Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 23rd


Hi All,


I think May is one of my favourite months of the year to be out and about in England. The hedgerows at present are absolutely bursting with Keck (Cow Parsley), Pink Campion and White Nettles (the latter are great for a sweet hit of nectar if you pluck off a bunch of flowers and squeeze the tube-like ends together)

The Hawthorn is full of blossom and smells lovely lining the hedgerows with colour. It is an event that every year seems to come out of nowhere, one minute you’re walking in thermals and boots, the next it’s warm, you’re shedding layers, slapping on the suncream and admiring the view 🙂

Dropping the culture standard by a good couple of notches…..Before we look at the week ahead I note a recent headline in the Daily Express predicting the ‘Hottest summer in 100 years’ is on the way (thanks to Dave Howells for sending this in). You have to take it with a pinch of salt I suppose particularly when you see their other headlines include a resident Werewolf in Hull affectionately called ‘Old Stinker’ (quite believable for Hull in my books) and a rather well-endowed, Puerto Rican Weather Girl who puts this blog firmly in it’s place in terms of s*x appeal. (Scorchio springs to mind)



So is there any truth in the prediction of rising temperatures ?, well yes and no because the jet stream (you know that part of the weather that no one ever spoke about 5 years ago) is set to take a hike up north and this should (I say should) allow warmer air to funnel up from Africa / The Med eventually. I say ‘should’ because their 10-day GFS model and my 10-day GFS model don’t look the same (so it’ll be interesting to see who is right).

This transition won’t be immediate though because we are in for a change in wind direction and that’ll keep things on the cooler side for the time-being, particularly mid-week and I think the 10-day countdown will be to an unsettled next week rather than the heatwave they predict.

Ok onto this week’s weather….

General Weather Situation

For Monday we already see that change of wind direction on the move as it swings round to the north west. Ultimately it’ll be coming from the north east by Tuesday. So a dry picture for pretty much all of the U.K and Ireland today with large amounts of sunshine and broken cloud. During the morning there is a chance that some showers of rain will ease into the south east corner of England, across eastern coasts and later possibly over The Pennines, but otherwise we are all fine and dandy. There’s also some heavier bursts of rain pushing over The Gower into Swansea Bay first thing and these may drift across South Wales through the morning. Temperature-wise we will sit somewhere between low to mid teens for westerly coasts and high teens away from the effects of that wind, so cooler than the weekend for many. Winds will be north westerly and moderate.

Onto Tuesday and overnight the wind has shifted round to the east / north-east. As usual that tends to drop the daytime temperatures a bit but also bring in more cloud cover from The North Sea. This will be most apparent in Scotland where you’ll likely to have a duller, cooler day with some of that cloud cover heavy enough for some hill mizzle and light rain in places. Further south and east we share more cloud cover, particularly in central and eastern areas with the best opportunities for a break in the cloud in the south and south west. Ireland also looks to have a nice, dry day, perhaps brightest along the east coast of Leinster and Munster. Temperatures will be a degree or two down on Monday, so low-mid-teens I am afraid, likely warmest in the south and south west (in other words furthest away from the wind direction) and coolest along east coasts.

Overnight into Wednesday we see that cloud cover really pull in off The North Sea and that dulls down not only the chance of seeing the sun, but also the temperature. So Wednesday will be a really cool one, particularly for the north east / west coast of England, Scotland and along the east coast of Leinster. So very little chance of seeing the sun on Wednesday, maybe the south west of Scotland and Ireland will present the only opportunities. In the cool north east wind temperatures in the places I mentioned above will struggle to double figures, elsewhere we can expect low teens at best I think. It’ll remain dull all day and in eastern and central areas that cloud may be thick enough for some drizzle in places.

Overnight into Thursday we have some rain likely over the north and east of Scotland, along the south and south east of England and across Connacht and Donegal as well during the early hours. By the morning rush hour this rain will still be in situ and other areas will be waking up to a dull start, however the weather picture is improving in some places. It’ll still feel cool along the north east / west coast of the U.K and the east coast of Ireland, but in the south of England, across Wales and Scotland we will see a warmer day despite a continuation of that north east wind. That rain could hang around most of the day over north east Scotland and through the afternoon we can expect that rain in the south east of England to track westwards along the south coast and into the south west by close of play. So cool temperatures under the thicker cloud cover barely breaking double figures but further south and west I expect a milder day with a return to mid-teens possibly even higher.

Closing out the week, for Friday we see some of that rain over the south west push into south east Munster during the early hours. Another band will push up from the south east into the west country by the morning rush hour and possibly The Midlands as well. By mid-morning that light rain is into Munster and South Connacht as well as North Wales. North and east of this rain band you can expect a milder day, much milder in the north and Scotland in particular with temperatures pushing up into the high teens in a lighter easterly / north easterly wind. Temperatures will range from low to mid-teens under that rain to high teens in Scotland and the south of England. Again a cloudy day by and large but more breaks in the sunshine are expected and where you get them you’ll feel some pleasant warmth 🙂

So how does the weekend look, are we shaping up for a nice Bank Holiday ?

