Monthly Archives: January 2016

January 25th


Hi All,

The fact that our weather is so critically influenced by the jet stream couldn’t have been more fundamentally demonstrated than over the last 7-10 days. Last week we were in a trough in the jet stream that pulled cold Arctic air down and we hit -5°C and lower, consistently, but by Saturday morning that trough had moved off and was replaced by a peak that pulled warm air up from Africa and we hit a shade under 15°C here yesterday.

I was out cutting my front lawn yesterday to slightly bemused looks from passers-by, but as I explained to one of my neighbours, “Grass doesn’t grow by the calendar”, so if the air is 15°C and the soil is 11.5°C, it’s growing whatever month of the year it is…


This blog is 5 years old today, actually it was last week and I looked back at my first posting on Jan 17th, 2011, before starting this one. 5 years ago almost to the week I was commenting on air temperatures of 13.5°C and a soil temperature that had risen rapidly into double figures due to mild rain falling, sounds familiar doesn’t it ?

Thanks to everyone who popped by at BTME to say hello, sorry to those who did so and I was busy yapping, my apologies. I took a lot of stick about that sheep though….:)

Onto the weather and have my hopes of a stabilising high pressure for some of the U.K and Ireland for this week been answered ? in a word, no. The high is sitting below us, but there’s a huge cold low over Iceland and so we are caught between the two. Where a high and low meet it funnels the wind between the two pressure systems and that’s what we’ve got coming in the week ahead. After seeing the huge snow storms over the east coast of America, we know that these frontal systems will push over The Atlantic, pick up milder, wetter air and then dump their moisture over the U.K and Ireland, so that’s what we have to look forward to I’m afraid.

General Weather Situation

So we start this week with a westerly / south westerly air flow and that means, mild, wet and windy conditions will prevail, however we will pick up some cooler air along the way as well.

Starting off on Monday morning we have rain already into Ireland and south west Scotland, but sitting here at my desk watching the sun rise, the sky was beautiful and now it’s clear. That rain, light in nature, will push into more areas through the course of this morning, so by lunchtime I’d expect it to be over Wales, the south west and north west of England and Central Scotland, falling as a mix of wintry showers over the latter. As is often the way, south and east of this rain front, it’ll be mild, calm and dry so a nice start to the week really. By close of play Monday most of that rain will have fizzled out across the U.K and Ireland so a dry end to the day for most areas. Mild with temperatures in the low teens, but as the sky clears after the rain / cloud cover it’ll feel noticeably cooler, especially under clear skies. The wind will be blustery through the day and from the south west.

For Tuesday we see a much heavier band of rain ploughing the same furrow overnight pushing into West Ireland and onto Scotland by the morning rush hour. This rain will be heavy in nature and likely to cause localised flooding in western areas unfortunately. By mid-morning it’ll be affecting most of the west coast of the U.K down to South Wales and Ireland as well with some particularly heavy bursts across south west Scotland, north west England and Wales. South and east of these areas you’re unlikely to see this rain until later in the day. So by dusk it’ll be into south west England and Northern England and the worst rain will have cleared Ireland. Rounding off Tuesday night that rain pushes across all of the U.K, but it’ll be much lighter by the time it reaches south east and eastern areas. A cooler day with temperatures in the high single figures but it’ll actually get milder as we go into Tuesday night. The winds will be moderate to blustery and from the west / south west.

For Wednesday we see a re-run of Tuesday with heavy rain pushing into Ireland early doors. This rain front will however move more quickly from western areas to central and eastern areas so everybody will see significant rain on Wednesday although as usual the worst of the rain will be across Ireland, western coasts, Wales and the south-west of Scotland. With colder temperatures over Scotland, that rain will turn to sleet and snow with significant amounts expected over higher elevations, but I expect lower levels to see some as well. Scotland is really getting hammered this week I’m afraid by rain, every day sees significant rainfall and that’ll mean flooding I’m afraid for a lot of areas. By the end of Wednesday that rain will largely have moved away from the U.K and Ireland to leave a clear night though there may still be some wintry showers over Scotland and North Wales and some vestiges of rain over the south east of England going into Thursday. Temperatures will be milder on Wednesday, into low double figures but again that wind will be blustery and from the south west.

Thursday presents a much drier brighter picture but there is rain lurking out west and time will tell how much of the U.K and Ireland it really affects. Where skies are clear there is a likelihood of a light frost for most areas and in general it will feel much cooler. Cloud cover will build through the morning over Ireland, but any rain initially should only be over Donegal and north west Connacht. So dry and bright, but feeling much cooler for all areas as the low pressure picks up some colder air. NorthSouthdivide

By late afternoon that rain gathers strength and pushes into Ireland and then follows that familiar path of affecting the west and north primarily, whilst the south and east miss the bulk of it. (see map left) Overnight that rain sinks south and affects all areas but lightens as it does so. So temperatures much lower for Thursday, in the mid to high single figures and still with that westerly wind though perhaps lighter through Thursday.

Closing out the week and it will seem for the west and north like more of the same I’m afraid because we see rain over north west Scotland and Ireland, Wales and the south west of England. There may also be some light showers over The Midlands and central areas as well. Through Friday morning that Scottish rain pushes into central and south west Scotland and then later northern England. All the time though the worst affected areas are western coasts. Wales will also see a continuation of what has already been a very wet week I’m afraid so not much joy to send your way at the moment. Into Friday night and that rain sinks south into England, lightening as it does so. The winds will really ramp up for the end of the week so strong westerlies, Gales in places and that’ll peg back temperatures to high single figures, all in all a crap end to the week 🙁

So as you’d expect the outlook for the weekend is unsettled with strong westerly winds and a good chunk of rain. For Saturday that rain will have a southern orientation so although all areas of the U.K and Ireland will see rain through the day, the heaviest will be across South Wales, the south west of England, Central England and The Midlands up to the M62 sort of area. It’ll take most of the day to clear and later I expect some of that rain to turn to wintry showers again over Central Scotland. These will linger on into Saturday evening. Ireland will have a wet start to the weekend, but the worst of the rain should clear through by lunchtime so some patchy sunshine as well. It’ll remain on the cool side and the winds will be very strong and from the west. Sunday looks to be a re-run of Saturday so rain pushing across Ireland from the west and quickly into the western and then central areas through Sunday morning. Again the worst of the rain will be a.m. Winds will be westerly and it’ll remain windy.

