Monthly Archives: September 2016

September 26th


Hi All,

Popped into the office last week and was greeted by some interesting snacks that Wendy, our resident tech support-type person had brought back from Canada. I’ve been reading about using insects as a source of protein for a good while now in New Scientist but this is the first time I have seen them marketed for human consumption.


I decided to try the Crickettes as no one else seemed keen, it was fine really as long as you didn’t think about what you were eating though the wings are a bit chewy 🙂

Can’t see my resident Hedgepigs liking the Cheddar flavour mealworms though….

On a serious note this is heralded by many as key to meeting our increasing food consumption needs as a planet, farm-reared insects ground up as a protein flour source.

So onto the weather in hand and first an admission that my longer term outlook may be a bit flaky this week because Unisys seems to have gone on the blink I’m afraid, not sure if it’s temporary or permanent. Anyway I’ll give it my best shot…

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have (looking out of the window) a grey start with a heavy band of rain that’s currently sitting over Leinster and east Munster after moving across Ireland overnight. This rain is due to move into the south west, west and North Wales very soon on Monday morning and head inland so you’ll be seeing some rain and drizzle moving into The Midlands and northern England. There’s also a seperate band of rain currently over north west Scotland. Through the course of the morning this rain will clear most of Ireland but will be reluctant to leave south / south east Munster and it’ll move inland stretching from the south west of England right up to north west England / The Borders. Through the afternoon it will continue to affect western areas and inland too but I think the south east and east coast will miss the worst of it. A dull, cool day with temperatures around the mid-teens for most and a moderate south west wind pushing that rain along.

Overnight into Tuesday and that rain will still be affecting the west coast of England and Wales and parts of northern England as well so a dull and dreary start to Tuesday for many. As we progress through the morning this light rain drifts eastwards across The Midlands and Home Counties but we begin to see the first signs of a positive change as cloud cover breaks over Ireland to bring some warmth and sunshine. Through the afternoon we see a continuation of this trend from the west with the cloud breaking and sunshine coming through to end the day dry and consequently feeling much warmer than Monday with high teens and perhaps just nudging into the twenties in the far south east. The wind will be all over the place, southerly, swinging to north westerly and then finally westerly overnight into Wednesday.

For Wednesday we have a much nicer day on the cards for most people, note the use of ‘most’ because for Ireland we have a rain front that pushes into Co. Clare overnight and moves across country during Wednesday morning.  This rain will also push across The Irish Sea into north and mid-Wales late morning and then across Wales and the north west of England. East and south of this rain band, Wednesday looks to be a lovely day, warm sunshine and a real pick up in temperatures even across the west with low twenties likely in a strong to moderate westerly wind. A good drying day for some but not for Scotland unfortunately as we have an extension of this Irish rain due to push in through the afternoon to bring cloud and rain for the 2nd half of the day. Some of this rain may be heavy across the north west.

On Thursday we see a change in the weather because instead of high pressure building (as I forecast last week) we have a low pressure pushing in and that’ll introduce cooler air and rain for the end of the week. So overnight into Thursday and that rain over Scotland and Ireland intensifies and moves south and east and by the morning rush hour it’ll stretch from The Lakes across the Irish Sea and down across Ireland. Ahead of this rain band will be a thick bank of cloud and sometimes it’ll be heavy enough for drizzle as well as we start Thursday morning. That heavy pulse of rain is projected to move down the north west coast of England through Thursday morning so by lunchtime it’ll be affecting northern England and Wales. Ireland looks to brighten up after that heavy rain wih spells of sunshine interspersed with some heavy showers as well. As it sinks south that rain band fizzles out so the south of England may enjoy another dry day on Thursday but duller for sure and that’ll keep the temperatures down into the mid to high teens, slightly cooler across Scotland where that cloud cover and rain are heaviest.

Closing out what has been a mixed week we have a change in the wind direction to north west and that’ll introduce a cooler feel to the weather even though the wind won’t be that strong. A much drier day for everyone on Friday with some clouds and sunshine across all areas. There will be some showers drifting over Connacht through the course of the morning and these may well end up reaching Leinster but amounts look light (at the moment) The best of the sunshine will be across the east coast of the U.K including Scotland and The Midlands so here expect mid-teen temperatures and maybe hanging onto the high teens in the south.

The all-important weekend’s forecast follows.

We have a sneaky little low pressure in charge over the weekend which has pushed that nice warm high aside (perhaps temporarily) so Saturday looks to be a day of sunshine and showers with a definite north / south divide in the weather with the far south set to hold onto those better temperatures whereas for Ireland, the north of England and Scotland we will see a strong south westerly / westerly wind and frequent showers moving through, some of them heavy in nature. Further south across The Midlands you should miss most of these but it will be a duller and hence cooler day. Sunday looks a similar day I’d say with sunshine and showers pushed across on a westerly wind as that low pressure moves northwards so the best weather again on the south coast.

Weather Outlook

Ok this may be tricky without the guiding hands of Unisys Weather 🙁 but I have obtained some more GFS output so we’ll see…

With low pressure in charge over the weekend it’s no surprise to you that next Monday looks to continue that unsettled outlook with rain, some of it heavy, across the U.K and Ireland whipped along by strong winds, especially in the north and west. As we progress onto Tuesday then we see a gradually improving picture with high pressure pushing up from the south and introducing warmer, drier air to many. Now there’s a caviat here because there’s a huge, deep low pressure system out in The Atlantic and this may cause a change to occur next week between now and next Monday. The current projection is for a peak of warm, dry air to push up from the continent and keep that low pressure out in The Atlantic for the rest of next week but it’ll be a close run thing so we will see which one wins the day, hopefully it’s the high and we’ll have a nice start to October 🙂

Agronomic Notes

It is a year for Dollar Spot


Dollar Spot is a very strange disease for sure.

