Monthly Archives: June 2016

June 27th


Hi All,

As we close out June this week it’s certainly been a month to remember and not for the right reasons weather-wise (I’ll steer clear of politics).

One of the aspects of my job that I do enjoy is your sense of humour so following last week’s events and the weather, I did have to smile when I received these two images on my phone though I appreciate neither is a laughing matter before anyone writes in…

IMG_5945 IMG_5943

Last Thursday saw some massive thunderstorms float up from the continent into the south east and south of England and brought heavy rainfall. I tracked their path through Wednesday night into Thursday. (because I’m sad like that..)

























I fished the beautiful River Trent on Thursday evening to get away from all the media crap and what a therapy it was 🙂

Didn’t escape the rain though as you can see from this row of nicely-organised rain clouds that came my way !


I had reports of 70mm + of rainfall from the south of England for Wed / Thur and I know more followed after this. I read in New Scientist last week that these peaks and troughs in the jet stream now have a name and are officially called ‘Omega Blocks’ because they form the characteristic Ω pattern (Upper Case Omega in Latin apparently)

So is there any end in sight to the continual run of low pressure systems / trough events ?

In a word….’nope’ but for the south I don’t think the rainfall levels will be as high as in recent weeks and we will have more wind so that means higher E.T and more drying…. (how to put a positive spin on things # lesson 1)

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees us firmly in a south west air stream and low pressure influencing our weather so I’d expect a west and north theme to the rainfall this week and that’s the way it looks. So we already have showers on the radar over Ireland, N.Ireland and Scotland, but these are fairly fragmented so between them they’ll be some sunshine as well. Further south it is a drier picture, still with a chance of a shower though but I think with a stronger wind in place there is less of a risk of a deluge (because the rain wil be pushed through more quickly). That’s the way it looks set to stay on Monday, showers across Ireland and Scotland, some pushing into the north west of England late morning but further south and east it’ll be drier, breezy and they’ll be some sunny intervals as well. Temperature-wise, expect mid-teens for the north and Scotland if you’re under that rain and high teens during the sunnier intervals further south. The wind will be moderate to strong and from the north west.

Tuesday sees rain push into south west Kerry (where else ??) during the course of the early hours and move across Munster into Leinster by the morning rush hour. Further east and south across the U.K, it’ll be a sunny start to the day but cloud cover will soon build heralding the arrival of showers into the the west of Scotland, Wales and England during the morning. These showers will consolidate to form longer spells of rain during Tuesday afternoon and will mainly affect an area north of a line drawn from The Severn Estuary up to The Humber. Later into Tuesday evening the rain will sink south to cover all areas but dissipate as it does so. Similar temperatures to Monday with a gentler south westerly breeze pushing those showers along.

Onto Wednesday and we will see more rain, (ho hum) heavier in nature I am afraid push into the west of Munster and Connacht for dawn and then move rapidly across country reaching Leinster by mid-morning I think.  By early afternoon that rain will have reached the western coastline of the U.K affecting an area from the south west of England up to the south west of Scotland. Through the course of the afternoon that rain may indeed get heavier particularly across Wales and The Lake District. It should clear the west of Ireland at the same time though the east won’t lose it till later in the evening. By late afternoon it’ll be into The Midlands and south of England and then slowly move eastwards through Tuesday evening into the east of England but by then it’ll be dissipating. Similar temperatures to Monday / Tuesday with mid-teens in the rain, high teens out of it and accompanied by a gentler south westerly wind (hence the slow moving nature of the rain)

For Thursday we have most of Wednesday’s rain moving off into The North Sea to leave a reasonably dry overnight picture save for some light rain over Central Scotland. For the morning rush hour we see more rain move into south west and west Munster and this will again cross Ireland and N.Ireland through the morning. Further east for the U.K it looks a dry start with hazy sunshine in evidence but by mid-morning we see a familiar cloud base form signifying the arrival of that western rain front. By lunchtime that rain is into Wales and the south west of England and pushes eastwards on a brisk south westerly wind to affect all areas of the U.K by late afternoon / early evening. As it pushes eastwards it should clear Ireland by the evening time. A duller day for the U.K than earlier in the week and that’ll peg temperatures back to the mid-teens for most areas of the U.K and Ireland, so nothing to shout about.

Closing out the week we have a very unsettled picture over the U.K first thing on Friday but Ireland could start potentially dry (or at least drier than of late). Through the morning a swirl of showers will affect predominantly Northern England and Scotland but further south should stay largely dry. Some of those showers will push into the west coast of Ireland by late morning and then move south east through the afternoon with clearer spells in-between. At this stage, south of Nottingham looks to be less affected through Friday and we could even enjoy some longer spells of sunshine through Friday afternoon as that rain becomes confined to north western coasts. By Friday evening we have a progressively drier picture coming into play with any rain confined to The Lakes and therefore clear elsewhere. Temperature-wise we should be similar to Thursday, mid to high teens, highest in the south of England I think. Winds will be moderate and from the west.

The outlook for the weekend remains unsettled unsurprisingly with the west of Scotland / Donegal / north west of England looking to bear the brunt of any rain whilst the rest of Ireland and the U.K should see a reasonable day on Saturday with some good sunny spells, especially for the south and east. Later on in the day we may see some rain pushing into the south west of England and continue to affect Scotland and the north west of England. Similar temperatures to Friday, high teens, maybe just pushing into the twenties in the south of England. The wind will be moderate to blustery and from the west. Sunday looks a drier day for Scotland and the north west of England at this stage but there is a chance of further rain in the south west of England and along the south coast. Temperature-wise we might be a degree or two up on Sunday due to a lighter wind and high pressure trying to exert an influence.

Weather Outlook

So next week is a clear fight between high and low pressure as the former tries to push in over the course of Monday and stabilise the weather. So for the start of next week I think we will see a more settled picture than this week with warmer, drier conditions certainly for Ireland , Wales and the west / south of England. Low pressure won’t be far away though so it could still be unsettled further north. We look set fair until Wednesday / Thursday with a dry and settled week up until then but the projections then show a new trough forming and low pressure pushing in so we may then have a repeat of heavier rainfall events for the second part of next week. If this is the case it’s more likely over the west and north.

Agronomic Notes

June 2016 so far….

