Monthly Archives: February 2016

Feb 29th – Mini Update

Hi All,

My main blog will be posted tomorrow because it’s the start of the new month and I’ll be able to collate some January and February data, which is I think interesting. I wanted to quickly update you of an application window which is here for today and may suit some of you. (even though you may be frozen solid this morning with a -3.9°C windchill as we are this morning)


At the present we have a peak in the jet stream passing through on Monday night / Tuesday that will bring both mild weather and rainfall. The latter will be a theme for this week I’m afraid, more on that tomorrow. With mild rain falling it will very quickly elevate the soil temperature and of course provide an opportunity to wash in a granular fertiliser applications.

So if you have granular products to go out, like Mosskiller’s for example on back / front tees or you’re looking to get an early start to March because you have aeration planned in the first part of the month, today represents an application window. It will be going cold after this peak so it won’t push that much growth, but it will prime the plant up for growth as soon as the temperatures rise next.

Currently that isn’t going to be anytime soon as certainly the first half of March is likely to roll out cooler than usual due to a prevailing trough in our old friend the jet stream and a blocking high out in the Atlantic.

More tomorrow…

Mark Hunt

February 22nd


Hi All,

Just one week till we’re finished with February and we are into March 🙂 This past weekend gave a glimpse of spring with mild temperatures and even some warm sunshine. You’d be forgiven for thinking we are home and dry and done with winter but that certainly isn’t the case I am afraid.

Over the last two weeks I’ve done a couple of talks and highlighted how the jet stream controls our weather and can deal up ‘Peak’ and ‘Trough’ patterns with very little notice. Well last weekend was a peak and now we’re heading into a trough. The image below contrasts last Saturday with this Saturday coming..


This suggests that our transition into the beginning of March will be a cold one with a risk of some snow next weekend depending on the behaviour of a low pressure system.

So let’s put some detail on the coming week..

General Weather Situation

Monday looks to be a quiet day for many with overnight rain slipping south slowly out of the south west and south of England through the morning. Further north we see some wintry showers over The Highlands and these will also affect the west coast of Scotland down to The Borders. As we move through the morning we’ll see some sunshine break through across Ireland, Scotland and most of England with the exception being the south coast where cloud cover will linger. By the afternoon this cloud will have slipped south and we’ll see sunshine and broken cloud over all of the U.K and Ireland. As we close out the day, some wintry showers will push in to North Wales and the north of Scotland. Temperatures will be down on Sunday with high single figures the order of the day and a light north west wind.

Clear skies over most areas will see temperatures drop sharply after dark and lead to the prospect of a ground frost for many, particularly over Scotland and the north of England. So Tuesday sees the wind swing round to a more northerly aspect and this will push colder air down across all of the U.K and Ireland. For many it’ll be a bright, dry winter’s day after a hard overnight frost, but there will be some snow showers pushing down the east coast of Ireland, west coast of Scotland and possibly the north east coast of Scotland, England later in the day. Winds will be light to moderate and temperatures will struggle towards the mid-single figures even in the middle of the day. In other words it’ll feel pretty parky.

For Wednesday we pretty much have a repeat of Tuesday’s weather with a sharp frost starting the day and a lot of sunshine right from the word go. That northerly air stream will continue to feed down wintry showers into north west Scotland, The Highlands during the morning. By the afternoon you’ll see more cloud cover over the north west of Ireland and that could see some wintry showers creep into Donegal and also North and later South Wales. Those wintry showers look to persist over The Highlands pretty much all day, fed down on a moderate north west wind. If anything temperatures will be down on Wednesday with most areas struggling to hit mid-single figures and in the wind chill it’ll feel close to or below freezing.

Thursday sees a similar picture to Wednesday with a dry, bright and cold, frosty start to the day. Those snow showers remain overnight feeding into North Wales and then extending down into South Wales through the early morning. Elsewhere we look to be dry and bright but cloud cover will build from the west as a low pressure begins to exert a weak influence on the weather. This will initially pull the wind around to the west / north west for most places on Thursday but it won’t stay that way. Later on Thursday night we’ll see some light rain, sleet and snow showers along the west coast of Munster and Connacht and in addition they’ll also affect the south west and north west of England.

Overnight into Friday we see that rain, sleet, snow move across Ireland (where it’s likely to be rain at low altitudes and sleet, snow higher up) and feed wintry showers into the south west and north west of England. We’ll also see wintry showers over the north west of Scotland. Through the morning these will feed inland across Ireland, the south and north of England turning readily to snow as they meet the cold, continental air. These wintry showers will continue to affect Ireland, Wales, the south and east of England through Friday afternoon, extending up into the South Midlands later in the day. With more cloud cover it’ll be a duller day over most areas on Friday with only the east seeing much in the way of sun. Temperatures will be on the raw side, mid-single figures most likely and the wind will be on the change swinging round to southerly and then south easterly by close of play Friday.

So how do we look for the all-important weekend ?