I say that because although it’s the no.1 pathogen in the U.S on sportsturf we still don’t know a lot about it.  Even the casual organism is up for question. There’s a very good up-to-date article on the APS site (American Phytopathological Society) that discusses the disease in general but in the classification heading you’ll note that there is still some way to go to know exactly what we’re dealing with.  You can find it here ;

Last week I was over working in Ireland (thanks to Damian and Alan for their efforts and for all that took time out of a busy week to attend) and it featured on the radar as a disease there as well which is unusual as normally Irish Sportsturf doesn’t suffer badly with this disease.

So why has this year been a bad Dollar Spot year ?

I think without a doubt it’s due to humidity because July, August and the first half of September have been noticeable for some periods of very high humidity, especially at night. It’s leaf wetness that really pushes disease like Red Thread and Dollar Spot on and we’ve had plenty of that.


Remember this image of my weather station in the wee hours of an early September morning ?, high overnight temperature and high humidity, a calling card for this disease and others.

This humidity manifests itself in the form of heavy dew (and Guttation Fluid as well) and often the start of high dew formation in the late summer / early autumn marks the beginning in earnest of Dollar Spot activity.


The good news to me is that if you have Dollar Spot-affected areas on your golf course or sports pitch, we still have time to do something about it, especially if you’re in for some dry weather over the next week. Personally I’d scarify / brush the areas to remove all the dead, bleached turf and remember to box it off because this is a disease that seems to be easily transported around by foot traffic and machinery. Once you have a good seedbed then I’d be drilling in a Fescue / Rye mix to give a good sward in time for the winter and above all fertilise once you have seedlings through (5-7 days at this time of year) to ensure rapid recovery. I prefer using a granular for this purpose. The image above showing affected and recovering turf is seperated by 3 weeks and some good cultural and nutrition work.

Worms and Weeds


Alot of both of these around I am afraid at the moment and of course the two are sometimes connected with the worms bringing up weed seeds to the surface and / or the casts offering a great germination bed for new weed seedlings. Where you haven’t got the rain this week then you have a great uptake window for selective herbicides coming up in the early part of the week so take advantage of it if you can…

Below is the Meteoturf module for my location in Market Harborough and you can see that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday offers a great uptake window for pesticide and / or fertiliser applications.


Nutrition going forward

I think the next 6 weeks is one of the trickier periods of the year regardless of what type of sportsturf you maintain. It’s particularly the case on fine turf because in my mind from October to mid-November presents the worst / heaviest disease pressure from Microdochium nivale (Fusarium old style) and of course we still tend to keep warm temperatures right through this period, with high humidity and heavy dews. (see above)

Nutrition needs to be carefully managed so the plant is ‘balanced’. An over-fertilised plant will display high leaf succulence with thin cell walls and these will be easy for a pathogen to penetrate. A weak, under-fertilised plant will also present a willing target for disease because it will not grow away from the disease sufficiently.

PGR Usage

This brings me on neatly to PGR usage on fine turf in the autumn / winter and this is a tricky subject again because there are ‘Fors’ and ‘Againsts’ without a doubt and these depend on the area in question and your management practices.

On higher-height-of-cut turf then I think it’s more of an open and shut case unless of course you have Dollar Spot lurking because if that’s the case you don’t want to regulate the plant at a time when you need to be cutting and physically removing the mycelium (the same is true for Red Thread). Regulating growth (in the absence of those diseases) makes sense going into a period of the year when you know we are likely to have wet surfaces and lush growth.

On fine turf I’m split because a regulated grass plant will for sure maintain a fungicide active in the plant longer (because you’re cutting less off) but by the same token it’ll allow a pathogen like Microdochium to be more aggressive. I think if you intend to run PGR’s late into the season on fine turf, you have to have your fungicide program pinned and I’d suggest it might also be more on the intensive side. Like I said earlier there’s good reasons why you might or might not and talking to greenkeepers on my travels I think opinions are split.

I am interested on your experiences on this subject area.

USGA Record

Saw two great articles recently in the above and although their weather and resources are often different from our own, I think we can always learn a thing or two…



You can find this article here

And an article on triple aeration here


It’s a great resource to me and it’s free to subscribe..:)

That’s it for this week, enjoy your warm, mid-week blast, I’m on my travels again so Tempus Fugit my friends 🙂

Mark Hunt







September 19th


Hi All,

You could say summer came to a very abrupt end on Friday with a huge and concentrated band of rain that pushed up country early in the morning. I was awoken to flashes of lightning and claps of thunder. As you can see from the ATD Lightning Archive nearly 10,000 seperate lightning strikes were recorded that day. As for rainfall, I’ve heard totals of 60mm in 2 hours in the south of England. Here in Leicestershire I recorded 43mm with 23mm falling in less than an hour. The band of rain here was intense but narrow, meaning you could drive 10 miles east or west of here and they recorded only 3mm ! (Lightweights!)