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to start off with more of the same I’m afraid as that deep low slowly moves eastwards, so initially wet and windy for Monday, however as that low moves off, high pressure is set to build again from the south and west. As it does so the winds will swing round to the north so a good bit cooler later on Monday, early Tuesday I think and then hopefully some dry, cold and settled weather for all of us from mid-week, next week. I don’t expect it to last that long though as more heavy low pressure systems are stacking up behind it, so a return to milder, unsettled, windy and wet conditions is on the cards for the end of the week.

Agronomic Notes


When you have a geographical map split like this you can kind of guess the advice, suggestions, comments and feedback are going to be pretty split as well 🙂

Prior to this week most areas have had a 4-5 day cold and largely dry spell (save for the snow) and for me it was amazing how areas had dried up locally whilst out walking yesterday. Of course for Ireland, the west and north, this picture was spoilt by a dump of rain at the end of last week. For other areas though it re-affirmed to me the reason why turf was so wet after Christmas, even though the total amounts of rainfall hadn’t been out of the ordinary. (for the south and east)

For sure it was the lack of drying days that has characterised the pattern of rainfall this winter and that started in November.

Looking at the stats for the month so far we can see the lack of drying days very clearly, even at a dry site like The Oxfordshire with only 5 days (out of 24) completely dry. Now I know other areas will have received a lot more rain than this site, but I bet the number of drying days is similar and so is the effect, a wet surface canopy.


On the growth side of things we can see that levels have been quite normal really for January with little or no growth since the mid-part of the month. This has changed over the weekend with a sharp increase in temperature and so I expect an increase in clippings to be greeting you this morning. Looking at the total GDD for the month, we are at 11 on this site and normally January checks out somewhere between 25 and 40 for the whole month, so it’s been on the cool side this month for most.

Microdochium Activity

This sudden increase in air temperature experienced over the past 2-3 days is likely to have kicked off disease activity, especially where you already have scars present from last autumn and thus a high population is in situ. Aside from areas in the east and south, it’s going to be difficult to treat this from a wind, rain and I’m sure ‘getting to the playing surface’ perspective over the coming week with no spray days for most of you in the worst-affected areas. Sorry I can’t give you better news.

Moss Growth

Low light, high moisture levels and a mild November and December has really ramped up moss growth and if there is an application window open to you, this week is a good time to hit these areas with a high iron product. From a golf course perspective, back tees are an obvious first port of call due to their less play / more organic matter dynamic. You’d have thought that the elevated levels of grass growth at the back end of last year would have out-competed moss but I think the growth dynamic between the two species has been different.

What I mean by that is that I think grass growth has been elongated and upright with little basal tillering as the combination of high air temperature and low light (short days) extended the shoot upwards. The lack of tillering has seen areas thin out even though they are growing with the mild temperatures and this has allowed moss to gain the upper hand.

PGR Usage

This feature of upright growth is precisely the type that Trinexapac-ethyl will control and it therefore lends further weight in my mind to the continued usage of PGR’s (especially on outfield turf) late into the year. Recently I had a GDD / GP spreadsheet sent into me from the south west of England (Cheers Richard) and on this site the end user had been applying a PGR every 200 Growth-Degree Days starting from Jan 1.

Here’s how the frequency of application mapped out last year applying every 200 GDD.

Application 1 – 10th April / Application 2 – 13th May / Application 3 – 10th June /

Application 4 – 29th June / Application 5 – 16th July / Application 6 – 30th July /

Application 7 – 18th August / Application 8 – 7th September / Application 9 – 1st October

That was the final application, but if you’d have carried on applying every 200GDD, the rest of the year would have read…

Application 10 – 2nd November / Application 11 – 20th December

So you can see that initially the PGR applications are monthly, but in the warmer months of June and July they become fortnightly because of the increased temperatures. With a cool August and September they drop back to monthly again but because of the extended growing season through November and December (due to higher air temperatures), the applications could have continued on a monthly basis through November and December.

That for me is the beauty of using GDD as a growth model for applying PGR’s, it changes depending on the actual temperature the grass plant experiences. I know the question you’re asking….Is this PGR application to greens, tees, outfield or what ? I have to apologise here as I forgot to ask 🙁 In my mind this would be greens and tees (and outfield turf if the budget and resources were there). At the very least it vindicates why in autumn 2015, extended PGR usage was warranted.


Warm Soil = Increased Insect Activity = Increased Pecking…

The rain and mild temperatures late last week and over the weekend have kicked into life some insect activity particularly those that are living in the surface. I received a picture today which I’m pretty sure is of Bibionid Grubs (the larvae of Fever and St Mark’s Fly) with a note that pecking had been seen on greens. Bibionids are known to live in surface organic matter and so they’ll be the first type of insect affected by the sudden increase in soil temperature (I’m hoping after those cracking frosts last week that Leatherjackets and Chafers will be deeper down the profile). An additional issue is that I’ve noticed that Corvids started nesting earlier in response to the super-mild temperatures in December and I’ve already seen Crow’s and Rook’s clearly sitting on eggs in their nests. Once these hatch, the young will need feeding and as mentioned in previous blogs, with no Chlorpyrifos option, this will be our first spring when we notice the full effect of insect activity on our surfaces.

So we have a challenging week and season ahead of us for sure…

Five weeks from now though and we’ll be tip-toeing into March, it couldn’t come a moment too soon in my mind…

Rainfall Stats

Last call for your 2015 Rainfall Stats, if you want to send them in, this week is the last week we’ll be taking them, after that the door is shut for another year….Please send them to and thanks to everyone who has done so so far….