Our roller coaster ride of a month continued last week in terms of rainfall certainly with another high level recorded through Wed / Thur.


So we can see why we have such a growth issue on outfield, be that sports pitch or fairway / semi-rough / rough. Plenty of moisture availability on these areas dove-tailed into a daily Growth Potential ranging from 0.8 – 0.9, in other words close to optimum. In the south and east of the U.K you may get an opportunity to apply a PGR this week before more rain arrives and if you’re looking at this I think Monday and Friday present the best opportunities (depending on where you’re located that is)

This same combination of moisture and temperature continues to drive turf disease so plenty of reports of Microdochium nivale, Superficial Fairy Rings, Waitea (not yet substantiated), the odd few spots of Dollar Spot (Precursors I call them) and from Scotland comes initial reports of Anthracnose Foliar Blight.

Anthracnose Spore Germination

We know from some of the latter day work done on Anthracnose that it really needs some sustained temperature over 20°C to initiate Conidia (Spore) germination. So I looked back at the daily weather stats for three locations ; Stirling in Scotland, Dublin in Ireland and Thame in England over the last 7 or so weeks to see how they compared…For Scotland to report the first signs of Anthracnose would suggest that they have had warmer temperatures than other locaitons.

Here’s how the stats look ;


You can see from the above graphs that Scotland has indeed had the highest, sustained daily air temperatures, particularly between May 31st and June 10th. Studies have also suggested that the disease requires 12 hours or more of leaf wetness and with the frequent rain we have experienced this is entirely likely. The suggestion is that if conditions are optimum in terms of temperature and leaf wetness, the disease can go from infection to spore production (in other words pretty much a full cycle) in 10 -12 days.

So if we look at the peak in temperatures experienced in Scotland up to the 10th June, that pretty much concurs with the first signs of the disease being 10  – 12 days later.

But what about England, Wales and Ireland ?

Well I couldn’t find any daily weather station data for Wales before you lads criticise the lack of a Wales graph and for Ireland I had to go onto the Met Eireann site and lift the data day-by-day. (the lengths I go to to keep everyone happy :))

You can see though for England we have only had two short-lived peaks of high temperature (remember them ?) so I think it’s less likely for the disease to be an issue here, whereas for Ireland you did have 10 days of moderately-high temperatures but whether they were indeed high enough to trigger spore germination remains to be seen.

My conclusion is that by looking at the temperature data from the 3 sites, only Scotland has so far had high enough temperatures for long enough to initiate not only Anthracnose development, but the more damaging, Foliar Blight form of the disease.

For Ireland and England I can’t think the temperatures have been high enough for long enough to trigger this form of the disease so if you’re going to see it, I reckon it’ll be the basal rot form rather than foliar blight.


With frequent moisture and good temperatures it is tempting to forget nutrition, especially on outfield. The problem here though is Red Thread. Now I know I said last week that you are very likely to still see Red Thread on turf areas that have been fertilised but without a doubt you’ll see a heck of a lot more on areas that haven’t because of the climatic drivers to this disease.

I took these two images of an outfield area that had had a fertiliser application and an area next to it that had been missed. Hopefully you can see the difference in terms of Red Thread levels.

IMG_5926 IMG_5927

Ok that’s it for this week, all the best out there and let’s hope that high pressure projected for next week manages to defy the odds and hang around for more than 2-3 days 🙂

Positive vibes everyone…

Mark Hunt








June 20th


Hi All,

So today marks the Summer Solstice would you believe (!), the longest day of the year when the sun rises at 4.45 a.m. (not that most of you can see the sun at the moment) and it sets at 10.45 p.m. tonight. I hope by then you may see this and the full moon as well as skies clear later. It has though been another topsy-turvy week weather-wise with torrential rain in places at the end of last week.


I was sitting in a meeting last Thursday and as I often do I was staring out of the window at the weather rather than paying attention to my erstwhile colleagues (Apologies Andy and Mark but I know you’re used to this now) when I snapped these Funnel Clouds forming over Rutland Water (behind tree line) These are so so close to forming a water spout.

We also saw Tornado Spouts form in different locations across The Midlands, Essex and the north of England. Of course these clouds were accompanied by torrential rain with 42mm in 2 hours recorded in Oxfordshire with notably the centre of Birmingham flooded.


Image courtesy of Meteoblue

June is turning out for many to be a very wet month and the reason is our old friend the jet stream which continues to periodically form into a trough into which cooler, wetter, low pressure weather systems sink. When we have trough pattern formation, the other (unwelcome) feature is that these weather systems do not move through quickly across the U.K and Ireland so tend to circulate and dump their rainfall consistently on an area hence the increased potentially for high daily rainfall totals. And as I look out of my office window it is raining very hard again (sigh)

So how are we looking this week me old fruity pies ?

General Weather Situation


So Monday sees us still suffering the influence of that low pressure system with a bank of cloud and rain swirling over the U.K and Ireland. (see above) Currently the rain is affecting south west and central Scotland, the north of England with the heaviest rain down through The Midlands into Southern England. Ireland looks to have a grey start but without the rain and here you’ll probably see some hazy sunshine develop through the morning. Across the U.K that rain pretty much stays in situ through till the late afternoon with the heaviest fronts across the south east and east of England. Scotland will start to brighten up slowly in the east as will the north of England but rain will still hang on across the south west of Scotland through till late afternoon. By early evening we should see a much better picture for most places with the sun breaking through and the rain dissipating from most places except across Connacht, the north and west of Scotland. Temperatures will be warm though after a muggy and humid night touching 20°C in the south and west of England, Ireland. Scotland though is closer to that low pressure so mid -high teens is the order of the day here. Winds will be light to moderate and from the west.

For Tuesday we have a much better weather picture you’ll be pleased to hear with hazy sunshine from the off for most places and that’s the way it looks to stay for most of the day. There will be a weak weather front in place across the north and west so this may bring showers to Connact and Donegal through the late morning / afternoon and also across the west and north of Scotland. By close of play that rain may intensify across these areas to give a wet finish for the day. Elsewhere it will remain dry with hazy sunshine and temperatures similar to Monday, maybe even hitting the early twenties in the south of England. Winds will again be light to moderate and from the west.

