Hi All,

Another weekend of two halves but for some yesterday the sun broke through the fog and pushed the temperature up to just a shade under double figures and once again you got the distinct feeling that spring is around the corner 🙂

That said our weather is on the change and this relatively settled and dry spell is not going to last as originally hoped. We have some very deep, Arctic low pressure systems pushing down on us from the north so that means much windier and wetter weather is on the way, especially for the north of England and Scotland for the early part of the week and everyone as we progress from mid-week onwards.

On a housekeeping note, there won’t be a blog next Monday as I’ll be sitting in classes at GIS2015 in San Antonio, Texas, so hopefully some interesting topics to chat about the week after…I’ll also be Cold Turkey from Costa coffee after a week of Starchucks 🙁

General Weather Situation

For the start of Monday we have a band of rain currently sitting along the west coast of the U.K and moving slowly eastwards with the first rain due to arrive in The Midlands mid-morning. This rain may fall as sleet and snow over the higher ground of north England and Scotland. Ireland which had a wet day yesterday starts off relatively clear with some sunshine. That band of rain is really slow moving and doesn’t reach the south east to the rush hour, so a wet and dull end to the day here. Once that rain is through, it looks like a mixture of cloud and some sunshine, more chance of this the further west you are. Winds will be light and from the south surprisingly and temperatures mid-single figures typically, maybe a degree or two higher if the sun breaks through.

For Tuesday, we have a much better day, dry with plenty of sunshine for just about everyone UK-wise, save for some light rain into the north-west of Scotland p.m. Ireland looks like having more cloud cover but still some morning sunshine over east Leinster and Munster. Later in the day cloud will build from the west as a new band of rain approaches, pushing into the west of Ireland later on Tuesday evening. Winds will be light and temperatures will be lovely in the sun, up to high single figures and we may just break into the ‘doubles’ down south. Clear skies mean temperatures will drop markedly when the sun sets so a cool night, but hopefully just frost-free.

By mid-week we have a cloudier day for the north and west as that rain that crossed Ireland overnight reaches the north-west of the U.K. Further south another nice day with sunshine early doors, giving way to more cloud cover as the day progresses. Slightly stronger winds from the south-west on Wednesday which later in the day push heavy rain along the west coast of Ireland and the north-west of Scotland. That heavy rain will push across all of Ireland overnight into Thursday, accompanied by fresh south-westerly winds.

For Thursday we have that heavy rain clearing most of Ireland, maybe some showers still affecting east Leinster but it’ll have moved on into the north-west of England and Scotland, so a damp start to what is turning out to be a damp week for you chaps. At present the rain is projected to affect a line from The Humber down to the south-west initially, but as we move through Thursday, it’ll sink south and east to reach The Home Counties. Cooler temperatures due to a strong south-westerly wind, mid-single figures at best for most folk.

Overnight into Friday we have that rain clearing the south-east and moving off to the continent with only an isolated area of rain affecting Wales. As we move through the morning, some rain, sleet or snow pushes into the north-west of Scotland, Ireland and Wales quickly moving eastwards. Again falling as sleet or snow over higher ground. By mid-afternoon this rain is likely to affect pretty much all of the U.K and Ireland, so a pretty wet end to the week for all of us. It will however be milder with temperatures up in the high single figures, pushed on by a strong south-westerly wind.

The weekend looks like one of two distinct halves, Saturday being mild, breezy and dry but with strong westerly winds and rain moving in for Sunday across Ireland and the bulk of the U.K to give a more unsettled day. Those westerly winds will really push temperatures up so they are likely to give low double figures for Sunday which means that rain will be nice and warm 🙂

Weather Outlook

The start of next week looks very unsettled to say the least with a really deep low pressure system coming into play. This means rain, sleet and snow for Scotland and the north, accompanied by driving winds. Further south it will remain drier, longer, with a brief interlude on Tuesday as that low moves off, but not for long as another one takes its place and pushes heavy rain through on Wednesday. The south may end up being not so bad, as the centre of the low is over Scotland, so lower amounts of rainfall the further south you go. It will feel cooler in those winds though, which will swing round to the north-west at times and make it fell really chilly. Those packed isobars look to be in situ for all of next week, so that means unsettled, cool is the theme for the week, maybe getting a little milder towards the end of the week. At least they should get me home from Houston nice and quickly if the pilot hitches a ride on the strong west-to-east jet stream 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Late Winter Aeration

For all of you guys who sent in pics of their hollow coring last week, fair play, you were able to take advantage of the settled, dry conditions we had. I know a lot of courses and pitches couldn’t because they were still frozen or sitting wet with a thawed surface sitting over a still frozen rootzone. It just goes to show how irrelevant the calendar is when it comes to this kind of thing. That window for aeration is closing now with the arrival of today’s rainfall, but will remain open on Tuesday and Wednesday in the south of England particularly.


Nice Granular Fertiliser Window Coming…

With the soil temperature sitting at 6.4°C here, that’s just high enough to start a little bit of growth going and with much milder conditions due over the weekend, I think we will see our first positive GDD of February, particularly as we know that warm rain tends to raise soil temperature quickly.

So if you have areas that really need a kick because they’ve taken a lot of play over the winter like winter tees, sports pitches (particularly Rugby), Tuesday and Wednesday this week is a great window to get a granular out before we get too windy and / or too wet to take advantage of the weather.


The same goes for tees, approaches, complexes, outfields, etc from a moss perspective whether you’re applying a high Fe granular or have a chance to spray a high rate of iron to green up areas early in the season. You should have a nice window for this during the week, except of course for the north and west, particularly Scotland where it looks pretty wet on most days of the week with maybe only Tuesday an opportunity.

This will work doubly well if you’ve already aerated because the low rate of top-growth will mean good root growth potential over the coming 10 days or so….

Grub Activity

I’ve had lots of pictures of grub activity sent to me over the last week with Bibionids – the larvae of Fever Fly and St Mark’s Fly, high up on the list. These caramel, brown grubs tend to sit right in the surface and in clusters (see pic below)



There is no labelled insecticide to treat them and although some people have reported activity from Chlorpyrifos when they’ve been spraying Leatherjackets, I think the shallow depth and the fact that they tend to cluster in organic matter makes them hard to hit. That said, although I’ve seen leaf tipping from their activity on outfield areas I don’t think the grub itself actually does that much damage to the grass plant. It is usually the activity of Corvids, Badgers and Foxes digging for them that presents the issue.


Chafers are also being spotted under turf at varying depths and in varying sizes. These are particularly an issue on and around bunker banks because of the sandier nature of the soil and the fact that like most grubs they tend to prefer feeding on freely-draining sites (contoured areas) The advent of warmer soil conditions kicked off by that forecast of mild rainfall at the end of this week and over the weekend will see these grubs start to move towards the surface to feed on newly developing roots.

Microdochium Nivale Activity (Fusarium to you and me 🙂 )


I think the milder and wetter weather forecast will kick in some activity from Microdochium nivale, in particular around the edges of old scars where the population is likely to be highest. It may not yet be mild enough for brand new activity, but around old scars is always the favourite starting place in late winter, early spring.


Ok, that’s it for now, remember there won’t be a blog next week because I’ll have my head down in classes at the GIS, no doubt trying to keep my eyes open from the reverse jet lag 🙂

I’m doing a real mix of classes from maximising soil oxygen levels to nematode management, with plant stress management and foliar fertilisation thrown in for good measure, should be a grand time 🙂

All the best…

Mark Hunt