I took some water samples in the middle of the storm (yes I know, definitely had the neighbour’s curtains twitching 🙂 so I’ll be reporting how much nitrogen was present in the rainfall next week. In the storms of the week before I measured 2.5kg / N / Hectare per inch of rain, which is higher than normal and due to lightning oxidising nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, forming nitrate nitrogen. So that’s why areas green up so rapidly after natural rain even though they’ve been irrigated.

Much fresher since this rain with a clear 10°C drop in air temperature from the highs of last week with Gravesend recording 34.4°C last Tuesday.

Talking of last Tuesday I was out applying trials in the heat and humidity when I noticed this weird cloud pattern as moist air from the west hit dry, hot air directly above me. You can see the line quite clearly and how rain clouds are being formed as the two meet.

front2 front

So was that the last of the summer ? Well probably not because I think I can see a return to warm, rather than hot days on the horizon, but not this week. Onto the matter in hand and a dull and mizzly week beckons….

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts the week dull and dreary really in most places with a weak band of rain stretching from the south west of England all the way up to north of The Humber. During the morning this rain will slowly sink south and east across The Midlands but it’ll fizzle out as it does so. Further north and west we should see some breaks in the clouds across The Borders, north of England and east of Ireland by lunchtime, but more cloud cover will form for the afternoon. By sunset that rain will be into East Anglia, light in nature though. Temperature-wise, nothing to shout about with 15 – 19°C from the west to the south and light north westerly winds in situ.

Looking ahead to Tuesday and we see the remnants of Monday’s rain still sitting over the east / south east of England so a dull and drizzly start to the day there. Further west and north follows a similar pattern to Monday with cloud cover at the start of the day breaking during the morning to give some sunny spells, particularly across Ireland, Scotland and the north of England. There is an exception to this rule of course and that’s the east of England around The Humber estuary which might see light rain come and go throughout the course of the afternoon / evening. Similar temperatures to Monday with the wind taking on a more easterly / north easterly aspect depending on your location.

For Wednesday we have rain pushing into the west of Ireland, west of Scotland and north west of England overnight accompanied by plenty of cloud cover. This rain will push inland into the north Midlands through the course of Wednesday morning and across Ireland. As it does so it will form a band stretching from Scotland all the way down to the south east of England by lunchtime. It won’t be a continuous band so they’ll be plenty of dry areas as well east and west of this rain. During the afternoon it slowly moves eastwards and fizzles out but there’s a chance you may end the day drizzly and dreary along the east and south east of England. Ireland looks to be pretty wet all day with that rain slow to move and hence slow to clear. You might as well come to Dromoland and listen to me harp on at one of the GCSAI’s Education Days 🙂  (That is if I manage to finish the talk today 🙁 Cue a twitchy Damian). The wind will have now moved round to the south on Wednesday so slightly milder in the south pushing up into the high teens but mid-teens under the rain in the north and west.

Overnight into Thursday that rain eventually clears the west coast of Ireland and pushes over Scotland overnight with another band moving across the south west of England and Midlands during the morning. By lunchtime this weak rain band should have cleared England but a new heavy rain front will already have made landfall across the west of ireland and be pushing inland. So a potentially wet afternoon with rain and heavy showers for Ireland on Thursday. For the U.K however we should be dry and with the cloud breaking a nice end to the day beckons before more rain pushes into the west of Scotland later on Thursday evening. Similar temperatures again with mid to high teens depending on your location and with a slightly brisker, south west wind.

Closing out the week we have that western rain pushing quickly across Scotland overnight to leave a dry start to many for Friday. Not that it will stay that way for long with rain pushing into Connacht and Donegal during the morning and heading north and east so expect it into the west of Scotland by Friday evenings rush hour. For the rest of the U.K, Friday looks to be a settled and dry day with hazy sunshine and a moderate to strong, south westerly winds. Mid to high teens continue to be the order of the day this week.

Looking ahead to the all important weekend and not great news for Ireland I’m afraid as some potentially heavy rain is projected to push into Kerry and head across the country during the day. By lunchtime that band of rain is set to make landfall across the west of the U.K so Scotland, the north west and Wales will bear the brunt of it I’m afraid though it’ll be lighter in nature by then. It’ll be windy with moderate to strong south westerly winds pushing this rain along. So an unsettled day for the west and north, drier for the remainder of the U.K but windy with it. Warmer though in that wind with temperatures pushing up towards the high teens where it is dry and mid teens under that rain. That rain pushes across Ireland over the course of Saturday and may set off some thunderstorms into Saturday evening / Sunday morning as it does so. Sunday looks to be drier across most areas with the possibility of some showers over Ireland early doors accompanied by claps of thunder and lightning. So a windy, cloudy day on Sunday with a slimmer chance of showers further south across England and Wales through the day, rattled along on a moderate to strong westerly wind. Temperatures similar to Saturday, mid to high teens.


Our resident fitness freak at Headland Amenity, Mr Alex Hawkes, is running the Robin Hood Marathon this coming weekend along with his significantly better half who is doing the half marathon. He’s probably going to get up early and do a 40 mile cycle beforehand just to warm up whilst quoffing a quorn burger 🙂 (Can you tell I’m jealous)

He’s foolishly asked me for a forecast so Alex your day is likely to be dull with a strong westerly wind blowing down The Trent, but it should be dry with the chance of the cloud cover breaking just in time to glint off your finishing medals in the afternoon 🙂

A very genuine good luck to the both of you.

