Monthly Archives: August 2016

August 30th


Hi All,


A moody Eyebrook reservoir, time to pack up and haul ass !!

It’s been another week of extremes weather-wise with the highest daily temperature of the year last Tuesday / Wednesday for some and then on Saturday night we had a deluge here in Market Harborough with 25mm falling in 30 minutes causing flash flooding and accompanied by some really active lightning. We had so much rain it formed rapids running over the speed humps in the road, brill and the only positive thing I’ll ever say about them 🙂


Not everybody got these temperatures or the rainfall for that matter, but if you did, isn’t it amazing how rainfall greens up grass and plants so much more effectively than irrigation water ? It never ceases to amaze me that one….I took a sample in the middle of the thunderstorm so we’ll see how much nitrogen there was in the rain, I think it might have been significant 🙂

What has also been noticeable is the cooler night time temperatures since the end of last week and I could almost feel the first chill of autumn in the air on Saturday night, kind of musty and cool, nice though 🙂

So are we in for another week of extremes or is the weather settling down as we approach what is traditionally a quiet weather month (and busy golf month fixtures-wise) in September ?

General Weather Situation

So we start Tuesday with high pressure sitting over the south half of the U.K and with some weather fronts trying to push in from the North West Atlantic. So for most of the day we are looking at fine, dry, bright and sunny with warm temperatures building from the off after what was a slightly chilly night. I’d expect mid to even high twenties in the south of England today and low twenties further west and north across Ireland and Scotland. So a settled day with light winds for most, though breezier over Ireland heralding the arrival of a rain front into Kerry and Connacht early this evening. This rain will push across Ireland overnight clearing by dawn on Wednesday. A cool night with temperatures in the low teens.

So Wednesday morning sees this rain band clearing Ireland and stil marching eastwards into western and central Scotland in time for sunrise and then later in the morning affecting north west England, West Wales and the south west of England. By late morning it appears to fizzle out leaving just a band of thicker cloud over the middle of the country. The rain will continue to affect Scotland though, mainly the north and west during the afternoon on Wednesday though this will slowly fizzle out through the late afternoon / evening from central areas of Scotland. Further south we end the day bright and sunny with pleasant warm temperatures with maybe more in the way of cloud across the north and east of England. The wind will still be south westerly but moderate in strength as a low pressure system tries to push in from The Atlantic. I’d expect low twenties for England and mid to high teens for Scotland and Ireland, likely lower under that rain for Scotland.

For Thursday we have another largely dry day although low pressure is trying to influence the weather so breezier and with more cloud cover for most and some rain showers from the off for north west Scotland. So we’ll start off with more in the way of cloud cover but this will burn off over Central England but remain over Ireland and Scotland for much of the day. As we close out Thursday we see the first of those Atlantic low pressure fronts push into north west Scotland bringing rain. Similar temperatures to Wednesday I’d expect with mid to high teens under the cloud cover and low twenties in the sunshine.

Onto Friday then (I do like these 4 day weeks they really fly by !) and a slightly tricky weather picture is on the cards, largely dictated by how far south the low pressure system sinks. This uncertainty in the weather will reflect in how much rain you do or don’t get at the weekend and I expect the outlook to change during the week so keep an eye on it. So that overnight rain for Scotland has moved to cover all but the far north  leaving a dry Black Isle and Moray Firth. In addition a weaker rain front has pushed into the west of Ireland to bring thick cloud and light rain for much of the country. By dawn this rain is across Ireland, patchy in places though and is slowly moving south from Scotland and decreasing in intensity as it does so. By late morning expect it into North Wales and north west England and from there it’ll slowly move southwards into northern England, west and eventually South Wales and the south west by close of play Friday. South and east of this advancing rain expect a warm, dry, but cloudier day with temperatures up in the low twenties again with a light to moderate south west wind.

Onto the weekend and this one is really open to change depending on the behaviour of that low pressure system…At this stage Saturday looks like being a cooler day with cloud cover and frequent showers across the west of Ireland, north west of Scotland and England. Some of these showers may push further south and east into The Midlands during the early afternoon. Later in the day a heavier band of rain pushes over Ireland into the west coast of the U.K and Wales / south west of England. A windier  and cooler day definitely with a strong to moderate westerly in place. Sunday looks a better day for the British MotGP at Silverstone 🙂 with breaks in the cloud and less in the way of rain around although overnight from Saturday there’s likely to be a heavy band of rain with thunder possibly pushing across the England clearing during the morning. Thereafter it will be drier and brighter but remaining slightly cooler than the previous week. As I said earlier, lots of uncertainty here about this rain so best to keep a watching brief I’d say and act accordingly.

Weather Outlook

After a pleasant week and a mixed weekend (possibly) we have high pressure likely to make an appearance from Monday next week pushing up from the south so Monday and Tuesday look to be warm, possibly hot in the south of England particularly. It cools down a shade from Wednesday but looks set fine and dandy the whole week for all of the U.K and Ireland. Now I’ll add a caviat here and that’s Hurricane Gaston, the first of the Atlantic storms and this one currently is looking like it’ll miss us by a long shot. We’ll see though.

Agronomic Notes

Now I appreciate in some areas you’ve had plenty of rain and not a lot of sunshine during August but since I don’t have data for those areas I’ll comment on what I do have data for and that’s the central part of the U.K. (Thanks Sean)

So for some August has been a quite brutal month E.T-wise with significant loss of moisture from the turf surface, some very high air temperatures and sporadic rainfall.

So we start off looking at growth potential and air temperature to see ‘when and if’ the grass plant went under stress ?


Let us just remind ourselves about Growth Potential with respect to plant stress. The principle of the model is based on a prediction of optimum growing conditions for a grass plant with 0 reflecting no growth and 1.0 reflecting optimum growth. If the air temperature gets too hot for grass growth then the model formula takes this into account and you see a drop in the Growth Potential coinciding with high air temperature.

Looking at the above graph we can indeed see a dip in G.P on the 24th and 25th of August at this site so it means that the Poa plant went under stress during this period due to a combination of very high, day time, air temperatures (around 30°C) and high, night time, air temperatures as well (around 20°C).