Well Saturday will start off dull for many with the best chance of seeing the sun along the south coast of England I think. They’ll be some rain around for Ireland principally affecting a line drawn north of Carlow sort of way but they’ll be some sunshine between the showers even here. So Saturday looks by and large a sunshine and showers sort of day. Pleasantly warm despite that easterly wind which will be lighter in nature. Saying that with an easterly wind there’s always the chance of some showers around in the south east of England and The Midlands. Later on Saturday there’s also a chance of rain along The Humber estuary and inland. Sunday looks the drier day of the weekend with some longer spells of sunshine for central and eastern areas. There may be more in the way of cloud for the west coast of the U.K, but for most largely dry, sunny and warm. Later on again there’s a risk of showers breaking out over Scotland. Temperature-wise I’d say high teens to maybe twenty degrees in the south of England maybe.

Weather Outlook

Well this is where my 10-day weather projection differs from The Daily Express because to me it doesn’t look like we’ll start summer next week (but it is coming). My projections show a sneaky little Bay of Biscay low pressure moving up to sit south of the U.K and Ireland for the start of next week. So for Bank Holiday Monday I can see this bringing strengthening winds in the south and the likelihood of rain in the south and south west of England in particular. So the best weather will be north and west of this and the further north you go, the better it gets with Scotland in particular looking to enjoy some bright, sunny and warm weather.

It is unlikely to be a cool low pressure though because of its orientation so despite the rain I think it’ll be mid to high teens on Bank Holiday Monday. Tuesday sees that low pressure edge northwards so therefore an increasing likelihood of rain for The Midlands, north of England, Wales and Ireland. (though Ireland may miss the worst) That easterly wind will be in place through the week, but further west it’ll be southerly in nature and that could pull up some warm and dry air to the west coast and Ireland in particular. So remaining unsettled through the week but with slowly improving temperatures. I’ve got a feeling that by the weekend after next we move into June (crumbs already ?) we will see some stable conditions and high temperatures.

Agronomic Notes

What I am going to attempt to do today is talk about agronomic notes in three different locations using the MeteoTurf module on Headland Weathercheck because we have such a diverse forecast for the next week or so and for the U.K, we have a forthcoming Bank Holiday (Ireland I think is the first week of June). I can’t include every location as I’d still be typing this on Friday but here goes…

South of England / Wales / Midlands


So looking at the turf-related parameters detailed on MeteoTurf for this week we have a number of interesting features ;

Predicted Grass Growth

Firstly we can see that we have a pronounced mid-week dip in our growth projections courtesy of that cool north east wind and cloud cover imposing itself on Wednesday so this means after a weekend of warmth and some rain yesterday you should be able to get growth under control by the middle of the week. Greens growth will slow due to that cool Wednesday but then look at the Growth Potential pattern for the end of the week and weekend !

You can see by Saturday and Sunday we have very good growth and that means a growth flush is predicted for the Bank Holiday weekend. (groan)

Remembering my point that next week is looking unsettled as well, that may mean that this growth flush will present a maintenance issue for many of us in the south of England.

Application Window and Uptake…

So applying a product today should be ok but personally I’d look to make any foliar applications at the back end of the week provided rain isn’t forecast for your location. This is particularly true for PGR’s because I don’t think you’ll get good uptake applying in the first-half of the week with that cool, mid-week interlude predicted. If you have the budget and resources I’d say this coming weekend will present another significant growth flush on outfield areas so a good shout to make a PGR application in my books.

E.T Stress

You can also see that the predicted moisture loss from the turf surface due to Evapotranspiration is 21mm with particularly high moisture loss predicted for Saturday and Sunday so this means pay attention to high spots stressing out and hand water if necessary. If next week turns out unsettled then this need will disappear by the early part of next week.

Pathogen Activity

With warmth and moisture I expect the usual suspects to come out to play including some Red Thread which I noticed over the weekend on some fine-leaved Ryegrass and I also expect to see some Basidiomycete activity (Fairy Ring to you and I) because of the rise in humidity over the last weekend. They’ll also be some Microdochium activity I expect but since forecasted moisture levels are low this shouldn’t be rampant by any means.

North of England / Scotland


A similar picture to the south of England except I think you’ll actually pick up better temperatures than they will at the end of the week and next week going forward. Your outlook is also likely to be drier for the early part of next week before that rain reaches you eventually mid-week, next week.

Similar comments here on the uptake window with those declining temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday suggesting to me that I would delay applications of foliar products till later in the week if at all possible so you’re applying on a rising uptake curve, not a falling one.

The growth flush may not be quite as pronounced as in the south of England because your temperatures will be a little lower but there will be a flush for you guys over the weekend. The difference is you may have better conditions for cutting immediately after the Bank Holiday.

E.T-wise, again not quite as high a demand as in the south of England, but significant anyway and for those who are still sitting wet, you should experience a pretty good drying week.

I expect similar pathogen activity over the next 7 days with probably a lower prognosis for Microdochium.



You can clearly see the difference that the predicted cooler temperatures forecast will have on grass growth and uptake. Like the forecasts above you share that mid-week dip and so again I’d look to make applications (particularly ones containing PGR’s) against a rising Growth Potential curve rather than a falling one.

Your growth looks to be less likely to flush over the weekend but it should be more consistent once you lose the cooler nights of mid-week. Similarly the predicted E.T loss is less than half of the south of the U.K so I think this will translate to nicely drying surfaces and no likelihood of stress.