Weather Outlook

As hinted earlier, I don’t think we are finished with some warmth and sunny weather quite yet and that’s because next week is shaping up to be miles better than this one  🙂

So for Monday we look to have a much better weather picture with an Atlantic high pressure pushing in to bring warm and dry weather for most of the U.K and Ireland. There’s a really deep depression sitting north of us and because we are effectively sandwiched between the two it’ll mean we will have stong westerly winds particularly in the west and north. (which is good as they’ll be drying winds and you’ll need them after this week !) That low pressure will however bring some rain for the north, particularly Scotland accompanied by gale force winds and that rain may dip into England and Ireland on Tuesday though I think the south of England will miss it. By Wednesday we look warm and dry everywhere as those winds lighten but take on a more northerly orientation to leave a settled picture with high pressure in charge the rest of the week. So warm during the day and cool nights with some pretty heavy dews I reckon.

Agronomic Notes

A bit peaky and washed out…..

That isn’t a description of my general demeanour although at present it would be entirely accurate rather a comment on turf quality this week…

I’d expect turf to look a bit peaky after the sudden temperature drop and for some places, heavy rain of last Friday. When you get 30mm + of rain over a short period you can rest assured that it will have leached most of the available nutrient from the rootzone. Coupled with that we have a plant that was in water conservation mode up until Friday with high temperatures and high humidity and then overnight we go from the high twenties to low double figures. Of course that wasn’t the case everywhere I know, but for the bulk of the U.K, it was.

So it is hardly surprising that the grass plant is feeling a bit out of sorts this week and with a pretty dull week forecast for most, it won’t be receiving a nice tonic of U.V either. My advice would be to gently perk up the greens with a light foliar (if you have a spray window where you are) with more cool-temperature-available N (because it will be a cool week compared to last) than of late and definitely some iron and magnesium. When I say cool temperature nitrogen, I am meaning ammonium sulphate, potassium nitrate and not a lot of N because we have plenty of disease activity out there and we don’t want to encourage it.

Fertiliser and Disease…..

On that note it may be logical to state this but applying nutrient doesn’t directly encourage fungal growth in the case of the fertiliser types I’ve mentioned and Microdochium nivale (Fusarium to you and me but not Kate :)) I did some work recently on lab cultures of Microdochium nivale and none of the typical nitrogen forms we used stimulated growth of the fungus so they’re not directly utilising fertiliser as a food source despite some types of nutrient (urea and methylene urea for example) containing carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.

So when we hear that “fertiliser encourages disease” we must be clear that it isn’t the application of fertiliser itself more the physiological effect on the grass plant. That is to say applying high amounts of immediately-available nitrogen late in the season encourages soft growth with a succulent leaf and correspondingly thin cell wall. It is this thin cell wall and leaf succulence created by over-fertilisation that is the problem, not the fertiliser itself. Obvious I know but worth stating nonetheless.

On the flipside my work has also shown that certain forms of nutrient discourage the growth of Microdochium nivale (and other diseases) on the plant leaf presumably by changing the environment.

Last week was hot but it wasn’t a high E.T week…

So last week in some parts of the country we saw record temperatures with Gravesend (no wonder you always look thin Lee) hitting 34.4°C. So it was a hot and drying week then ?

Well no it wasn’t and that’s because we had high humidity typically touching 95% plus at night and > 85% during some of the days. When the air is full of moisture during high humidity periods it isn’t possible for more moisture to be evaporated off the grass plant or the soil so areas don’t dry out as you might first suspect they would.


That’s where moisture meters really pay their way because rather than reacting to the high temperature by irrigating, you can see clearly how the rootzone is retaining moisture and not drying out and cut your irrigation accordingly. Experience shows a drier leaf is less likely to develop disease.



I’ve been noticing for some while now patches of Pearlwort in fine turf and I think it is a consequence of last winters very mild and very wet weather and also this June’s wet weather as well. Pearlwort likes a wet surface so it serves as a useful indicator that water may be being retained in excessive organic matter (thatch) on a particular green or area of green. It is sometimes hard to differentiate between a patch of perennial Poa and a patch of Pearlwort so if you’re struggling, take a plug from the area and let it grow up on the window sill. You’ll soon notice the different leaf structure and flower buds as well. It’s even harder when you have Pearlwort growing through Poa so growing on a plug is a good way of confirming your hunch. Just to throw a spanner in the works of the wet surface and Pearlwort link, I’ve also seen it on a new sand rootzone which is definitely not sitting wet so it may be like Silver Thread Moss, i.e. a good competitor in very wet and very dry conditions (when grass cover thins)

Worms and Daddy’s

A lot of worm activity out there now after the recent high rainfall. This is a problem we are going to have to think about seriously now if the predicted revocation of Carbendazim does occur at some point next year (Saying that it’s had more combacks than Status Quo so you never know)


Had to chortle at the recent Mirror Headline claiming the likely invasion of 200 Billion Giant Daddy Long Legs is imminent. Obviously penned by someone in London who doesn’t know the difference between a Crane Fly and a House Spider. I suppose the give away should have been the number of legs and absence of wings !!!! 🙂

On a more serious note with the first year of no Chlorpyrifos on amenity turf and the withdrawal of the same active from agriculture, we are likely to see a steadily increasing threat from Leatherjackets (and Chafers for that matter because of the disappearance of Merit) through this autumn and winter and leading into next year. I’m aware some companies are hawking around an agricultural insecticide, but just be aware of the label restrictions in terms of pest treated, buffer zones and re-entry into a treated area before you commit on this one.