If we look at the moisture status over the same period we can see that not only was high air temperature coming into play, but E.T was an issue as well…


On those two days the grass plant experienced a combined E.T of 14.2mm, so the rootzone lost 14.2mm of water according to the weather station. We know that replacing 100% of E.T results in gross over-watering, but even if you were replacing 50% of that, you’d have needed to apply 7.1mm just to keep the plant healthy. That is alot of moisture, equivalent to applying 3,550L across 500m2 of golf green or 71,000L across a hectare of turf.

On this site, the moisture deficit across the month of August to date was 105.2mm so assuming 50% replacement we’d have needed to apply 52.6mm of moisture which is roughly 500,000L of water just to keep things ticking ! Like I say a pretty brutal month E.T-wise.

That’s not a lot of plant stress is it ?

If you look at it, two days of high plant stress in August wouldn’t appear to be much, particularly when you consider other areas of the world like the U.S or Australia where they experience weeks and sometimes months of this type of weather…

But in essence it is enough to upset the applecart on primarily Poa greens if we have sub-optimum rooting.

Now this may be because of a physical issue like too much surface fibre for example in the top 20mm or as we discussed last week it may be because of a root pathogen like Take All, Anthracnose or Plant Parasitic Nematodes compromising the efficacy of the roots…

So here’s the two scenarios ;

First off a plant under moisture and E.T stress….


Syringing is a real help during high E.T days..

When a grass plant closes its stomatal pores it incurs a problem and this primarily revolves around over-heating. This is because It uses water loss from these same stomatal pores to cool itself during hot weather, much like we do when you walk out of the shower in the buff and feel the cooling effect of evaporation on your skin as heat energy is removed from your body to drive this process. So when the grass plant closes its stomatal pores it begins to heat up and that’s why applying a light syringe to the leaves during hot days can really help, not by reducing the moisture deficit but by cooling the plants leaves…

It’s worth also mentioning that the regulation of the stomatal pores is carried out by so called ‘Guard Cells’ that change shape according to their cell turgor (internal pressure) and they effectively create an opening called the stomatal pore. Anything involving cell turgor requires water so running the plant very dry isn’t a good idea for that reason. These guard cells achieve this change in shape by regulating their internal pressure using ion transport and two of the ions that are involved with this process are potassium and calcium. And to me that’s why it’s a good idea to provide a balanced nutrient input over the summer. Here’s a complex image I lifted off Wikipedia to illustrate the functioning of Guard Cells…


Courtesy of Wikipedia

If roots are sub-optimal during periods of high stress then we are into a whole new ball game…


So the plant needs to take up moisture to replace that lost through E.T but can’t because its root system is damaged and / or sub-optimal (depth-wise) so we have the scenario detailed above…

And this then leads to this type of turf symptom on the surface…



So hopefully I’ve illustrated that only a short period of plant stress is enough to bring with it a whole bundle of joy (not) in terms of plant symptoms and loss of sward integrity. I could go on to talk about what you need to do to avoid this or to get these situations back but it’s getting close to Midday and Tempus Fugit my friends 🙂

Selective Herbicide Usage

If it’s not too hot where you are the coming weeks offer an ideal opportunity to apply a selective to summer-germinating weeds that have sprung up all over the place in weakened areas of grass cover. If soil moisture levels are good, knocking those weeds back now and encouraging new grass growth to out-compete them is a worthwhile process in my mind…

All the best for the coming week…

Mark Hunt






August 22nd


Hi All,

crutchlow McPhee

Whilst all eyes have been on The Olympics and the quite fantastic performance of Team GB, I’d like to celebrate some other British winners this past weekend with a fantastic performance by Coventry’s Cal Crutchlow to win his first ever MotoGP race at Brno, Czech. It’s our first win in this class since Barry Sheene in 1981 !. To cap it all, Sam Lowes made the podium in Moto2 and Scotland’s John McPhee took his first ever win in Moto3, (A feeder class to Moto2 and MotoGP) so we had GB riders on the podium in every class yesterday. Why ? because it was raining and we get a lot of practice at racing in the rain in this country !

Talking about rain, we’ve been getting our fair share these past few days (thankfully for some) but next up we are in for some heat this week so let’s put some detail to the weather.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we still have a wet picture for some of the U.K and Ireland with some heavy rain over the north west and north east of England and lighter rain over Wales, Ireland and Scotland. During the morning most of this rain will move off into The North Sea but not before giving the north of England a fair whallop. Behind it we will see brighter skies and rapidly warming temperatures. I mentioned most of this rain because there’s a risk that some of it will linger across Wales and drop down into The Midlands during the course of Monday morning / afternoon. So for most of us away from the rain it’ll be a pleasant day and warm with temperatures climbing into the twenties as skies clear. That rain will be stubborn though and even into Monday evening we can expect to see some sitting over north west Scotland and Wales, but it’ll be light in nature.  South east Munster may also see some rain push later this evening but most of Ireland will be sunny and warm though we may see some showers over Kilkenny. The winds will be moderate to strong and from the west.

Moving onto Tuesday and that Munster rain will push across most of Ireland during Tuesday to give a pretty wet start to the day here. This band of rain will extend across The Irish Sea into south west Scotland during the morning rush hour and push north and east into Central Scotland through the morning. Further south we have a rapidly warming picture with clear skies and bright sunshine the order of the day for Tuesday and I’d expect high twenties even touching thirty degrees in the south east of England. Closing out the day we see a better picture over Ireland as that rain clears from the south west of Ireland through late morning / early afternoon. That northern rain won’t clear as easily though because it’ll still be lurking across Northern Ireland, south west and north west Scotland into dusk. Winds will be lighter for most of us and distinctly from the south and that’s what’s bringing the warmth. Now with warmth from the south comes another feature and that is thunderstorms so be on your guard here especially for the south east of England. ATD

Don’t forget you can track the progress of any lightning using the Met Office’s ATD Lightning Detector page which updates every 15 minutes. It’s available here. As I type this we can see south west Kerry has a localised thunderstorm going on 🙂

Overnight into Wednesday we have that rain over Scotland intensifying to give some pretty heavy bursts across Glasgow and Edinburgh before moving off into The North Sea during the first part of the morning. Further south and west of this we have a much drier picture for Ireland joining Wales and England with cloud cover breaking to give a lovely warm, dry day with light southerly winds. Those rapidly rising temperatures combined with humidity will give another day of pretty active thunderstorms over the south of England particularly but I’d expect them to push up country later on as well. So a very warm day again for this area with high twenties likely. Further west and north it’ll be cooler with Scotland and Ireland in the high teens, low twenties I’d expect with their light westerly wind. Further south we see that wind reverse around and become northerly in nature, but it’ll be very light.