It’s been an up and down month….

Before I sign off for another week I thought I’d show you how this month has panned out so far growth-wise and how it is predicted to pan out till the month end. These stats are for our usual location of Thame.


You can clearly see the flush in week1 and week2, the drop off in growth last week before another growth flush this past weekend and the anticipated flush towards the end of May as well. Definitely May continues its reputation as one of my ‘Yoyo’ months 🙂

Ok that’s it for this week, next week the blog won’t be till Wednesday because I’m having a break as I’m cream-crackered 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt




May 16th


Hi All,

Well after not too bad a weekend that gradually got a little warmer and more pleasant as we went on, we are now faced with another week. Unsettled is the theme for this week as we have two low pressure systems that will affect our weather, but the plus side is that the wind will be westerly / south westerly and that means mild nights and consistent, but not excessive growth, just what the doctor ordered for late May.

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees a dry day for nearly all of the U.K and Ireland (and I don’t write that often). In fact for northerly locations in Ireland and Scotland it is probably the only fully dry day of the week. It will start off bright for many but cloud will soon bubble up though it’ll only be thick enough for some coastal drizzle off the north east coast of England and over the far north of Scotland. Winds will be north westerly and light to moderate so milder than of late with temperatures in the mid to high teens in the south of England, slightly cooler on west coasts / Ireland so low teens here. During the day you’ll note the wind will swing round to south westerly / southerly (for Ireland) and that means a mild night compared to Friday / Saturday.

Overnight into Tuesday sees that low pressure start to affect the weather so in the early hours of Tuesday morning we see the rain arrive into south west Kerry (where else?) and push quickly north and eastwards across Ireland. By dawn it is already into the west coast of the U.K and pushing inland with the heaviest rain affecting Scotland. So Ireland and the west sees a wet rush hour start to Tuesday whereas further east and south it’ll be dry, but probably dull. Through Tuesday morning that rain pushes inland across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the north of England. The far south and east may miss this altogether though. By Tuesday evening, the worst of the rain should have cleared Ireland and Scotland (though they’ll still be showers around), but it will still be affecting the south and north west of England, Wales and further inland over The Midlands. Winds will be moderate and from the south west meaning it’ll be a mild day with temperatures ranging from low teens for Ireland / Scotland up to mid-high teens for the south east of England.

For Wednesday we have a heavier band of rain pushing over Ireland and the west of the U.K overnight. By the morning rush hour this rain will mainly be affecting the south west of England, Wales and north west coast of England, but it will be moving inland slowly through the morning so by late morning it’ll be over Wales and the west Midlands and will largely cleared Ireland leaving just some showers behind. By early afternoon it will be across England and Wales in a line drawn down from Newcastle sort of area and it’ll move slowly eastwards. Scotland will be drier but dull with that cloud bank heavy enough to give some drizzle and light showers in places. By rush hour Wednesday that rain will still be over England and slowly moving off into The North Sea to leave a drier end to the day. A cooler one though with all that cloud cover and rain around so expect low teens pretty much everywhere, maybe higher later on across the west.

Overnight into Thursday a new band of rain will push into south west Kerry (you again lads) at dawn and move across Ireland during the morning from the south west towards the north east. East of this, Wales, England and Scotland look to have a much drier start to the day with a milder feel to it as well. By late morning that rain will still be straddled across Ireland and west and north of this we remain dry. During the afternoon this rain makes its inevitable crossing of The Irish Sea into the south and north west of England, Wales and south west Scotland by the evening rush hour. As we move through till Thursday evening, this rain intensifies over Scotland and the north of England but looks to be lighter over Wales, The Midlands and eastern England.  Winds will remain south westerly and it’ll feel milder for most places with mid-teens in the south and low teens in the north under that rain.

Closing out an unsettled week we have that overnight rain dragging its heels along eastern coasts by dawn but alas a new front is due to push into Ireland for the start of Friday. At this stage it’s likely to affect most of Ireland but maybe Donegal gets away from the worst of it. Further south this rain will be into the south west of England, Wales and south west of Scotland by late morning and it’ll continue to move inland from then. Ireland, Wales and England will see that rain intensify through the morning into the afternoon I’m afraid, but Scotland may just wipe its feet with it, south of The Moray Firth / Black Isle and miss the worst. By late afternoon on Friday we will see that rain still sitting over Ireland, Wales and England and during Friday night it could well intensify over Connacht, Munster and North Leinster in particular. In fact the rain from Friday night through into Saturday morning could be particularly heavy across those areas and then later, south west Scotland / north west England. Again with all that cloud and rain around you won’t expect temperatures to be up to much and they won’t, just tweaking the early teens in most places in that predominantly westerly wind.

So the outlook for the weekend ?

Well it won’t surprise you if I say ‘unsettled’ will it 🙂

After heavy overnight rain, Saturday looks to be a sunshine and showers type of day with possibly the north of England, Borders areas getting the best breaks in the rain and therefore the nicest day. At this stage the rain showers look more likely to affect Scotland, Ireland, Wales and western coasts of the U.K initially, but likely to spread inland through Saturday morning to give a pretty dull affair for most. Temperatures will be low teens in the rain and mid-teens if you get some extended breaks in the cloud cover. Winds will be westerly.

