend becomes the norm I think it’s something we need to consider going forward.


With no Chlorpyrifos available now and with many reporting strong worm activity at the back end despite applying Carbendazim or other treatments (tut tut) I guess this is another area where we are going to have to change our way of thinking because I can’t see anything on the horizon anytime soon. This change of mindset will have to extend from maintenance to management and the players as well.

Disease Management /  Spray Windows

Not that there have been many spray windows of late due either to surfaces being too wet to take a sprayer onto and / or strong winds and heavy rain, but it’s likely that some of you still have active Fusarium (Sorry Microdochium nivale!) on your fine turf areas, particularly on the periphery of areas that were attacked late October/ early November. The question is when are you going to get a chance to spray ? Well obviously it depends on which part of the U.K and Ireland you’re located, for some, this week (and next) will present no opportunity due to constant rainfall, but for others (more east and south) you should have some spray windows this week.

Traditionally I know a lot of you like to put a tonic on for Christmas just to keep the plant healthy but apart from some areas this week I don’t think next week will provide much in the way of opportunity with either rainfall early in the week or strong, northerly winds later. It’s going to be tricky for sure. So identify an opportunity if it is there and take it is my advice.

Ok that’s it for now.

All the best..

Mark Hunt








December 1st


Hi All,

Nearly back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is) with my blog writing, but this week I wanted till today so I could do a proper summary of November’s lovely weather 🙂

Time marches on and Christmas (bah humbug) is just around the corner. As I said to the lass in our local Waitrose who was offering samples of their Christmas pud in mid-November…”Would you like to try some sir ?” she said, “Yes please” says I………”At Christmas” and promptly walked off with a certain smugness I must admit….

Not that you’d know we are in December as we still have 10.5°C soil temperature, the grass is still growing and the animals that normally would have hibernated by now are still stocking up. My last pair of Hedgehogs are up to 350gms now (It must be like alien abduction to them, there they are sitting chomping on some mealworms and up they go, straight onto a set of scales and then back again) so I reckon they’re fat enough to survive what will be a shorter winter. Last week out on an evening cycle I saw bats feeding in the railway tunnels I was cycling through, they’re normally fast asleep by now….

As you can see from this morning’s Sunseeker 3D pic, we are rapidly heading to the lowest point of the winter in terms of the sun’s ‘angle of dangle’ and then we begin the march back to summer 🙂 (Well more of a stagger really initially)


So after the deluges of November (particularly for the north west of England where some areas are reporting 14 inches -350mm of rain for the month !), how does the beginning of December look like it’s shaping up ?

General Weather Situation

Tuesday starts off dry, dull and settled for southern areas with quieter winds than of late (another feature of November is those high winds), however we already have more heavy rain mixed in with wintry showers over Scotland, the north of England and Wales, north of a line drawn up from The Wash. Ireland also looks to have rain along the west coast in particular, but showers across the rest of the country to boot. As we move through the morning that rain pushes northwards into Scotland with some heavier bursts on the north west coast and over my beloved Arran 🙂 We’ll also still see some rain lingering over mid-Wales as well and into the South Lakes. A quieter day wind-wise for many, but a real north-south divide in terms of temperatures with mild air over central and southern England and colder air across the north and Scotland. So single figures initially for Scotland, but milder air pushing in later with that rain and low to even mid-teens in the south of England would you believe. Winds will be south-westerly / westerly and moderate.

Onto Wednesday and that rain, lighter now, is still sitting over Wales, the north of England and Scotland, whilst a new front pushes into the west of Ireland. So by dawn we have a band sitting across Ireland up to Scotland, but further south across The Midlands and Central England we look dry. As we move through the morning that rain clears Ireland and much of Scotland, but intensifies over Wales and the north west of England (sorry) during the early afternoon. So by dusk we still have heavy rain stretching over Wales up into the north west and north of England, but it has cleared Ireland, most of Scotland and further south, you stay dry. Again we’ll have mild temperatures for Wednesday with moderate westerly / south-westerly winds, but it’ll be a few degrees cooler than Tuesday so low-double figures the order of the day.

Overnight into Thursday and we see that northerly intense band of rain pushing south with a change in the wind direction (to northerly) so for you up north, it’ll be a drier day once that rain has moved away. Ireland and Scotland look to start bright and clear, most likely with an overnight frost as that cooler air pushes southwards. So that rain band stretches over Wales and the north of England during the morning and with the drop in temperatures will likely fall as sleet and snow over The Pennines and at higher elevations. Through the afternoon that rain continues to sink southwards over the south west and southern England so a wet and cold end to Thursday for you. North and west of this it’ll be dry and bright with a marked coolness to the temperatures and the chance of a ground frost initially.

As we move into Friday that rain band stubbornly clings to the south east of England and save for some rain / wintry showers over The Highlands of Scotland it’ll be a dry, cold, bright start for many on Friday with maybe more in the way of cloud for Ireland and Scotland. As we move through the morning that rain clears England but stays in situ over The Highlands and is joined by a new band, so heavier rain for the north west of Scotland. That same rain band will also push into Connacht through Friday afternoon and provides a portent to come for the weekend. unfortunately. So a dry day on Friday for England and Wales, with just some rain later in the day for the north of England. It’ll remain cool though despite the wind swinging back round to the south west / west for the close of the week so high single figures the order of the day.

Onto the all-important weekend and if you’re planning on hitting the shops I suggest you take some very good waterproof coats and a hat because we have a good deal of heavy rain on the radar and some high winds for Saturday in particular. So i wouldn’t bother with a brolly as it’s likely to do a Sputnik impression down the High Street !.