Moving onto Thursday and overnight we see some continental rain move up into the south of England, at present it’s east coast-orientated but it is continental rain so we’ll see. There’s a lot more rain around on Thursday with a weak low pressure pushing rain across Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England during Thursday morning. Some of this rain will be localised and heavy particularly across the south west of England, north of England and Scotland. This rain band will push north and eastwards to give potentially heavy rain to The Midlands and east of England as well. Ireland will start off cloudy and then we’ll see that cloud break to give warm, sunny spells but through the late morning and afternoon rain will push across country from the west and move slowly through the rest of the day to clear by the evening. Most of the U.K rain should clear by the evening with only the east coast likely to hang onto some. As you’d expect temperatures will settle down significantly for Thursday with high teens and low twenties likely, so much more refreshing.

Closing out the week for Friday we have a much better picture for most areas with cloud clearing to give a fine, bright, sunny day for most. I say ‘most’ areas because Ireland will see a band of rain pushing into the west, likely across Galway, Mayo, Sligo sort of way during the afternoon after a nice sunny start to the day. This band of rain will intensify to give heavy bursts across Ireland and the south west of Scotland through the second part of the day. You could draw a line across the U.K at the border because south of this line will be bright, sunny and warm with temperatures picking up to the low twenties in a light westerly / southerly breeze.

Looking at the weekend we can see that rain band across north west Ireland looks to intensify to give some heavy rain and flooding for this area I’m afraid early on Saturday. This band of rain will extend all the way into and across Scotland so a pretty wet start to Saturday there as well. South of this line we have a pleasant warm day with hazy sunshine but there is the chance of thunderstorms overnight and extending into the early morning as well particularly across The Midlands. These may crop up again later on Saturday as moist air meets warm air. Now life gets complicated because there is the risk of a southerly low coming into play and that could push rain up across the south of the U.K for the second part of Saturday. This unsettled picture could extend into Sunday for Ireland and the U.K with rain showers pushing in on strengthening south westerly winds, whereas Scotland should have a drier day on Sunday. That leaves Bank Holiday Monday to pick up the mantle as most likely the best day of the Bank Holiday (understood Scotland and Ireland will be working 🙁 ) I think with a drier picture and clearing skies. Cooler though with high teens, possibly nudging the twenties. Now it’s worth pointing out that not all models agree on this southerly low pressure system so we will have to see how it pans out.

Weather Outlook

So next week looks like starting off settled for Monday and Tuesday as we see pleasant warm temperatures, light winds from the south west and a largely dry picture. There is however a low pressure system projected to enter the picture from mid-week, next week with strengthening westerly winds and rain likely to push into the north and west first later on Tuesday before moving south across most of the U.K for Wednesday. This low pressure then looks to dictate the rest of the week really so unsettled and windy from the west through Thursday and Friday with showers of rain, more so across the west and north I think.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

When you look to the fact that we’ve been running some very high temperatures (in some parts of the U.K and Ireland) and then we’ve had some rain as well creating a humid environment, it is hardly surprising that we are seeing lots of disease activity around, some of which is not what it appears though. Here’s a pic I received recently from a golf course in the south of England.


Now my first thoughts would be Anthracnose or Plant Parasitic Nematodes (PPN), typically Spiral or Stunt from a species perspective. We took some sample cores from the outside of the affected area (because fungal disease and PPN’s typically spread outwards) and sent them off to Kate Entwistle for analysis. Sure enough there was Anthracnose in the Poa annua but there was also Take-All affecting both the Bentgrass and Poa plants.

In my formative years in this industry before Strobilurins arrived, Take all was a real pain of a disease because we had nothing for it from a preventative perspective and we were seeing lots of new golf course constructions affected by it. Come the arrival of Azoxystrobin and Propiconazole, it kind of faded off the map but in recent years it has had a resurgence and it got me into thinking as to why ?

In the old days Take-all was a disease of the early summer, typically appearing once we had high E.T days in June, July. The damage was actually being done long before that in the cool, wet spring days when the pathogen was attacking the root system. Everything looks fine though then because the plant can easily manage its moisture requirements and E.T levels are low. Come the afore-mentioned hot, windy June and July days when E.T levels rocket and the plant needs to take up more moisture from the soil, it can’t do because the root system has been damaged by the Take All pathogen, so you then start to see damage. It was often visible as a nice round patch with dead grass (Bentgrass) in the middle and possibly with some unaffected Poa annua and Fescue as well depending on the sward type and age of the construction. It always took out bentgrass and never Poa annua. (see image below)


Fast forward through to now and we typically see Take All as a late summer and sometimes autumn disease and I think this is primarily because of changes in our weather patterns.

Specifically this would be the very wet months we sometimes get in the summer, this year it was June and then the disease appeared in August. In other years we’ve had wet August’s and then the disease has appeared in September and even October.

It is not only a change in our weather that is worth noting, we also now see plenty of cases where Take All as a pathogen is happy to take out Poa annua rather than just Bentgrass. Here’s some pictures of the pathogen in the crown of the plant taken by Kate Entwistle (Cheers me dears 🙂 )


Take All in Bentgrass – Image Kate Entwistle


Take All in Poa annua – Image Kate Entwistle

You’ll note in some respects it looks similar to Anthracnose with blackening at the base of the affected plant and visually if you didn’t have access to a microsocope you may think that’s what it is. The key distinguishing feature with Take all is the presence of ‘runner hyphae’ within the affected plant tissue (Black cobweb -like structures) and in the bentgrass plant (top image) they are also extending outside the plant. (I was unaware that they do this)

Like most root pathogens, I’m afraid by the time you see actual displayed turf symptoms the bulk of the damage is done and despite what people say, you can’t curatively spray Anthracnose or Take-All, there is no way of turning back the clock. All you are achieving by spraying is maybe killing the spores produced by the fungus and ‘ring fencing’ the outbreak. I say ‘ring fencing’ but it is typical with both diseases to see a continuation of die back after you have sprayed a label-approved product.