All the best…

Mark Hunt










January 18th


Hi All,

Bit of an abridged version of the blog today because I’m off to Harrogate and still have some prep (read ironing) to do 🙁 It’s quite amazing how we adapt to temperature isn’t it ? 2 weeks ago I thought 5°C felt so so cold after the balmy Christmas period, now this morning I thought how mild it felt and it’s only 2.5°C. Let’s hope the grass is able to adapt as well.

We had our first white stuff this weekend, just under a couple of inches overnight on Saturday which gave a lovely crump, crump under my boots as I walked across Leicestershire yesterday.

My lovely walk was punctuated by the discovery of a Cast Sheep in a field. Now I’ve never dealt with one before or really knew what the craic was but I felt compelled to help. So I walked over, straddled the sheep and got it back on its feet. I couldn’t believe how big it was and2015_04_26_Sheep4 because it was shivering I thought it logical to try and massage some heat into it. Immediately I was met with a reaction from both ends and it shrank visibly. After 10 minutes of this, it was half the size, right as rain, though I suspect from a distance my actions may have looked a tad suspect…What made me laugh apart from the copious venting (reminded me of my brother after he’s eaten Liquorice!) was the fact that the rest of the flock, to a sheep, watched me intently all the way through. I wonder what they were thinking……

Back to the weather, the rain gauge translated the snow that fell to an actual moisture level of 4.2mm, so that’s roughly a 10:1 Snow:Rain equivalent in my books i.e 42mm of snow = 4.2mm of actual rainfall.

Ok without further ado, onto this week’s weather…..

General Weather Situation

Let me start off by saying I’ve never seen a weather forecast from Meteoblue (or anyone) else change so much, so quickly for the week ahead. One minute it was snow, then rain and mild and now it’s pretty settled thankfully for most places.

Monday looks like being a pretty settled day after we get some moisture over with that’s currently moving across South Munster / Leinster, Central Scotland, the south west of England and Wales. Through the morning this will gradually lighten and dissipate but there’s a chance of some of these wintry showers carrying on right through till dusk over Scotland, particularly at elevation. Similarly some of the moisture over Ireland may linger across South Munster into dusk. East and south of this moisture it looks to be a quiet day as high pressure holds fort (I told you these high pressures have a habit of strengthening :)) So by Monday evening we have a pretty settled, stable and important dry picture over most of the the U.K and Ireland. I say ‘most’ because there’s always some exceptions and in this case it looks like those Scottish wintry showers will slip south overnight into Northern England. In addition we’ll also see rain pushing into the south and west of Ireland overnight. Temperatures for Monday will sit in low single figures with a light wind. I’d expect a good frost, particularly if skies clear across central and southern England later in the night.

Onto Tuesday and really nice to report that aside from some light rain affecting south and west Munster and maybe a bit over North Connacht and Donegal, everywhere else looks to have a dry and settled day after a widespread ground frost. With a bit of luck you may also see the sun from time to time as well. (What more could you ask for ?) Winds will continue to be light and I’d expect similar temperatures to Monday, low to mid-single figures.

For Wednesday we see a continuation of this dry, cold, settled theme with the possible exception of some wintry showers slipping down the east coast of the U.K through the day. The risk of some wintry showers along the east coast is a consequence of an easterly wind that we will have in situ and this will effectively peg back temperatures to the low to mid-single figures. Again I expect another frost for Wednesday night.

Onto Thursday and more of the same really, that is dry, cold and settled with varying amount of sunshine through the day depending on where you are. On a hunch I think the best of the brightness will be in central and eastern regions of the U.K for Thursday because we have that high pressure slipping eastwards towards the continent. It’s doing this because an Atlantic low is heading our way. It’s presence will be announced by the changing of the wind direction from easterly to southerly and a milder feel to the 2nd half of Thursday across western regions.  For Scotland, the north of England, the south and east though it’ll be another cold night on Thursday with a widespread ground frost.

Closing out the week we have a heavy rain front courtesy of that Atlantic low pushing into Ireland early doors Friday and then moving slowly eastwards. At this stage of the week (and this may change) it looks to make landfall on the west coast of the U.K around lunchtime and then slowly move across to central areas through Friday afternoon / evening. It may be that some eastern areas don’t receive rainfall to Saturday morning, but we’ll see. Either way it’s coming. It’ll feel a good bit milder under the effect of the low pressure system with temperatures up in the high single figures across the west. It’ll also be a good bit winder on Friday as those southerly winds gather strength.

Looking at the weekend the good news is that this rain front pushes through quickly so by Saturday morning the worst will have cleared the bulk of the U.K, though it’s likely to leave behind a dull, showery day, especially over the north. There will be some sunny intervals about as well and with that southerly airflow persisting it won’t feel too bad. That south wind could well swing round to the west as this low moves through so that could push up temperatures into double figures for Sunday across Ireland and the west of the U.K. Speaking of Ireland you may be in line for some more rain pushing into West Kerry and moving up country through Sunday afternoon.

Weather Outlook

I could almost hear the collective sigh as I wrote the words, wet, mild and windy above so are we returning to a mild, wet outlook or is the 2nd half of January going to check out drier than the 1st ?

At this stage I am cautiously optimistic that next week will see a return to high pressure and this should just hold sway with enough strength to push low pressure systems up and over us. Now there is a battle on for the start of next week with a new Atlantic low off Ireland and a continental high pressure extending over the U.K. At this stage the projections are for the high pressure to win the day, but we will see. If you notice your Meteoblue changing from dry and settled next week, to mild, wet and windy, you’ll know what happened. But let’s stay positive and hope for a continuation of the dry and cold weather.

Agronomic Notes

As explained earlier I’m on a bit of a short timeline this morning so please forgive the abridged nature of this part of the blog (another collective sigh maybe?)