For Wednesday we are back to rain with another rain front pushing in from the west early doors crossing Ireland overnight to leave Leinster as the only area affected first thing. That rain will be into the west and central areas of England, Wales and Scotland by the morning rush hour and it’ll slowly push eastwards through the morning. By the afternoon it’ll clear most of England to leave some sunshine but also thick cloud further south, whereas Ireland will have an afternoon of sunshine and showers. Scotland unfortunately gets the messy end of the stick with that rain consolidating by the evening rush hour. As we go through Wednesday evening though it will begin to clear away to leave a pleasant end to the day for most places albeit with showers still a threat. Similar temperatures and wind direction to earlier in the week possibly more south westerly in places.

Thursday looks a tricky one to predict because we have continental rainfall set to play a role and at this stage it is projected to move across south eastern and central England overnight into and through the early hours. Some of this rain may be thundery in nature and heavy causing flooding. At this stage it is projected to reach into the south Midlands as well but expect that to change. Elsewhere we have a pretty dry picture for the start of Thursday with hazy sunshine in places but it won’t stay that way for long with rain pushing into the west of Ireland by late morning. There may also be some further rain around for south west and central Scotland. This rain pushes across Ireland through the late morning and afternoon and then into Scotland for the afternoon/ evening. For England and Wales we have a largely dry day, save for that continental rainfall making an appearance and we should see some pleasant sunshine as well allowing temperatures to lift into the low twenties. It’ll be cooler though for Ireland and Scotland as the wind remains light to moderate from the west.

Closing out the week we have another day of sunshine and showers on the cards, more so for the west and north as rain crosses Ireland and Scotland through Friday morning and pushes into the west coast of the U.K into the north of England and west / north of Scotland . There will be some sunshine around as well though in-between the showers of rain. By Friday afternoon we will still have rain in place across the west and north of England / Scotland and West Wales. By the evening the rain may have cleared the west of Ireland but it’ll still be affecting central and eastern Ireland I am afraid to give you a soggy end to Friday. Elsewhere there may be some sunshine around across central areas but plenty of showers as well more so across west coasts but also the east of England.

Onto the weekend then…

That unwelcome low pressure is slowly drifting off to our north east through the course of the weekend so that means theoretically the weather should improve from the west first. Unfortunately we have that tricky-to-predict continental rainfall likely to make an appearance across the south of England during Saturdayafternoon but at this stage the where and when is impossible to say. For most of the U.K and Ireland Saturday looks largely dry first thing, a little cooler though because the wind has shifted round to the north west so maybe mid to high teens more likely. I do think we are likely to see some rain though as we progress through Saturday afternoon with the north and west likely to catch it I’m afraid. Sunday could potentially be the better day with the wind back round to the south west for some and north west for others (south of England). Either way we should see temperatures back up there in the high teens with more in the way of sunshine. Tricky this one and best to look at your weather info closer to the time because I expect the weekends forecast to vary as we go through the week.

Weather Outlook

Last week I predicted that we should have better weather in the south because of the arrival of high pressure but the dipping jet stream put paid to that theory. So how is next week looking potentially ?

So next week we have a re-run of this week with high pressure trying to push into the picture and probably succeeding for the start of the week so more settled and dry Monday / Tuesday. That’s the good news but I’m afraid a new low is set to sink into a forming trough and pull unsettled, wetter weather down into the west and north through Wednesday and this will eventually affect all areas from Thursday onwards to give an unsettled end to the week. Time to change yet we hope 🙁

Agronomic Notes



You don’t need me to put some nice graphs up on my blog to tell you that this month is proving a real challenge from a golf maintenance (and business I should imagine) perspective.  You can see from the graphs though that the G.P has been sitting close to optimum since the early part of June and you can also see when the trough pattern in the jet stream kicked in through last week culminating in those extreme rainfall events last Thursday.

So maintaining good consistent cuts on outfield turf and golf courses alike is tricky at present though I’m hoping that tomorrow will at least give things a chance to start drying out, though whether you are able to cut is another matter.

Disease Activity

Last week I gave a somewhat grim prognosis that the combination of humidity, rainfall and temperature forecast was likely to kick off any number of diseases and this has indeed been the case.

Lots of reports of Microdochium nivale activity along with very aggressive Red Thread to boot. Moisture-loving diseases like Waitea have also made an appearance (apparent from photos but not yet confirmed by diagnosis)


To show total impartiality from an E.U referendum perspective I have included two coins to scale this lovely patch of Red Thread 🙂

So this turf was fertilised with 21kg of low temperature-available, quick release nitrogen less than ten days ago but rather than discourage Red Thread as the disease books would have you believe “Red Thread is a disease of low fertility…blah, blah” I have noticed more. Now this isn’t because of the fertiliser application but more so because we’ve had that combination of a wet leaf (sometimes through day and night), high humidity and rainfall of course. Fungi that like to develop on the surface of the grass plant leaf are I think real lovers of high humdity conditions and therefore a wet leaf.


Anthracnose Poa annua var annua

Now it’s very early to make an Anthracnose call I hear you say but let’s think about this one.

Firstly, we know that it is a disease that thrives on plant stress (due to high temperatures) and also likes a wet thatch layer. Now Scotland has actually had the better rub of the green so far this year in terms of prolonged sunny, hot conditions and dry weather. Ok that’s over now for the time-being but cast your mind back to 2014 when we had a hot July than a wet, cool August and towards the end of that month we started to see the first signs of what turned out to be a very aggressive Anthracnose period. With Scotland having warm, dry conditions and now a cool and wet period, it is just possible that Anthracnose may make an early summer appearance up there.

Down here we’ve had the opposite though but again that may lead itself to promoting Anthracnose activity not because of summer stress but because of prolonged wetness at the base of Poa annua causing Basal Rot to develop.

Now we know that Anthracnose is one of those diseases that once you see it you’re too late I’m afraid so you need to take preventative action whether it be fungicidal or cultural. (or both)

If you’re thinking of spraying a fungicide for other turf diseases present at the moment, it’s worth checking to see if it also has activity on Anthracnose because you might as well try to get as many bangs for your buck as you can. Normally I go early July for Anthracnose prevention but this year may end up being earlier this year because of the way the weather has mapped out.

