Monthly Archives: July 2016

July 11th


Hi All,

As we march on through July and yet another changeable weekend passes us by you could be forgiven for thinking we may not get a settled summer this year and certainly if I look at the position of the jet stream it does seem that way.  It is subtely on the move though and that will allow warmer air into the south of England from time to time and tend to push the more unsettled weather on that familiar diagonal line west and north of the U.K and Ireland. Before this we have our present low pressure system to work its way through and some cooler, unsettled weather.


This is my last blog for a few weeks as I am shipping out to Alaska for some hiking and fishing but bear and moose allowing, I intend to re-commence on August 1st 🙂

So how are we looking for the week ahead ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday looks to continue the unsettled weather we saw over the weekend, but at least it made for an entertaining F1 race at Silverstone 🙂 Already today we can see a raft of showers working across Scotland, the north of England and Wales with the heaviest rain in the north west between Stoke and Manchester I’m afraid which adds to the packet they picked up yesterday. Through the morning this rain will move east and southwards slowly and gradually disippate, though it may not clear eastern coasts till later on in the afternoon. They’ll also be some showers across Ireland but these look set to clear eastwards through the morning to leave a pleasant day there. South of this line of showers it looks to be largely dry, windy but warm with plenty of cloud cover holding temperatures down to the high teens / low twenties. Later in the afternoon, as the showers die out in the north we may see that Welsh rain front sink south into the south west of England. A blustery day with strong drying winds (where it isn’t raining of course :))

Overnight into Tuesday and that cloud base and rain sinks south into The Midlands and Central England so the boot is on the other foot for Tuesday with a drier day for Scotland and the north of England and wetter down south. Ireland looks to also miss the majority of the rain a.m. but this changes through the course of the day as showers are likely to push in late morning to the west and cross country. That rain for The Midlands and south of England looks to intensify during the morning on Tuesday so most areas will get a drop before it exits stage left into The North Sea by late afternoon, though it’ll drag its heels across East Anglia and the south east well into the evening. The same is true in Ireland with that rain pushing eastwards clearing the west and Midlands through the evening but passing over Leinster as it does so. A cooler feel to Tuesday in all areas as the wind swings round to the north west and although it’ll be light to moderate, it will keep temperatures down to the mid-teens for most places perhaps a degree or two higher across eastern Scotland , The North and South East where you may see the sun break through later on Tuesday.

Onto Wednesday after a cool, single figure, July night, with the wind swinging round to the north west you can expect a day of sunshine and showers pretty much everywhere after a dry start to the day. There will be spells of sunshine between the showers but their frequency will increase as we progress through the morning pushed along on a moderate, north westerly wind. These showers will continue to push down all through the afternoon and I can’t see them clearing till the evening to leave a sunny end to the day. Nothing to shout about temperature-wise as you’d expect with a north westerly wind in charge so similar to Tuesday’s. With clearing skies and a north easterly wind, temperatures will drop quickly once the sun is down to high single figures again, brrrrr.

Better news for Thursday with a drier picture across the majority of the U.K and Ireland with clear skies and longer spells of sunshine. Lighter winds as well will allow the temperature to pick up a degree or two to high teens possibly nudging the twenties across the south of England. Dry for most areas then through the whole day, however for Ireland there looks to be a pulse of heavy rain likely to push into Kerry by lunchtime and this will move up country through the course of Thursday afternoon to affect all but the far north of Ireland by tea time. As we close out Thursday you should notice the wind swing around from the north west to the south west and that should signal the start of some warmer temperatures 🙂

Closing out the week we see that rain front affecting Ireland sink south and east into Wales and the south west of England overnight into Friday. Through the morning this will slowly try to push eastwards but at this stage it looks only likely to affect the western coastline of the U.K with the heaviest rain across the south west. It will introduce plenty of cloud for the west and this will thicken to give rain up the west coast and into Scotland by late morning. East of this rain front it looks to be dull but dry with perhaps only the east coast of England seeing the sun for any length of time. Ireland looks to stay dull and damp for the course of the day I am afraid. Through the course of the afternoon that rain does move eastwards across Scotland, the north of England and across The Midlands and central regions to give a dull, damp end ot the week for many. Moderate south westerly winds will keep the temperature up through Friday so expect high teens for most areas even under the cloud and perhaps a degree or two lower under the rain fronts.

