Monthly Archives: October 2016

October 31st


Hi All,

Back from a few days off last week and suitably refreshed (not).

Lovely though getting out for some walks in the autumn, the colours and smell are beautiful…

autumn1 autumn2

I also noticed a lot of Fieldfares and Redwings already feasting on our berry crop and note that the number of Waxwings heading this way looks substanstial this autumn which means that the east (Siberia, Northern Scandinavia, etc) has cooled down very early this year. Could be the harbinger of a hard winter ?


My last blog two weeks ago promised the first of the winter storms with the added caveat that high pressure may indeed dominate and knock it off path. Well we didn’t get the storm and we did get the high pressure and for the 7th year out of the last 9, the last week of October has been mild / warm, uncanny really. We have had a mercifully dry October in many places but I think that will come to an end this week with the arrival of pretty cold, slow moving, easterly low pressure at the end of the week / weekend. So winter will start in early November.

That’s bad news for my newly arrived Hedgepiglets, I say that in plural because there’s three new ones now, Brexxie1, 2 and 3 (though it’s tricky to tell the difference 🙂 ) The risk here is that they may not have been weaned from their mother’s milk before she goes into hibernation, which is usually the third week of November. They also need to be 600gms plus to survive the winter and I reckon they’re half of that at the moment. So they’ll be on a high calorie diet from now on ! Ok onto the weather….

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a misty, foggy start for many and dry as well, save for a slow moving band of rain pushing into north west Scotland and tracking slowly south and east. Through the morning the fog will clear and leave a beautiful (and warm) autumn day with lots of sunshine for central and northern England. Ireland looks dry but cloudier as does the west coast of the U.K. That rain front over Scotland looks like staying in situ so north of a line from Aberdeen to Oban I’d say with the rest of Scotland staying dry I think. This evening finishes dry with just that Scottish rain and perhaps the end of that rain band creeping into Donegal later on too. Temperature-wise I think we will be high teens in the south of England and really anywhere the sun breaks through and mid teens under the cloud cover. Winds will be light and from the south, but due to change…

For Tuesday we have a change in the wind direction, swinging round to the north and picking up pace, so you’ll immediately feel the loss of temperature with a distinctly chilly feel to the air. Apart from the risk of some light rain moving down the north east coast of England this morning, it looks a dry day for everyone with again some change of seeing the sun over central and southern England. Winds as commented earlier will be from the north and so I expect the temperature will be 3-4°C down on the previous day with mid-teens tops and even a little lower if you have cloud cover.

A very similar picture for Wednesday with a dry outlook pretty much everywhere and again lots of cloud cover about so on the dull side early doors. That north to north west wind will be brisk to moderate and that’ll keep the chilly feel to the weather after the highs of last week and early part of this week. Staying dry though which is good and gives everyone a chance to get some autumn preparation work in before the arrival of winter proper. It looks like Ireland may see the sun across southern regions of Leinster and Munster in the afternoon and we should also see some breaks in the cloud cover across the south of England. Temperature-wise feeling cool in the wind, so mid to low teens if you see the sun and high single figures in the north and across Scotland.

For Thursday we have a re-run of Wednesday for most places save for the north west of Scotland and Ireland where a band of rain is set to push in during the morning. This rain will be heavier over Scotland. South of this we have another dull and dreary day with some short breaks in the cloud cover likely during the afternoon in the south and east of England. Through the late afternoon / evening that drizzly, mizzle sinks south over Northern England, North Wales and across Ireland to give a dull end to the day I’m afraid. Despite the fact that the wind swings round to the west / south west, it makes no odds temperature-wise as we stay cool with low double figures likely. This is because although the wind is westerly, its origin is from Siberia and it’s already cold out there 🙁 .

Friday is the change day in my books as we see the low pressure begin to push in showers of rain during the day but they’ll be light initially and quite widespread but don’t think you’re getting off lightly !…So Friday looks to be an unsettled day with frequent showers across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. Perhaps these will be more frequent across the west and north but I expect some inland as well. The wind will be on the change, swinging round to southerly, then easterly by Friday night and moderate to brisk meaning it will feel continue to feel cool with high single / low double figures now the new norm.

The outlook for the weekend and hence the 5th of November is pretty cack to be honest…particularly for the south of England, Wales and Ireland, really from the north of England down as that low pressure is set to swing in heavy rain through Saturday on a strong and cold easterly wind. The main mass of rain looks to be more south of the U.K-orientated at this stage so Scotland and The Borders may enjoy a dry weekend. Sunday looks equally bad as that band of rain sits across The Midlands and Wales bringing more rain during the day. South and north of this concentrated band of rain looks like being drier, but remaining cool with the wind swinging more to the north east through the morning. I expect the amount of rain to be siginifcant in the areas worst affected over the weekend.

Weather Outlook

Tricky this one because Unisys is on the blink a bit this week so a little bit of mystic megging is called for 🙂

If I had to describe next week in simple terms I’d say wild, windy and wet !