There is plenty of Anthracnose around….

On the subject of Anthracnose I’m getting plenty of reports now about activity particularly on areas that saw the same last year as well. The only way to deal with this 100% is to apply a preventative in the summer but if you’ve got it I appreciate that’s not a lot of help. For me I’d suggest lightly aerating to try and encourage the affected plant to develop new roots, maintaining good soil moisture levels without over-watering obviously as that will just encourage the Basal Rot form of this disease and good nutrition. In bad attacks it’s often better to plug out and overseed the affected area using a rootzone topdressing material (with higher organic matter for better establishment). I’m afraid to say it can be a slow and painful process getting sward density back.

Etiolated growth

Plenty about as predicted last week with the combination of warm temperatures and rainfall and with high humidity and the likelihood of thunderstorms this week I can’t see this going away quickly I am afraid. Still it’s a challenge and one we have to manage or learn to manage.

Red Thread and Dollar Spot


I’d expect another hard week from these pathogens on outfield turf because of the temperature / humidity / rainfall combination anticipated.

The Coming Week…

High temperatures, thunderstorms and humidity will probably trigger off some of the more unusual turf diseases like Rhizoctonia solani and Waitea I think so it is important to keep the plant healthy through this period. It is (I acknowledge) a tricky line to tread between keeping a plant ticking along nicely but not over or under-feeding, the same is true of rootzone moisture levels and the balance between overhead irrigation and hand-watering (and your available resources) I like to maximise my biostimulant usage during this time because this is when they should be helping the plant to do its job.

All the best for the coming week…

Mark Hunt




August 15th


Hi All,

I see it is silly season again on the subject of the weather this summer in the tabloids (again) with many claiming the U.K and Ireland is in for a heatwave and others unsettled, wet and cold depending on which headline / paper you read. I haven’t even printed the Express headlines because they were claiming a 6 week heatwave that would last till the end of August 2 weeks ago !!!


As I said last week I had a hunch we were in for some cooler, wetter weather and that looks like being the case from the end of this week onwards but I don’t think it’ll be the end of summer just yet mind 🙂

So what’s in store, Factor 30 or thermals and brollies ?

General Weather Situation

Well Monday is a really easy day to start the week on meteorologically-speaking because the whole of the U.K and Ireland looks dry and warm with some hazy cloud for the north and north east, but otherwise fine and dandy. Temperature-wise I’d expect low twenties just about anywhere with a gentle easterly or southerly wind depending on your location. It won’t be as hot as forecast last week because we are not now due to pick up a strong southerly airstream.

Tuesday looks a dead ringer as well with another day of warmth and bright conditions with temperatures nudging up into the low twenties in the south of England with a gentle easterly breeze probably giving a little more in the way of cloud cover for eastern coasts. Later in the day we see a rain front slowly nudge into the west coast of Ireland to bring rain to West Munster and Connacht on Tuesday evening. Here the winds will be southerly and so it’ll be a slow-moving front.

Overnight into Wednesday we see that weak rain front slowly move eastwards across Ireland and bring rain to The Midlands of Ireland as well as the west. As it moves it begins to intensify into moderate / heavy rain for the west of Ireland and central regions reaching Leinster by late morning and proceeding to give a wet afternoon  / evening for most of Ireland. As that moist air meets warm air it’s very likely to mean they’ll be some pretty active thunder and lightning across Ireland through Wednesday afternoon. For the U.K we have another lovely dry day in store for Wednesday with little cloud cover pushing temperatures up to their highest for the week, probably into the mid-twenties but we don’t completely escape. As we close out Wednesday evening we see the first of that Irish rain trickle into West Wales and the south west of England where it’ll be heavy in nature so a wet night in store there.

By the start of the Thursday morning rush hour that tight band of heavy rain has cleared most of Ireland except the far north and is now sitting just off the north west coast of England, across Wales and down into the south west of England. It’s a narrow, slow moving band which makes it likely to be heavy in nature so I’d expect some flooding in areas as the water sheds off dry soil. Through Thursday morning the front slowly moves along the south coast of England but is very localised meaning most of the rest of the U.K with the exception of Wales and the south west will miss it completely. Over these areas the combination of moist air meeting warm air is likely to set off some thunderstorms, some of which may be quite violent in nature. Through the afternoon we see some showers break out over Ireland and along the south coast of England pushing across Sussex into Kent for the tail end of the afternoon. Away from this sinous rain front we will see more cloud cover for most areas so a cooler day with temperatures in the high teens I’d expect.

Closing out the week on Friday we see a deterioration of the weather right from the off with a dense cloud base hanging over the U.K and Ireland and this will be heavy enough for showers across the west of Ireland and west coast of the U.K in time for the morning rush hour. These showers will mainly be confined to the west of the country but not entirely so The Midlands is likely to see rain as will the north of England. Haven’t mentioned Scotland by name this week and that’s because you’re likely to enjoy the most stable weather missing the rain of Thursday and Friday I think. Much cooler across Ireland and west-facing coasts with temperatures in the mid-teens likely though still with an easterly wind in place. For the U.K it’ll be a little warmer with temperatures probably warmest in the south and east of the U.K. Although Scotland is likely to be dry it will see more cloud cover and that’ll peg temperatures back to mid to high teens I’m afraid.

I’d love to say the weekend is looking fine and dandy but it isn’t by a long shot with a deep Atlantic low pressure likely to mean it’ll be cool, wet and windy for some…So Saturday sees a band of rain, some of it heavy stretching across Ireland into the north west and north of England. It’s likely to be lightest across Ireland with some breaks in the rain, but across The Irish Sea into Northern England it’s another story with heavy rain overnight pushing slowly northwards to reach Newcastle and The Lakes by Saturday morning. Further south it’s likely to be dull with some of that cloud heavy enough to bring rain over South Wales through the morning. The south west of England is another matter though with a new heavy band of rain pushing in just after dawn and moving along the south coast through Saturday morning and into Wales and The Midlands by lunchtime. Again I think there’s a risk of thunderstorms as moist air meets warm. The wind will still be comparatively light and from the east initially but turning round to the south west and freshening through the day. As hinted earlier, Scotland probably misses the worst of this and Saturday should be a pleasant day with some light showers, light winds and some breaks in the sunshine. Sunday looks the better day of the weekend because the morning is likely to be dry but by lunchtime I’d expect more rain moving up from the south west over Ireland, Wales and the south west of England and this will push north and eastwards later on. A milder feel to the weather with a change in the wind though.