Now ok this is just a line of thought, I’m not one to go reaching for the Chemsafe every time we see disease but the problem is with this disease that by the time you see it you are too late anyway. Despite everything that you may read or be told, there is simply no curative fungicide for this disease. Spraying after you see it will just ring fence your current outbreak with infected plants continuing to apparently show new symptoms after spraying. Anthracnose is a real slow mover of a plant pathogen, it just quietly goes about its business but there are things we can do culturally to keep it at bay. Maintaining good, consistent nutrition is one of them and researchers agree that this can sometimes be as effective as a preventative fungicide application. To update yourself here’s some really good links you can download on Best Management Practices and the disease in general  (1) / (2)

I’d love to also state that keeping your surface free-draining with good surface organic matter control and topdressing practices will also play its part but after another 10mm of rain whilst I’ve been typing this blog I find it difficult to do so knowing you guys are probably sitting with wet, saturated surfaces through no fault of your own.

All the best.

Mark Hunt



June 13th


Hi All,Blackbird

One of my many resident Blackbirds has been getting cheekier and cheekier. First she started with sitting on the shed looking into the kitchen and giving me the evil eye. Then she took to landing on the window sill to pay closer scrutiny and now she just comes in to the house and helps herself out of my bird and Hedgehog food stash 🙂 Nature is truly resourceful, I was in Coventry (mercifully briefly I hasten to add) at the weekend and right by The Ricoh Stadium I watched a Peregrine Falcon making a low pass on the prowl for Pigeons probably, great to see and un-noticed by many I’m sure.

After last week’s heat we now have a real muggy feel to the weather as a weak Atlantic low introduced moisture and therefore humidity into the picture late last week. We also saw some very localised downpours going from flooding in one town / village to bone dry just a few miles up the road. This theme of moisture will continue this week with frequent rain bands crossing the country for the first part of the week but drying up a little at the end of the week. So let’s put some detail on it before I have to make the walk of doom to an early dentist appointment 🙁

General Weather Situation

For Monday we have a potentially wet picture for many as already there are bands of rain stretching from the west coast of Ireland to the south coast of England and these are slowly moving up country aided by light, westerly winds. So for this morning you can expect rain pretty much everywhere with a pronounced band of rain moving up across Ireland, Wales and the south of England. A weaker band is situated north of this and stretches from south west Scotland down to The Humber. During the late morning this rain will intensify over the south of England, north of England and Scotland and it’ll be slow moving. Now a feature of this rain is that it can be very localised, some locations having intense showers, others just drizzle, others nothing but a few drops. Through the day this rain moves across Ireland and the U.K in a north east direction but there will be some sunshine down the east coast of Ireland and England and the north east of Scotland as we approach late afternoon. Temperature-wise it’ll feel close and humid under the cloud cover with high teens the order of the day and light winds for all of us.

Overnight into Tuesday we will still have plenty of rain on the radar across Ireland, Wales and the west coast of England / Scotland. By morning rush hour that rain is projected to begin to  consolidate across Ireland and the west coast of the U.K and then begin to move eastwards. Seperately we’ll see additional rain over central and eastern Scotland. Some areas may be dry at first, including the south coast of Ireland and the east coast of England, but by late morning that rain is much more widespread across the west coast and it’ll move into central and northern England through the early afternoon. Lots of cloud cover as we’ve seen on Monday so another dull, close day but some of that temperature will have slipped away so expect only mid- teens across the west and maybe high teens further south. Again winds will be light for most and south westerly in nature, Scotland though will pick up the other end of the low so your winds are likely to be easterly and moderate.

Moving onto Wednesday we have a drier picture for most areas for the start of the day anyway with some rain right down off the south west of England and Ireland, across the north of England and The Highlands of Scotland. There will be lighter cloud and some breaks in it as well through the morning probably across the east coast of Leinster and East Anglia. As we move through the morning into the afternoon it looks like rain will push into Ireland affecting mainly Connacht, Donegal and Leinster and at the same time we’ll see rain into the south west of England, Wales, the north west of England and south west / central Scotland. So the east coast of the U.K tends to miss most of Wednesday’s rain. By close of play Wednesday we have that rain slowly fizzling out with only the south west of England and The Highlands of Scotland holding onto it. Similar temperatures and winds to Wednesday maybe a degree or so down at night so feeling more bearable than of late.

Thursday sees another cloudy start with plenty of low cloud around light rain across Ireland, the south coast of England and north east coast of England / Scotland. During the morning we wil see further rain over Ireland and that rain across the south of England will drift up country slowly into The Midlands by the early afternoon before fading out.  The north of England and Scotland may miss any further rain through the day and there may be some breaks later on in the afternoon across the south east of England, Ireland and east of Scotland. Later in the day we will see a subtle shift in the wind swinging round to the north east and that may mean a slightly cooler day is in store for Friday.

So Friday looks a much drier day because that change in the wind direction is likely to keep most of that Atlantic moisture away from us. There’s a risk early doors of rain across the south coast and east coast of England but this shouldn’t amount to much. Elsewhere over Ireland, the bulk of Wales, England and Scotland we will see a brighter day with some breaks in that omnipresent cloud cover. Those breaks in the cloud are more likely across Ireland, the west coast of England and Scotland. Temperatures are likely to be a little down on Thursday with that change in the wind direction, particularly along eastern coasts.

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

Well drier I think though with plenty of cloud cover around across the country more so across eastern coasts as that light north easterly wind pushes cloud off The North Sea. So the brightest and warmest areas on Saturday are likely to be across Ireland, the south west of England, Wales and Scotland. Central England may see further cloud and some of it may be thick enough for a spot of drizzle in the morning. Temperature-wise, similar to the previous days so mid-teens the order of the day, perhaps a degree or two higher in the sunshine and through the day the wind shifts again to the west. Sunday looks a much brighter day for the U.K with plenty of sunshine and very little rain around. That wind change may mean more in the way of cloud for Ireland on Sunday and some of that cloud may be heavy enough for the odd shower across the west. So feeling warmer in that sunshine where and when you get it on Sunday in milder westerly winds, a nice day all in all.

Weather Outlook

So next week we look to have an improvement on the cards, particularly for the south of England. We have a low pressure skirting over the top of us so that means a westerly wind direction, moderate winds and more chance of rain in the west and particularly the north going through the week. Monday looks to be potentially the wettest day of the week for the west and north dropping down to lighter showers from Tuesday for these areas. The south and east of England look to be dry, warm and settled coming under the influence of a continental high pressure system so it could get pretty warm as we go through the week.