We look to start the week with a changeover from that easterly low moving slowly off stage right, but it will be followed by a new, north westerly low so that means the boot will be on the other foot next week initially rainfall-wise. So I’d expect Scotland to pick up some heavy rain through Monday (maybe later Monday) as the winds swing round initially to the north pushing that rain into Scotland. From Tuesday onwards the winds become stronger and from the west so expect gale force winds and frequent rain for Ireland and the U.K through next week. It’s funny sitting here typing this when the sun is just breaking through and there isn’t a breath of wind at all. So an unsettled weather forecast is the order of the day next week and winter with all of its many joys has started.

Agronomic Notes


Disease Pressure


When you have weather conditions in October that provide double figure overnight temperatures and high humidity then that means only one thing and that is Microdochium nivale. The top image above is from my weather station showing we’d mantained double figures through the night and the humidity was running at 93%. This means the leaf is wet and the temperature is ideal for fungal growth. The bottom image above shows how the overnight temperatures increased markedly at the end of October with the average humidity pushing close to 90% (which means it was close to 100% during the night) The period enclosed in the dashed lines is when disease pressure really ramped up…..


So expect to see a scenario where you’ll see lot’s of M.nivale across your turf areas and note how much more aggressive it is on tees, approaches, sportfields (maybe?) where there has been no fungicide applied.

Even where you have applied a fungicide already in good order I think you’ll see the classic see-saw of activity vs. efficacy.

What I mean by that is that the rate the disease population is growing is faster than the rate that the fungicide can control it, so you’ll see symptoms of diease even though you are theoretically ‘protected’. The image below is typical of disease activity on untreated outfield areas (thanks to….ahahaha won’t print a name you know….for sending this ‘beautiful disease’ snap in…as Kate would describe it no doubt :))


Now from Tuesday we’ll go cooler and that’ll drop the disease pressure signifcantly because overnight temperatures will drop and we will have more wind which will dry the leaf out more effectively, especially overnight.  This week is definitely a week to re-apply your systemic / contact combination if you are close to requiring this because the chance of getting a spray day next week with the wind and rain forecast is minimal.

By now many of you will have heard of the likely departure of Carbendazim and Iprodione and it’s the latter that most concerns me because when we have periods like this where disease activity is at its highest and the drivers behind that activity are pushing hard, you need effective curative fungicidal control and with the loss of Iprodione in the near future, we will lose that.

We are indeed entering a new period of turf management and it’ll mean that we will no longer have the ‘safety net’ of some very effective pesticides (we lost the equally good systemic Tebuconazole / Prochloraz combination earlier this year)

This means the emphasis will need to shift to a cumulative approach to disease management with better application timing (because most of our choices will be systemic), better control of the environment that provides the basis for disease development, namely surface fibre and an increased need for a drier surface. (dew removal and surface fibre).

Challenging times for our industry for sure but let’s hope we will see the emergence of newer, more effective chemistries coming through. (though not ever likely to replace Carbendazim and Chlorpyrifos)

Moss control…not quite yet…


So for me this week it’s get everything out of the way you need to do before the weather closes in, whether that be spraying or applying granular fertiliser to weak areas.

It’s tempting to apply a moss treatment now as there’s plenty about but for it to be effective you need for that moss to be fully wetted up and at present it isn’t. Better to keep your powder dry on this one until we have had the initial rain and then apply the product. With moss control it’s another see-saw between holding back the moss with a chemical application (or iron as a pesticide) and encouraging the grass to out-compete the moss over the winter months.

It’s this four month period from November to February when moss populations are at their strongest which is key to good moss control.


This is particularly the case with Silver-Thread Moss because you effectively have a cereal bowl-shaped colony to attack and remember when it is dry it is hydrophobic (water repellent) so if you’re applying a product it’s likely to be washed off without ever coming into contact with the moss in entirety. Better to wait for it to be fully-wetted by rainfall before applying your control.


Ok that’s it for this week, my intray has collapsed so Carpe Diem to you all…..

Mark Hunt


October 17th


Hi All,

A great advert for English golf at The Grove this past week and fortunately the weather just about behaved, though 10mm the previous night / morning on the final day made life entertaining for the greens staff.

Hosting an October event is a real lottery weather-wise but fortunately it looks like they missed the start of autumn proper by a week. Great results for everyone involved and particularly all of the volunteers who gave up their time, they are the unsung heroes, well done lads and ladies you can be proud 🙂


This week I think we’ll start to see the change to autumn good and proper with the first of our Atlantic low pressure systems due to come in towards the end of the week and low pressure kicking off the start of this week. There are signs that the jet stream is beginning to ramp up and form its more normal autumn / winter pattern and that may mean a wetter end to October than the start. I call the winter jet stream pattern, the ‘L’ pattern for obvious reasons because it pushes down from north to south across America and then hangs a right across the Atlantic to bring weather systems into the U.K and Ireland. You can see a comparison of last week’s pattern and this week’s projected pattern below ;


Don’t batten down the hatches just yet though because I don’t think this change is a permanent one, rather a whiff of what’s to come before it settles back again next week with high pressure in charge pot

Nature is also gearing up for the winter aheadgepigletoct16nd whilst I was up in the wee hours last week I could hear Redwings arriving over from Siberia on the easterly night winds. These are the winter Thrushes that for me really herald the start of the autumn / winter in earnest. I also had a new Hedgepiglet arrive last week, I’ve nick-named him ‘Brexy’ because he’s all on his tod this one and he’s going to take some feeding up if he’s to survive the winter.