I think we will see more CraneFlies around this autumn but it’ll be next spring before we really begin to ramp up populations of the larvae and that may bring us problems during spring aeration I’m afraid to say.

Disease Activity

Lot’s of disease came out of the woodwork last week with the heat, humidity and rainfall with Superficial Fairy Ring, Microdochium nivale and Red Thread top of my pile. It’s getting pretty close to applying the first Microdochium fungicide application of the autumn season now (though Ireland and Scotland will always be earlier because of their wetter climate) so my advice would be to apply a full rate systemic and include half-rate contact if you have signs of active disease.

To my mind, there is simply no point in half-rating a systemic fungicide because if you apply half the active substance you’ll get half the longevity of response and efficacy. It is vitally important (and will become even more important in the future) that we minimise Microdochium nivale populations during the coming 8 weeks because if that can be achieved, experience shows us that you’ll have less likelihood of re-occurrence during the winter. If you allow a high disease population to establish now and / or during October / November then you’ll be on the back foot all through the winter with the now common flare ups around old scars whenever we go mild in December and January (and the chances are we will go mild then)

Easy for me to type, harder for you to put into practice with the diminishing number of effective Microdochium fungicides we now have available. Let’s hope by the time the most effective fungicides use-up period is over, we have some new actives to replace them. Fingers crossed.

Ok that’s all for this week, got to finish my talk else they’ll be an embarrassing silence tomorrow in Westmanstown and on Wednesday in Dromoland  and Damian won’t be happy 🙁

All the best.

Mark Hunt




September 12th


Hi All,

What a contrast the weekend was, 14.2mm of rain on Saturday and then lovely sunshine on Sunday. Don’t think I’ve ever been as wet mountain biking on Saturday though but needs must 🙂

This year seems to rush by,  I had to double take this morning at the date when I started typing this blog, must be an age thing or the fact I was still half asleep :).  So we’re already nearly halfway into September and looking back at my forecast in last weeks blog  for this week, I can be happy because it’s pretty much spot on 🙂

General Weather Situation

So starting Monday we have the as forecast high pressure building over the south of England and low pressure sitting off north west Scotland, though a little higher than I thought it would be. So today sees a dry, settled start for a good chunk of the U.K, right up to The Borders, with sunshine breaking through the cloud right from the off. For Ireland we have a band of rain courtesy of that low pressure system affecting the west coast but during the morning it’ll cross the country diagonally and stretching up from south east Munster to Donegal. This same band of rain will be affecting south west and north west Scotland and it’ll push into Central Scotland through the afternoon but the east coast should stay dry. Further south with the sun breaking through, temperatures will rise markedly pushing into the low to mid-twenties in the south east of England. Winds will be southerly and light here but moderate to strong where low pressure meets high across the west and north.

Onto Tuesday and that band of rain stubbornly stays in place across the east coast of Ireland (the west should be dry though) and stretches up to affect most of Scotland as well through the course of Tuesday morning. South of this band of cloud and rain we see a bright, sunny start right from the off and here temperatures will rise very quickly into the mid-high twenties so a really hot day for September. As we go through the morning, some of that westerly rain may just make landfall across the south west of England, West Wales and the north west of England, but amounts should be light. By late afternoon that  rain front has pushed rain and cloud cover across into The Midlands and the western half of the country leaving only the south east of England remaining bright. High teens are likely under that rain but add another 10°C on where you’re under that sunshine. The combination of moist air meeting hot air could trigger some thunderstorms as we go into Tuesday evening.

Wednesday sees that rain front pushing more rain in overnight to most areas of the U.K with the east and south east likely to be the only area to miss it. Across the north of Scotland some of that rain looks potentially very heavy indeed so maybe some flooding here. So Wednesday mornings rush hour looks wet across the south west of England, Wales and north and south west Scotland. Ireland looks to be dry though after the rain earlier in the week. As we progress through Wednesday morning that rain stays solidly in place along the west coastline of the U.K and potentally later into the afternoon some of that rain will push inland into the north of England. Ireland looks to have a very nice day, dry and bright across the west with just some cloud cover affecting central and eastern areas. Scotland is to the contrary though with rain sitting across the west of the country pretty much all of the day I am afraid. A continuing threat of thunderstorms on Wednesday as we have that moist air / hot air interface. Cooler on Wednesday after Tuesday’s dizzie heights in the south of England with low twenties more the norm. Where we have that rain it’ll range from high teens to low twenties. Wind direction will be predominantly south in the south but other areas across the west are likely to be more northerly in nature and hence the cooler temperatures.

Thursday sees a change in the weather as a weak low pressure is set to push cooler air into the south of England and that’ll drop the temperatures markedly. So Thursday looks to be a dull, dull day as a north west wind pushes heavy cloud cover likely to be thick enough to give some mizzle and drizzle into many areas. By late morning that thick bank of cloud is still sitting over the U.K, but Ireland could be bright for a time over Leinster before cloud and rain from the west push in I’m afraid. Things get better for most places by the afternoon though as we begin to brighten up from the west with sunshine breaking through and the cloud cover marginalised to the east coast. I say most places because Scotland looks to pick up some rain late morning and this is set to stay for the remainder of the day I’m afraid. Closing out Thursday we have a lovely evening for many, but it looks like more cloud with rain is set to push into the west of Ireland 🙁 As intimated earlier, a much cooler day under that cloud with temperatures struggling into the mid to high teens even in the south of England with that north west wind in place. Thursday night will see temperatures drop markedly, possibly into single figures in the north of England.