Early Aeration

Ok, here’s a thought for you and it’s one following my previous blogs on hollow coring in January and February if a weather slot develops. It is also one that comes with the caveat of your own particular situation in terms of ground conditions, machinery and resources. Now I think the worst of the end of the week’s rainfall will probably be over Ireland, Wales, the west and north of England / Scotland so that probably takes you guys out of the equation. (sorry)

For the south and east though it may be that Friday nights rainfall only hits single figures and that means that by next week you could be a position to get a coring / aeration slot in. It’s a big ‘IF’ I know and wholly dependent on your own situation but ‘if’ the weather plays ball, ground conditions likewise and you have the resources / machinery available, this week before the rain and next week after it, may just be a slot to take away some organic matter. Now you may already have your aeration dates in the diary and if you do that’s great, but just have a think if you’re in the situation of having some greens / areas that are higher organic matter than others. Maybe this is the opportunity to give them an additional coring ?

If not a coring, how about vertidraining or solid tining ?

Ok, it doesn’t remove organic matter, but it will facilitate gaseous exchange and that’s likely to be pretty necessary at the moment after the long, wet months of November and December. For sure there’s likely to be plenty of anaerobic rootzones as we speak and just venting them and allowing gaseous exchange (Bit like my Cast Sheep) could help to set areas on your golf course / sports pitch back to where they should be from a rootzone oxygen perspective.

I appreciate for a percentage of you this advice is impractical because of ground conditions but let us hope that we see more high pressure systems through to the end of January and February.


Traditional Aeration Slots

Just while we are on the subject of aeration I was playing around with some stats the other day (as you do) and noted that one of the issues with the traditional March, April slots is the fact that we often go cooler and drier (see above) during those months. This is particularly the case with April where we can have cool, dry conditions and consequently poor recovery from any late March / April aeration that’s been undertaken. Sod’s law as well it’s often mild in the day so people are very quick to point the finger as to why things aren’t growing (forgetting the fact that it was probably frosty at night !)

2015 Rainfall Totals

Please keep your 2015 rainfall totals coming in and we’ll look to publish our normal summary map at the end of this month.

Ok Carpe Diem and all that, must dash, the ironing board beckons….

All the best

Mark Hunt




January 11th


Hi All,

Waking up to another 9mm of rain overnight recorded on my weather station, hearing about the death of David Bowie and knowing that rain is now accompanied by more normal temperatures for January, it is tempting to follow my Hedgehogs into hibernation (because they know it’s going to get colder don’t you know) and ask the office to wake me up sometime in March 🙂


I do marvel at nature sometimes, I mean we have all that technology to inform us in order to make decisions and nature doesn’t, yet it functions very efficiently, sometimes more efficiently than we do, maybe we have too much information eh ?

So if you’re wandering where you can possibly route golfers that doesn’t already resemble a football goalmouth or your football pitches are resembling something like they used to in the eighties, rest assured we do have some drier, colder weather on the way, but we have the first three days of this week to get through first 🙂 and 🙁

We should also be cognisant of the fact that the evenings are beginning to draw out slowly (I was still walking yesterday at 4.30 p.m. and it was only Owl twilight) and we only have 6 and a bit weeks till March 🙂 (Positive vibes everybody)

So let’s look at what this week is going to throw at us.

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees us start with a low pressure slap bang on top of the U.K and Ireland, in fact it’s centred just off the Moray Firth presently and so that means we have unsettled weather in store. For the morning we have a front of rain pushing into the south coast up through the Home Counties and into East Anglia. We also have some wintry showers sitting over the north east of Scotland. As we progress through the morning we see those rain fronts rotate anti-clockwise (because we have low pressure and that rotates in an anti-clockwise direction) up the east coast of England and down into central and south west Scotland by the afternoon. We also see another front of rain push into south west Munster at the same time. By Monday afternoon rush hour that east coast rain slips away into The North Sea whilst the Scottish wintry showers sit firmly in situ over The Highlands and Central Scotland. Elsewhere you’re still likely to see some showers with a band pushing down into North Wales, through South Wales and into the South Midlands through the course of the evening. All in all a pretty dull and shabby start to the week I’m afraid though some areas will stay dry. Temperatures will be typical for January, that is mid-single figures for central and eastern areas of the U.K and a tad higher for Ireland and the west of the U.K. Winds will vary depending on where you are but the main orientation is west / south west and they’ll be moderate.

Moving onto Tuesday and we have that low feeding wet air into north east Scotland and then pulling it down the west coast of the U.K / east coast of Ireland. With low temperatures some of this moisture will fall as snow over altitude but even at low levels in the north you’re likely to see a covering. Central and eastern Scotland looks to pick up quite a packet of moisture by the looks of it I’m afraid. By lunchtime that band of rain and wintry showers will be into Leinster and across Wales with the chance of snow over the tops. Elsewhere (south and east of this rain front) it looks like you might stay on the drier side with the chance of some sunny intervals. This may push temperatures up to all of 6°C, (golly gosh) in those areas and a degree or two lower under that moisture. As we go into Tuesday afternoon and evening that moisture swirls round and pushes east so a wet end to the day for central and eastern areas on Tuesday. Winds will have a northerly feel to them across the north and western areas but will come from the west over central and eastern areas.

For mid-week we have still have that low sitting slap bang where it was on Monday morning, thanks to us sitting in a trough pattern in the jet stream (and hence a slow movement of weather systems). This means another band of rain, sleet and wintry showers pushing into the west coast of the U.K overnight and moving slowly eastwards in a vertical band so by rush hour it’ll be straight over the middle of the U.K. We will also see another band of wintry showers moving into west Munster overnight. East of this rain band you’ll have a bright and cold start to the day with a real chilly feel to it for sure. By lunchtime this first band of wintry showers moves off into The North Sea. but that westerly moisture is moving across Ireland and into Wales so another wet afternoon for the west I’m afraid. Scotland looks to miss all of this moisture so a cold, clear day for you and well overdue. By Wednesday evening we see that band of moisture across Northern Ireland, north west England and central areas, falling as a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Temperatures for Wednesday will be much lower than earlier in the week so in some northerly places barely making it to mid-single figures and in the dry, bright areas you’ll have a sharp frost to start the day with barely a rise in temperature thereafter. Winds will follow the same pattern as Tuesday, northerly in the north and west, westerly in central areas and the south.