A sunshine and showers type of weekend is on the cards I think with a rain front pushing in across Ireland, Wales, the north of England and Scotland through Saturday and gradually fizzling out as it pushes across The Midlands and south of England. South westerly winds will keep temperatures up in the high teens, low twenties over the weekend, cooler though across the west and north. We should see a dry end to Saturday with plenty of sunshine but it looks like we will have a re-run on Sunday with a new rain front pushing into Ireland and then heading eastwards on a moderate to blustery south west wind. With this type of weather it is always likely that you’ll pick up more rain in the west and north I am afraid. So is there any end in sight to the unsettled weather ?

Weather Outlook

So after a pretty uninspiring week for mid-July, how are we looking for the following week ?

Well we look to be staying unsettled next week I am afraid as low pressure continues to keep the warm high from exerting a stable influence on our weather. It won’t be a dire week by any means and for the south of England being closest to the high pressure I don’t think it’ll be bad at all. As usual with a westerly airstream the bulk of the rain will pass across Ireland, the north west and Scotland during the early part of the week. By mid-week, next week though I think high pressure will start to push up and that’ll mean warmer temperatures as the wind shifts round to the south west. So warmer and possibly hot as we head into next weekend. Will it last though ? Cant say but if there’s anytime of the year when a high can dominate it is in July so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Agronomic Notes

Didn’t we dry out quickly ?

After the heavy rain across the south of England through the last week of June, it was amazing how things dried out so quickly last week in that neck of the woods and that’s not surprising because we did pack in some E.T. (see graph below)


From the graph above you can see the total rainfall last week at this location was 2.2mm, whereas the total E.T was 40.5mm, leaving a deficit of 38.3mm. So after the heavy rain and saturated rootzones we saw at the end of June, we then went to a situation where the same rootzone experienced high E.T stress and dessication.

Feast to famine in terms of moisture levels. There were two things that I think added to the scenario where greens in particular dried out very quickly ; The first was a grass plant that was overly-reliant on moisture following the wet June so it gets used to having its feet wet and when they suddenly dry out it takes awhile to compensate. Secondly if you were sticking a moisture meter into your greens you’d have seen reasonable readings at the 50-60mm depth you were likely to be sampling at (remembering that you only get an accurate reading if the probe is fully inserted) but the likelihood is that the surface of the rootzone (0-25mm) was much drier.

This is because organic matter is naturally concentrated in the surface of the rootzone and usually declines as we go deeper (unless you have a buried thatch layer that is from a previous period). Organic matter as we know consists of mainly dead and decaying roots and these are naturally hydrophobic in their nature (because when they were part of a living plant they were used to transport water) so when they dry out they become water-repellent. Organic matter dries out much quicker than rootzone and so when we see these rapid transitions from wet to dry with signficant E.T, it is the surface that dries out faster and puts the plant under stress. It’s also where the majority of roots are…

Hypoxia and its effects on grass growth

In The Midlands and particularly the south of England during late June we had some significant rainfall events with 60-70mm common over a 48 hour period (22 / 23rd June) and it is clear that this caused some issues growth-wise. The north west of England currently is in the firing line for heavy rain and so this next paragraph is pertinent to you guys as well. When a rootzone becomes saturated, water fills the vast majority of the pores that exist in the rootzone and since water contains less oxygen than air, this scenario can become growth-limiting for the grass plant. Dovetail in the fact that the warmer the soil, the less oxygen the water contains, so a state of hypoxia (oxygen deficiency) can occur rapidly at this time of year.