Agronomic Notes


Pathogen Activity

The above Meteoturf for the south of England highlights a continuing trend for high humidity this week carrying on from the last week. Looking across multiple locations for Wales, Ireland and Scotland, the theme is the same, high atmospheric moisture.

High humidity tends to be a driver for disease, especially when it usually coincides with rainfall and during our summer months, high temperature.

Red Thread


So expect to see a lot more in the way of pathogens active in your sward this week. First and foremost on outfield turf I think we will see alot of pressure from Red Thread, irrespective of the level of plant nutrition with prolonged leaf wetness and high humidity really aiding development of this fungal disease. If your turf is regulated by a PGR it will unfortunately be more prone to attack from this pathogen especially if you’re at higher rates of regulation.

Fairy RIngs


Another disease that will definitely become more prominent over the next week or so is Fairy Ring, in its many manifestations whether that be Superficial, Thatch Fungus or just plain mushrooms. Like Red Thread, this fungus really prefers high humidity to become active and so it’s common to see it from now onwards. In extreme situations you can experience turf loss and this may be down to the activity of the fungus in the soil causing localised hydrophobicity or in some cases, a build up of ammonia. If you’re fortunate enough to own a moisture meter, you can very easily check to see if hydrophobicity is the cause by measuring in the centre of the ring, the active ring area itself and then outside the ring. If hydrophobicity is present expect to see low moisture readings in the active area of the ring.


The best treatment if hydrophobicity is present is to hand water with a surfactant pellet and then monitor moisture levels in the stressed area till they reach a level you’re happy with, in other words your benchmark level for non-stressed turf. You can treat with a combination of Strobilurin fungicide and soil surfactant but in my experience if you’re dead set on trying to manage Fairy RIngs out of your turf, this is best done much earlier in the spring preventatively.

Waitea Patch (Brown Ring Patch)


Often confused with Superficial Fairy Ring (SFR) is Waitea Patch, but it’s caused by a completely different fungal family with Basidiomycetes the culprit for SFR and a Rhizoctonia-like fungus the causal agent of Waitea Patch. Waitea Patch or Waitea circinata var. circinata if we’re being official about it is a relative new kid on the block in terms of actual I.D, though i suspect it’s been here for longer than we think but has been mis-diagnosed as SFR in the past.

The two diseases are very different and most prominent in the difference between the two is their behaviour in terms of moisture. Waitea Patch is often associated with elevated levels of moisture so it tends to appear on a wetter turf surface area and becomes more pronounced after rainfall / irrigation. You can read an excellent article by John Kaminski here

Fortunately both disease respond to the same chemical in terms of treatment with Azoxystrobin amongst the best A.I’s for both. The difference is how you treat them with a soil drench often required to get the product down to the area of fungal activity with Fairy Rings but the opposite is true for Waitea where you need to keep the A.I in the surface and crown of the plant.

Microdochium nivale

Yes it is a long list this week and this one has been doing the rounds now for the last couple of weeks with lots of activity both last week and this week. You know the drill, either decide if you and your golfers can live with it or treat it with a systemic fungicide to try and clean up your sward.

It’s concerning for me to hear that we seem to be heading to a situation of decreased tolerance of this disease at some golf clubs from a management perspective. My advice is wake up and smell the coffee because we are not in the U.S and our range of active products that efficiently control the disease is getting less and less, with one of the best combination products disappearing from sale this month.

With the weather in the autumn a significant driver to increased Microdochium pressure and less products effective in control, I’m afraid we are going to have to live with it and accept some damage across a sward whether you like it or not. Yes we can try to reduce its impact with good cultural work and if you’re very lucky, a change away from Poa as the dominant grass species , but this in itself is not easily achieved.

Algae and Cyanobacteria


Image courtesy of Kate Entwistle –

Got an email from Kate Entwistle (No ‘H’ you know..ahaha cue rolled eyes from Kate) which highlighted cyanobacteria in the sward at a particular golf club. It’s more on a symptom than a pathogen in a way because the presence of both algae and cyanobacteria species like Oscillatoria are symptomatic of an enviroment that favours their presence. They like high humidity in order to develop and ideally a perched water table so if you have fibre build up, poor air flow and perched water in the surface of the sward, it’s likely that you’ll notice this pathogen. I often see it in shaded areas with poor air flow and where the turf has thinned like clean up strips on golf greens.

Ok a busy week for us all then with the weather keeping us on our toes, good luck to you all.

Mark Hunt




June 6th


Hi All,

Well a taste of summer is on the cards this week but unlike the tabloids I don’t think it’s going to last much past the end of the week I am afraid. The jet stream is projected to drop south by a long way and that means that cooler, wetter air will follow it down from the end of this week / weekend rather than a warm high filling underneath. It’s been a feature of this year that the jet stream has sat low, wether it’s related to El Nino I don’t know, but it’s certainly different from normal.

So how are we looking this week ?

Well we are set fair for sure but that doesn’t mean we’ll be entirely dry in all places because the heat is likely to set off some thundery downpours and these as we all know are difficult to predict.

So Monday looks to start off dry, sunny and fair for all of us but by mid-morning there’s a risk of some showers building up along the west coast of the U.K and across Leinster. In keeping with this type of weather it wouldn’t be a surprise to also see some thundery outbreaks heading across the channel into the south east / south coast of England as well. For most though a dry and warm day with temperatures picking up into the mid-twenties in the Costa Del South of England particularly. For Ireland and Scotland it’s likely to be a little cooler, but still in the low twenties I think. By late Monday afternoon we could see those showers merge into longer spells of rain for the south west of England, south east of Ireland and for Central Scotland / The HIghlands.  Winds will be light and easterly.

For Tuesday we see a similar picture, fine, dry and very warm for most but again there’s a risk of showers building up through the morning for the south west of England, South Wales, the east and north east of Ireland and across Central Scotland. Some of these are likely to be thundery in nature as that heat builds and triggers thunderstorms. If anything Tuesday may be a degree or so up on Monday so mid-twenties again for the south of England, low twenties elsewhere, with a light easterly wind for all of us.