Weather Outlook

So after an unsettled weekend, what’s the prognosis thereafter ?

Next week looks to start off with a westerly airstream firmly in place and this is likely to rattle some showers across the U.K and Ireland through Monday but heaivest I think for the north and west. Warm though in the far south with temperatures touching the twenties, but cooler under that rain with high teens likely. By Tuesday we see a southerly airstream push warmer air across the U.K and Ireland and that means any rain is likely to be more northerly, perhaps north westerly, so a drier day for many I think. By mid-week, next week we look warm and dry for most of the U.K and Ireland with just Scotland likely to hang onto the last of the remnants of that low pressure system. Stable weather for Thursday before a new low pressure system is likely to push down from the north and bring more unsettled weather with it. Plenty of time for this to change though.

Agronomic Notes

Soil moisture levels…


I get asked a lot when I go round with my Delta-T moisture meter what should we be looking for moisture-wise from a greens rootzone ? The answer is usually pretty site-specific obviously but in general I see good, firm greens with minimal wilting in the region of 12- 18% moisture content and often wilting kicking in once we get shy of 10%. Last week I saw readings down as low as 2.2% on exposed ridge areas of greens and the plant looked really dessicated not surprisingly but when you have E.T days > 5-6mm it’s easy to go from sufficient to deficient in a very short space of time.

I also saw the opposite end of the stick with sheltered greens showing moisture levels varying from 25-40% because they’re not suffering the same E.T levels and so less moisture is being lost from the surface. All pretty straight-forward I hear you say but it’s amazing how many clubs don’t have a clear handle on their irrigation efficiency and here I mean across sports rather than just golf. Ok I accept not everyone can afford a moisture meter but for me they pay for themselves in a very short space of time with less water utilised (important if you’re not on a borehole supply and are paying for mains water) once you adjust your irrigation cycles per area.

The benefits go beyond just efficient moisture use because watering and soil moisture has a profound effect on other areas such as nutrient availability and disease management.

Below is a simplified diagram of what I am seeing sometimes across a golf green with over-watering and excess moisture in one area and then other areas which are deficient due to coverage, greens shape, sticking or low-lying heads. It’s not uncommon to see disease patterns linked to watering and soil moisture levels as the diagram below indicates, particularly with Anthracnose.


Using moisture wisely…

Some areas of the U.K and Ireland have had a pretty pronounced dry spell and therefore native soils have dried down significantly which means when and if we finally receive moisture it’s likely to shed from the surface unless we manage the process. Organic matter is concentrated in the surface of a rootzone and once this has dried down it’s likely to become hydrophobic (water-repellent) because dead and decaying roots are naturally water-repellent. Applying a soil surfactant to known dry areas such as drain lines, recently turfed areas, high spots and ridges prior to rainfall means that the water will penetrate quickly and rehydrate the soil profile rather than being shed straight off the top. On small areas a granular wetter can be very convenient for this type of application as you can just put it in a pedestrian spreader and apply accurately to a set area. In my mind it’s one of the best uses of surfactant technology but make sure that the one you use isn’t just a penetrant because it’ll need to have a chemistry present that neutralises hydrophobicity and many of the penetrants don’t have this because they’re built down to a price.

I realise this won’t apply to everyone as I’m sure there are areas of the U.K and Ireland that are just fine and dandy soil moisture-wise but by the same token they are areas that aren’t 🙂

Disease Activity


Dollar Spot

Saw my first Dollar Spot activity last week out and about on my rounds. This one is a strange disease because more often than not you see a few small patches during the hotter months of the summer and then once we begin to lose night time air temperature coming into September and start getting consistently heavy dews, we see a massive increase in activity. I appreciate this is another situation where a lot of you will read this and shrug your shoulders saying “Never had that here” but it’s the kind of disease where you don’t see it and then one day you’ll walk in and find this on one or two areas…


And then that’ll get your attention…

Dollar Spot likes a weak turf, with low nutrition status and typically under stress, it also likes it if it’s over-regulated. That said, like Red Thread, you can have a low stress area growing well that gets hammered. There’s a huge amount we don’t know about this disease considering in The States and on the continent it’s one of the most harmful, but that’s the joys of science. I happen to know it’s one of Kate’s favourites 🙂

Etiolated Growth

Etiolated Growth

Whilst I’m on the subject of diseases we seem to know little about, an informative email dropped into my Inbox recently (Thanks Aine) detailing some recent work on etiolation in bentgrass conducted in the U.S. It states a clear link with applications of TE but goes on to say that the TE-applied plots were the best for visual quality (after they were cut then)

The author (Richard Latin) also goes on to state that under microscopic examination he could clearly see bacteria streaming out of affected plants. So what are we saying here ? That the cause is bacterial (rather than fungal) and the phenomenon is exaggerated by applications of TE ? The plot thickens. if you read the comments there is one that claims the link to TE was proven 5 years ago…hmmm interesting….

You can read the article here

Now I expect this to show up next week because it likes spells of warm weather followed by cool and damp weather so here’s a challenge to you….If you have areas that are affected badly, contact me by email or via this blog and we will organise to see if bacterial infestations are the cause.

I hope they’re not because if they are you will all be nipping to Boots to spray on antibiotics !!!

Ok that’s it for now, enjoy the sun and the rain 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt



August 8th


Hi All,

Last week I talked about this week’s weather being a battle between low and a high pressure and of course when these two meet you tend to get wind and strong wind at that. Scotland in particular received some huge winds over the weekend for the time of year with 115mph measured over The Cairngorms. Down south we were breezy and hot so we ran some very high E.T over the weekend, more on that later.

This week is going to throw some more curve balls weather-wise with some particularly cold night temperatures for the time of year, down in single figures. There’s likely to be a ground frost over The Highlands of Scotland as a cool north west wind pushes cooler air south. By the end of the week though, temperatures are set to climb again as high pressure pushes in.

General Weather Situation

So another week of north / south divide when it comes to the weather..