If we are fertilising heavily prior to and during a period of hypoxia, the grass plant will try to grow quickly in response to the presence of available nitrogen and so will use up soil oxygen levels much quicker. This can result in loss of grass cover and sward thinning, particularly on areas of turf that are compacted and likely to hold lower oxygen levels than normal. You often see this manifest itself with some of your sward population yellowing / bronzing off and it is likely that the affected plant species has shallower roots and so is more prone to rootzone saturation / hypoxia. It goes without saying that areas with high surface organic matter will suffer most as well during these weather events.

One of the best mid-summer aeration jobs you can undertake is to vertidrain (IMHO) using a compact machine, narrow tines and minimal heave. It really helps to let the whole profile breathe, free some of those anaerobic gases and replace them with fresh oxygen. This will help the grass plant much more than anything out of a bag or a bottle.

In 2014, I visited a course which suffered badly from Anthracnose but for two greens and when we looked into why, it was these two greens that had been vertidrained in late July prior to the main Anthracnose period. In my mind the grass plant was much stronger on those treated greens and less likely to go under stress and that proved key in the months ahead. Now some of you will be reading this with saturated rootzones and the rain hammering outside so I appreciate getting out on the course isn’t practical, but when you do dry out, it would be top of my list of things to do.

PGR usage during cool wet summers

When we have periods of cool weather and heavy rainfall events I think we have to be cautious with our PGR applications in terms of rate and frequency. Now some of you reading this will dismiss it as paff I’m sure because you’re happily applying twice label rate at half the recommended frequency and your surfaces are excellent, well fair play if it works for you then fine, but it doesn’t and won’t work for everyone.

If we look at June the average air temperature was between 14-16°C for the month and if you correlate that with GDD using the U.S model of 0°C for the base (because that’s where the research has been done on PGR’s and GDD), you can see that the PGR longevity was 13 days during June. (working on their basis of applying every 200GDD at 0°C base)


So broadly speaking if you are applying PGR every fortnight at label rate (200ml per fortnight, 400ml for the month) then you are spot on the money. If you are applying at higher rates and tighter frequencies then it is extremely likely that your PGR applications will be overlapping and so the plant will be growing under the combined effect of two or possibly three PGR applications…

So let’s say you were applying 400ml every week, then on the above basis your PGR applicaitons will be overlapping for a good 7 days and during which the grass plant will be growing under the effect of 800ml of PGR. Now we know that PGR affects different grass species differently with Poa annua var. annua the most affected, var. reptans just behind it, then bentgrass and least-affected of all, Ryegrass. So with overlapping PGR applications I’d expect to see a loss of sward integrity on mixed stand areas, particularly if……You throw in a spot of hypoxia late June when low soil oxygen levels will be further limiting growth and you have a recipe for a sward that’s going backwards and poor turf quality. Some of you I know saw that.

So all I’m saying is don’t get carried away with your PGR applications just because you did it last year and it worked well. Every year is different and this one is particularly challenging on that front so time your applications carefully and wherever possible try to maintain correct levels of surface organic matter and soil oxygen. (Along with everything else you have to do that is…:( )

Disease Activity

WIth moisture and then temperature it is not surprising that we see some of the diseases that like this combination. In particular, Superficial Fairy Ring is doing the rounds with bleached areas of turf in the ring signalling moisture stress due to localised hydrophobicity. Wetting agents, tablets, hand-watering seem to sort these pretty well as does Azoxystrobin if you want to throw a fungicide at it that is….Unlike other forms of Fairy Ring, these ones come in quickly and are usually present in surface organic matter so target your watering / treatments accordingly.

Ok that’s it for this week, Tempus Fugit and all that…must remember to pack a large tube of toothpaste because my mum has advised me that if a bear comes for you they’ll prefer the toothpaste to me. Can’t see that myself but if it keeps her happy 🙂

All the best

Mark Hunt




July 4th


Hi All,


After another week when it seemed easier to rain than do anything else weather-wise, we are in for a little bit of a respite I am pleased to say. Fishing a rapidly rising River Trent at the weekend I wondered if the weather gods were trying to tell me where at least two Barbel were….Pity I can’t cast that far 🙂

So we have a drier outlook this week for some of us, but it won’t be dry everywhere it’s more the amounts of rain that you may or may not get will be lighter and they’ll be a lot less about 🙂 The south will also pick up more in the way of heat so we’ll see some good drying weather this week as well which will help to get areas under control, get bunkers re-instated and some dry cuts in. This may only be a brief respite though as from the weekend on is looking changeable in the west and north.