Wednesday sees a fine, dry start to the day but soon we will see some showers kicking off across Central Scotland and these are projected to sink south through the late morning into Northern England and by the afternoon, The Midlands. They will be quite widely dispersed though so you may easily end up missing them. Ireland and the west look to have a dry, sunny and warm day, maybe the threat of a shower across Leinster but otherwise looking fine and dandy. Again light easterly winds will be the order of the day.

Moving onto Thursday and again a lovely dry day in prospect for most. There’s a risk of more in the way of cloud, especially for eastern Scotland and the north east of England and this may be heavy enough for some drizzle. With this type of heat there’s always the chance of some showers building up, particularly along the west coast of the U.K, but on the whole we look dry. Maybe a little cooler for Thursday as we see more in the way of cloud across the U.K and Ireland but I’d still expect reasonably good temperatures into the low twenties for most of us.

Rounding out the week and now we start to see the weather on the turn because overnight into Friday, a rain front is due to make landfall across south west Kerry and move slowly up country through the morning so a potentially wetter day for Ireland to close the week. This rain will also feature across the north west of England / south west of Scotland through the morning and into the afternoon. Further south and east of this it should be a cloudier, but dry morning however those rain showers are projected to sink south through the afternoon / evening into The Midlands by dusk. So a cloudier and therefore cooler day on Friday with the wind on the turn to the south although it’ll be very light in nature.

You might have guessed that the weekend isn’t looking brilliant with the change in weather and that would be correct. We have a pronounced Atlantic low destined to influence our weather for the weekend and beyond so that means cooler, moist air pushed in on a south westerly wind with frequent rain. This rain will likely be heavier across Ireland, the west / north west of England and Scotland as it follows the normal diagonal projectory of an Atlantic low pressure system but I think everywhere will see some rain over Saturday and Sunday. There will be some sun around between the showers maybe more so on Sunday and more likely across the east, south and south east of England. Temperature-wise a little cooler than of late, so mid to high teens likely in a moderate south westerly wind.

Weather Outlook

As intimated above, we have an Atlantic low pressure dominating the weather next week and that means windier, wetter but staying mild throughout the first part of the week. So plenty of rain for the west and north, but I expect all areas to pick up moisture next week , especially in the early part of the week. As that low circulates round and slowly moves eastwards it’ll drag in a more northerly airstream (probably northwest) so that’ll cool things down to the mid-teens I think as we approach the end of next week. Thereafter it’s of course tricky to say but my gut feeling is that the jet stream will lift again and allow a warmer airstream to come into play w/c 20th June.

Agronomic Notes


Above is a Meteoturf snap taken for a golf course in the south of England and since that’s where you’re likely to be bearing the brunt of the heat, this is where I will start.

Managing High Evapotranspiration (E.T)

Looking at the Meteoturf readout above, the projected E.T loss for the week is 31mm with some days topping 5 / 5.5mm per day of E.T loss. So what is likely to be going on in the grass plant during these high E.T conditions ? Well to answer that we need to also look at the projected Growth Potential for this week and we can see that it is approaching optimum growing conditions over a 7 day period with a total figure of 6.6 which means a daily average G.P of 0.94.

We can see that although a hot week is forecasted, it is not going to be hot enough to put the plant under sustained stress because if it was we’d see the Growth Potential decrease as the daily temperature becomes too high for grass growth. So as long as moisture is available we are going to see a potential for a growth flush this week.

Now let’s look at that statement “As long as moisture is available”

In some areas we have had dry conditions for a while now, particularly the north of England and Scotland so growth is likely to be moisture-limited especially in an outfield scenario which is unlikely to receive irrigation in most cases. So realistically the limiting factor to outfield growth will be soil moisture levels and where these are low I’d expect the grass plant to shut down this week in order to conserve internal moisture levels. Where soil moisture levels are good then grass growth will be intially high but I expect as the E.T ramps up during the week it will start to decline as surface moisture is lost.

What kind of steps can we take to help the grass plant during this short period of high temperature ?

Cut and Roll….

Well one of the increasingly popular ways of decreasing stress on fine turf in particular is to miss a day cutting and just roll instead. If your nutrition and PGR use is correct then this shouldn’t be an issue because the plant should just be ticking along at present growth-wise and so missing a day cutting should not result in a negative. Rolling has been shown to be a positive in this situation in terms of decreasing stress but there are other benefits as well.

If your greens surface is firmer then it means you will have a better correlation between your bench set cutting height and your actual cutting height. If you have a softer turf surface with a higher organic matter content it’s safe to assume that your actual height of cut will be significantly lower than your bench set because the mower will be sinking into the surface.

In my books rolling is a great tool in the toolbox for hot conditions because not only does it allow you to save a cut and therefore put the plant under less stress but it also allows you to effectively cut higher. If your surface is firm with good organic matter control and plenty of dressing incorporated through the organic matter then you shouldn’t need to drop your height down markedly to get good green speed when you cut and roll. There’s a good (but slightly old article here on the subject of rolling Poa annua and Bentgrass Greens)

‘Little but Often’ PGR usage with nutrition…

The latest research has clearly shown that it is application frequency rather than rate of PGR’s that is key to maintaining a regulated turf. Growth-Degree-Day work in the U.S (Download “Avoiding the rebound” here) has pointed to the fact that during warm conditions, the longevity of a PGR application is decreased regardless of the application rate. I have looked at our temperature ranges in the U.K and Ireland and during the hotter periods of the summer we can expect a PGR application to only last 12-14 days maximum. That means that fortnightly applications of PGR and nutrition are optimum for keeping grass growth consistent. Stretching it out to three weeks will result in a drop off of greens performance and enhanced plant stress.

Reducing Plant Stress

I have already talked about the use of rolling as a means to reduce the level of stress the grass plant is under (fine turf obviously) and keeping nutrition and PGR usage on a ‘little, but often’ basis, but what else can we do ? Well obviously irrigation will come into play but how much should we irrigate ? Now that is a very contentious question but my rule of thumb has been to try and replace 50% of E.T loss through sprinkler irrigation and then use hand watering to take care of any localised dry spots (humps, ridges, areas affected by sand splash).