Well as you’d expect from sitting in a jet stream trough and having a low pressure nearby it’s likely to be dull and cold with some pretty bracing south east / east winds. There’s some uncertainty about exactly where the low pressure will sit next week, if it’s south of the U.K, it’ll feed in cold winds and some isolated wintry showers through Saturday. If it’s a bit further north, the potential for more snow is higher so time will tell. At this stage the projection is for a dull weekend with strengthening easterly winds on Sunday and some isolated wintry showers likely across the south of England. That cloud cover will probably just keep us the sunny side of a frost but it’ll be close. Your best bet is to keep a close eye on the forecast nearer to the weekend to see how this low pressure develops.

Weather Outlook

Looking ahead to next week, are we likely to stay in this trough coming into March ?

Well we have a battle between an Atlantic high pressure and continental low pressure in the early part of next and we know what that means don’t we ? Effectively the wind will be squeezed between the two and will turn to northerly so a cold start to next week with strong northerly winds. During the course of Tuesday a low pressure system is projected to slip down across the U.K and Ireland and it’ll bring rain, some of it heavy as it does so. With cold air sitting close to the east of the U.K this may mean wintry showers along the east coast and south east of England by mid-week. By Thursday that low pressure is away and high pressure tries to push in so the winds turn northerly again but it may introduce milder air into Ireland and the west of the U.K. The east though will still be sitting cold. So it looks like a dry but cold end to next week with strong to gale force northerly winds. These may relent by the weekend and turn to a more milder, westerly and wetter orientation, time will tell.

Agronomic Notes

Forecasting Uptake Windows..


Last week I talked about the milder weather that was forecasted for the weekend and how it presented a good uptake window. I’ve joined two Meteoturf images together to show last week, the weekend and this week (above) and you can see that the growth window represented 3 days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday and then it’s gone. If you were looking to raise your turf vigour or initiate some growth at the end of February in order to gain early recovery from winter wear, this was a good window because at the weekend air temperatures increased to 16°C and the plant put on a nice bit of growth.


Interestingly the soil temperature also increased quickly from a lowly 5-6°C to 11°C in a matter of hours.

So my point or points are these – Meteoturf correctly forecast a growth peak and uptake window 5 – 7 days before it occurred. This growth peak allowed the application of either granular or foliar nutrition to initiate a response and now the grass plant has responded it will effectively be primed to grow again when temperatures oblige.

You can see if you missed that window that applying a product this week will do very little as the growth potential beyond Monday is effectively nil.

A Whole Lot of Pecking Going On…

I’ve noticed a lot of Corvid (Crow family) pecking activity over the past couple of weeks in particular and I think we’re in for quite a heavy grub spring in terms of damage to turf. The milder weather and greatly extended growing season of 2015 has caused a number of knock on effects in terms of larvae activity, life cycle and feeding habit. I noticed that the mild weather of December caused Crow’s to start nesting earlier and I’m pretty sure they will have active young earlier this year because of this. Those young will need feeding and that’s what should concern us.


Last week I saw a number of incidences of grub activity from the typical ‘countersunk’ hole effect (image right) on a golf green where a Leatherjacket has been coming up and eating the turf around its exit hole at night.

I also found very small Chafer Grub larvae on a piece of outfield turf which had been subject to pecking.

The latter has me a bit bemused because I understood that the life cycle of most Chafer species culminated in the grub developing in the autumn to maximum size and then moving deeper in the soil profile to escape the effects of winter. To find extremely small grubs in February close to the surface was interesting. (see below)


You can see in the image on the left how small the grub is compared to a 1p coin (you can tell I work for a small company as the multinationals take pictures with pound coins or maybe I’m just tight  🙂 )

I then used the excellent Veho Discovery portable scope (image right) to take a picture at 50x magnification  which clearly highlights the presence of front legs and a distinct head to confirm identification as a Chafer Grub. (which species I don’t know to be honest)

It is clearly an immature larvae so that might suggest that the eggs were laid much later in the year than normal so is it possible that Chafers can have two life cycles in a year ?

Of course we are limited in terms of treatment options now with no Chlorpyrifos available in the amenity market (for Leatherjackets only) and a ‘use up’ period with Merit specifically for Chafer control.

It’s tricky because we know the larvae will have an effect on the turf and pecking by Corvids and / or Badgers / Foxes can be extremely destructive. In terms of minimising the effects of the larvae on the grass plant’s root system the only option here (as far as I know) is to try and encourage more rooting so the plant can sustain itself whilst the grub is in its feeding stage. That means slitting, spiking, vertidraining and good organic matter control (so the roots aren’t confined to the surface organic matter layer).

The lack of insecticide options out there is a major challenge to our industry for sure and I feel this spring will illustrate the severity of the challenge we face.

Superficial Fairy Rings


Chafers aren’t the only thing up early this year and over the weekend I received an image of what looks to me to be Basidiomycetes activity on fine turf. (Fairy Ring Species)

Now I’ve seen this before during the winter and it’s clear that some species of Basidiomycetes can be active very early in the season. I expect this activity to fade during this weeks return to winter.