Sunday looks a similar day to Saturday in some respects with periods of rain across the south of England and Ireland punctuated with clearer, warmer spells away from the cloud cover and rain. Slightly milder as well with temperatures easily hitting mid to high teens if you see the sun for any length of time. Winds again moderate from the west.

Weather Outlook

Well after an unsettled, but cool week there may be some nicer weather on the horizon 🙂

So for Monday we still have that low pressure begrudgingly moving off to the continent so they’ll still be some rain around on Monday, maybe more northerly and easterly in orientation but by Tuesday things start to pick up nicely.

We have an Atlantic high pressure projected to move in from Tuesday from the west so Ireland you’ll feel those temperatures pick up nicely first but we will all soon follow and experience a drier, warmer, more settled outlook. That’s the way we are set for the week at this stage.

Warm, dry and settled with I think southerly winds straight up from The Med 🙂

Let’s all will those positive vibes that way and ope it comes to pass 🙂

Agronomic Notes

That was one hell of a growth flush…..

Last week we had that fateful combination (for turf managers) of heavy rainfall (in the south of England particularly) and a surge in daytime temperatures leading to one of the biggest spring growth flushes I can remember seeing. Here’s how it looked data-wise..



This image together with narrative can be downloaded as a pdf here

I’ve used Growth Potential to express the data because it shows that for a period of 7 days the grass growth was approaching maximum and just to confound matters, we experienced between 35mm + rainfall in the middle of that flush.

For many of you (although I know the north missed the bulk of this rain thankfully) this temperature and rainfall combination has brought with it a number of consequences ;

Growth Flush

In the 3rd May blog I stated ;

“Predicted Growth Flush – PGR Slot

If I had to make a choice when I applied a PGR to outfield areas, this week would be THE WEEK for me to get as much ‘bangs for my buck’ out of the application because we have good soil moisture…”

Not banging my own drum, just highlighting the fact that the MeteoTurf module in Weathercheck allows you to see events coming and react proactively rather than after the event…

Many golf courses and sports facilities have had to struggle hard to try and keep on top of growth last week because of the sudden increase in grass growth potential. If you look at the graph above you can see we went from slow growth on the 5th of May to near maximum growth on the 7th May. I can’t remember seeing such a quick transition in the spring. If you look at it in GDD-terms, it took us 98 days since the start of the year to hit a total of 100GDD and just 7 days to double it ! This growth flush lasted until the weekend where it dropped back due to cooler day and particularly colder night temperatures.

Poa annua Seedheads

So many areas of fine turf (and coarse turf for that matter) went from seeing very few seedheads at the end of the week ending 6th May to seeing a mass expression of them by w/c 9th May….Greens turned white literally overnight. I’ve also had feedback that the seedheads themselves are more visible this year and that may be because the plant flushed so strongly that the panicle has extended the seedhead higher up in the turf canopy. (Should be easier to mow and groom out if that’s the case)

Now of course when the Poa annua plant is putting its efforts into seedhead production it is diverting food sources to the top of the plant and away from the base so what we see is that the basal leaves pale off and often become thicker. We also see less tillering in high Poa content swards during seeding so areas will thin out as well regardless of fertiliser input. Now lets hope that a very fast transition to Poa seeding means that the actual longevity of the seedhead flush will be shorter this year. (I’m trying to look on the bright side)

Disease Activity

Of course this rapid increase in temperature wasn’t just going to favour accelerated grass growth, it also had an impact on disease activity with a sudden attack of Microdochium nivale experienced on a lot of sites. If you had the combination of temperature and moisture then this caused mycelium to be present and some damaging scarring though thankfully it will have grown out as fast as it arrived. (As long as your grass wasn’t over-regulated that is :))

The Week Ahead…


Well across the west and north it’s going to be pretty unsettled rain-wise so you’ll have to choose your slots if you’re looking to apply say a PGR for instance….The same is true further south with the early part of the week much better than the mid / end part in terms of getting good application uptake conditions and a long enough window for product absorption into the leaf…

Ok that’s it for this week,Tempus Fugit and all that…

All the best..

Mark Hunt







May 9 / 10th



Morning All,

After a beautiful weekend for most of us with temperatures here hitting 26.5°C, you could almost hear the sound of everything growing in the countryside. I managed to get out walking in Rutland and it was beautiful, particularly when just before this picture was taken The Red Arrows did a pass down the Eyebrook valley right in front of me, mega and what a vista.

We are though set for change this week with two weather events, the first is rain pushing into the south of England / Ireland later on Monday and the second is a change in wind direction to northerlies later in the week which will drop our temperatures off a cliff I am afraid.


Another Tuesday blog I’m afraid as life is hectic at present, but at least it gives me time to improve my accuracy for Tuesday’s forecast looking on the bright side or the wet side more appropriately. Should be back to ‘normal’, whatever ‘normal’ is next week….