Finishing off the week we have low pressure in the north beginning to ramp up its effect on our weather. So Friday looks to start dry for most of the U.K, certainly up to The Borders, but Ireland is under a thick bank of cloud and they’ll be rain mixed in with it as well. Through the morning we’ll see a band of rain push across Ireland from the west but it is likely to be slow- moving. Further east we look to have a dry, bright and sunny day, but temperatures will be nowhere near where they were at the start of the week with high teens likely. Scotland inherits Ireland’s cloud and drizzle through Friday morning so a dull day here I think with rain pushing into the west as we close out the day.  Ireland seems to keep that band of rain all day so some areas may stay dry but others like the east and north east coast are likely to cop a packet later in the day. Winds will be light to moderate and tending from the south west to west.

Onto the all important weekend and Saturday looks like a day of sunshine and showers as rain pushes across Ireland into the west and moves across country through the course of the day. There will be sunshine in-between these showers though for most areas, however I think Scotland will see a more heavier rain front push in through the course of Saturday morning, as will the north west of England.  Similar temperatures to Friday, high teens so pleasant enough really. Sunday again looks the better day of the weekend to me at this stage of the week after a cool start to the day. More settled, less rain around but plenty of cloud cover so may stay dull for Scotland and the west / north particularly.

Weather Outlook

Ok so how are we looking for next week ?

Wet, wild and windy just about says it all as low pressure is likely to be firmly in command. Monday looks to start off wet for all places with heavy rain fronts pushing across the country on a strong westerly / south westerly wind and this is set to continue on Tuesday. Wednesday may be a little bit of respite for the south of England but it’ll remain unsettled across the west and north I’m afraid. By Thursday we see more sunshine and showers for all areas and we finish the week with low pressure remaining very firmly in charge.

Agronomic Notes


Last week saw some really heavy disease pressure with high day and night time temperatures and high humidity. I took this image of my weather station early last Tuesday morning on a late night return from doing a talk to the BIGGA North West section. Thanks to everyone for their feedback and giving up their evening to hear me whittle on 🙂

As you can see from readout we had close to a 100% saturated atmosphere together with high temperature and that is a breeding ground for disease. Long periods of leaf wetness and heat are ideal conditions for fungal development and so it was the case that just about everything came out of the woodwork last week to put in an appearance. So if you’re thinking you have the worst this or the worst that, that you’ve seen at your facility, don’t worry because it isn’t just your facility I can assure you.

The main diseases that seemed to like this weather were Red Thread on outfield turf, Microdochium nivale on fine turf and Fairy Rings (of any description with lots of fruiting bodies observable)


Guttation Fluid

The image above was taken at 9.30 a.m last Monday and clearly shows Guttation Fluid on the tips of a  ryegrass stand and you can make out Red Thread mycelium right in the tip of the plant. Guttation fluid typically forms after dew in my experience so when you have removed the dew on an area and you still see water droplets on the tips of the grass leaf, it’s likely to be Guttation Fluid.

We see Guttation Fluid when we have heavy rainfall and water is pushed up and out of the grass plant by soil water pressure. It is pushed out through pores in the leaf tip called Hydathodes and these exist purely to allow the plant to get rid of excess moisture. It isn’t just water in these droplets though, it also contains plant nutrients and sugars and that’s what makes it so attractive to a fungal pathogen with the sugars in particular, a source of readily-available energy. Guttation Fluid definitely aids disease development and as far back as 1968, I found a research paper from the U.S linking it with the development of Dollar Spot.

With Saturday’s heavy rainfall and this weeks warm and dry weather I expect to see a repeat of the high humidity / night time temperatures for the early part of this week (and Guttation Fluid) and this will continue to drive disease development I am afraid.


Etiolated Growth

Plenty of Etiolated Growth about, especially on Poa greens, collars, surrounds and fairways. This picture shows the phenomenon we all know well (with a patch of Dollar Spot in the foreground) and is proving to be a tough nut to crack. I’m doing some work on this area as I intimated a few weeks ago, have plenty of samples thanks and initial findings suggest it doesn’t look like the same casual agent (s) as they have identified in the U.S. When I have something firmer I’ll elaborate. So far I’ve noted Ryegrass and Poa annua species that have been infected.

Autumn Weeds

With the recent rainfall I’ve seen lots of newly-emerging Dandelion and Plantain and this week will provide (for some, not all I appreciate) a chance to get a spray on before we move into more unsettled times. Uptake will be good because of the high soil and air temperatures. I sprayed some weeds last Thursday with a slow-acting set of A.I’s and they were already showing Epinasty by Saturday. (Either that or the leaves were hanging because of the inclement weather !)


With the south of the U.K having their first decent rain over the last two weeks and the ground moisture levels rising, this week presents a decent opportunity to overseed thin areas of fairway, semi-rough, golf green complexes and sports pitches. If time, resource and budget allow, I like to target the areas with a PGR first to hold back the resident grass species and then overseed, topdess and fertilise. There are lots of different views on the best way to overseed, drilling, after hollow coring, etc but crucial with any of them is to achieve seed / soil contact. Drilling works for me provided your organic matter levels in the surface are not excessive, but if they are high and / or compacted, you are often introducing a new seed / seedling into an environment where ultimately it won’t survive longer than a few weeks. So typically you see a great strike and then after that not much evidence of a long-term benefit in terms of new grass species establishment.