Monday sees showers already pushing across south Munster and Leinster and the north of England with heavier rain over north west and central Scotland. South of this we have a dull and breezy start for many with high cloud and mid-teen temperatures. Through the morning we will see those showers die out over most places leaving them dry but with a strong north west wind in place that’ll still push showers into Donegal and feed another stream into North Wales and the north west of England. Not as warm as the weekend because of the north west wind pegging temperatures back to hgih teens and that’ll be the story of the first part of this week. As we close out the day the skies clear and we will see the temperatures drop markedly to high single figures, in other words a chilly night for this time of year. (But at least it will be more comfortable sleep-wise !)

Tuesday sees a continuation of that cooler feel to the weather but we should start dry and bright over most areas. The exception being north west Scotland and England where the cloud cover will be thick enough for some rain along the coast. During the morning cloud cover will build from the north and this will push showers down across The Highlands of Scotland into more central regions and later in the afternoon, northern England. South and west of this we look to have a dry, pleasant day with a slightly lighter, north west wind allowing temperatures to climb to the high teens, so not bad at all. Again that cloud cover is likely to clear over The Midlands and southern England to give a cool end to the day as night temperatures drop again.

OK onto Wednesday and the main feature of the day is a rain front that is projected to push into north west Scotland by the morning rush hour and bring rain to most areas of Scotland through the morning accompanied by a strong north westerly wind. Ireland looks to miss the majority of this rain but you will get much thicker cloud cover which may be heavy enough to give some light rain over Connacht / Donegal during the morning. For Wales and England we look dry and bright initially but as we progress through the morning into the afternoon, we will pick up more cloud cover and that’ll herald the arrival of rain for northern England as those Scottish showers push south. A little bit of uncertainty as to how far south those showers will go but they may reach The Midlands by tea time. For Scotland we look to be mid-teens only under that rain, but for the south and west we should be high teens again.

Thursday looks like being a re-run of Wednesday with showers and heavier periods of rain affecitng the north west of Scotland and these will push south as we go through the morning. Ahead of this rain we will see thick cloud across most of Ireland, Wales and northern England, some of it heavy enough for some mizzle. The south of Ireland and England should stay fine and dry with long periods of sun and here you’ll see temperatures start to edge up into the low twenties through the latter part of the day, but still accompanied by that north west wind. Those showers will edge down the north west coast of England during the afternoon / evening but the north east should miss them.

Closing out the week we have high pressure beginning to exert its influence from The Atlantic so we will see a better day for many with that rain finally being pushed out of Scotland during the morning to leave a fine, clear picture just about everywhere so plenty of sun and warmer temperatures for Friday. That rain will however stubbornly persist over the far north west of Scotland I’m afraid. With lighter, more westerly winds I’d expect the temperature to climb into the mid-twenties over the south of England but for Ireland and Wales it should still break the twenty barrier. So a dry, warm and bright end to the week is on the cards.

Looking ahead to the week we should see a very warm one across the south of England and some good temperatures for Ireland and Wales as well, however for Scotland I’m afraid that north west rain band is likly to sink south again to affect central Scotland through Saturday morning 🙁 We may also see some rain push into Connacht and Donegal for the second half of Saturday. That warmth may be high enough to trigger off some thunderstorms. Sunday looks a better day for everyone, drier over Scotland once that overnight rain clears and so dry, bright and warm again for Ireland, Wales and England.

Weather Outlook

For the start of next week I think we will see high pressure in charge but it’ll start to get squeezed by another northerly low pressure system, so by Monday afternoon I’ll think you’ll see the wind swing round to the south and pick up strength. That old adage “Back to the wind, low to the left” works here because that low will be tracking in from the north west through Tuesday and that’ll bring rain across Ireland, Wales, the north west of England and Scotland on Tuesday morning / afternoon. This unsettled weather will push slowly eastwards to cover all areas by Wednesday next week I think so maybe the first rain for a while for the south of England. Thursday should see that rain clear through and more off into The North Sea and the weather should then settle down for to sunshine and showers thereafter with a westerly airstream I reckon.

Agronomic Notes

High Evapotranspiration (E.T)

The combination of strong winds and high day temperatures over the weekend have really dried surfaces out come the start of this week and with little or no rain on the horizon for the south of England this week, this will prove a testing week I think. That said we will be aided by the cooler night temperatures. Over the latter part of last week and the weekend I observed wilt on greens height turf and this is a signal that the plant is under moisture stress. It’s most evident when you look at foot traffic across a green and the fact that foot-printing occurs with the foot print evident after the golfer has departed. This suggests that the grass plant has insufficient moisture in the leaves to maintain their structure and is an indication that the moisture status of the plant is critically out of balance.


So use footprinting as a sign that all is not well moisture-wise with your grass plant regardless of what your moisture meter reading might say. I mention this because turf will dry out from the surface first (because it’s closest to the warmer air) and because the surface contains the highest concentration of organic matter (and this dries out quicker than rootzone) it can be misleading to rely on a moisture content 60mm or so below the surface. (depending on the probe depth you’re using)

When we see this form of wilt on managed-amenity turf we know that the leaves are moisture deficient and therefore the grass plant cannot take up enough water through the root system to overcome this deficiency. This may be because the rootzone is dry, the plant’s root system is shallow or a combination of the two. So hand watering on these areas is a must if you want to avoid a loss of plant integrity. What I mean by that is if the grass plant wilts we know it has insufficient moisture to maintain the internal structure of the leaf.  (I liken it to a balloon losing air, when it is fully inflated it has a hard surface, but as the air pressure declines so does the integrity of the surface) If this is state is un-corrected, the structure of the leaf will eventually be compromised to a point where even watering will not reverse the symptoms. It is then we see die back on the plant, loss of leaf density and sward thinning. It’s common to see this first on raised areas of turf, mounds, ridges and areas adjacent to bunkers that get sand splash.

I haven’t got the E.T readings from over the weekend but I’d estimate that over Saturday and Sunday we lost 10 – 12mm of moisture from the turf canopy so if you’re in this morning and thinking, “Crumbs we are dry”, then you know why. Even if you compensated with irrigation over the weekend you’d have to have a very good irrigation system (close head spacings) to apply a uniform pattern in the strong westerly wind we endured, bearing in mind that the wind continued overnight.