So how is this week shaping up ?

General Weather Situation

With low pressure sitting out over Ireland it’s no surprise that the west and north are likely to be on the receiving end of some showery rain today. So for Monday morning we have a west – east / south split with bands of showers pushing in across Ireland and into Wales, the north west of England and the west coast of Scotland. South and east of this we have a settled autumn day with sunshine breaking through from the off. Through the morning these showers will continue to push in but they’re mainly going to be affecting coastal areas with the exception of Scotland the far north of England where they will push inland as well. By early afternoon the showers have cleared most of Ireland but will still be an issue across Wales, Dartmoor,The Lakes and south / north-west Scotland. They are also likely to work inland across the north of England, The Midlands and some areas of the south of England. It will feel very mild with temperatures in the mid-teens away from that rain and low teens under it. The wind will be moderate to strong and from the south west / west.

Moving onto Tuesday and we still see the effects of that Atlantic low with showers and heavier rain present across north west Scotland. In addition the north west, north and West Wales will also be affected. Through the morning those showers will push inland across northern England and into The Midlands as well, a repeat of Monday really. Ireland looks to have a better day with more chance of seeing the sun, but still some showers, chiefly I think over Co. Clare.  During the afternoon, those showers will have pushed down into East Anglia and the south East, but they’ll be plenty of sunshine in-between and away from those showers for central parts of England. We see the same across Scotland during Tuesday with that coastal rain moving inland to affect most areas though perhaps southern Scotland may just hang onto some dryness and sunshine. Temperature-wise I’d expect to see lower temperatures for Tuesday, low teens / high double figures, as the wind ramps up a bit and takes on a north west aspect and this will peg things back a tad.

For Wednesday we have a much drier day over all areas though it will be dull over most areas. So hazy sunshine and cloud cover for most of the day and some of that cloud may be thick enough to bring some drizzle across northern areas later in the day. Again staying cool with temperatures in the low double figures in what will be a chilly north west to north wind.

Thursday sees a continuation of that dull and dry theme with if anything less chance of seeing the sun and thicker cloud cover as well. The wind will be more northerly and so a dull and cool day I’m afraid, but it will be dry and that’s a bonus for this time of year. Temperature-wise it’ll be lucky to break into the teens even in the south of England so chilly and dull is the theme for the time-being. With low pressure now across to the east of us, there’s always the risk of some showers nipping at the east coast of England across Norfolk and Suffolk later on Thursday. As with Wednesday, the best chance of seeing the sun is across the west and Ireland but I think it’ll be fleeting glimpses.

Closing out the week and we see a much calmer picture and a little milder as well on Friday as the wind drops in strength and therefore less cloud cover is pushed in from The North Sea. There’s still a risk of showers across the east and south east coasts, just nipping at our toes really and not likely to amount to much or move inland. There will be some rain moving in from early doors to the north west of Scotland and that’ll stay for most of the day really I’m afraid but unlikely to move inland. This rain is likely to be heavy in nature. As with earlier in the week, the best chance of seeing the sun is across the west, South Wales and the south west of England. With a calmer wind, it’ll feel milder, a little milder that is, but still with temperatures down in the low double figures and a degree or two higher if the sun grants you an audience 🙂

And now to the weekend and as hinted earlier there’s moves a foot…

The first thing that becomes apparent will be a change in wind direction to the south and this will occur across western locations first as we have a very deep Atlantic depression looking to make an entrance from stage left and a continental high trying to stop it. So for Ireland on Saturday the wind will swing round initially to the south east, then the south and it’ll ramp up in intensity pushing in cloud cover. This change in wind strength and direction will ocur through Saturday and will begin in the west so central and eastern areas may not even notice it till later in the day. By Sunday though you will for sure as band of heavy rain pushes across Ireland, Wales and later the west of England accompanied by gale force southerly / south easterly winds. Again the heaviest of this rain will be across Ireland and along western coasts / Wales but I expect it to move inland to all areas through Sunday.

One caveat here and it is that not all models predict this low pressure system will get as far east as I’m saying so we’ll see. If it doesn’t you’ll know because you’ll have more settled weather at the weekend across central and eastern areas.