For Thursday we have that band of moisture pushing southwards overnight and as it picks up the chillier, northerly air stream it could well turn to wintry showers through Thursday early morning over Wales and Central England, a real taste of winter. As we progress through the morning, this band of wintry showers pushes eastwards and a new band of colder, moist air pushes more wintry showers into Donegal and across Ireland. These will mainly be focussed over the west of Ireland. North and east of this new band of moisture the wintry showers will leave behind brighter and colder weather for most of the U.K. I say most because later in the afternoon there’s a chance that some of that Irish moisture may funnel down into North Wales and push south eastwards. By nightfall most places will be have clear skies so that means a big temperature drop and a very sharp frost, perhaps the coldest night of the winter so far. That westerly moisture will continue to throw some wintry showers across the west coast of Scotland, northern England, Wales and the south west. Winds will be light to moderate, north westerly and I expect temperatures down to -4°C and lower over Scotland and -2°C over central southern areas. The west may escape a frost if cloud cover remains.

Closing out the week we have a mixture of cold, bright conditions across central and eastern areas and wintry showers for west coasts. Ireland will also see some moisture move into west Munster during the early hours. As we progress through Friday morning I think we’ll see some of those westerly, wintry showers push inland across Wales, the north of England and eventually into eastern England. Ireland looks to finish the week, cold and wet, whereas Scotland looks to hang onto that mix of bright sunshine and wintry showers with the latter more likely across central and then eastern / north eastern Scotland. It’ll continue to feel cold with daytime temperatures lucky to hit mid-single figures for most areas, maybe a degree or two higher over Ireland and the west. Winds will continue to have that north-westerly feel.

Looking ahead to the weekend, high pressure appears to be edging in and so it looks like a dry, cold weekend is on the cards. At this stage Saturday and Sunday could turn out to be really cracking winter’s days with sharp frost and bright sunshine. If so I’m going to get up early and get walking / cycling whilst all that mud and water is frozen because once it starts to thaw out, it’s slip, slidey away you know 🙂 So dry everywhere it looks like for Saturday with just the chance of some wintry showers coming off The North Sea. I’d expect temperatures to be similar to Friday, low single figures with a sharp frost. Sunday looks to repeat that pattern with high pressure sitting over us so dry and cold it is.

Weather Outlook

A tricky one to predict i think because high pressures have a habit of weakening / strengthening against the forecasters predictions so here goes….

It looks like at present the high pressure of the coming weekend will not stay around too long and a new, northerly low will push it out of the way in time for the beginning of next week but it’ll go reluctantly so the west could start off unsettled, whereas the south and east will stay dry and cold. So westerly winds and rain for Ireland and then the west on Monday, but dry and settled elsewhere. This low pressure is set to rattle through quickly so after a wet interlude on Tuesday for most areas, there’s a prediction that a new high pressure will form and return us to northerly winds, colder air and dry, settled conditions for the remainder of next week. That means cold, dry with overnight frost, just what we need really….

Agronomic Notes

As promised last week this is ‘Part II’ of a look back at last year using GDD and rainfall data this time….

Firstly using the data from The Oxfordshire, you can see how November and December really re-wrote the record books in terms of air temperature.


So 2015 will go down as a year that dragged its feet reluctantly into spring, had a so-so summer with another jet stream trough taking care of August and making it a wet, cool month for a number of years in succession. (take this into account when you’re planning your holidays ahaha) Then when we were promised the coldest winter on record leading up to Christmas (Daily Express…) we got the warmest and in some places (but not all) the wettest…just shows that the tabloids are only good for one thing and that’s wrapping Fish & Chips…

Looking at it from a cumulative perspective, 2015 nearly caught up with some of the other years in terms of total GDD, but it wasn’t the warmest, that prize goes to 2015 and 2011.


So let’s look at the data from a regional perspective and here I’m using some of your GDD / Rainfall Spreadsheets (cheers everyone) from the U.K and Ireland.

Regional U.K Data – GDD & Rainfall


Above we see 4 locations in the U.K and how their respective GDD mapped out over the year, we can see that for most areas  ;

  1. March was little warmer than January everywhere…
  2. The west was significantly warmer than the east of the U.K through April and May, look at York for instance….
  3. East Anglia (Aldeburgh actually) had a much warmer summer through July, August and September and that’s courtesy of picking up continental weather patterns, so I’ll be putting my bathing towel down on Wells-Next-The-Sea beach shortly…:)
  4. The north east sat cooler pretty much all year and showed the effect of the north – south temperature divide that we saw on more than a few occasions in 2015.

See isn’t GDD and G.P information useful ?


Moving onto rainfall, I’ve used some extra locations here and one in particular (see above) will make you appreciate how easy life is in the south of England (and yes I know it’s wet, but there’s wet and there’s WET!)

So what were the rainfall trends in 2015 ?

  1. There were two distinct geographical divides in 2015, west to east and north to south, that is to say the west and north picked up more rainfall.
  2. When the jet stream was at its strongest, it pushed rainfall from The Atlantic into the west and north of the country. During 2015, this was during January, February,  November and December.
  3. The north / south divide in terms of rainfall was most evident in the first and last three months of the year.
  4. Central and eastern England appear to be consistently drier and although Thame is further west than York or Aldeburgh, it obviously misses out on the westerly rain band, which to my feeling seems to follow the M5 / M6 / M74 up north…

 OK onto the Irish data…

Looking at 4 locations across Ireland we can see some similar patterns in terms of geographical location and rainfall, temperature patterns…


So the Irish data tells us ;

  1. Valentia has a consistently mild, but consistently wet climate, no surprise here as it’s pretty much the first place that Atlantic low pressure systems make landfall. That means in the winter it stays mild and this temperature advantage extends into the spring with the first four months of the year milder at Valentia than the other locations in Ireland.
  2. It’s not until June that the other areas catch up with Valentia in terms of monthly GDD. Before you all re-locate, mildness in Ireland is a double-edged sword as we will see with the rainfall data. 🙂
  3. North and west was the worst combination for temperature in 2015. Claremorris had approximately 15% less growth potential over a year than Dublin.
  4. Dublin and Cork in 2015 were very evenly matched with very similar temperatures for July and August. This is I think because they’re both on eastern coasts (Ok Cork is south east) and so part-protected from Atlantic westerlies.