General Weather Situation

Tuesday sees a re-run of this really but the rain will be heavier and more prominent from first knockings. So for first thing Tuesday we see heavy rain pushing into the south coast of England and lighter rain over the south of Ireland. By the morning rush hour this rain has pushed in level with The Midlands and there’s likely to be some heavier bursts across the south coast of Devon and Cornwall. Ireland should be reasonably dry save for some showers working up the east Leinster coast during the morning, but there will be more cloud around in general. By late morning that rain is pretty entrenched over southern England up to Birmingham and then it’ll push west into south west Munster with heavy rain potentially for Bristol, South Wales and Wexford. During the afternoon it’ll slowly nudge north as well into Northern England, however  as we get up to The Borders and Scotland, this cloud dissipates to afford you a lovely sunny day with temperatures in the low twenties. Under this rain you’ll be mid to high teens (perhaps cooler in Ireland with that north easterly wind at times), away from it you’ll be low twenties. Winds will remain light to moderate easterlies / south easterlies.

For Wednesday that rain has moved north and lightened as it has done so, so a dry start for the south of England and Ireland early doors and wetter across Northern England and North Leinster / Connacht. By the morning rush hour that rain stays mainly in situ, but elsewhere there’s still a risk of a shower in what will be a much cloudier day for most of the U.K and Ireland with the sunniest spots likely to be north west Ireland and south west Scotland. Temperature-wise we begin to lose that warm air so mid to high teens looks likely, but again cooler across Ireland. Towards late afternoon on Wednesday we see some continental rainfall heading into the south east / south coast of England and pushing slowly northwards by dusk. You’ll notice a wind change later on Wednesday swinging round to the north east and that will eventually pull in cooler air.

For Thursday we have rain sat over South Munster, South Wales and Southern England first off but this will gradually fade away as we reach morning rush hour. So a drier day in general for all areas on Thursday but with that wind in the north east it’ll pull in cloud off The North Sea so a much duller day for many. Ireland being furthest away from the influence of this wind direction should be brighter with plenty of sunshine around through the day. Temperature-wise we will still be high teens across the south of England, Wales and Scotland and mid-teens for Ireland.

Closing out the week on Friday we will see some showers / drizzle pushing off The North Sea into the east / south east of England / Ireland first off in the morning. Elsewhere we will see a dull, hazy start to the day with more in the way of clearer skies for Scotland and the North of England. By lunchtime the skies are clearing but it’ll feel noticeably cooler in that fresh north easterly wind with temperatures in the low to mid-teens for England, Scotland and Wales and that’s how we are set going into the weekend. Much cooler than of late I’m afraid, Ireland though could end warmer than of late because the warm air is pushing out into The Atlantic so the further west you are, the more likely you’ll hang onto some decent temperatures.

So how are we looking for the coming weekend ?

Well the good news is that we look to be dry with plenty of sunshine, the bad news is that the wind will be round in the north and that means cool with a capital ‘C’. So I’d expect a much cooler night on Friday and Saturday with temperatures dipping down to low single figures. The further east you are the lower the day temperatures so I’d say it isn’t a weekend to trek up to the Norfolk coast with your bucket and spade but across the west of England, Wales and Ireland, you’ll be nearer to the slow-departing warm air, so not too bad for you guys and girls. Later on Sunday we may just see some rain pushing into South West Kerry, but it shouldn’t amount to much. By the look of it, the east side of the country will be coolest on Saturday with slightly warmer air pushing across on Sunday though we are still only looking at 10-14 °C in the east and slightly higher in the west.

Weather Outlook

After the cool weekend (for the east particularly) things take a turn for the better at the start of next week as the wind swings away from the north to the south west / west heralding milder air of course. So next Monday looks to start slightly milder, dry for most and with hazy sunshine but it isn’t long before rain showers are pushing in from the west for Tuesday and Wednesday, so potentially a wetter, mid-week period is on the cards. During this transition to wetter, more unsettled weather we will see the wind shift round to the north west. It shouldn’t be too bad temperature-wise though and critically for anyone involved in growing grass for a living, the night temperatures should hang on in there meaning good growing conditions. After an unsettled mid-week spell we could go drier towards the end of next week but those winds are back in the north again so turning cooler I’m afraid by then.

Agronomic Notes

Grass Growth and Application Planning


As you can see from the Meteo Turf graphic above taken from my location here in a very humid Leicestershire, the prospects for growth are good from Tuesday through to Thursday, but then as we get to Friday those northerlies kick in and we drop off a cliff both temperature and growth-wise with only 25% of the growth on Friday compared to Thursday. That means that the current growth flush that started on Saturday with warmer day and night temperatures will come to an abrupt end by Friday and thereafter we’ll see precious little growth until those winds swing south westwards again from Tuesday next week.

So if you’re planning on making a foliar application this week then it’s definitely the case that the early part of the week will work better than the latter part.

That said for south and westerly regions, the early part of the week will be dominated by rain, some of it heavy, so you’d be unwise to go out with a liquid feed, PGR, selective herbicide, etc in those areas until things dry up later in the week.

By then though we will be on a backward slide temperature-wise so it is touch and go whether you’re better keeping your powder dry for next week when we have a return to milder temperatures and better potential uptake.