Ok let’s put some detail on it then ;

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts off dry and bright for many but it won’t last for long in Ireland because a heavy rain front is likely to be pushing into west Munster / Connacht and moving across Ireland during the morning. By late morning this rain will be into Leinster and also South West Scotland with some additional showers likely across North East Scotland. South and east of this looks like being a dry, bright and sunny day with some decent temperatures. By late afternoon that rain stretches across in a line from Ireland to the north of England level with Newcastle. Above this line, it’ll be wet with frequent showers, some of them heavy. Below this line we’ll see some light showers into West Wales and more in the way of cloud cover building in the west in general but it should be a dry one. For the south and south east it should stay dry, warm and sunny the entire day. Temperature-wise, warm across Ireland and the south of England with temperatures hitting the low twenties in the latter, but cooler for Northern England and Scotland with mid-high teens the order of the day. Winds will be light to moderate and south westerly.

Overnight into Tuesday we see that rain sink south and eastwards clearing Ireland and Scotland and pushing into Wales and the north of England. It may get heavy for a time along the north east coast of England early doors before pushing off into The North Sea in time for a clear picture to emerge for all areas during the morning rush hour. A change in the wind direction to north west will mean that the rain will make a re-appearance across the north east coast of Scotland and during the morning will move down the coast into north east England. Elsewhere for Ireland, Wales and England it looks a dry and warm day though feeling a little cooler because of the change in wind direction. So hazy sunshine and sunny intervals likely for the entire day for Tuesday in these areas with temperatures ranging from mid-teens in Scotland to high teens perhaps breaking into the twenties in the south of England.

Moving onto Wednesday we have another largely dry day on the cards for most areas with nice settled conditions and some warmth building in the south of the U.K. There is a risk of some rain across Donegal and possible the south west and north west coasts of Scotland later in the afternoon but at this stage it is projected to miss most of you guys. We will see more in the way of hazy cloud for the west and central areas but further south they’ll be longer spells of sunshine and that will allow the temperature to push up into the low twenties I think across the south of England. Further north and west I reckon we’ll be more likely to get mid to high teens with winds light and from the north west.

For Thursday we have a very similar picture for most of the U.K, warm, dry and settled. Of course there’s always a fly in someones ointment and here it looks like Ireland may see a weak rain front push in late morning to affect the west coast of Munster, Connacht and Donegal. It’ll be slow moving though and quite a weak one so amounts should be light. (famous last words) Further south and east we have a dry, sunny and warm picture with perhaps more in the way of cloud cover for Scotland. With the wind swinging round to a light to moderate south westerly, it is likely to mean it’ll be a degree or two warmer on Thursday so expect high teens to low twenties in the sunshine. By late afternoon that slow moving rain front will be across most of Ireland and here it’ll be duller and with the rain I expect temperatures to be down in the mid-teens I am afraid. By Thursday evening most of that rain will have cleared Ireland and it’ll be into the north west of Scotland.

Rounding out the week we continue that north west split with cloud and spells of light rain likely for Ireland and the west of Scotland, particularly the north west. South and east of this we again have a much nicer picture with settled dry and sunny weather and that warmth continues to build nicely with low twenties likely in the south of England. So cloudy with light rain in the morning for Ireland and the west of Scotland and by the afternoon this rain front will be pushing across most of Scotland and intensifying as it does so. So for Friday evening we will see a potentially wet end to the week for Ireland, central and north east Scotland. Further south we look to remain dry through all of Friday with long spells of warm, settled weather.

Onto the weekend and my last in the U.K before heading off to Alaska so how’s it looking ?