Starting on Saturday we have heavy rain for Ireland, Scotland and the north of England (north west in particular I’m afraid) straight from the office. This rain will move south into Wales and the south west by mid-morning, but eastern and central areas may well stay dry. Through the afternoon it’ll clear Ireland from the north downwards, but it looks if anything to intensify over the north west of England and Wales through dusk on Saturday and in addition it’ll move eastwards as well so a wet Saturday night in prospect for most. We will also see a band of rain and wintry showers into The Highlands through Saturday evening, falling as sleet and snow. It’ll be another north-south divide in terms of temperatures with cold air over Scotland and mild, wet air over the south of Ireland, Wales and England.

Sunday sees that rain sink further south so Ireland, the north of England and Scotland look to start dry, however by mid-morning it starts to move north again so the south of England, central areas and The Midlands will get a double whammy of rainfall. During Sunday afternoon this rain will have pushed back into Ireland and will be back heading northwards across Wales and moving into the north of England. By dusk on Sunday it’ll be across the north of England, Ireland and Scotland and as it meets that colder air, it’ll fall as sleet and snow over higher elevations. So cool and wet will sum up the weekend for many.

Weather Outlook

I’d love to say I can see an end to this constant stream of westerly low pressure systems pushing in and drowning us out, but I can’t, though we will have a mid-week respite next week. Including this coming weekend we will have had 4 low pressure systems rattle in over the last 3 weeks and you can clearly see their effect on rainfall patterns in the graph below. (Cheers James)


So next week looks like starting very wind, cool in the north and with heavy rain pushing across the country.  It looks to stay unsettled through Tuesday, maybe with lighter rain though and milder as well as the winds shift round to the south. By mid-week we will be settled and cooler with high pressure temporarily bringing over to affairs, but it doesn’t look to last as a new, intense low pressure pushes in for the latter part of next week bringing mild air, high winds and of course rainfall. Initially for Ireland and the north west / Scotland on Thursday morning next week, but I expect it to push across all areas on Thursday with possibly a drier interlude for all but Scotland to close out the week.

Agronomic Notes

Plenty to catch up about as it’s the start of a new month.

GDD Data

You may remember I was surprised at the start of last month to see that October 2015 was actually cooler than October 2014, so how has November fared ?


According to our monthly GDD measurements, November 2015 was the warmest we’ve measured and no doubt I’m sure The Met Office and the like will pronounce it as the warmest November ever.

Looking at specific growth patterns during November using Growth Potential as a guide you can clearly see milder November 2015 temperatures vs. 2014 in the graphs below  for Thame, Bristol and Dublin ; (Thanks James, Sean and Aine)


All 3 locations show the much warmer weather for the start of November and indeed right up until that cold weekend during the third week of November when temperatures plummeted, albeit temporarily. November’s high G.P figures produced 50% more total growth potential than the previous year.

Disease Activity

Those spikes in growth have caused issues in terms of renewed activity of disease, specifically Microdochium nivale with probably the longest spell now of sustained disease pressure we’ve ever encountered.

I’ve also seen some active Fairy Ring and Thatch Fungus lately, not surprising really as this family of fungi can show activity right down to 2°C air temperature.

It also means grass has still been growing and that has some up and downsides. With the constant rainfall and milder temperatures it means getting a clean cut on outfield areas that are still growing is proving very challenging. On the flip side if you have scarring from that intense spell of disease activity in late October and early November, you should be seeing some new growth emerging through the scars, providing recovery.

Light vs. Temperature

As we move deeper into the winter in terms of shorter and shorter day length I’m surprised that we continue to see so much growth when the grass plant has a much shorter period of time to photosynthesise during the day. How come ? We’ve all been told that late season growth depletes carbohydrate reserves going into the winter, but surely if the plant is still growing it’s because it is able to make new carbohydrate from photosynthesis rather than just rely on stored reserves ?

It does prove to me that temperature is the primary driver to grass growth and that’s why GDD and G.P measurements are so relevant.

That said, we know it’s not the same for every species of grass because some are more light-dependent than others with Poa annua I think the best-adapted grass to grow under low light conditions. Ryegrass and Bentgrass (Creeping and Colonial) would feature as two of the less-able grass species in terms of growth in low light, with the latter, the most affected in my humble opinion.

Although GDD and G.P models work on air temperature we can see that soil temperature as well has been higher than ever this November ; (Spot the cold weekend in November !)


Moss and Algae

Two plant species that have definitely benefited from the combination of milder air and high soil moisture going into the back end of the year are Moss and Algae, with numerous reports of Black Algae present on areas of turf, particularly those that may have thinned over the late summer (Clean up strips, Shaded areas)

Coarse-leaved and Silver Moss species are also showing continued growth and I’d expect to come into the spring with higher populations than you went into winter.

Disease Activity – Wet Greens vs. Dry Greens

I’ve often seen and often heard feedback from you guys and girls on the fact that Microdochium tends to attack drier, more open aspect greens in the winter and early spring, whereas the normal, wet, indicator greens stay clean. Why is this ?

Some people say it’s linked to plant stress, i.e the open greens are more stressed. I can accept this for the summer and early part of the autumn, but not the winter.

I think it is to do with the actual survival of Microdochium nivale spores and the little-known fact that spores of this fungal species prefer dry conditions, rather than wet conditions in order to survive, germinate and become pathogenic again in the future. So I’m specifically talking about spore survival here, not the growth of the actual fungus itself across the plant leaf. So on wet greens I think less spores survive compared to drier greens so as we progress through the winter, it’s the latter you’ll need to keep an eye on IMHO.


With continued natural growth around there’s less need for nutrition for sure and with windy weather and frequent rain, if it is required then granular applications are the only ones likely to be made. For sure they’ll be more leaching at the back end of this year but as we’ve seen in other very wet years, grass stays healthy provided it has oxygen available.

Ok that’s it for now, should be back next Monday all things considered.

All the best.

Mark Hunt