This week provides a good opportunity to get the turf back to full turgor status as we have lower projected E.T figures (see Meteoturf above) because of the cooler north west wind, so my advice is use it wisely before we see temperatures rise again at the end of the week. None of the above is of course applicable to Scotland this week 🙁

Dip in Uptake

You can see from the Meteoturf output above that the Growth Potential (G.P) is forecast to be down to 0.6 ish on Tuesday and Wednesday this week because of the cool night temperatures forecast for Monday and Tuesday nights. This is likely to give a dip in uptake particularly on Poa annua-dominated greens following on from the weekends high temperature and strong winds. You may see a delay therefore in response from a selective herbicide application or a foliar / liquid fertiliser on outfield if you had the hot, dry and windy weekend that some of us did. Some of you guys that are aerating will probably notice this in terms of slower recovery from hollow coring / solid tining but hopefully with the warmer temperatures later this week, things should still pan out nicely.

Disease Activity

So far I’ve only had a few reports of Anthracnose foliar blight doing the rounds with no repeat (as yet) of the 2014 outbreak, but it’s early days yet. For me this disease needs a cool and moist weather pattern after high temperatures to provide optimum conditions for disease development and we haven’t seen that so far. In recent years we’ve had troughs in the jet stream that has allowed low pressure to dominate August’s weather but it is sitting just high enough to keep the worst at bay. (Though Scotland and the north of Englnad are on the receiving end for this reason). That said we are only finishing the first week of the month so there’s plenty of time for things to change and change they may do. (I have a hunch the end of the month may be cool and wet)

After last week’s rain and high humidity there’s been plenty of Microdochum doing the rounds but with the drying turf surface at the end of the week I expect this to grow out reasonably in the south and west of the U.K & Ireland, though Scotland is I think likely to see higher disease pressure from Microdochium and Anthracnose this week with their more unsettled outlook.  The same is true of Fairy Ring but unlike Microdochium I expect this to hang around because of the dryness of the soil (in some areas)

Ectoturfdamage2 PPNEcto Ectobandingleaf

Quite a bit of plant parasitic nematode (PPN) activity as well because this pathogen tends to attack plant roots and so by damaging the root system you compromise the ability of the plant to maintain sufficient moisture status. The affected grass plant often then shows the symptoms of dry patch because the poorer rooting causes it to dry out quicker. You also often see yellowing in the basal leaves of the grass plant which can at first sight resemble Anthracnose. If the plant detaches easily from the sward then it’s likely to be this disease, if it doesn’t, then it may be PPN damage.

I know I’ve talked about this before but a give away in these situations is to look closely at the plant leaf and see if you can observe green and white banding. If so, then you can assume that PPN’s are the culprit. Lowering plant stress and promoting new roots by light aeration are key to managing the situation.

Ok that’s it for this week, have a good one and don’t forget the extra layer in the morning, you may need it this week 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt




August 1st


Hi All,

Back from my hiking and fishing in Alaska and a great break I have to say. It was interesting  living on a camp with no Wifi, phone network or computers in the Alaskan wilderness not being able to forecast the weather, though I have to say Meteoblue’s forecast from the week before was pretty accurate (well done Karl !)


As you can see from the picture above, the bears run pretty big out there, (and have sharp claws !!) this one was about 7ft high according to the relationship between the paw width and overall height that the native Yu’pik Indians use and was active in the same area I was fishing but you rarely saw them. Out there they are wary of man because they are hunted so no Revenant moments for me I’m glad to say. It’s a fact that Moose actually killl more people in Alaska than Bears do and having seen a number, I’m not surprised 🙂

One thing Alaska has in common with us is the fact that their weather and weather patterns are changing with milder autumns and the winter arriving later. This spring was their warmest ever and the Fireweed (related to our Willowherb) was in flower 1 month earlier than usual. The Blueberries, which were growing wild on the Tundra, were also ready a month earlier than usual, not that I was complaining though 🙂Blueberries

Whilst I was away I gather you guys have been having it pretty hot and dry with some blisteringly high E.T days which we can chat about later, but first onto this week and the chance of some rain on the cards for early in the week for the south of England.

General Weather Forecast

Starting today we have a pretty dry picture over the U.K and Ireland at dawn but that’s not going to be the state of play for long with rain already pushing into Kerry and moving across south west Ireland in time for the morning rush hour. East and north of this rain it’ll be a dry start with plenty of sunshine for the south and east of the U.K. As we go through the morning into early afternoon, that rain pushes into the south west of England and Wales and continues its slow progress over Ireland. By the afternoon that rain has pushed across to the West Midlands and is slowly moving eastwards probably reaching as far north as Manchester. North and east of this rain front, you’ll stay dry and warm with hazy sunshine. By close of play Monday that band of rain intensifies over Ireland and stays firmly in place across the south west of England, Wales and central and northern England up to The Humber estuary, though the far south east may miss the worst. Temperature-wise, similar to late with high teens for Ireland and the west and low twenties elsewhere accompanied by a moderate westerly wind, likely to be stronger in the afternoon.

Overnight into Tuesday, the rain pushes south eastwards and is likely to become heavy in places particularly across South Wales and the south west of England around dawn. Ireland is likely to continue wet as well for the start of Tuesday but Scotland is likely to miss the worst initially. By mid-morning we still have rain over Ireland and the heaviest rain across the south west of England and Wales but showers are likely across the whole of the south of England and they’ll adopt more of a northern presence as well as a new rain front is set to push into south west Scotland by mid-afternoon. This will bring rain to Scotland and The Borders through the afternoon and into the evening by which time all of the U.K is under rain, whereas Ireland looks to clear to dry conditions for the evening. Staying warm so humidity is likely to ramp up for Tuesday with the combination of heat and rainfall.