The Week Ahead

Looking at our Meteoturf for the coming week it’s clear very little will be happening in terms of grass growth so applying nutrition won’t achieve a whole bunch till we see some milder air move in. If conditions allow though you may be able to aerate this week and encourage some root development. It’s worthwhile remembering that even when the grass plant appears dormant due to lack of shoot growth it often uses this time to develop roots and so aeration can tie in with that process nicely.

Ok that’s it for this week, can’t even see the in tray, it must be close to March 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt







February 15th


Hi All,

Out walking yesterday I took the opportunity to check on the sun’s progress in our sky using Sunseeker 3D (the sharper amongst you will notice the actual sun and the sun graphic don’t line up because I didn’t wait to calibrate the compass, must keep up my mile walking average on Fitbit you know :)) and you can see how much higher it is in the sky now (yellow line) vs. the blue line of mid-winter. It’s nice that the evenings are getting some pace on and sitting here we are two weeks to March and hopefully some nice temperatures and a growing spring. (sunshine and showers)


A real up and down temperature and rainfall week in store as we move from trough to peak to trough to peak in the space of 7 days culminating with what will be a pretty mild weekend I think for all of us. (but likely a wet one as well for some 🙁 ) so without further ado, onto the weather for this week. (I have to finish my talk for the BIGGA London section tomorrow :))

General Weather Situation

Monday starts off fine and dry for many with a sharp frost and clear, blue skies, lovely. And that’s the way it looks to stay for the entire day save for some cloud cover over north east / eastern coasts and the risk of some snow showers pushing in on the back of that cloud. It’ll be a pretty cold day with light to moderate northerly wind holding back temperatures in the mid-single figures. Clear skies will put us into freezing temperatures pretty early on in the evening so another hard frost in store.

Tuesday sees a similar start for most of the U.K and Ireland, but cloud starts to build from the off across Connacht and Donegal and that heralds the arrival of rain mid-morning to the north-west of Ireland. That cloud cover will extend over Scotland to make it a duller start for the west coast of Scotland, but further south and east, it’ll be dry, bright and cold after another penetrating frost. Through the late morning that diagonal band of heavy rain (/) will cover Ireland and push into north west Scotland falling as wintry showers over higher elevations. By the evening rush hour it’ll still be situated over most of Ireland and Scotland, but will then begin to sink south into northern England, Mid and North Wales later on Tuesday night. Temperatures will be milder under that rain, high single figures possibly, but will remain in the mid-single figures for the U.K. The wind on Tuesday will be moderate to gale force over western areas (lighter further east) and swing round to the west / south-west.

Overnight into Wednesday the rain will continue to sink slowly south, so by the morning rush hour it looks likely to affect the south west of England, Wales and across to The Midlands with only the south east of England dry initially. This rain will fall as wintry showers over higher elevations. By mid-morning it has cleared Scotland and Ireland too and it remains fixed in a static band through the late afternoon and into the evening. You can see though that the south east looks at this stage to miss the worst of it on Wednesday.Temperatures will remain on the cold side across most areas so not only a wet day, but a chilly one as well, with mid to high single figures the order of the day despite a westerly, south westerly air flow. With the rain front being a slow-moving one, amounts will be significant for some areas I’m afraid.

As we progress into Thursday the rain eventually moves over the east and south east of England but as it does so it meets that colder, eastern air and we could see some snow accumulations here overnight into Thursday. So by the morning rush hour it sits in a line drawn down from The Humber to the Isle of Wight and is falling as rain, sleet and snow. Elsewhere over Ireland, Wales, Northern England and Scotland we have a dry start to Thursday and a cold one to boot with the risk of frost high again for Thursday morning. By lunchtime Thursday that band of rain, sleet and snow over south east / east England reluctantly pushes off into The North Sea though East Anglia may see that moisture extend right till dusk. Behind that rain, sleet and snow, skies clear over Ireland and the U.K to give a cold, clear night with a penetrating frost. Temperatures similar to Wednesday, mid to high single figures and for most of the U.K, a cold northerly wind will call the shots. (Further north it’ll be more westerly / south-westerly)

Closing out the week on Friday sees a band of rain into Ireland from ‘first knockings’ and this will quickly push eastwards to affect the west coast of Scotland, Wales and England. Where that rain butts up against the colder air mass we could see it readily turning to snow, particularly over higher elevations. Through the morning this band of rain stays pretty much in place, but during the afternoon it begins to sink south and east into Northern England, The Midlands to give a dull wet end to the day here and across pretty much all of the U.K and Ireland unfortunately. You may notice as we progress through the afternoon it’ll feel milder and that increase in temperatures will hold through Friday night. You’ll also notice the wind on Friday which will ramp up to moderate force and blow from the south west heralding the onset of milder air.