I came to this conclusion back in 2006 when I conducted some wetting agent trials and wanted to put the plots under stress. Initially I replaced 100% of daily E.T loss with irrigation and the only stress that the plots were subject to was flooding !!! (far, far too much water). Gradually I reduced the irrigation load and arrived at the 50% figure which kept the turf healthy.

Nowadays we have moisture meters which allow you to see first hand what is going on at a set depth in your profile but it’s worth pointing out that it is of course the surface that dries out quickest and most moisture meters will only measure at the depth of the probe (so you can’t put it half in and expect to get an accurate reading). It is likely therefore that when you are doing moisture readings the surface is running at a lower moisture content than what you are seeing on your moisture meter.  So use them wisely this week to highlight and manage hotspots.

One of the key points I noticed way back in 2006 during that hot summer was how well the combination of soil surfactant and biostimulant worked in terms of reducing plant stress with more consistent growth and colour than plots just treated with a surfactant. The kind of week we have coming up is tailor made for this approach.

Lightning Detection


On a final point I’m often asked where you can go to look at lightning strikes and since this type of storm may be a feature of this week I thought I’d remind you of the link. The Met Office run a system called ATD Lightning Detection and you can access it by clicking on the link below. It’s updated very 15 minutes and to me it’s very useful in terms of looking for storms around your facility and which direction they’re heading. As I type this I can already see a storm sitting out in the sea off the beautiful St David’s City in Pembrokeshire and it’s probably giving the Puffins a fright or two on Ramsey Island 🙂

You can access the ATD Lightning Detector on the Netweather site on the link below ;;sess=

Ok that’s it for this week, all the best and enjoy the sunshine.

Mark Hunt







June 1st


Hi All,

A late blog as forecast because I took a long Bank Holiday and very relaxing it was although the weather intervened as usual. The mornings started off very cool and windy courtesy of a north east wind pushing Haar in from The North Sea but by lunchtime it was lovely for walking with meadows full of Clover and Buttercups.


Last week I mentioned Pink Campion in my blog only for that horticultural sage, Mike Butler, to correct me and point out that the Campion species we see lining the hedgerows is actually Red Campion (yawn, looks pink to me Mikey ?). Luckily I managed to find a reference to the fact that Red and White Campion (above left) produce a pink hydrid in the wild so I think I was at least half right, genetically speaking..

Go west or north to see some sunshine 🙂

We are experiencing some strange weather at the moment because of that north easterly air stream and currently the U.K is split into three with the central and south east experiencing a very cool and wet spell of weather, the west, lots of sunshine and Scotland, a heatwave.

The rainfall has been unpredictable as well. Last Tuesday just after I had said we were in for a largely dry week (sod’s law), we got some very localised thunderstorms and you can see they worked in a line along the M1 from London. (the image below shows lightning strikes and the time they occurred)  I can’t help thinking that it was the heat from the asphalt and cars that triggered off and fueled the storm. I watched the updrafts form right above my house and it went from sunny to dark in a matter of minutes with all the street lights coming on, we then picked up 19mm of rain over a very short period, mega interesting even if the neighbours curtains were flapping a tad as I stood on the front lawn and stared up at the sky for an extended period.


That rainwater contained 0.5kg of nitrogen per hectare by the way for every inch that fell which is kind of normal.(I was hoping for more)

General Weather Situation

So how does what’s left of the week look like ?


As mentioned earlier we have a real split in the weather between the north and west which is currently enjoying fine and warm weather and the central and southern areas of the U.K, which is getting the dirtier end of the stick so to speak. You can clearly see this on the Meteoblue image shown above and it’s a result of the wind direction pulling cool and moist air off The North Sea.

So Wednesday starts off dull and cool for the south and east and in fact they’ll be more in the way of cloud cover for the west again, but the difference will be what happens as we progress through the morning. That cloud spilling in off The North Sea will be heavy enough for some rain across the east / north east and north of England through the morning but further north and west of that cloud bank it’ll be a lovely sunny day with warm periods. By late morning though there’s a risk of showers for the south west, South Wales, Hereford and Worcestershire. For Ireland and Scotland we can expect a clear sunny day with temperatures into the twenties again, whereas further south it’ll be down in the low to mid-teens at best and somewhere in-between for the west. Remaining dull for the south and east then I’m afraid and it’s likely you’ll see some heavy bursts of rain feeding off The Channel into The Home Counties through the morning. The wind will be moderate to breezy under that cloud cover and from the north east, whereas for Scotland it’ll be lighter and more easterly in orientation.

Going through to Thursday we have a very similar picture with perhaps more in the way of breaks in the cloud cover for Wales, the west and south coasts of the U.K through the morning. So warm and sunny for Scotland with maybe a little cloud cover coming through later in the day, dull and cool for the The Midlands and the south east I’m afraid. Later in the day there’s a chance that the cloud may be thick enough for some rain across the south east of England.

Indeed overnight a band of rain is projected to push into the south east and east of England and move slowly westwards so by Friday morning rush hour it’ll be across London and up to The Wash. By late morning it will have reached the East Midlands, central and northern areas, but all the time fading….At the same time we will see thicker cloud push into the east of Scotland and again move westwards to bring rainfall later in the day for eastern and central Scotland. As you’d suspect when the The North Sea is involved, the best weather is furthest away from it so Ireland, Wales and the west of the U.K look to get the best of the sunshine and temperatures. Through the morning that rain will push inland and then fizzle out leaving just thick cloud over the U.K by nightfall, with only Ireland seeing a pleasant enough evening. Temperature-wise, mid-high teens for Ireland, the west and Scotland, but down a couple of degrees for The Midlands, north east and south east of England. The wind will remain north east / easterly in orientation but it should be lighter on Friday.

Looking ahead to the weekend, there is a change on the way in terms of temperatures and wind direction but it won’t be readily apparent on Saturday as we look to have a dull cloudy start for most of the U.K, but brighter for Ireland. During the late morning rain is projected to push in from the east to north, central and southern parts and move into the south and north west later in the day, intensifying as it does so. As this rain moves through it’ll leave behind a sunny and bright end to the day for many. That rain fades away overnight into Sunday to leave a hazy but much warmer start to the day for southerly areas as that wind shifts round to the east and pulls in warm air from the continent. So a warm, bright, sunny day for Sunday is on the cards and you’ll really feel the temperature pushing up in the south with low to mid-twenties on the cards. Further west and north a pretty similar picture with long spells of unbroken sunshine and warm temperatures.