Looking at rainfall we see a similar pattern….

  1. Valentia is consistently the wettest location through the year, but Claremorris follows the same pattern in the months when the jet stream was strongest, January, February, November and December.
  2. Casement (Dublin) tends to be shielded from the summer trough pattern to a certain extent and this was demonstrated by a very dry summer and autumn by Irish standards compared to other locations.
  3. When the jet stream was at its strongest for pushing in Atlantic low pressure systems during December, being west of the U.K spared no area of Ireland in terms of rainfall.
  4. The east coast of Ireland (Casement) though drier than the west, receives approximately twice the rainfall of the east coast of England. (E.Anglia)

Download pdf of all the U.K and Irish data here

Back to the present..

The current wet weather means in reality very few of us are able to do very much practically out on the golf course or sports facility unless you’re sat on pure sand or sand-capped 🙂 At least the continual deluge we’ve all suffered (albeit to different degrees) looks in some way to come to an end later this week and although we won’t be totally dry, we will be drier.

And colder, which is precisely what we need because hard frosts on wet soil will open up the profile. (as it goes through the freeze and thaw cycles) Unfortunately we will also see that tricky phenomenon when a hard frost is going out of a wet soil and the top surface becomes unstable. One to watch over the weekend I’m afraid.

Grub Activity

With no Chlorpyrifos available for use last autumn, this will be the first spring when we see the effects of its withdrawal from the market. With a super-warm November and December it is likely that over-wintering populations will be high. I’ve already had reports of pecking activity from Corvids (Birds of the Crow family) on some sites and I’ve seen a evidence of Badger damage recently whilst out walking. Chafer Grubs have also been evident close to the surface recently but we can expect the hard frosts that are forecast to knock these down deeper in the soil profile thankfully.

No Growth is Good Growth….

Not surprisingly with the forecast we can expect to see little or no shoot / top growth over the next 7-10 days which to my mind is a godsend for many reasons. Firstly, it allows the plant to re-direct some of its resources towards root rather than shoot development. Secondly, it won’t be making more organic matter that we will need to remove when and if the opportunity arises. Thirdly, I think it’ll re-set its biological clock with a period of winter dormancy. The same is true for all outside plant species. Lastly, it won’t present you guys with the prospect of growth without the opportunity to cut.

I can’t help feeling that the unnaturally high air temperature in December caused the grass plant to grow too strongly at a time of year when it isn’t supposed to. With low light levels that growth was likely to be more elongated in nature and with a succulent leaf tissue. Such a combination does not bode well for wear-resistance so it’ll be no surprise to me to see areas of turf thinning.

BTME Headland Weathercheck Site

For those of you heading up to Harrogate next week to attend BTME, if you want to keep up to date with the weather, here’s our link GPS’ed onto the roof of the conference centre 🙂

Click here for a forecast for BTME 2016


Ok that’s me done, head scrambled full of data, I think I need a lie down 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt








January 4th, 2016


Hi All,

First off of course, a Happy New Year to you all.

I say ‘happy’ but I can guess a lot of you are coming into work to be greeted by a lot of grass and a lot of moisture at your facility.

Without doubt, November and December 2015 have broken most of the weather records we probably didn’t want breaking for our industry, warmest, wettest, windiest, least sun, most consecutive days of rainfall, the list is endless and frankly a tad depressing 🙁

Nature continues to have its knickers in a collective twist with buds on a lot of trees and shrubs, spring bulbs and Hellebores in flower and most things probably 6 weeks ahead of where they should be. 4 of my 6 resident hedgehogs haven’t bothered to hibernate and are still eating me out of house and home in terms of Mealworm consumption. And while I’m on about it, bloody Paddy Power had my money again on my White Christmas bets, so it’s Paddy Power 3 and MH 2 over the last five years…Bah Bloody Humbug and all that….

Of course this weather doesn’t just affect our industry, even our own government may just be realising (you never know) that its clamber to concrete over most of the U.K isn’t without its consequences in our changing climate. As a clever (Danish) person once said … “Legislation and common sense don’t sleep in the same bed”….. I think that applies to a lot of things…


And now  the weather 🙂

Sometimes I’d really wish that I didn’t have to write this blog when I can see what’s coming and I know how it’ll only make life harder for us, but we have to make the best of what admittedly is a bad lot. So let’s get it over with…


This week we have another north-south divide, particularly in terms of wind direction and temperature. I’ve already had a report in from Danemark to the effect that it’s -5°C over there with a -15°C windchill (Cheers Russell !) and that’s because they and the north of England / Scotland have a chilly easterly wind flow straight across from the Russian Steppes. For Ireland, the west and south we are stuck in a westerly / south westerly airflow still (do you know it’s been that way for the last 35 days now with only 5 from the E or SE from the start of December)

So because of the lateness of this blog (I had to do a lot of charts as you’ll see later) I’ll start with Tuesday’s weather. Tuesday sees us in the grip of an Atlantic low that at its base is pushing wet weather into the west and south of the U.K (and Ireland), but at its top is pulling in cold easterly air from the continent into Scotland and the north of England. So Tuesday sees a band of showers moving across the U.K and Ireland from west to east during the early morning. By rush hour those showers will mainly be affecting central and eastern areas of the U.K and because of the above they’ll be wintry in nature for the east coast of Scotland. During the late afternoon these showers become concentrated to two specific areas – Firstly, they’ll be a band affecting the east coast of Ireland (Leinster mainly) and Wales and secondly a line of persistent rain will be affecting the east coast of England and Scotland. Again these showers may fall as snow over Scottish coasts. Depending on where you are you’ll either have a south west wind (west, central and south) or an easterly wind (Scotland). Temperatures will vary from high single figures in the south and west to mid-single figures over Scotland, lower on eastern coasts with that cold wind.