The outlook for the weekend looks unsettled particularly for the north and west where the change to a south westerly air stream will push rain into Ireland on Saturday morning and across western coasts of England, Wales and Scotland through the course of Saturday morning and inland as well. By afternoon that rain looks to become isolated to north-west England and south-west Scotland. Further south it’ll be drier, brighter and very much milder with temperatures right up in the early to mid-teens, quite a transition from the week. Sunday looks to be a much nicer day for everyone with strong westerly winds and sunny intervals. It’ll feel a little cooler than those Saturday highs but still into double figures across most areas. There is a potential though for more rain across north west Scotland and Ireland on Sunday p.m. but at this stage it is tricky to say.

Weather Outlook

At this stage it looks like another topsy-turvy week coming up next week with a number of weather systems coming to play. So Monday looks to start off unsettled with cool, cold north-westerly winds and these will push frequent blustery showers across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England through the course of Monday and Tuesday. It shouldn’t be too wet from what I can see at this stage and temperatures will be high single figures, so not much to write home about really 🙁 Wednesday looks to be a quieter day with high pressure exerting a brief and albeit temporary influence sadly. So dry and settled for Wednesday for most except Ireland where I think a new rain front will push in Wednesday p.m. By Thursday we see that rain clear Ireland and push south into The Midlands and south of England along with some milder temperatures I think. The end of the week looks windy, mild and unsettled with strong south westerly winds.

Agronomic Notes



Looking at grass swards on my travels I’m seeing a lot of moss in the canopy and this pretty much vindicates my thinking of earlier in the year regarding the type of grass growth we produced at the back end. You’ll still remember hopefully my graphs of Growth Potential at the back end of the 2015 and how they reflected so much more growth in November and December vs. anything we’ve seen before. I’ve updated them for a couple more locations so you can see how the picture relates to other areas of the U.K and Ireland.

GPOctNovDec201415Watford GPOctNovDec201415Dublin

Interestingly you can see that although Dublin showed the same pattern as Watford, the growth level in the Watford was much higher in November and December and that’s because Central England picked up a southerly air stream rather than a cooler, wetter, westerly air stream for Ireland.

So what has this to do with Moss ?

Well logic would dictate that if the grass plant was growing so much more strongly at the back end of the year (as it shows in the G.P graphs above) this would surely lead to tipping the balance in favour of grass over moss ?

This clearly isn’t the case and I think it’s to do with the ‘type of growth’ that took place in November and particularly December.  November 2015 was the dullest on record with only 18.4 hours of sunshine recorded for the whole month at the meteorological station at Reading. That compares with a normal sunshine level for November of 63 hours, so only approximately 30% of the normal sunlight. December was also a dull month with 25-35% less sunshine hours.

So we had high air temperatures, abundant moisture and low light and for me that means the type of growth that took place had a more elongated habit with less basal tillering. Effectively it’s a bit like growing a plant on your window sill, it’ll stretch towards the light source. This type of grass growth then is more upright (so you’re still having to cut a lot) and less basal and to me that means it’s less effective at out-competing moss which lives deeper down in the canopy. “What’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander” the saying goes and I think the warmer winter temperatures and ever-present moisture also encouraged a higher rate of growth for moss as well as grass. There’s not a lot of information on the growth rate of moss in the U.K and Ireland, but what I did find suggested that moss growth was significant during the winter when air temperatures were above 5°C. So a warm, wet November and December isn’t ideal for grass growth, but is for moss.

Spring Aeration – Why March and April can be tricky months…

Continuing a theme from my earlier posts this year on spring aeration and our changing climate, one of the subjects I’m covering tomorrow at the BIGGA London Section / Oaklands College seminar is how our springs of late are pretty poor for consistent grass growth. (The seminar is creatively named the 4 ‘W’s Seminar, of which I am ‘W’ no.3, no suggestions please in my case what the ‘W’ actually stands for) . For ‘Pretty poor’ grass growth, read ‘Providing poor recovery’.

Here’s a couple of interesting graphs to highlight my point from March / April 2015.



What we are looking at here are two graphs – The first maps out minimum and maximum air temperatures through March and April 2015 and the second translates that data into daily Growth Potential figures.

If you look at the two lines on the top graph these are drawn at 7.5°C and 15°C air temperature respectively. If you look at the bottom line (7.5°C), count the number of days when the air temperature at night (minimum air temperature) exceeded 7.5°C during the two months of March and April last year. The number of days was 4 out of a possible 61.

Next look at the bottom graph showing daily Growth Potential for the same period and count the days when the figure exceeded what I would call as the good growing figure cut-off of 0.6. That is to say when we measure a G.P of 0.6 we usually get very good growth in the spring. The number of days was 5 out of a possible 61.

The work above shows that in order to get good growth in the spring you either need the night temperature to exceed 7.5°C and the day temperature 15°C or the day temperature to exceed 25°C, full-stop.

This illustrates how critical good night temperatures are to consistent grass plant growth rates and therefore even if we have 20°C maximum during the day, if the night temperature is 7.5°C or below, we won’t get a daily G.P figure high enough to reflect good growth.