If you’re north of the rain line then it is an ideal opportunity to make an application because uptake will be rapid and you have a drier picture than the south for a change 🙂

Poa Seedheads


As you can see from some grown-on plugs I have, Perennial Poa is full steam ahead in seedhead mode, brought about as predicted in last week’s blog by the sudden increase in temperatures over the weekend and early part of this week. Surprise, surprise it’s the first week of May, just like it is most years 🙂

Plant Pathogen Activity


Not the best quality image, but then again it’s difficult to turn the weather station on and try to get an I-Phone to focus at the same time 🙂 If you look at the top left you’ll see it is registering 18.9°C with 70% humidity (and rising) at 22.10 p.m. Monday night. So we have high night time air temperatures and a damp, humid atmosphere kicking off in The Midlands and South of England and unfortunately that means only one thing…great conditions for disease…

So don’t be surprised to see Microdochium patches on your turf tomorrow morning, well this morning (Tuesday) when I will be posting this blog. It’ll probably manifest itself as copper blotches across the sward and because it coincides with a faster rate of grass growth I’m hoping a lot of it will grow out and be cut off as fast as it occurs. My bet is that the drier, not the normal indicator greens will show it first as well….(let me know on that one)

High humidity and surface wetness is also a likely calling card for Superficial Fairy Ring species, so expect to see a sudden increase in patch activity. We may also see be warm and humid enough for some Waitea Patch, which looks similar to Superficial, maybe a tad yellower and it also occurs on wetter areas of the green, increasing the wetter the area becomes.

We’re drier than you think…(in some places)

Lastly with the windy and hot conditions over the weekend, things have dried out big time in some areas and that follows a dry April in the south and south east of England. Not the case in the north and west I know but some locations in the south and east only received 30-40mm of rainfall for April (whereas I think 55-65mm was more typical). If you take into account that we’ve probably evaporated 25mm off over the last 4 days, it’s not surprising that we are starting to see issues linked to low soil moisture.

Some of these relate to the activity of plant parasitic nematodes which have been quietly working away at the root system of affected plants but with no apparent symptoms. When temperatures and E.T rates suddenly increase, the plant tries to compensate by taking up more water through its root system but because it is damaged it can’t, so you start to see symptoms, typically a yellowing of the sward in irregular patterns (in the case of Spiral / Stunt Nematodes) The other species that’s been very prominent this spring has been the Cyst Nematode which produces patches of dark green turf (often looking like Thatch Fungus) similar to the top image below. (though this was caused by another Endoparasitic species, The Root Gall Nematode)


Root Gall Nematode Damage – Note invasion of affected area by Bentgrass….


Spiral Nematode damage in the familiar ‘Horseshoe’-shaped pattern..

If you see these types of symptom then look for a contributory factor as to why the particular turf area has been affected. In my experience there is usually a primary factor that is weakening the turf and it is because of this that we see plant parasitic nematode symptom expression (now that’s a mouthful !)

Ok that’s it for this week, chose your timings carefully if you’re applying products because there’s no sense in doing so just before we lose 10 – 15°C air temperature because uptake will be limited and so efficacy compromised.

My apologies for the late blog this week but by the time I finished it on Monday night (11.30) I don’t think you guys / girls would have appreciated it dropping into your inbox. So better bright and early on the Tuesday me thinks…:)

All the best.

Mark Hunt



May 3rd


Hi All,

It’s inevitable living in Leicestershire that you follow the many rises and falcfclls of Leicester City Football Club always hoping to see them strive. Last year they dodged the bullet of relegation by the skin of their noses and this year they have simply been a revelation. A revelation that goes against the grain of popular thinking that money spent on players is the only way to achieve success in the modern game. I wouldn’t call myself a supporter because I only used to attend the games as a spotty teenager but I am a fan and a proud one at that . And to all those people who say “you know nothing about football”….You know nothing about football 🙂

The last week has seen us LawnMay1stserved up with some of the barmiest weather to date and this week we will have some of the balmiest to date as we predictably go from winter to summer and forget the spring thing in the middle 🙂 Last Wednesday I was out for a quick evening walk and could see from the rain radar that a storm was close by, what a storm it was, there was thunder and lightning, hail and then it was topped off with snow. I got sent a lot of nice winter pictures from all over but I particularly liked this one below from Dave H entitled Bank Holiday Forecast…The chap on the right reminds me of a colleague 🙂


Ok enough of the frivolity, onto the matter in hand…

General Weather Situation

So I am going to start the forecast from Wednesday because this is going to be a long blog and by the time you receive it, it’ll be late on Tuesday me reckons 🙂

So overnight into Wednesday we see a weak band of rain moving in from The Atlantic into the west coast of Ireland / north west coast of Scotland. Away from this it’ll be a cool night if skies are clear and this may especially be the case for Central and Eastern England. That rain makes slow progress and so by the morning rush hour straddles halfway across Ireland and doesn’t make it much further inland across Scotland either. Close to this rain front they’ll be plenty of cloud in evidence but east and south of this (which is most of the U.K) will see clear skies and sunshine from the off. With this temperatures will rise quickly to mid to high teens in places with perhaps more in the way of cloud later in the day. Ireland will have a dull day with light showers as that rain front makes slow progress across the country and here temperatures will be more like low to mid-teens. Winds will be predominantly from the south west and light to moderate.