Weather Outlook

Tricky one this because as mentioned above, there’s some disagreement on how far east this low pressure system gets before it butts up against a continental high pressure. My take is that we will see a reverse of the low pressure through the early part of next week which means it’ll start to move east to west instead of west to east. So it’s likely to be a west / east split for the early part of next week with the west wet and windy and the east calmer and drier. As we progress through the early part of the week we will see the influence of this high pressure system extend further and further westwards pushing the low out of the way and returning us to easterly winds and drier conditions. It’ll be windy as these two weather systems butt up against each other but again I think this will decrease as we go through the week.

Agronomic Notes

Our industry future in the spotlight……


As I contemplated on what was another successfully-hosted British Masters, building on Woburn last year and of course The Grove this year, I wondered at the vast amount of organisation, effort and money that this type of event brings to our industry.


The corporate sponsors, T.V rights, merchandise, hospitality, the whole shooting match revolves around our ability to present an optimum turf surface at what is traditionally a tricky time of year weather-wise.

It isn’t just tricky because of the weather, it’s tricky because of disease management.

Ok so October so far has shown itself to be atypical, that is a low amount of disease pressure and no real mild nights / high humidity combinations (though this weekend past will have kicked some Microdochium off I’m sure).

September on the other hand provided much higher disease pressure from Anthracnose, Microdochium nivale, Dollar Spot and Red Thread. So where am I going with this blog thread ?

Well if the E.U Thematic Strategy and our respective regulatory bodies carry on the way they’re going, it won’t be possible to host this kind of event in some countries in Europe in the future.

If the afore-mentioned diseases hadn’t been controlled by a combination of good cultural preparation, non-pesticidal and pesticidal products, would the golfers, sponsors and T.V have been happy with surfaces like the image below I wonder ? I can’t think they would, can you ?


It’s a fact that in certain countries in Europe, Germany for one, where I am talking next week, in some regions of the country, they will only have two fungicides for disease management in 2017.

This will makes life extremely tricky for a golf course superintendent there, no matter how good they are and unless there is a significant ‘Zeitgeist’ moment, things will come unstuck. Without incurring the wrath of the chemical companies involved, neither of the two products likely to be available is effective at controlling Microdochium nivale. So how would they be placed if they were down to host this type of event this month ? The same is true in some regions of Scandinavia despite the excellent research work that S.T.E.R.F has undertaken to provide factual evidence as to the non-leachability of some fungicides into the environment.

It’s all about ‘modelling’ with the regulators and I can tell you that the model they use to evaluate a product is one dreamt up in la-la land. So far removed are they from the actual game of golf or football for that matter, that I don’t even think they know much about the industry they’re supposed to be regulating. I don’t think they could tell you the actual difference culturally between a fairway and a tee or a sports pitch and rough.

The same is true in agriculture. We keep hearing about the demand for us to grow more and more food for the ever-increasing world population but really that isn’t going to happen if modern-day agriculture has one hand tied behind its back because of legislation. So you know what happens ? We end up importing more food from outside the E.U, from countries that don’t have the same legislation, practices, restrictions in place. Now where is the logic in that ? It doesn’t mean though that chemicals / pesticides should go un-regulated, we have seen issues in the past with usage of products with harmful side effects to nature (DDT is an example), but there should be a middle ground. A middle ground backed up by research and fact not emotive rhetoric and unrealistic modelling.

At some point legislation and common sense will surely have to meet but as someone once remarked to me “Those two don’t sleep in the same bed together” 🙁

Now I think in the U.K, we won’t be in the same boat as Germany, but we will see a ‘passing of the guard’ in terms of older, higher rate chemistries going and newer, lower rate chemistries coming in. It’ll mean we’ll have to change our turf management practices for sure if we are stil going to be able to host this type of event in October or September for that matter…It’s not an unsurmountable challenge, but it is a challenge nonetheless. If we don’t meet it I can see sponsor pressure saying “We can’t go there at this time of year blah, blah, because of lack of effective disease management” so they’ll end up going somewhere where the same legislation doesn’t apply and our industry will be the loser.

It isn’t just about venues like The Grove either, we need to be able to effectively control disease in the autumn and that doesn’t just relate to fungicides. We have to be able to adequately control surface organic matter so we have drier rootzones, which then allow us to carry out effective overseeding (instead of sowing into thatch) to create a polystand (mixture of species) and thereby provide less of the conditions that encourage disease. This therefore means proper communication and agreed aeration slots, budgets and resource for quick topdressing. So we are building firmer, drier surfaces (great for playing the game of golf) with a mixture of grass species rather than a monoculture (be that Fescue, Bent or Poa). This will then enable us to have more climatic and disease resilience within our sward going forward. That I believe is the future for golf in Europe if it is to prevail and I for one believe it will. Looking amongst the crowds this weekend at The British Masters, there were plenty of youngsters queueing up for player autographs and following their player round the course. These are our future players.