So if we have aeration planned for March and April as most facilities do it can often be a really slow process to gain recovery and a consistent grass sward. Bear this in mind when you’re selecting tine size / spacings or Graden blade width / depth.

Just to finish off the slightly negative vein, the first two days of The Masters at Augusta 2015 coincided with two night frosts back home and Daily Growth Potential figures of 0.3 or lower 🙂

The Week Ahead

With dry weather early on this week and a wet interlude mid-week rolling into Thursday for some places it’s a good time to get those granular applications out on areas where you want to start to push some early recovery. (Because of the milder weekend coming)

By this I mean wear pathways, thin areas of outfield turf and tees that have been on all winter. On the subject of moss control, this week is a good week to apply a granular mosskiller I’d say either before mid-week or after (once the moss is nicely wetted up)

On finer turf my only concern is the rapid temperature rise predicted by Meteoblue for Friday night / Saturday morning and this could kick in a bit of disease activity, particularly on old scarred areas of turf.

Ok that’s it for this week’s blog.

All the best.

Mark Hunt






February 8th


Hi All,

As Storm ‘Posh Totty’ or rather Imogen joins what seems to be a long list of Atlantic storms that have battered our shores since the back end of last year, you could be forgiven for wondering if there is any end in sight to this weather phenomenon ? Well I think we will have a temporary reprieve in some parts of the U.K and Ireland this week.

As we know the path and strength of Atlantic storms has a lot to do with the jet stream and I managed to pull a lovely graphic off Netweather Extra that highlights why they keep on heading our way. The white circle in the middle of the map is the North Pole and the red / yellow / orange band is the Northern Hemisphere Jet Stream.


Image courtesy of Netweather

When the jet stream dips below us then the storms tend to affect the south of the U.K, when it goes straight across us, the storms tend to affect the west, north west and Scotland. This week it’s likely to be the former so the north gets a reprieve from the wind and rain. Another feature of a dipping jet stream is that it tends to drag down cold air into a trough and this is the case for the coming week so a much colder (but drier for some) outlook.

Traditionally this week and next week are the coldest two weeks of the year with February 17th down as the coldest day. Certainly this week will enhance those statistics.

General Weather Situation

We start Monday suffering the after-effects of what for many in the south was a wet weekend, particularly Saturday and Sunday p.m. So we have that familiar pattern of rain affecting Ireland and the western coastline of the U.K from Devon / Cornwall all the way up to south west Scotland. As we move through the morning this band of rain and wintry showers sinks south into Northern England and south Munster / Leinster and by lunchtime it is into The Midlands. This moisture is accompanied by some pretty strong south west / westerly winds and these will peg that temperature back to mid-high single figures. Through the afternoon this band of rain / wintry showers sinks further south and east to affect all areas of the south into the evening.

For Tuesday we see three separate bands of rain in place over the U.K and Ireland and these are positioned horizontally. The first is over Northern Scotland and through the morning it’ll push into the north east of Scotland. The second stretches from Connacht / Donegal across Ireland and into Northern England. This will be wintry in nature so expect to see some snow at elevation. The last is skimming the south west / south coast of England. If you’re located between these bands you’ll get to see some sunny intervals. By Tuesday afternoon these bands tend to push south into The Borders, Leinster, South Wales, Northern England and the south west of England bringing a mix of rain, sleet and some snow at higher elevations. Again it’ll be breezy, but less so than Monday. This will do nothing for the temperature though because I don’t expect it to struggle much above mid-single figures even where there’s no moisture.

For Wednesday we have a much drier day in prospect for large parts of the U.K and Ireland after the last of those bands of moisture has cleared the south east of England. Some areas will wake up to a ground frost as well, particularly across the west. So dry and bright for most of us until lunchtime anyway when a band of wintry showers pushes into Donegal, The Highlands of Scotland and the south west of Scotland as well. Through the afternoon these push east into north east Scotland and The Lakes, with some rain also just tipping a hat to south west Kerry. The wind on Wednesday will tip round to the north west so that’ll bring a colder edge to it and again I wouldn’t expect temperatures to rise much above 5-6°C. For many Wednesday will be a nice, cold, bright winter’s day.

Moving onto Thursday we still have that north west wind in situ so that means it remains cold. It will be a largely dry day with plenty of winter sunshine but right from the off you’ll notice that shift in the wind and that means it’ll drag in some even colder air. That colder air arrived overnight so many places will see a ground frost to start the day. As we progress through the morning there’s a risk of wintry showers moving along the south coast of England and more substantial snowfall along the north east coastline of the U.K. These wintry showers will move south through the afternoon but hopefully they’ll just miss the east coast of England. For Ireland we look to have some moisture moving into Connacht pretty much from ‘first knockings’ and this will stay in place most of the day pushing north into Donegal during the afternoon / evening. As hinted above temperatures will be pretty parky Mrs in that north westerly wind so although it may reach 4-5°C, the windchill will keep things only just above freezing.