For Wednesday we have a similar picture really as we left off from Tuesday, that is to say the bulk of the showers will be affecting eastern areas of the U.K, with Ireland looking reasonably dry (until later). As the low pressure sinks south, there is a possibility that the extent of the wintry showers will push southwards because the wind will swing round to the east over northern England and The Midlands and drag cold air down. So that means a chillier day on Wednesday for most areas. Through the afternoon, those wintry showers will push westwards into central and western areas of the U.K so possibly a touch of snow on higher elevations here. Late in the afternoon a band of heavy rain is due to make landfall in West Kerry (That place again!) and push east across Ireland during the evening so a wet Wednesday night for you guys 🙁 As hinted earlier it’ll feel pretty chilly on Wednesday with temperatures struggling to get to mid-single figures in that easterly wind. (maybe a tad higher in the far south as you have more of a south east wind)

Moving into Thursday and that band of heavy rain has cleared Ireland to give a sunny and dry start to the day (that’s the good news) but of course it has to go somewhere and that means most of the U.K will wake up to a very wet Thursday morning as that rain band moves eastwards. There’s a risk of flooding for the south west of Scotland and more in the way of wintry showers the further north and east you get. This rain band pushes across most of the U.K through Thursday accompanied by a change in the wind direction, but I’m sad to say that it looks to stay entrenched over Scotland and particularly the south west. (a bummer for you guys I know) By Thursday night it looks to have cleared most of the U.K with only the north east of Scotland picking up the tale end of this mix of rain and wintry showers.

So a clear and hence cold night for Thursday and the chance of a frost for sure as you awake on Friday morning. Friday sees a reversal of fortunes with rain crossing over Ireland into the south west and Wales during the morning and the east this time staying dry. This is primarily due to the fact that the wind is now south westerly / southerly in nature and so pushing rain into these areas first. It looks like they’ll also be a separate rain front pushing into the south coast of England through Friday morning as well and moving slowly up country. Scotland looks to start dry and stay that way through till the afternoon when that rain that has been affecting Ireland pushes into the north west of England, The Borders and later, south west Scotland. Again those showers may be wintry in nature over The Highlands and the eastern coastline of Scotland. For the south, that band of rain that pushed into the south coast of England looks to move north and east across the country through the late morning and afternoon, so a potentially wet end to the week here as well.

The outlook for the weekend looks mixed I’m afraid with rain early doors on Saturday morning for Ireland, clearing east into the west and south west of the U.K / Wales by Saturday lunchtime. This rain could be particularly heavy over the south west of England and Wales on Saturday morning. By lunchtime rain is still likely to affect Leinster and to have pushed north to affect the west coast of England and south west Scotland. Further south and east looks dull and dry, but this rain is pushing eastwards so during the afternoon, Ireland and the west clear it and central and eastern areas receive it ! Again we see this rain falling as wintry showers over higher altitudes in Scotland. Sunday looks to start wet for eastern areas but this rain will soon clear to leave a day of broken sunshine, yes note that word, sunshine. So Sunday looks to be the better day of the weekend for most (but not all) but they’ll still be some rain affecting the west coast of Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland. The north will feel a little milder though as the wind swings round to the south west for most areas. Temperatures will be a little up on the lows of the week, high single figures in most areas, maybe touching 10°C in the Costa Del South 🙂

Weather Outlook

So how are we shaping up as we march through to mid-January, is there any drier weather in sight ?

Yes and no is the short answer……Next week looks to start off with that unsettled theme still in place with showers affecting principally western areas for Monday. Later on Monday a sneaky little intense low looks to pass close to the south of England so that could bring some heavy rain along the south coast later on Monday. This low will push rain (potentially heavy) into south east and eastern areas on Tuesday. As it passes east it’ll pull in much colder, northerly air to the west and all areas by mid-week so we should be a bit drier and a good bit colder. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see snow across the west of Ireland, Wales and the south west of England by mid-week, next week. So a colder air stream, but not a totally dry one as I still think they’ll be some rain and wintry showers along western coasts later on next week. For central and eastern areas though you may end up getting some dry, cold days and with a northerly air stream it’ll feel pretty cold, but let’s face it, we need this cold weather to re-set nature. By the end of next week, it looks like the wind will swing back south westerly and we’ll be back into milder and unfortunately wetter air.

Agronomic Notes

How 2015 played out….

First off let’s deal with why we’re looking in most places at a lot of grass and a lot of saturated turf. November and December turned up to be the mildest on record temperature-wise and this has driven grass growth in a way that we haven’t seen before. (I think)

I know a lot of people quote previously cold years like 1947 and say it was really mild then in November and December before winter started in earnest in January. The truth is it wasn’t ever as mild for as long in those months. I know because I spent some of Christmas looking at the archive data for that period and although it was mild on the odd day, they didn’t have prolonged mild temperatures.

I also have heard from more than one person (particularly in the south of the U.K) that the temperature recorded on the shortest day in 2015 (Dec 22nd) was the same as the temperature on the longest day (June 21st) in 2015. It was 16°C maximum air temperature.

Here’s where GDD and Growth Potential really come into their own in my view in helping us equate what we know was a really mild month in terms of grass growth and what you guys (and girls of course) have to maintain….So let’s look at the Growth Potential data for December 2015 and see how it shaped up vs. previous years…(The data location is Northampton by the way…thanks Rob)


Download above chart here

So by looking at G.P data for the month and comparing it we can see that grass growth in December 2015 for this location was pretty much three times what it normally is in this month. Amazing eh ?

Breaking down the data we can see how the growth pattern played out through the month and you can clearly see the end of month growth flush as well that has made maintenance a real issue for some..


Download above chart here

It gets better…..If you look at 2015 as a whole year we can see that both November and December 2015 generated more grass growth than either March or April of the same year.


Download the above chart here

So there’s the answer to the first question i.e Why have we got some much grass growth on the golf course, sportsfield and why nature is so far ahead.