In a worst case scenario, if we have high disease pressure in October and get bad scarring, we may be waiting till May the next year to get those surfaces back to tip-top condition (if we have a cool, dry spring that is). So effectively a golfer will be playing on sub-standard surfaces from October till May, that’s 7 months of a 12-month calendar year. Do you think this is financially viable ? I don’t, particularly when we’re seeing the changing of the guard in terms of golfers and how they play golf. (Nomadic rather than fixed golfers)

The image below shows the advantages of a polystand (probably not the right terminology but what I’m referring to is a mixture of species) with Microdochium damage in a patch of Poa that’s surrounded by bentgrass. The fact that there’s a mixture of grasses means that the disease in the Poa can’t move as easily to the next patch of Poa because there’s a more disease resistant species (bent) in-between and this lessens the severity and damage. This is where I think we need to be thinking and if you’re there already, congratulations you’re ahead of the game 🙂


Late season slots

With a dry summer for some and a dry autumn as well, I’m seeing lots of newly-germinated weeds out on fairways and the like. The quiet days at the end of this week will probably provide the last slot for doing some selective herbicide treatment knocking back the weeds whilst the grass is still actively growing. I’d combine it (if they all mix well that is) with a liquid fertiliser and iron so you get good colour, recovery and better uptake / knock-down on your weed species.

Ok that’s it for this week, there won’t be a blog next week because I’m taking a few days off to recharge my batteries, so I’ll be back on the last day of this month for my next blog.

All the best.

Mark Hunt



October 10th


Hi All,

A chilly Monday morning to start the week with our second ground frost. We are set in a very unusual pattern of weather at present with an easterly aspect to the wind and so dominated by a contintental rather than an Atlantic airflow. As usual in life there are positives and negatives for us all, it’s dry and that’s a boon as normally on turf this time of year it’s ‘wet leaves and worm casts’, but it’s colder as well. This may well be the first year for awhile when we don’t have a very warm end to the month, but of course things can change. (and probably will :))

The reason for this change in weather pattern is of course down to our old friend, the jet stream, which is currently weak and fragmented so it won’t be whistling those Atlantic storm systems over any time just yet.

The image below shows how it currently sits vs. a strong winter jet stream which pulls over wet weather.


Images courtesy of NetWeather

So how is this week looking for us all ?

General Weather Situation

Well if I picked a word to describe this week’s weather feature it would be like describing a Formula One race….DULL….(How they manage to make a highlight program stretch to more than an hour is beyond me)

With low pressure swirling cloud over us and the origin of the current wind flow somewhere over a cool Poland, it’s no surprise then that Monday’s forecast features a lot of cloud cover. Some of which is heavy enough to bring showers this morning to Donegal and later Connacht. For the U.K, it’s a cold, calm start with light winds picking up through the morning and some breaks in an otherwise dull cloudscape. There’s a ridge of rain sitting all the way along the east coast of the U.K from Newcastle to Kent and at present it looks like it may just move inland off The North Sea to bring showers to eastern areas this afternoon. Winds will be light and northerly intially but will pick up strength through the morning. If you’re lucky you may see some breaks in the cloud cover this afternoon. So a mix of cloud, some rain showers for the west of Ireland and east coast of England, but otherwise a nice, but cool autumn day. Temperature-wise we will just break into the teens in most places after a low single-figure start, but Monday night will be milder with that cloud cover.

Onto Tuesday and very little change really with some rain pushing in off The Humber and Wash inland, probably no further west than the A1 (in my experience) and some breaks in the cloud, the further west you sit, so Wales may enjoy a sunny Tuesday morning experience. Again the highest risk of rain will be along eastern coasts and particularly the north east which inherits the thickest cloud cover for Tuesday with it being heavy enough to bring rain through the morning and afternoon.  That wind will now be in the north east and moderate in strength, so it’ll feel cool in it and not much warmer out of it. Dry for a lot of areas again though so I’ll take that.

Moving into mid-week and Wednesday another largely dry and dull day with some breaks in the cloud likely across the west country and Wales, but otherwise it’s a re-run of Tuesday. Any risk of rain will still be confined to The North East and perhaps some showers coming off The Wash again. Ireland should be largely dry with perhaps a chance of a break in the cloud across east Leinster during the afternoon. For Scotland, another dull with thick cloud obscuring the sun and keeping things on the cool side I’m afraid. Winds will now be set easterly and that’s why we are experiencing all this cloud cover.

Moving onto Thursday and a total copy of Wednesday so dull with the best chance of breaks in the cloud across Ireland and the west coast of England. If anything there’s likely to be more cloud cover across the south of England during the day so this will peg temperatures down to low double figures I’m afraid. The wind may again push in showers across The Wash, Humber and North East of England during the morning. Still easterlies in charge but maybe a tad lighter in wind strength.