Saturday sees a change to the weather as an Atlantic low pressure is due to start to exert its influence so that means we move to a more breezy and unsettled picture with a strengthening south westerly wind likely. At this stage it’s tricky to say where the rain is most likely to be other than west and north so I think you’ll see an unsettled day across Ireland, the north of England and Scotland with rain showers rattling through from the off on Saturday. Further south it’s likely to be drier but still there’s a risk of rain pushing in on that moderate to gusty, south westerly wind with only the far south and south east more likely to miss the worst. Let’s hope so for the guys and girls down at Wimbledon because I think they’ve had more than enough practise with the covers and roof over the last week !

For the west and north I think it’ll remain cool with mid-teens under that rain front but further south it’ll remain warmer and that extra heat may trigger some thunderstorms on Saturday evening as moist air and warmth collide. Sunday looks drier at this stage for Wales and the south of the U.K but I am afraid there’s still likely to be plenty of rain associated with that low pressure for Ireland, the north of England and Scotland. Temperature-wise I think we’ll be high teens away from the rain and mid-teens under it.

Weather Outlook


Well as we move into July there is still no sign of the jet stream ‘wanting’ to assume its normal mid-summer position above the U.K and Ireland. Instead it is tracking south of the U.K, in other words sitting lower than normal (which it has been doing for most of the year) and this will allow low pressure to influence the weather again going through next week I am afraid. I’d love to be able to write something different believe me, but it is what it is and it’ll be what it’ll be….

So next week starts unsettled for the north and west particularly with that low pressure set to pass across the U.K during Monday. Tuesday looks a settled day sandwiched in-between two low pressure systems but for Ireland it’s possible that the 2nd part of the day will be wet as a new, intense low pressure pushes in. This low pressure is likely to track south so the heavy rain associated with it is more likely to affect The Midlands down I think on Tuesday night / Wednesday next week rather than the north of England and / or Scotland. The arrival of this new low pressure system will also drag in a northerly airstream so a much cooler feel to the weather from mid-week, next week as the winds swing round to the north and intensify. I think we are set to keep that northerly airstream through Thursday and Friday though it’ll gradually decrease in strength and the weather will quieten down somewhat.

If I did a bit of ‘Mystic Megging’ I think thereafter we could see an Atlantic high pressure move in to dominate the weather so that may mean an increasingly dry and therefore warm picture for the 3rd week of July.

Agronomic Notes

Ok since it’s the start of the month we have a lot of GDD data to go through so first off thanks to everyone for taking the time to send it in, without it this blog is a much worse place so thanks for that…That said this one has taken me 7 hours to compile 🙁

GDD Data



The first thing that springs out of you from the GDD data is the monthly total of 277.5 for this location (Thame). It ranks as the joint highest figure for June (tied with 2014) and affirms June as a very high growth month. Let’s see how we look at other locations..

UK Locations


Looking at the data for June you can see that the growth has been very consistent but the Surrey and Bristol locations have experienced the highest amount off GDD, just short of 300 for the month which is extremely high (more of that later)

Irish Locations


Valentia still leads the way courtesy of their mild winter and spring start to the year but if you compare all Irish GDD monthly totals for June you can see for once you’ve all had pretty much the same temperature with the Bray location the lowest monthly figure at 238 and Claremorris making up for a dismal 2015 with the highest total for June at 257, similar to the U.K totals.

So with such a good GDD month it should be all plain sailing right ?

Well wrong actually because it wasn’t just plenty of GDD we had in June, we also had rainfall and that’s what made turf maintenance such a headache…

To look into June in more detail I’m going to pull up some Growth Potential and Rainfall data from different locations..

Why June has been a difficult month for turfgrass maintenance, especially for England…

So first off here is a look at how rainfall and Growth Potential panned out during June for a number of U.K and Irish locations…

These are available to download as a pdf  here SurreyGPRainJune2016 CorkGPRainJune2016 BrayGPRainJune2016 YorkGPRainJune2016 BristolGPRainJune2016


So what has made June such a difficult month to maintain grass ?