Of course in an ideal world that growth would come during conditions that allow it to be maintained but here’s the snag. Warm air in the winter is moist air and that means rain. You’ve all seen the effects of the record rainfall in the north east / west of England and the east / south west of Scotland, but even in areas that haven’t received significantly above-average rainfall (like here in The Midlands or the south east of England) what we saw in November and December was a higher daily frequency of rain and very few dry days.


Download above chart here

The comparison above graphically illustrates the west-east divide when it comes to rainfall and what’s more you can clearly see the months when the jet stream was pushing moist air into Ireland and the west of the U.K. November and December were two such months and though the total figure is high for this location in South Wales (423mm combined for Nov and Dec), it isn’t a patch on what they got further north. To illustrate this, here’s a picture taken on the 28th December, kindly sent in by Adrian Kay from York Racecourse, you can see the bend on the race course mid-picture…


So we have a triple whammy, 3 times the grass growth, record rainfall for some areas and fewer drying days for us all. The upshot is that many facilities are looking at long areas of grass particularly after the Christmas period when it’s been difficult to get anything other than a low level of maintenance achieved. (And even if resource were available, it wasn’t practically feasible to cut then anyway because of the rainfall)

There are some positives, in that more grass growth in wear areas does mean better recovery over a period of the year when these areas generally suffer. That said I do feel that the high levels of moisture have somewhat negated this advantage.


Looking ahead we have a drop in temperatures so we won’t be seeing the types of growth levels we have been. Meteoturf (above) is showing a (more normal for January) daily G.P of 0.1, rather than the 0.7 we achieved in December. So that means growth will pretty much shut down now and in my books that’s no bad thing….

What lessons have we learnt from November and December ?

I for one would never have envisaged seeing so much warmth, so late in the year and for such a prolonged period. Whether this is related to El Nino or not I don’t know but I thought all the indications were for a lower-lying jet stream, not a stronger jet stream in an El Nino event, so maybe it’s unrelated ?

The late usage of PGR’s on outfield turf

For sure we have to look at the timing and use of growth regulators in a new light because making a late application of a PGR onto higher height of cut turf would certainly have made sense in late October. Particularly when you consider the fact that if you tank-mixed in iron you’d have been able to keep much better colour for longer. (Not that colour was in short supply in terms of grass growth / appearance). There are other benefits though other than just reducing cutting frequency.

Worm Casting

Without doubt the end of 2015 produced the longest period of casting worms that I can remember. It kicked off early with another wet August (becoming a calendar feature now) and has kept going right through to the new year. One of the big issues as we all know is having to cut fairways / outfield areas because of growth when you already have a high level of worm casts present and the subsequent smearing that it creates on the turf surface. Of course if you manage to reduce your cutting requirements by applying a PGR then that makes life easier. Now as we all know to achieve a significant reduction in growth means a higher rate application, especially on outfield turf which is likely to have a high % of ryegrass present (the grass species least affected by TE), but it may be something that you’ll have to budget for if this weather pattern becomes more the norm.

Microdochium Activity

Similar to the situation with casting worms, we have seen possibly the longest prolonged period of disease activity on fine turf with respect to Microdochium nivale. I’d still maintain that the key period of activity when the main damage is done is October to mid-November and that after this what you tend to see is re-activity on older scars as opposed to significant new activity. In all I think we have managed to hold disease at bay on the whole, though I have heard the usual multiple-application horror stories. I think this is partly to do with better-timed applications, partly with enhanced re-growth in scar-affected turf due to the higher soil and air temperatures and mainly because we have some very effective fungicide chemistries available to us. The latter is a changing situation though and I think we will see the loss of some of those chemistries through the next 12 months, but hopefully on the flip side we will see new chemistries coming through that will remain for longer because they’ve passed current legislation requirements.

The rub for us though in the amenity sector is that we are small beer for the chemical manufacturers and so getting investment in new chemistries or maintaining existing ones is a tall order when you take into account the amount of hectares maintained in amenity vs. agriculture.

Organic Matter Levels

With the last two months showing enhanced levels of growth far in excess of what we’d normally see one can only imagine that this will have a knock-on effect when it comes to the production of organic matter. Now this in part will be balanced out by a longer period of microbial activity / breakdown of organic matter due to warmer soil temperatures, but once the rootzone becomes saturated and oxygen levels are depleted, you can kiss microbial activity goodbye. (well the right sort anyway)

So it is likely in my mind that we will be carrying higher levels of organic matter into the spring and that is going to make life tricky in some areas. Now at present I accept 100% that there aren’t many facilities where it would be practically feasible to do what I’m going to suggest next, but I’m merely making the point and the case for early season aeration. (as I do ever year :))

By early season aeration I mean hollow coring in January and February if (and it’s a big ‘if’ I accept) a weather window presents itself. I’m a big fan of undertaking this type of work at this time of year, principally because it’s at a low revenue part of the year so less likelihood of complaints. You can go with good size tines (12mm) and therefore impact a good % of the surface and even in the hardest winter we’ve had so far, experience has shown us that recovery has been fine. I accept you won’t be topdressing immediately afterwards so the holes will be open but you will have ticked a box for significant organic matter removal.



Referring again to the the graphs (immediately above) showing monthly growth potential and rainfall for 2015, you can see that the more traditional time of year to remove organic matter (March / April) were either cool or dry and cool, so in other words really poor conditions to get good recovery from aeration. So if it’s possible weather and ground conditions-wise, I’d try to get in a good hollow coring early, then you can afford to go with a smaller tine at close spacings (for quicker recovery) in March or April and by then you’ll also have benefit of follow-up topdressing to get your surface back sooner.

GDD and Rainfall Data for 2015

I have had some great GDD data bounce into my inbox today whilst I have been putting together this blog but I’m going to cover it next week as I think there’s only so much information I can chuck at you on a weekly basis (that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it)

I’d like to say thanks to the regular contributors as you make my job so much easier, so cheers to all of you and please remember to keep those 2015 rainfall totals coming by sending your information to

Don’t forget you can download the 2015 GDD / GP spreadsheet here to start the year afresh.

All the best.

Mark Hunt