Closing off the week Friday looks to go one step further with a pretty hard ground frost to start the day for most areas. I say most areas because for the west and south west of Ireland it’ll be milder as heavy rain pushes in overnight. By the morning rush hour this rain will be into the south west of England as well and it’ll slowly move north east through the course of the morning. Away from this rain / wintry shower mix it’ll be bright initially with a hard ground frost, but as the rain pushes north east it’ll bring more cloud into the equation. By lunchtime this band of heavy rain and wintry showers will have edged into Leinster, but across the Irish Sea it doesn’t looked to have moved that from the south west of England and West Wales. The reason why this band of moisture makes slow progress is because of a change in the wind direction to the east and it’ll be a bitter one for sure with temperatures barely above freezing all day, with a negative windchill.

Looking to the weekend I think Saturday looks to be a re-run of Friday with heavy rain / wintry showers pushing into south west Munster overnight and moving north east into Leinster and Connacht. Again across the Irish Sea, this moisture will make landfall across the south west of England and South Wales and these showers could fall as sleet and snow depending on your elevation. Again away from this moisture and cloud cover you can expect another penetrating frost overnight into Saturday and a cold, bright day initially. Again this moisture stays pinned in place across Ireland, Wales and the south west of England by a very cold easterly / north-easterly wind.  During the afternoon / evening though there is a risk of that south west moisture pushing along the south coast into the south east of England and the South Midlands. As it meets the cold air I predict a snow event. Sunday looks to be the drier day of the weekend but with north east winds in place it’ll feel bitter and of course that brings with it the risk of snow showers coming in from The North Sea. So don’t be surprised to see some white stuff on Sunday at some point and another ground frost depending on your level of cloud cover.

Weather Outlook

So how are we looking next week ?

We look to start next week with that cold trough still in place. I say in place because that cold air is extending all the way down to Southern Spain and The Med. So a continued cold start to next week with northerly winds in place and that means a risk of snow, particularly for eastern coasts. As we move onto Tuesday, the west (Ireland) picks up some milder air, but the U.K looks to stay cold but with lighter winds so I think Monday and Tuesday will see continued ground frosts. By the second part of Tuesday those strong westerly winds are in place as a very deep low passes close to the north of Scotland so I expect high winds and plenty of rain / wintry showers for the north and west I’m afraid by late Tuesday /  mid-week, next week. This rain may extend down into Northern England and The Midlands for the 2nd part of Tuesday. Further south it’ll be windy, but milder with strong westerly winds. For Thursday and Friday those winds shift round to the north west so a cooler theme to the weather and that will push showers of rain into all parts for the end of next week accompanied by a strong north westerly wind.

 Agronomic Notes

 That Drying Wind 🙂

Last week I quoted some stats from The Oxfordshire for the last 10 days of January when they had consistent rainfall but also some good drying winds. The stats showed that most of the rainfall they received was evaporated off by E.T (Evapotranspiration).

Of course one size hat doesn’t fit all as I was reminded by a comment sent in by Lee at Woburn Golf Club who presented some very different stats for the same period of time. (Thanks Lee)

Although both of these golf courses are quite close to each other (25 miles apart as the crow flies) they feature very different locations and design and this has a massive impact on their weather stats as we can see below ; (a.s.l = above sea level by the way)


So being at a higher elevation and tree-lined made Woburn the recipient of more rainfall and less E.T (because the trees block out the wind). Of course there is a flip-side to this as I will demonstrate this summer (if I remember) when we will hopefully be running very high E.T’s and you’ll then see the benefit in terms of lowering E.T that having a wood-lined situation brings.

It does highlight how location and design have such a great impact on how a sports facility performs and brought to mind those football and rugby stadiums you see with all-enclosing stands, how do you dry the leaf off there when there is no wind ?


I will however risk the continuing wrath of Lee (:)) though by continuing in the same vein 🙂

If you look at the top of Meteoturf, you can see a temperature dynamic for the week ahead and the declining temperature that is projected to occur as we progress through the week. You can also see a thin blue line that oscillates between day and night and this represents relative humidity. (Highlighted by red arrows)

At the beginning of the week it sits around 80-85% during the day and goes up to 90-95% at night, hardly surprising when we have plenty of rain around so the atmosphere is saturated. Watch what happens to that line during the day as we get colder, the relative humidity drops in the day down to 60% and that means the air is a lot drier. It therefore presents the opportunity for more moisture from the ground to be evaporated. (that’s why you can get desiccation even in the middle of winter)

Diagram contrasting a wet day with high relative humidity with a cold day with lower relative humidity…


 Not a lot happening this week plant-wise….But…

You can also see from the same Meteoturf image above that the projected GDD total for the coming week is all of 0 and for Growth Potential, it is only 0.2 for the whole week. This means the plant will be dormant for I think the next 7-8 days depending on your location of course and so little or no leaf shoot production will be taking place.

It won’t have totally stopped growing though because if the soil temperature is above freezing then it will still be making roots, particularly if no energy is being diverted into top growth. So if ground conditions allow you to, this week is a good time to aerate and make things easier for the grass plant to physically develop roots, whether that’s pushing out of a compacted surface fibre layer or developing deeper roots into a less-compacted rootzone courtesy of a vertidrain.