Well it’s the combination of a high growth rate, frequent rainfall (some of it torrential in nature) and a lack of drying days in-between. If you look at the graph above for the Thame location you can see that the grass growth rate as denoted by Growth Potential ran pretty close to 1.0 all through the month. In fact the total for the month was 25.22 which if you take into account the theoretical maximum from a G.P perspective over 30 days is 30 means that the average growth rate was 0.84 per day. So grass was growing at 84% of its maximum throughout the whole month.

Now normally this means we have to allocate a lot of resources to keeping on top of that growth, but that’s where the 2nd buggeration factor comes in…that of rainfall….

For this location, like the others above, you can see that the 2nd part of June was brutal with high rainfall totals and very few drying days in-between, so getting a dry cut was next to impossible and even getting machinery out there to cut was difficult during this period without turning the golf course or sports pitch into a mudbath. You can see that from the 12th of June to the 30th of June there was only 1 day when it wasn’t raining at the Thame location and during that period the total amount of rain that fell was 100mm or 4 inches in plain language.

Just to get that in perspective that means if you measured out a square with each side equal to a metre, an inch of rain would equate to that square having 25.4 litres of water falling on it or 5.6 gallons in old mans language. Now in the last part of June, the Thame location had 4 inches of rain so that means 101.6 litres of water (22.4 gallons) falling on every metre square of turf on the site. Most water butts are 200L in volume so this would mean half filling a  water butt and then tipping it out on a square metre of turf, now that’s a lot of water and no surprise that the soil becomes saturated.

Of course just cutting grass isn’t the total function of a turfgrass maintenance team, there’s also those nice things called bunkers to maintain 🙁

Bunker1 Bunker2

You know the ones don’t you ?……. those kind of bunkers that are designed by an architect for ‘x’ people to maintain but you only have ‘y’ available and where ‘y’ is a much, much smaller number than ‘x’

Expectations and Reality – Why are they out of sync ?

Some of you may have caught up with an article I put together recently in the June edition of Greenkeeper International (You should be able to find it in the Back issue section as a downloadable pdf here).

In it I talked about why last winter was so difficult from a golf course and sports pitch maintenance perspective and one of the main problems I highlighted was a lack of drying days.

The same applies to June this year for any number of locations across the U.K and Ireland and specifically highlights the fact that once our turf surface becomes wet it cannot dry down fast enough before the next rain arrives unless it has sufficient dry-down time in-between. A lot of the turfgrass rootzones (and bunkers for that matter) that we maintain weren’t designed to cope with 25mm plus of moisture in a single day let alone 42mm as the Thame location received on the 16th of June.

In addition, to keep rootzones performing to their maximum potential we need to aerate (at varying depths), topdress and control surface organic matter but all of these operations are ‘seen’ as disruptive by golfers / players alike and more often than not it has to be said, by management.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it remains one of the hardest facts to communicate that in order to keep a turfgrass system running at optimum we need to perform cultural practices and if we don’t then we run into problems with poor performance.  It’s like running a car, it needs to have routine services to keep it going and if we ignore this then eventually it’ll break down.

Well our turfgrass systems are breaking down. in some cases because resource isn’t being allocated to the job in hand and because our weather patterns are making even basic maintenance more difficult.

So why when everyone can see when its raining, when everyone can see how the grass verges have grown so high that you can’t see clearly at junctions or on a roundabout, can they not understand that the same issues affect golf course or sports pitch maintenance ?

I think part of the problem is that we don’t measure these things and use that data to make sound arguments. There’s a saying I heard on Farming Today the other Saturday morning as I was getting ready for a spot of early morning fly fishing…”If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”

And so if we don’t measure, we can’t communicate facts backed up by data and so the debate becomes subjective, one based on opinions “It’s been very wet”….”Well it hasn’t been that wet has it ?”….Opinions are dangerous and as the old saying goes “Everyone’s got one…”

Ok off my Soapbox because I’m gettign vertigo and time to tackle an ever-expanding TTD list.

Enjoy a drier week for some of you…

Mark Hunt