A mild night for Wednesday with no risk of frost except over The Highlands of Scotland and as we progress into Thursday we see any rain over Ireland and Scotland fizzle out and more in the way of cloud cover drift in to all areas with perhaps only the east coast starting the day bright. It’ll be a dry, hazy sort of day on Thursday with light south westerly winds but much more in the way of cloud cover for all areas. During the day those winds will swing round to the south east and this will usher up warmer air from the continent. For this reason temperatures will continue to rise as we progress through the week reaching high teens in England and Wales and mid-teens for Ireland and Scotland. In short a lovely day again.

Closing out the week we see a continuation of that trend of building temperatures courtesy of that south easterly wind pushing up warm air from the continent. There is a risk that this may trigger off some thunderstorms later on Friday but possibly more so over the weekend. In the south of England I expect temperatures to hit the 20°C mark during the day and for Wales, central, northern England and Scotland to be well up there in the high teens. Unfortunately for Ireland you get the slightly muckier end of the stick because you’ll be the other side of the low pressure and that means rather than a south easterly wind, yours is more likely to be north easterly and that will pin down the temperatures to the low teens I’m afraid. The same is likely to be the case for The Highlands and north of Scotland and here you may see some thicker cloud and rain as well.

Onto the all-important weekend 🙂

Saturday looks to start off nice with a mild night and temperatures rising quickly however there’s moisture on the way from the continent and that spells rain and possibly thundery outbreaks in my books as moist air and warm air meet. Now you’ll remember that continental rainfall is extremely unpredictable and therefore difficult to forecast correctly but at this stage it’s looking like it’ll push into south east Ireland by late morning and into the south coast of England by lunchtime. I expect that to change for sure. So Saturday looks like being a dry, warm day in the morning and a wet p.m. for some. Since that rain is coming up from the south, it’ll reach the north of England and Scotland later in the day and there’s also a suggestion that the east coast of the U.K may miss it altogether. Temperatures will remain up though so mid to high teens in most places of the U.K, lower though still for Ireland because of the prevailing wind direction. Sunday looks to follow a similar pattern with plenty of rain around for Ireland, Wales and the west coast of England / Scotland. Again the suggestion is that this rain will be more westerly focussed so eastern areas may get lucky and have a warm and dry day. With more in the way of rain and cloud around for Sunday we will see temperatures dip to the mid-teens for England, Wales and Scotland, but crucially the night will be  mild. Winds will remain south easterly for the U.K and on Sunday, Ireland will see their wind shift to southerly and then south easterly bringing with it milder temperatures.

Weather Outlook

Ok so now we have our first taste of warm weather, will it continue and make up for what was a truly dismal April ?

Well I think yes we will continue to see that warmth next week with a south easterly / easterly air stream in place and perhaps it’ll get even warmer across the east and south of England in particular. Of course a continental air stream means we are likely to see some rain as well, more so I think earlier in the week and probably more central and southern England-orientated. Some of this rain may well be thundery in nature, another feature of continental weather of course. We look fairly well set for a warm week and I’d hope a continuation of milder nights as well because that’s what makes everybody’s life less stressy.

Agronomic Notes

Growth in terms of Growth-Degree-Days

Before I set off down the path of comparing this April with last for all the usual locations I want to explain why I think this is relevant to what we do, whether you’re a groundsman, greenkeeper or contractor. Growth-Degree-Days is a measure of the potential for the grass plant to grow and it provides us with a clear method to compare seasons and thereby provide a factual basis for how the areas that we maintain are growing or not growing as the case may be.

I say ‘not growing’ because we all know the scenario we face every spring when we get mild days and cold nights. The punter expects this means good growth whereas when you are cutting and there’s frost on the rollers you know different.

How do we communicate this though ?

Well that’s where GDD and Growth Potential come in.

So let’s compare two different types of day in April and see how they pan out GDD-wise…


So in scenario 1 we have a nice mild day with the air temperature reaching 17°C, but it started out cold with an overnight frost down to -2°C. If we do our sums using these minimum and maximum temperatures and the formula below we can calculate the daily GDD ;

GDD = ((Max Air Temperature + Min Air Temperature) ¸ 2 )  –  (Base Temperature °C )

Now I use a base temperature of 6°C because that’s when we start to see grass plant shoot growth and that makes sense to me as a logical base temperature. Some of the U.S models use a base of 0°C and that doesn’t make sense to me because the formula will return a GDD value even though nothing is actually growing.

So in scenario 1 if we do our sums we return a GDD figure of 1.5, which is very low bearing in mind a GDD figure of 0 means no growth at all.

Let’s look at another day in April, scenario 2 when we have a nice mild day with a similar maximum air temperature of 17°C, but we also had a nice, mild night with the temperature not dropping below 8°C.

In scenario 2 if we do our sums we return a GDD figure of 6.5, which I know from my field observations correlates to reasonably good spring growth.

If we look at it from a factual basis the grass plant has over four times the potential to grow if the temperatures follow scenario 2 than scenario 1. (6.5 divided by 1.5) That’s the rub, that’s fact and can’t be argued with because we know GDD calculations correlate well with grass growth until we reach a point where the temperatures get so high that they cause plant stress (not likely at the moment)

So hopefully you can see why I think GDD is a useful parameter to sort the wheat from the chaff when we talk about grass growth and particularly when we look at spring growth.

So how was it for you ?..April that is…….