I know, (I know) if your facility is at filled-capacity, it’s a no no, but not everyone is in the same boat and this blog casts a wide net…


I’ve already had reports of some golf courses taking the opportunity to hollow core and top dress last week because their site conditions allowed it. Above is an image of one such course taken last Thursday, 4th February. I’m going to follow this one on my blog on a regular basis to monitor recovery and report back.

Ok, I think I’ve reached my own saturation limit today, dig out those winter buffs (God knows how I managed without one before) and for all you guys in San Diego, firstly I’m so so jealous, secondly you’re going to have quite a temperature change to cope with when you return this week so I hope you enjoy some warm sun before freezing your nads off 😛

All the best..

Mark Hunt







February 1st


Hi All,

Well that’s January done and dusted and now we move onto what is traditionally the coldest month of the year. As I type this it’s 11°C outside and the soil temperature is a whisker above 10°C, so it’s probably fair to say we’re going into February warmer than ever. Still it’s a short month and then we’re into March, personally I can’t wait.


Before we lull ourselves into a false sense of security it does indeed look like February will live up to its reputation for cold snaps as the projections are for us to move from a warm peak to a pronounced deep trough. (see above) That will pull cold air down from Siberia and for sure I think some pretty bracing temperatures and snowfall, particularly as there is a low pressure associated with this trough. So let’s put some detail on it…

General Weather Situation

Monday kicks off with another of those meaninglessly-named storms (‘Enry’ this time) affecting principally the north of the U.K and Ireland although it’ll be windy everywhere. Thankfully there isn’t too much moisture associated with this one, just very strong winds for Scotland in particular. It’s there that will also pick up the rainfall and a mix of wintry showers, principally affecting western coasts. Some of these may drift southwards into north-west and northern England as well and it’s likely that we will see some more showers affecting the south west of England and Wales this morning. Ireland looks to miss most of the rain with maybe North Donegal getting some, but elsewhere (U.K and Ireland) it looks like being a dry day with some sunny intervals. You’ll notice though that it’ll get chillier as we move through the day because that mild peak is passing us by and introducing cold air into the equation. As intimated above that wind will be pretty strong especially over Scotland where I anticipate we will top 100mph across the top of The Highlands, so take care up there on the road and at work. Temperature-wise we look to start in the low double figures but drop as we progress through the day to 7-8°C.

Tuesday follows a similar pattern to Monday  as ‘Enry’ continues to “slap to all over” Scotland (At this point anyone under the age of 35 looks quizzically at the PC and wonders quite what MH is on ?…..For the younger audience there was a famous advert in the 70’s for Brut Aftershave and one of the advocates was the late, great Henry Cooper and that was the catchphrase:)) so a continuation of wintry showers for north and west Scotland with some of these drifting south to affect The Pennines. They’ll be some additional rain over North Connacht and this will drift south through the morning into Munster and Leinster I’ll warrant you. Those northerly wintry showers look to slip south through the afternoon into The Lakes and North Wales by dusk. Again south and east of this we will have a cold, dry but bright day with a chilly westerly wind pegging the temperature down to mid to high single figures.

Onto Wednesday (clever use of bold to accentuate the day of the week you know..) and that mix of wintry showers finally departs Scotland for Northern England and North Wales, so a mucky start to the day here. Elsewhere it’s another dry and bright start to the day possibly with a ground frost in sheltered areas. That band of moisture slips south into the North Midlands by lunchtime but fizzles out after that. Ireland looks to start with a bit of cold rain over North Connacht and Donegal again but this also fizzles out to leave a cold, dry and bright day for most regions. The same is true for England. That cold westerly wind may lighten off a tad but it’ll still feel pretty parky Mrs wherever you happen to be located with temperatures struggling into mid to high single figures, about normal for February.

As we move into Thursday we see a peak of milder, wetter air into Ireland overnight and this will rapidly push into the west coast of Scotland, England and Wales by the early hours. As it moves west though it fizzles out but still there may be some showers inland through the morning. What it does give is a much milder, but duller day with temperatures into double figures again for most areas. That rain never really leaves Ireland so a mix of showers continuing through the day, particularly across the north west and eastern coasts. By close of play, we see more moisture into north west Ireland and this is heavier in nature. The wind will again be brisk to strong and from the west to south west.

So Friday starts off pretty wet for Ireland and Scotland with that rain soon pushing into north west England and Wales. By mid to late-morning the heavy rain is principally affecting the west coast of Scotland, England and Wales and this pushes inland by lunchtime. Ireland will have a bright, cooler interlude before a new rain band pushes in to the west later in the afternoon.By dusk this rain will be into central areas and clearing western coasts thankfully. Much cooler as we progress through the day as that milder rain passes through so mid to high single figures again, even where you see the sun. By Friday night that second band of moisture is falling as a mix of wintry showers across Scotland, the north west of England and Wales, so not a nice end to the week really.