Onto Wednesday and that rain will linger intially on western and eastern coasts but by the morning rush hour will be rapidly clearing to leave a dry picture over most areas for the start of Wednesday. I say most areas because they’ll still be some rain showers around across the north west of England and Ireland and the north west coast of Scotland. We are likely to have a north-south divide for the 2nd part of Wednesday with an increasingly drier and sunny picture for the southern half of the U.K and Ireland, but the north of Ireland and the U.K looks to see rain push in through the late morning and into the afternoon to affect all areas of Scotland. Heavy cloud with light rain will push south across Ireland through the course of the afternoon but for the U.K south of The Pennines, Wednesday looks to finish on a dry and warm note with temperatures pushing up into the low twenties down south but only mid to high teens under that rain and cloud cover 🙁

For Thursday that swirl of rain continues to affect Scotland and Ireland and if anything pushes further south over The Pennines into Northern England first thing. So a dull and damp start for many across Ireland, Scotland and the north of England. The weather than takes on a more showery outlook with sunshine and showers the order of the day for Ireland, especially across the west with more sun across Munster and Leinster. For the south of the U.K we are likely to see hazy sunshine for Thursday morning but it won’t be long before showers bubble up across North Wales and The Midlands through late morning and into the afternoon. For Scotland and the north of England we see plenty of showers about first thing but as we go through the morning into the afternoon, these will lessen across the north of England but intensify to give heavier rain across Scotland I’m afraid. By tea time that westerly Irish rain has moved across country and is now likely to affect Leinster and we will continue to see a showery scenario across Wales, The Midlands and south of England with heavier rain across Scotland. Similar temperatures for Thursday, high teens, low twenties with a moderate to blustery south westerly / westerly wind.

Closing the week out on Friday we have a much drier picture across the U.K though still with that cloud cover and accompanying heavy mizzle across the north of England and Scotland. Ireland will also start off dull but that cloud will lift to give hazy sunshine across most of the country though with a risk of isolated showers across Connacht. For the U.K we will have a mostly dry day spoilt by some showers for the north east of England and Scotland which will hang around till nightfall. Under that thick cloud cover and mizzle, Scotland will sit at mid-teens but further south and west we should see high teens / low twenties again so we can’t complain. Winds will be lighter as well but still westerly.

So onto the weekend and the north-south divide continues with some pretty heavy rain forecast for Ireland on Saturday pushing in overnight from Friday with Connacht and Donegal set to get the heaviest I think. This rain will push across The Irish Sea into Scotland and the north west of England by Saturday morning and may be particularly heavy for south west Scotland and The Lakes I am afraid. By luchtime that rain will be across Scotland and the north of England so a wet day is on the cards here, accompanied by strong westerly winds. At present the dividing line seems to be across The Pennines but this may change, however the outlook south of this is for a hot, hazy close day with temperatures pushing up into the low twenties in the south of England. Sunday looks the better day of the weekend for everyone with quieter winds and a much drier outlook with warm, hazy sunshine on the cards for most of us.

Weather Outlook

A tricky one to forecast looking ahead to next week because we have a classic high vs. low battle in store and depending on which one dominates our weather could vary from unsettled and cool to hot and dry !

Models are split between hot and dry and cool and unsettled but I’m going with Unisys on this one. So it looks like we will continue the north / south split in the weather next week with an unsettled, cool, wet and windy start to next week in the north and across Scotland as a low pressure skirts close by. Further south we will be more settled and drier. As the low pressure spins through it’ll pull down cooler northerly winds for Tuesday / Wednesday and this in turn will bring down some rain later in the week, especially for the west. High pressure will continue to sit south and west of us so tantalisingly close and as commented upon earlier, don’t be surprised if this unsettled weather doesn’t manifest itself and instead we end up with a mini-heatwave, it’s that hard to call.

Agronomic Notes

Monthly GDD Summary


So the GDD figures above show July to be a hot month, but not the hottest we’ve had by a long way. They hide a story though and that’s one of low rainfall and high daily E.T and I’ll cover this shortly.

You can see really see the difference in July and sometimes August (if we get the heat) when comparing the Irish and southern half of the U.K’s climate in that the latter reaches higher temperatures as a rule. Both areas had their maximum temperatures in the 3rd week of July but the south of England topped out 6°C higher in terms of maximum daily air temperature compared to Ireland.


July in detail…

It’s interesting for me looking at the weather data for July (and bearing in mind I was out of circulation for half of the month) to try and determine how it affected plant growth. The first thing I did was to plug in the minimum and maximum air temperatures to the spreadsheet which converts them to Growth Potential  to see if the temperatures got high enough to put the plant under stress. Here’s how it looks for the Thame location ;


So we can see a pronounced dip in the Growth Potential on the 20th July and that coincided with the highest temperatures we experienced and the highest E.T level as well. So we can conclude that the plant experienced high levels of stress on the 19th and 20th of July and this was enough to practically stop it growing with a G.P figure of 0.25. After that the temperatures dropped off and that allowed the plant to settle back into normal growth.

Initially this would imply that the stress in July was short-lived but you can see from the graphic below that this peak in temperature coincided with a peak in E.T of 10mm on the 20th of July, This is pretty severe E.T and akin to what you’d experience in some of the hottest climatic zones across the world ! You can also see that for 19 days of July, the E.T exceeded 4mm per day which is a high daily level and so the plant was on the back foot, moisture-wise for the majority of the month culminating in a peak in the third week of the month. So that’s why areas have dried out so much during July and if you dovetail that with the low level of rainfall some areas have experienced, it’s not surprising that we’re on the dry side.


The graph above shows a total monthly E.T of 138.1mm and rainfall of only 10.2mm so the moisture deficit is 127.9mm.

If we work on replacing 50% of E.T loss as a minimum requirement to maintaining plant health, that means you’d have needed to apply 63.95mm of irrigation through July to meet this goal, so what did you do ?

If we look at a location in Ireland (Gurteen in County Tipperary – one for Colm) you can see a reduction in Growth Potential occurred at the same time, but it was less pronounced because the maximum day and night temperatures were lower.


Is this 2014 all over again ?

In 2014 we experienced a similar weather pattern with high temperatures at the end of July and this kicked off the most aggressive Anthracnose outbreak that we have seen to date. Certainly the air temperatures in July 2016 were high enough to initiate spore germination and coming on the back of a wet June, we’ll have to keep an eye out on this disease.

Little, but often is key for this month…

Depending on what Mother Nature serves us up in the way of weather (i.e cool and unsettled or another heatwave) we have to keep things simple, but consistent this month in terms of plant nutrition. Any of you fortunate enough to be aerating will most likely up the nutrition to gain swift recovery and this in itself is usually enough to keep Anthracnose at bay. Those of you who aren’t in this boat need to maintain ‘little, but often’ nutrient inputs to keep the plant healthy and avoid dips in nutrition, which are a calling card for this disease in particular. Fingers crossed.

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

Mark Hunt