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