The outlook for the weekend isn’t great I’m afraid (though i said that last week and some places had a nice dry Saturday :)) with that moisture still in situ over Scotland, the west coast of England, Wales and Ireland. It will break up though during the morning to give some sunny intervals so not all bad. Later in the day a strong band of rain and wintry showers pushes into Wales and moves across The Midlands and Central England through Saturday night into Sunday. For once the north of England, Ireland and Scotland is drier. Onto Sunday and that moisture should have exited stage right into The North Sea though it may still linger down across the south east of England. There’s a risk of another low pushing in heavy rain to the south west and south of England during Sunday extending up into The Midlands. Elsewhere a drier and bright day but very much on the cool side as that still strong westerly wind pulls down cold air from the north.

Weather Outlook

So next week starts with us still firmly wedged in that trough I highlighted at the beginning of this blog. With low pressure systems associated with this trough it does mean we will be unsettled with plenty of moisture around but I think they’ll be a difference in who gets the worse. I think that the trend from the weekend will continue i.e that the south of England and Wales will get the worst of any moisture next week, they’ll still be some for the north, but the Lion’s share will be down south. So Monday looks to be unsettled, with sunny intervals and heavy, blustery showers, some of them wintry in nature down to low levels possibly. Tuesday looks to offer a day of respite but not for long as a deep depression is heading towards us and aimed at Ireland and the south of England. So Wednesday sees the wind change direction to the south west pretty much straight away and that milder air pushes heavy rain into Ireland and the south of England through Wednesday. It’ll probably reach northern England, but the worst will be in the south. Thursday sees us back to unsettled and then as that low passes eastwards it’ll drag down northerly winds for the end of the week, so a pretty cold end to next week could be on the cards. I expect next week to see wintry showers through the week, rain mid-week and then back to wintry showers at the end of the week with a cool wind throughout (except on Wednesday).

Agronomic Notes

As we start a new month, we can look back at a topsy-turvy January from a growth perspective courtesy of those peak and trough jet stream patterns.

GDD Spreadsheet


When I watched Countryfile last night, they said this was the mildest January according to the Met Office, but I can’t see how that was actually the case because a monthly GDD total of 28.5 is similar to most other years and nowhere near 2012 at 40.5.

Looking into the growth patterns in more detail using some Growth Potential Stats from Long Ashton and The Oxfordshire, (cheers guys for hitting my in tray this morning) we can see a pronounced period of active growth at the end of month when a warm peak in the jet stream pushed up mild / warm air.


This peak in growth gave us noticeable clip yield on greens and outfield areas alike and also some recovery on thinner areas / disease scars. It did also push some disease activity into life but much less than you’d expect and mainly on older scarred areas.

This holds with my theory that the main activity period for Microdochium remains October through November and if you are able to keep the population low then, your chance of getting re-infection is much lower (not nil, but lower). Of course this growth didn’t occur at an easy time of the month because in some areas (particularly the north and west) it coincided with high rainfall events as well. This is clearly shown on the daily rainfall stats from the two locations.


Interestingly in terms of total rainfall levels, the more central location was wetter than the west, but that said I know across The Bristol Channel, up north and in Scotland, totals were much higher than this for January.

Dry Days and E.T (Evapotranspiration)

In common with November and December, January showed around 2/3 (66%) of the days were wet so the periods when the turf could actually dry down were few and far between.

Interestingly at the end of the month in the Thame location, the total rainfall for the last 10 days of January was 13mm and the total E.T was 10.9mm, so that means 84% of the rainfall was actually evaporated off. This may be one of the reasons that some areas have dried down well lately (not west or north) and possibly why there’s been a lower disease incidence because the leaf is drying more quickly.

Again this high (for January) E.T was down to that warm air pushed up from Africa on a peak in the jet stream. You can see when these peaks in the jet stream passed through by looking at not just the maximum air temperature for the day but the actual change in air temperature across 24 hours. January 2016 was noticeable for some really big swings in daily air temperature. (see below)


I again appreciate that in the west and north site conditions preclude a lot of the suggestions of last week but I’ll make them again anyway. For south and eastern locations this week presents a good opportunity to aerate and particularly hollow core if you’re in need of snicking in an extra organic matter removal event. The same advice also holds in terms of moss control although with high wind speeds this week, it’s likely that a granular product will be the only one possible to be used.

Bibionid Control Query

Last week I featured an image and some content on Bibionid larvae and I stated that there was no control on the market. Always one to slap my wrists :), Kate Entwistle came back and queried this comment (quite rightly) and sent me a link of the CRD website to a range of products (all with the same A.I – Esfenvalerate) that appear to be labelled for this pest on managed-amenity turf. Whether this approval is still current is tricky to ascertain but if anyone can shed some light on this, please drop me en email or comment to the blog.

Ok that’s all for now…

There may or may not be a blog next week depending on whether I actually make it out to GIS2016 in San Diego.

Mark Hunt