New seedling emergence after overseeding following hollow coring…

Hollow coring  an area and hence removing the fibre layer is often very effective because the new seed is able to develop roots into fresh rootzone material and the seedling sits for a time slightly below the cutting height and so is protected. It’s horses for courses I know and the above is just my observation, if you’ve seen different then please drop me a comment.

GDD Comparison

Did an interesting GDD comparison for this spring as part of my talk in the north west of England comparing a location near Preston, Pleasington with Thame down in Central England.


If you follow the red lines you can see that the location in the north west of England took till the end of April to reach the same GDD total as the Thame location did by the 2nd of April, putting it 28 days behind. That’s one of the reasons why I think GDD data is useful to us all in this profession as it provides factual rather than subjective data.

Ok that’s it for this week, lots on 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt


September 5th


Hi All,

So we are into September and generally it’s a quiet, settled month with high pressure traditionally dominating the scene before we give way to Atlantic lows and the start of autumn proper. Looking at this week and beyond I don’t think that’s going to be too far off the mark though it won’t be a long, dry one as we had in 2014….


Courtesy of

If you didn’t catch the British MotoGP over the weekend, you missed a corker, (ITV4 Tonight 10pm) with our man Cal in the thick of it again and delivering another superb rostrum. 🙂 Compared to Formula Snore, it was a rivetting and brilliant spectacle.

Ok back to the day job, onto the weather and what lies in store for us this week and beyond ?

General Weather Situation

So Monday starts off pretty dreary for many with overnight rain across some areas of the U.K extending into the morning with some pretty heavy showers over Central and North East Scotland and Mid-Wales / Herefordshire / Worcestershire. As we go through the morning we will see a continuation of that rain along western coasts of the U.K, lighter rain inland as well whilst Ireland looks to be largely dry. As we progress through Monday afternoon the rain fizzles out over all areas to leave a settled evening with maybe some late sunshine as gaps in the cloud emerge. Lighter winds than of late from the south and high teens / low twenties the temperature. Muggy though with that humidity and cloud cover.

Overnight into Tuesday and we see a rain front push into Kerry and drift slowly across Ireland during the wee hours making landfall in the west of Scotland in time for the morning rush hour. Some of this rain, light though it is will drift down into north west England and North Wales. South and east of this we have a settled, dry day with some cloud cover that looks to hang around pretty much all of the day, with the exception of Eastern Scotland where you should see some nice sunshine. Continuing warm with temperatures building in the south to the low twenties maybe even the mid-twenties if the sun breaks through. High teens, maybe touching the twenties for the west and north and continuing humid especially in the south. Ireland could feel nice and toasty 🙂 A warm, muggy night to follow as well.

Moving onto Wednesday and still some light rain, mizzle about over Ireland, Wales, western coasts and Scotland first off on Wednesday morning but further south the sun will break through and temperatures will take a hike upwards very quickly. That cloud cover will break over Ireland and Wales as well but further north for The Borders and Scotland you’ll continue ot see light rain I’m afraid. For Wednesday afternoon we see the sun pushing through across the south of the U.K and up to around The Humber estuary and those temperatures may hit 25°C plus when it does. Cooler today for Scotland and Ireland though with high teens the order of the day as low pressure begins to have an effect. Winds continuing from the barmy south for the U.K though.

Onto Thursday and that low pressure extends its influence with the wind swinging round to the west and feeling much cooler than the previous days in the south of England. Scotland though will be the exception as warm winds funnel around that low and so here they may have a really warm, mid-twenties day with bright sunshine breaking through. For the reast of the U.K, a bright but cooler day with high teens / low twenties the order of the day and feeling a lot less muggy. The south east and east coast of England will hold onto that temperature though so mid-twenties here I think. Ireland looks to have a dull day, with light rain being closer to that low. During the afternoon expect more rain fronts, heavier in nature to push across Ireland and into south west / Central Scotland by Thursday evening. Remaining bright and sunny throughout further south with a moderate to strong westerly wind.

Closing out the week we have a north / south split with that low pressure rattling showers across Ireland, the north of England and Scotland. Some of this rain may be heavy for Ireland along south western and western coasts and through the afternoon I expect it to intensify over north west Scotland as well. Further south it’ll be dry and likely remaining windy with temperatures just nudging the twenties until the evening when I think rain will edge into the south west of England, Wales and western coastlines. Again I expect the south east and central England to remain dry and bright with warm temperatures.

Looking at the weekend we have that low pressure likely to put a spanner in the works of anyone hoping for constant sunshine 🙁 So Saturday sees that western rand band pushing slowly eastwards and bringing rain to most parts during the course of Saturday. Either side of it I’d expect it to brighten up and be pleasant with again the south east corner of England hanging onto the warmest, driest weather longest with that rain not likely to get to you till the evening. Even then it will have decreased in intensity. On the western side of this rain band it’ll feel fresher with temperatures in the mid to high teens with the heat hanging on in the east. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see some thunderstorms through Saturday as well as moist air meets warm, continental air. Sunday looks to stay unsettled over Ireland, north west England and Scotland but further south it’ll be the best day of the weekend with long spells of hazy sunshine and temperatures just touching the twenties.