Closing out a dull as dishwater week, Friday looks to be slightly different as shock horror we see a change in the wind direction to southerlies and that will herald a change in our weather, but not a significant one. Friday will see a rain front push into west and north Connacht in time for the morning rush hour and this rain band will move slowly south and east across country during Friday morning so a wet end to the week of Ireland. It is however projected to be a narrow band so east and west of it will be dry. This band of rain will push into the west and north west of Scotland by late morning / lunchtime and move slowly eastwards giving a potentially wet end to the day for the south west of Scotland in particular, but I’d expect most of it to be wet apart from the north east tip of Aberdeenshire. South and east of this rain we will see a dull day in the south but with some breaks likely to reveal watery autumn sunshine so all is not lost young Phillip. There may be some rain showers affecting the south west and south coasts of England through Friday morning as well. Winds lighter on Friday so it’ll feel just a tad warmer, esepcially if the sun shows its face.

Onto the all-important weekend and Saturday doesn’t look great especially for the western coast of the U.K as that vertical band of rain which affected Ireland on Friday has moved eastwards overnight, so early doors Saturday it’ll stretch from the south west of England, up through Wales and all the way to the north of Scotland. To the west of it, Ireland looks like having a largely dry Saturday with some sunny intervals across the east coasts and maybe some light showers across the west. During Saturday morning that rain will move slowly eastwards but fizzle out as it does so, so maybe not reaching The Midlands and the central regions of England. Further north, it’s likely that Scotland and the north of England sees that rain move slowly across from west to east through the day I’m afraid. Tricky to call really as it’s likely to change through the week and will either move more or less eastwards than forecast today and this is due to a low pressure system moving up from The Bay of Biscay (the one I warned about last week). It should feel milder though.

Sunday sees that low pressure begin to push a more showery, but crucially milder feel to the weather for the east and south of England and those showers maybe preceded by the odd thunderstorm, probably not till the afternoon though so maybe some sunshine to start the day but they’ll be rain around as well, especially p.m. Since the low pressure is southerly-orientated, it’s likely that the further north and west you are you’ll miss the worst of its initial focus. So another dull day I think for many with the highest chance of seeing some sun across the west and north west with a chilly north easterly wind as a companion.

Weather Outlook

The start of next week is pretty straight-forward to forecast because with low pressure sitting in the Bay of Biscay it’ll funnel easterly winds with rain across the U.K, so I’m predicting a cool and wet start to next week I’m afraid. As we progress through the first part of the week, that’s the way it’s set with a continuing easterly / south-easterly airstream (that’ll be three weeks now) pushing sunshine and showers across the U.K, but with more emphasis on the east and south. The rain wil begin to slink away as we get into Wednesday and temperature-wise it could well be that the north and west sits slightly warmer as they’re furthest away from that low pressure system. They are however likely to pick up a low pressure system pushing rain and westerly wind in from later on next week, maybe Thursday onwards. Tricky thereafter as most of the models disagree, some say a more northerly aspect to the wind will pull that low down, others say an Atlantic high pressure will pull in and stabilise the weather. I’ll go with the latter.

Agronomic Notes


With two air frosts so far this October, it certainly is a colder than usual start to the autumn or it feel like it anyway. That said when I look back at last year’s temperature and wind stats we did have a drier than normal start to October in 2015 and the reason was precisely the same as this year, an easterly / south easterly airstream due to a fragmented jet stream.

We also dipped close to freezing at night in the first part of October 2015, so before we all start heralding this as the forerunner of a severe winter because the current weather is making your ears and tip of your nose tingle, let’s not forget that last November and December were the mildest on record ! (see air temperature stats below)


From a turf maintenance perspective you’ve got to take this type of weather over the alternative, a westerly mild and wet airstream which brings higher humidity and for sure more disease pressure. So I’m happy to write at present that I’d expect disease pressure to be reasonably low this week with maybe an increase on the cards towards the end of the week.

In terms of applied fungicide longevity, with the cooler temperatures and hence slower growth rate, I’d be expecting your fungicide’s efficacy to be extended through this month so no rush to apply anytime soon if you’re in week 2 or 3 of an application but do keep an eye out this weekend if we get that predicted hike in temperature and rainfall as well.


Uptake Window

You can see this uptake window quite clearly in the GDD / G.P information on Meteoturf with a significant increase expected over the weekend along with some rainfall as well. If you are due your next application (i.e say you’re coming to the end of week 4 since your last application) then you will pick up good activity if you’re able (wind strength) to apply prior to this coming weekend.

The same applies to nutrition, if you have areas where you’re scheduled to make a granular application then applying prior to this weekend will be ideal because with rainfall and temperature, you should gain a good response.

Insect Damage


With this autumn likely to be our last with Cabendazim (though Ireland lost it awhile ago) and our first without Chlorpyrifos, it’s sure going to be interesting seeing what Mother Nature has in store for us over the coming winter and spring. Can’t say I noticed the ‘plague’ of Daddy Long Legs predicted 3 weeks ago, so let’s hope the cooler weather will work against activity going forward though a number of clubs are reporting significant Chafer Grub activity with Badger damage the main issue relating to that. Unfortunately I can’t see any chemical replacement for either on the horizon, Brexit or no Brexit 🙁

Short and sweet this week..

All the best.

Mark Hunt


October 3rd


Hi All,

autumnIt’s very definitely autumn and what a quick transition this year with the leaves almost starting to turn on a light switch, one minute we were mid-20’s and in summer, the next we are having our first grass frost here in The Midlands and for some parts of the south as well.

I love autumn with all of its colours and smells, it’s a cracking time of year unless of course you have lots of leaves on your golf course or sports facility and you spend a life blowing them off and collecting them 🙁

It’ll be a short blog this week because I’m up against it time-wise so please bear with me if I start the weather week from Tuesday morning. No great shakes because aside from a heavy rain front that’s nudging the west coast of Ireland today, everywhere else is dry and some of us are having a lovely autumnal day….

General Weather Situation

So starting from Tuesday morning and we see that heavy rain front slowly edging eastwards across Ireland and because it is slow-moving it means it’ll give some very heavy rain in some parts of the west of Ireland. Moving eastwards to the U.K and we have a dull start to the day with more cloud cover so a much milder start than Monday morning when I had to scrape the frost off my car at 5.30 a.m. (Yes Angus sometimes I do get up earlier than even you 🙂 ).

As we progress through the morning that cloud cover breaks from the east coast to present another fine autumn day and that band of rain over the west of Ireland decides it’s not welcome and moves off west to leave behind a reasonable second part of the day there as well. So we see average temperatures for this time of year, mid to high teens, particularly in the south of England, it will be the warmest day of the week with a moderate south easterly wind.

Moving swiftly onto Wednesday and we see another fine dry day, a cooler start because of the lack of cloud cover on the preceding evening but most places enjoying unbroken sunshine, again starting from the east coast and moving inland. As hinted above, it’ll be a little cooler on Wednesday due to a brisker south easterly wind taking the edge off the temperature.

A similar picture for Thursday with perhaps more in the way of cloud cover for the east coast this time as a bit of Haar blows in off The North Sea. Otherwise fine, dry and dandy with temperatures reaching the mid-teens again for most areas, maybe a little lower if you’re under that cloud cover. The wind will sit in the east and will slacken off a little from the previous day but we will see the highest temperatures across the west of the U.K, with Scotland and Ireland low teens, typical of this time of year.

Closing off the week we see more North Sea Haar make an appearance on Friday pushing a belt of thick, but narrow cloud over the country. This may be heavy enough in places to give a spot of drizzle or fine rain. East and west of this, we’ll see some breaks in the cloud cover and some sunshine so all is not lost. As is often the case when we have an easterly wind in situ, the warmest, mildest regions are to the west, so mid to high-teens for the south west of England and Wales maybe and 2-3°C cooler than that inland and on the east coast.

Onto the all-important weekend and a similar picture for Saturday with cloud blowing in off The North Sea, so staying cool especially on eastern coasts and again inland that cloud may be heavy enough for some drizzle / light rain here and there. With an easterly wind in charge, even a light one, it’ll mean cooler and dull for the weekend with temperatures just nudging the teens, but it will be dry with the best chance of any sunny breaks across the west.

Weather Outlook

With Unisys Weather not quite back up to working order with it’s 10-day forecast only making it to 6 days currently :(, we’re going to have to rely on Netweather’s 10-day GFS prediction.  Incidentally have you ever tried to get in touch with a large American company to ask them what’s going on ?….my advice, talk to your hand because it’s just as effective :(.

So next week at this stage is looking fine and settled with high pressure dominating, but there’s a potential fly in the ointment that I’ll highlight as a potential caveat 🙂

It comes in the form of a sneaky Bay of Biscay low pressure set to form mid-week, next week and it’s going to be a battle between this weather system and a continental high pressure to see which one holds sway towards the end of next week. So calm, dry, misty, maybe even foggy and sometimes dull because of that prevailing south easterly / easterly wind direction which will dictate cloud cover and hence night time and day time temperatures. The wind will pick up I think towards the end of next week as these two systems butt up against each other and time (and next week’s blog) will comment on the outcome.

Agronomic Notes


It’s the first blog of the month so automatically Wendy launches into action and has produced her usual output for the Thame location 🙂


So what does GDD tell us for September from this location ?

Well with a recorded monthly total of 318.5, it was the warmest September we’ve recorded by some margin since we started collating data in 2010. We will look more closely at the GDD and Growth Potential information a little later in this blog.

Here’s some data from Irish locations and you can see they also enjoyed a pretty reasonable September with not quite the temperatures we did over here but still nice all the same…


You can see why September would be a great aeration month because it still carries good soil and air temperature and interestingly the relationship between August and September holds despite the different locations across the U.K and Ireland. That is to say on average September is approximately 15% cooler than August so we still have good recuperative potential if we’re aerating. I say ‘if’ because September is nowadays one of the busiest months in the calendars for golf courses and so quite rightly most will not entertain aeration work and potential revenue disruption in this month. I say quite rightly because after all it’s the last big revenue input before the autumn / winter with October more of a weather lottery than September.

September 2016 – A tricky month to manage grass….

I think September 2016 wasn’t exactly a straight-forward month to manage grass because we had two distinctly different types of weather and as usual they brought baggage in the form of disease and plant stress.

The first type of weather combination was warm nights and high humidity, which meant the plant leaf stayed wet for prolonged periods. Anyone who has followed this blog will know that this combination of humidity, temperature and leaf wetness is a key driver for disease and specifically Microdochium (old man’s Fusarium), Dollar Spot, Red Thread, Superficial Fairy RIng and to a certain extent, Anthracnose Foliar Blight. You can clearly see on the graph when we experienced this combination of climatic conditions  during September.


So we had high disease pressure in September and not only on golf courses but on sports pitches where Red Thread and Leaf Spot were abundant.

We also had a fair degree of plant stress and as we know this is a key driver for one of the most damaging turfgrass diseases – Anthracnose Foliar Blight. Again we can see why this disease continued to present a problem in September 2016, a repeat incidentally of September 2014 in this respect with high day time air temperatures and high evapotranspiration as well.


There were a number of periods when we had high daytime temperatures and high E.T loss from the sward so ordinarily we’d want to irrigate to replace the moisture that has been lost from the rootzone and therefore reduce plant stress. The reason I think life was made trickier in September this year was because this period came straight after or before periods when the leaf was wet and night’s were mild. So we went from no irrigation required to irrigation required and back again in short succession.

It was also warm but we sometimes didn’t need to irrigate….

Talking of irrigation, at the end of September (29th Sept actually) we also had some high day time temperatures but low E.T because we were humid and that meant although it felt warm we didn’t need to irrigate because the plant was not losing moisture to the atmosphere because it was already close to being saturated. Another tricky one to manage and this brings me onto an areas we have talked about before, irrigation…Now I appreciate it is a strange topic to discuss going into October but hopefully it’s food for thought for next year…

Most people irrigate in minutes of run time and that means diddly squat when it comes to replacing the correct amount of moisture in the rootzone. If you’re fortunate to have a weather station then you can use your E.T readings to give you a bearing on how much water is required by irrigation.

If you don’t have one, you can use the estimated daily / weekly E.T on Meteoturf (for example) for your location. So if we look at this week coming up, we can see that E.T loss is low (5mm for the whole week compared to 30mm in a hot, dry week) so even though it’s dry,  there’s precious need to irrigate. (Not surprising really as it is October)


So how much to use ?

Typically I start on a 50% replacement of daily E.T basis, so if we’ve had a 4mm E.T day and the rootzone has dried out, I’d look to replace 2mm of that moisture using the irrigation system and then hand water ridges and any dry spots. Any higher than that and you end up with over-watered surfaces or parts of surfaces.

Now I accept a lot of people in this industry don’t have the budget for a weather station nor the time to sit and record stats, but honestly going forward this is one of the biggest areas of improvement of turf management. We have to know what’s going on with soil moisture and how much to replace or not to replace, we can’t just sit there and irrigate on run time regardless because that’s what we’ve always done.

Soil moisture levels drive disease, cutting height, plant stress, greens playability, thatch production, nutrition, pretty much everything we have to manage and yet we know so little about what we are doing in some cases.  My suggestion is to look at purchasing a moisture meter so you can see how efficient (or inefficient for that matter) your irrigation system is. You can use one to change sprinkler run times accordingly, rotation from 360° to 180° (or vice-versa) and / or fit more efficient sprinklers if they’re required. (if coverage is poor for example). Yes, there’s an initial cost to this but you will save money in the long run I assure you, either by reduction of irrigation (because you actually need less than you think you need) or by drying out the rootzone you have less disease pressure (as one example).

9 out of 10 people I know that have brought a moisture meter are surprised how long they can actually go without needing to irrigate. My last words on irrigation for this year…”If you don’t measure, you can’t manage”

Ok off my extremely battered Soap Box and onto matters in hand…the next few weeks..

Disease pressure what else ?

Normally the first two weeks of October represent the start of the Microdochium nivale season in earnest but this year will be different I think. Many end-users have had to apply a preventative / curative fungicide early this autumn because of the higher disease pressure in September (for reasons I have already covered) but looking ahead our disease pressure will be lower than normal for this time of year because we’ll be dry (hopefully). That means you can potentially hold off the next application till we see moisture on the horizon in combination with mild night time temperatures (It’s this combination that drives the most aggressive disease outbreaks) and then apply. For the moment I’d just keep things ticking with light foliars and iron, maintaining plant health but not promoting lush growth nor leaving the plant hanging. (weak)

Ok that’s it for this week, a late one because I was elsewhere from early this morning and so I’m now playing catch up  (Poor management of my own !)

Enjoy the autumn sunshine, kick a few leaves around and have a good week.

Mark Hunt