Weather Outlook

I have to say I haven’t seen a weather picture like this for a long while, it’s a real miss-mash of weak weather systems with no one particular one dominating. We have a jet stream that’s sitting really, really high above us and that should mean we have stable high pressure filling in underneath to give us warm and dry conditions. The fly in the ointment is that we have a low pressure projected to sit out north of The Bay of Biscay from Tuesday onwards and that could easily feed in some rain and it’ll be unpredictable in nature. So it’s a real best-guess looking ahead for everyone and truth be known I think the situation will only become clear as we start next week. So I think we will a dry, warm settled start to the week but there’ll always be a risk of rain, perhaps thunder heading in from the continent to the south east / south of England. This risk increases on Monday night / Tuesday and it may well spill rain as far west as Wales. The most settled weather for the early part of the week will definitely be in the north again I think. By mid-week we have that low pressure projected to pass over us so unsettled for Wednesday before finer, drier weather moves in for Thursday and Friday.

I’d repeat though that I think there’s a good deal of uncertainty with the weather picture for next week due to the potential behaviour of that low pressure system.

Agronomic Notes

Being the start of the month we have a good deal of GDD info to look through…

May 2016 – Thame Location…


May 2016 provided us with the highest amount of growth (according to GDD) since we started monitoring GDD back in 2010 with a total GDD of 208.5 for the month, the previous highest being 198 back in 2012.

As I’ve commented upon in some of my previous May blogs, it has been a typical roller coaster of a month in that respect, so let’s look at it in more detail from a number of locations.

Growth Potential vs. GDD during the summer

From May onwards I start to use Growth Potential as a way of modelling growth more so than GDD and that’s because Growth Potential works on an optimum temperature basis for grass growth and has ‘top out’ functionality within its model. What I mean by that is that if the air temperature gets too hot for grass growth then the figure calculated for Growth Potential will decrease because of how the formula works, whereas GDD will just return a higher and higher figure. That’s the key difference between the two models and because of this, Growth Potential can function as an indicator / predictor of plant stress and that’s key from now onwards.

Here’s how May 2016 mapped out on a daily basis in Wicklow, Bristol, Guildford and York.

WicklowBrtistolGPMay2016 YorkGuildfordGPMay2016

The growth flushes are very evident in week 2, 3 and 4 as are the sharp reductions in temperature during the early and mid-part of the month, definitely a roller coaster. You can also see the difference between the locations in terms of total growth across the month.

If you compare the last week of May in Bristol vs. York, it graphically illustrates the west / east divide in terms of temperatures and hence growth.  Yesterday for example Bristol was on 0.9 GP, in other words, things were growing well, whereas York was stuck under that North Sea Haar and barely at 0.4 !

You can download the pdf of this content here

Maintenance issues, seeding and disease…

So we know May brought with it some real maintenance issues with huge amounts of grass growth and typically the last one occurred on the run up to The Bank Holiday over here. It was worse in the west where the temperatures were higher however in some places the combination of warm temperatures and a strong drying wind were enough to slow growth naturally due to E.T loss.

Poa annua seeding…

We also know that Poa annua went from little or no seedheads to full-on seedhead expression in less than 5 days at the beginning of the month. It will be interesting therefore to see if that means that the seedhead flush will be shorter this year because the beginning of seeding started so quickly.


Red Thread

Not surprisingly the mixture of sudden increases in temperature and moisture have led to quite a high level of disease pressure during May. Specifically Microdochium nivale in the beginning and end of the month, and Red Thread..RedThread111115

If there is one thing that Red Thread likes it is humidity and there’s been some of that around of late. It also seems to favour the finer-leaved plant species and that includes the latest generation of ryegrass which I think is particularly susceptible to this disease. If you happen to have regulated your grass lately on outfield areas (and you’d have good reason to do so in some areas) it’s likely that you’ll have seen more Red Thread because one of the mechanisms of disease reduction is the physical removal of the mycelium of Red Thread by cutting. Less cutting, less mycelium removal, more disease, simples. It follows of course that if turf is under-nourished and / or growing slowly for another reason, then Red Thread will be more severe. (That’s why all the books recommend fertilisation to remove the disease because you effectively ‘grow it out’ of the sward). Nowadays though I don’t think it’s that simple because I’ve seen aggressive Red Thread on areas that are growing strongly and are being cut regularly.

Looking ahead…


Looking ahead to the end of this week and the beginning of next we can see a number of features we should be aware of ;

In some areas things will dry out quickly…

Firstly for the south and east of England, you’re likely to experience a growth flush as grass growth approaches optimum over the weekend and early part of next week. Secondly we can see that the projected E.T loss is high over Saturday and Sunday which will mean surfaces will dry out quickly. Interestingly the projected E.T loss for Scotland is 25% higher so for the second week in a row you’ll not only be on the warm side but your turf surfaces will be drying out significantly.

Shallow Rooting = Problems..

This can highlight the presence of plant parasitic nematodes and / or Take-all disease because both of these pathogens attack the roots of the grass plant early in the season, but the symptoms only become expressed when the plant needs to take up high levels of water through its roots. Obviously these roots are already damaged by the activity of the pathogen and so they cannot accomodate the requirements of the plant and we see wilt initially and then leaf loss / symptom expression. If you have higher than normal levels of fibre and therefore more surface rooting then you’ll notice warm temperature / stress first on these areas..

Talking of shallow rooting..


I grew out some cores of Poa annua recently from a golf green in a sand / composted organic matter media and was quite surprised to see how well this ‘shallow rooted, weed grass’ (as it has been termed in some quarters) rooted 🙂 Ok it’s at fairway cutting height but you can see that Poa isn’t always a shallow-rooted grass…

Pale and Pasty

Like most teenagers, a lot of surfaces will look pale and pasty at present because we are still going through the seeding process. During which the plant channels food reserves upwards and away from the older leaves which tend to die off. So the turf surface looks paler because of this and it will thin out more as well because Poa isn’t actively tillering. For me it’s best just to manage the surface culturally and trickle on a little nutrient and iron to help the Poa through as quickly as possible. One things for sure if you put the Poa under stress then it’ll keep seeding for longer…

That’s all for today folks.

All the best

Mark Hunt