So let’s see how our GDD’s pan out….starting with our Thame location and comparing 2016 with 2015…


First up you can see how the GDD curve for 2016 flattened out at the end of April compared to the previous year which highlights the fact that growth stopped at the end of this April 2016, due to the blast of Arctic air.

Looking at the daily growth pattern through the first four months of 2016 and bearing in mind a daily GDD figure of 6 or above represents good growing conditions, you can see what I mean about poor growth.


So in this location for the whole of April we only had 3 days approaching reasonable growth. (close or over the red horizontal line) and practically no growth from the 21st April to the end of the month.

You can download this on a pdf here

Comparing 2016 with the recent past…


Looking at the historical data above for the Thame location we can see that April 2016 provided us with the 2nd lowest monthly GDD total of the past 6 years and lower even then the long winter of 2013 ! On a cumulative basis we are just ahead of 2013 y.t.d but that’s only because January and February 2016 were so mild.

If you take March and April together from a total GDD perspective and compare with previous years, here’s how 2016 stacks up….

Total GDD March + April

2010 – 153   /  2011 – 233    / 2012 – 116   / 2013 – 85   / 2014 – 197    / 2015 – 130    / 2016 – 82

It’s official then, the lowest growth as measured by GDD over March and April that we have recorded….

UK and Irish Locations – How they compare

Before I comment on this, I’d really love some Scottish data from the east and west coasts to comment and contrast with the other data I have, so if anyone’s willing please drop me an email on


Looking at the 5 locations I have data for you can see the influence of geography in terms of the London location is that much further ahead of the central and northern England locations in terms of GDD. It must be all of that hot air coming out of the Houses of Parliament 🙂

Across the Irish Sea the picture looks like this…

GDDIRISHJANTOAPRIL2016_2Of course Valentia is doing its usual job of streaking away with the game because of its south westerly location. Up country the locations are more similar this year with Wexford currently sitting up front and Ballyhaise just lagging behind a bit.

If you compare the U.K to Ireland in terms of GDD, you can see how similar they are really and it makes a mockery of the pesticide regulators assertion that the Irish climate is so different to the U.K’s….

Taking advantage of this weather window and some of its consequences….

Ok to tackle this subject I’ve cut and pasted Meteoturf from my location for the next 7 days and highlighted what I want to talk about…


First-off you’ll notice both the GDD total and the pattern in the Growth Potential chart.

The total at 46 for the next 7 days is high (bear in mind last week the total was 5!!)  and the chart shows an upward trend in growth as we progress through the week. So this suggests to me that we are going to experience quite a flush of growth particularly over the weekend so it may mean coming in next Monday morning to a lot of grass unless you have the resources to take action (and I totally accept this isn’t pertinent to everyone)

Predicted Growth Flush – PGR Slot

If I had to make a choice when I applied a PGR to outfield areas, this week would be THE WEEK for me to get as much ‘bangs for my buck’ out of the application because we have good soil moisture levels, rapidly climbing soil and air temperatures and therefore optimum conditions for growth or more specifically growth suppression. Now if you need recovery on outfield areas you could go at a half rate and slow that growth down a tad and increase tillering at the same time.

For fine turf that growth will be welcome..

On fine turf this growth uplift will I think be very welcome because we’ll see the purpling of late grow out quickly and Poa, Bent and Fescue will all get a good kick up the jacksie so that differential growth where one species is growing and another one isn’t should become a thing of the past quite quickly.

Great Uptake Conditions for Selective Herbicides…

The warm weather, dry conditions (for most) mean that it’ll be an ideal time to get out with a selective herbicide if you’re planning on making an application. Uptake will be fast and efficient.

Lots of plants will be flowering very quickly 🙂

If you haven’t seen many of these yet ….






You will soon because with many locations sitting between 100-120 GDD, we will quickly put on the 20-30GDD this week required to take past that 130-150GDD threshold that signifies the Poa annua seedhead flush. So be prepared for a lot of seedheads appearing very quickly.

You’ll also see a lot of broad-leaved weeds spring into growth and flower this week hence the advice about selective herbicide application.

Microdochium nivale – Fusarium in old English..

Just as we can expect to see a rapid increase in grass growth I also expect us to see a flush of disease on fine turf. Fortunately we should be able to grow it out as quickly as it comes in…

We will dry out and fast….

The 2nd part of Meteoturf’s prognosis for the week ahead concerns the anticipated E.T loss of 24mm over the next 7 days. Now for some of you, particularly across the north west of England and Scotland this will be manner from heaven because it means you’ll be drying out big time and that’s just what you guys need after an agonisingly wet winter and spring. (not to mention the cold temperatures as well)

For locations in the south and east though where rainfall levels have been lower it means you’ll see turf dry out very quickly indeed so it’ll be a real balancing act dealing with a rush of growth and high E.T demand.

That’s why I think a PGR application will work well because it’ll hold back some of that growth and thereby slow down the moisture requirement of the grass plant.

So this week we will see a quick transition into hand-watering and if next week’s temperatures pan out as projected this will continue and possibly escalate.

Barmy and Balmy

It’s perhaps a reflection of our rapidly-changing climate that we are likely to go from snow one week to 20°C the next but it doesn’t make turf management very straight-forward does it ? 🙂

May the sun shine warm upon your face 🙂

All the best

Mark Hunt