Weather Outlook

Looking ahead to next week now and we start the week with a continuation of that north / south divide with low pressure affecting the north and west, so cooler, unsettled and windy here vs. a warmer, more settled picture for the central and southern half of the U.K. By the end of Tuesday I think high pressure will begin to dominate proceedings so warm, dry and settled everywhere and that’s the way it’s likely to stay I think until maybe the end of the week when I think a northerly low pressure may slip some further rain into the north and west.

Agronomic Notes

As it’s the first blog of the month, we have plenty of GDD and GP data to trawl through so thanks to everyone for sending this through, much appreciated as usual…

First off let’s look at how we shaped up for August in our usual Thame location…


The top graph shows the total GDD for the month to be 364.5 which is the highest (just) that we’ve recorded since we started in 2010 and marks August as the hottest month for this location.

Looking at the Irish locations we see a pretty good consistent temperature month across all of Ireland and this was because the high pressure that influenced the weather was situated out in the Atlantic. Dublin and Valentia were the warmest locations in Ireland.


Ok nice graphs but what can we take from this data ?

PGR Application Frequency

Well if we look at PGR applications in terms of Trinexapac-ethyl and these monthly totals for GDD, we’d have to be on a fortnightly application interval to maintain regulation else there would be a good chance that the plant would come out of regulation, the so called ‘rebound effect’. In the warmer areas of the U.K, this interval would probably have to reduce to 10-12 days to maintain consistent regulation. As we’ve talked about before, TE breaks down faster in the plant during periods of warm / hot weather and so its longevity is compromised. This means you have to apply more frequently (but not at a higher rate note) in order to keep the plant regulated. You can find the research to support this here

Hot Temperature Stress

I mentioned last week that the high temperatures and E.T in August will have caused signifcant, if short-lived, plant stress. Was this same across all of the U.K and Ireland ?

We can look at this using Growth Potential Data…


So for this Surrey location we clearly see high temperature stress on the 24th and 25th August. Let’s compare it to our other locations…




So we can see markedly different rainfall patterns depending on the location, but no other chart shows high temperature stress bar the Surrey location.


So we can conclude from this that Anthracnose Foliar Blight and Dollar Spot which are diseases consistent with high temperature stress are likely to be more of an issue in the Central England because of the high temperatures noted here. This doesn’t however mean that other areas will have no Anthracnose because the other form of this disease, Basal Rot, prefers periods of leaf and soil wetness and you can see these are a feature of the Dublin and York locations with Bristol similarly affected because of the high rainfall earlier in the month.

We know that Anthracnose as a pathogen needs high temperature to initate spore germination, around 25°C it is said, so as I look at the temperature information received, these are the highest recorded air temperatures for the various locations ;


So you can see why Anthracnose Foliar Blight is likely to be more of an issue in the U.K compared to Ireland, but the wetter Irish climate will mean more likelihood of Anthracnose Basal Rot as the surface is wetter for longer. That would explain why frequent topdressing with high annual totals is a modus operandi In Ireland and the same should be true here in the U.K in wetter parts of the country.

I’ve got Anthracnose what should I do ?

First off there is no curative spray for this disease, it’s a bit like seeing a speed camera van, by the time you see it, it’s too late. (well with my driving nayway 🙁 )

Spraying a sward with active Anthracnose will ‘ring fence’ the affected plants but you’re still likely to see die-back on new plants because they were already infected and ‘going over’ before you sprayed, they just didn’t look like it at the time. Some products do kill the Anthracnose spore but again I don’t think this is foolproof as you tend to see Anthracnose re-occur on the same area or same greens the following year despite being sprayed.

We have to introduce new plants to the area soonest and for me that means over-sowing bentgrass into the affected areas or Fescue Bent if you prefer whilst we have temperature. Pre-chitting it in damp rootzone can speed up the process. Lightly aerating the affected area to punch holes through the surface organic matter and then introducing the seed once they’ve been topped up is another given. Maintain good nutrition to increase tillering / growth and I’d be dropping my PGR rate or even dropping it completely because you shouldn’t use a PGR on newly-emerging seedlings and it is these that you want to encourage.

I’d also look for factors that may have increased the incidence of Anthracnose on a particular area of green or green location. Thatch levels, rootzone characteristics, moisture levels, air flow are all likely to contribute.

Other diseases doing the rounds…


With mild temperatures and 87% humidity (it was over 93% early doors) then we can expect plenty of Red Thread, Superficial Fairy Ring, Microdochium and on sports pitches, Leaf Spot…..The fortunate aspect though is that with good temperatures this week and recent rainfall, we should be able to grow things out as fast as they come in without needing to resort to a fungicide spray. So I’d be keeping nutrition nice and balanced, no point in having a weak plant else it is just easy pickings for these type of diseases. You may also want to physcially grow out foliar diseases like Red Thread and for that reason I’d be careful of my TE rate over the next fortnight.

Nice week for spraying outfield…

With light winds for the first part of the week and recent moisture, this week is good for spraying outfields and particularly combining nutrition and selective herbicides to knock back ‘summer emerging’ weed species whilst they are growing well and uptake conditions are good…

Ok that’s it for this week, I’m off to do a chat in deepest darkest Lancashire this evening, I look forward to seeing everyone there 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt