Monthly Archives: November 2016

November 28th


Hi All,

Wow, hasn’t November flown by, this week we tip toe into December and our last month of 2016. And the good news is that rather than high pressure breaking down this week into a cold, northerly low, we look to carry on this dry and settled weather throughout the whole week 🙂

That will be especially good news for everyone that had the tumoltuous rain at the beginning of last week that caused flooding and closed venues particularly down the south west of England and Wales. We had 50mm here over the two days including one period when 14mm fell in 30 minutes, but I know some of you hit over 100mm in the south west. Ironically Ireland where I was last week missed all of it for a nice change and was cold and dry 🙂

So without further ado, onto this week’s weather…

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have a cool, dry day pretty much everywhere across the U.K and Ireland with some cloud cover in the south of England keeping temperatures over freezing through the night. The further north you go, the more likely you are waking up to a frost on the ground. As we progress through the day, this thin layer of cloud breaks to give long spells of winter sunshine. Temperatures will be mid-single to high-single figures and the wind will maintain its easterly orientation, light to moderate in places.

Clearing skies and a winter high pressure system mean only one thing and that’s frost going into Monday night / Tuesday morning from the north of England south likely to be worst affected by much will depend on cloud cover in your location. Ireland and Scotland look to retain some cloud cover so you may miss a ground frost here. During Tuesday morning, a weak rain front is set to push into north west Scotland and sink slowly south along the west of Scotland bringing light rain, sleet and snow to higher ground. By tea time it has fizzled out to just a few snow showers over the Western Highlands. With thicker cloud cover over Ireland there’s a risk of some mizzly rain for Donegal and Connacht during the morning as well. Away from Scotland and Ireland we look to have another cold, bright and dry winters day with a penetrating frost in the south of England I think. Much lighter winds now, south to south easterly in orientation and similar temperatures with nowhere likely to break double figures. By the evening we see cloud cover extend south over northern England and The Midlands.

Moving onto Wednesday we have clear skies and another ground frost across the south of England right up to The Midlands and inclusing South Wales. Further north for northern England, North Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the cloud cover may just prevent a frost again but morning temperatures will be close to freezing nonetheless. From dawn expect to see some more rain in the far north west of Scotland and thicker cloud which will sink south to give heavy drizzle / light rain again across west and Central Scotland during the morning. Aside from this, the south and east of England looks to see most of the sun on this day with cloud cover and hazy sunshine for more central and northerly regions. By Wednesday evening we see another weak band of rain and thicker cloud push into Scotland and move slowly south pushed along on a freshening moderate to gusty westerly wind now. Despite the change in wind direction to westerly I don’t expect to see much milder temperatures for Wednesday with mid to high-single digits the order of the day everywhere.

Moving onto Thursday and we see more in the way of cloud cover in general for the U.K and Ireland with that weak rain front persisting over Northern Scotland pretty much through the entire day. Areas with overnight cloud should just miss another ground frost on Wednesday night / Thursday morning. A cloudier day everywhere then for Thursday with a moderate to gusty north west wind in situ as well, possibly stronger in the north I think. That cloud cover will raise temperatures just a little to high single figures but nothing to write home about really. A dull, dry and cold day just about sums it up.

Closing out what looks to be a fairly uneventful week meteorologically-speaking, Friday looks to be a re-run of Thursday with cloud cover over most of the U.K and Ireland. Again we will see some rain over the far north of Scotland and along the north east of Scotland in particular. That is the exception to the dry picture everywhere else though but with thicker cloud we could expect to see some mizzly drizzle along north eastern coasts as well. Dull with a capital ‘D’ just about sums it up, but crucially ‘D’ for dry and that’s what matters at this time of year in our game doesn’t it ? Winds will be lighter on Friday and from the north west still, but set to change I think.

Looking ahead to the all important weekend and the annual trudge around the shops looking for Black December bargains on goods that will cost you less just a day after Christmas (You’d think we’d wise up by now wouldn’t you?) or alternatively boot up the PC, do it all online while sipping a cuppa and miss out on all the crap associated with Christmas Shopping (Bah Humbug I hear you cry) .  Well it’s going to be cold, dry and perhaps a tad brighter in the south of England on Saturday / Sunday.  Winds will be light and a mixture of easterly for the south of the U.K and southerly for northern regions. Ireland looks to be a tad milder with some sunshine through the weekend and higher single figure digits for you 🙂 Again we’re dry and for that we can rejoice, get up early and go for a lovely winter walk with frost likely to be crunching under your feet on Sunday morning in particular if Saturday night is clear of cloud for you. (That’ll be my modus operandi for sure now I’ve put the fly rods down for the winter 🙁 ) Expect mid-single figures at best in most places and a change to light westerly winds on Sunday.

Weather Outlook

So is it possible that with nearly two weeks of pretty dry weather tucked under our belts coming into December we can continue the run ? Remember last year we scarcely had two days of dry weather during November and December !

I think realistically the odds are against it however if you look at this weeks prognosis, last week we were set to plunge into a very deep low pressure system and instead this has been pushed down to the east of us into central Europe and we have got high pressure. Next week this high pressure is under attack from two sides, the north west and the north east but ironically that could mean it stays in situ, squeezed between the two. Not before some unsetlled weather though.

So next week looks like starting as we finished with high pressure in charge but they’ll be a change on the cards as the wind will swing round to the south west during Tuesday with western areas (Ireland) feeling that change first.  South westerlies in winter mean mild and wet and so I think we’ll see rain for Ireland next Tuesday and this will push diagonally up into Scotland through the course of Tuesday. By Wednesday I think the rain will be into Wales and the remainder of the U.K, possibly clearing Ireland and Scotland as it does so. It will feel much milder across all areas with that Atlantic air stream. By Thursday the main rain band should have passed with perhaps still some unsettled weather further north but we now have high pressure beginning to re-exert itself so that means cooler with a change to a stronger, more northerly air stream by the end of the week so pretty Baltic by the weekend after next I’d think if that pans out.

Agronomic Notes

Root Growth and Winter Aeration


Now I know a lot of you are busy wth winter projects at present and enjoying the dry conditions of last week (after the rain) and this coming week but if you have time then now I believe is a good time to encourage root growth. The schematic above is simplistic of course and I think out-dated because our seasons don’t always (often) follow the ‘roots in spring, lose them in summer and build them in the autumn’ rules of turfgrass root growth.

When we have cool, dry conditions with mid-single figure air temperatures we often see very little shoot growth (top growth) with mowing taking off a dusting in the boxes but that doesn’t mean the plant is not growing. So whereas shoot growth takes a back seat at these sort of temperatures, root growth carries on right down to freezing I think with the cooler season grasses. How many times have you laid turf on the ground in cold conditions only to see new roots pushing out of the surface fibre into an oxygen-rich atmosphere ?


So using the vertidrain or other deep soil decompactors is I think appropriate at present if your ground conditions allow you to do so. For those of you who were caught with the 50-100mm of rain early last week  this may not be an option but it’s amazing how quickly surfaces have dried since that rain with the windy and cool weather after the rain event.

In order to make these roots the plant will need some nutrition in place and hopefully this was in order prior to this week because with frost in the early part of the week it won’t make planning a light feed in easy, much will depend upon cloud cover and the potential for night frosts. This is where longer-term winter nutrition really pays for itself because if the plant has nutrition available prior to this period of cool weather (i.e nutrient was taken up when it was milder) then it will partition this nutrient towards the part of the plant that is likely to grow. In this case it is biased towards root growth rather than shoot growth.

Why haven’t I got much root ?

Achieving and more importantly keeping good root development is I think one of the hardest challenges of turfgrass maintenance.

There are numerous factors that affect root growth and any one of them can contribute to poor rooting even though others are firmly in place within your maintenance program. I’m not going to run off a list of all of them but briefly cover the one that I find on my travels contributes most to shallow rooting.

Surface Organic Matter


Definitely the most-often cause of poor rooting in my books. Not just depth of surface organic matter but more often than not the nature of that fibre. What I mean by that is a compacted surface fibre layer with low amounts of topdressing sand integrated through the profile will present a tough, physical barrier for root development. You can very easily look at this yourself by cutting out a wedge from your surface and pulling it apart slowly. If you see white, lateral (horizontal) roots then there is clearly a barrier to vertical root progression down the profile. Take the tip of a knife and push it into the area under the surface and assess the resistance. If it is firm and difficult to penetrate then that is why you have shallow rooting. It will also be the reason why you’ll see very little benefit from overseeding because if the existing plant can’t develop a root down through this compact fibre layer, how do you expect a new plant to do so ?

A little story…

I once visited a site where they were overseeding fairways and they had just such a layer in the surface and they were overseeding with a Fescue / Rye mix. They had no fairway irrigation and were a very dry site, often experiencing some of the highest temperatures in the summer. After a very good autumn take from drill seeding I expected great results going into the summer, confident that the drought-tolerance of the Fescue would perhaps tip sward populations in its favour. The summer was hot with temperatures in the mid-thirties for an extended period in July so when I visited in late August I was interested to see how the newly-overseeded sward had stood up. The answer was not very well indeed and conversely the plant species that had survived best was Ryegrass, not Fescue.

Why I wondered when we all know how drought-tolerant the latter species is ?

The answer was related not to drought tolerance but plant vigour. The ryegrass had managed to push its roots down through the surface fibre layer and into the clay beneath and survived because it is a more vigorous species. The Fescue had not developed roots through the fibre and so was subjected to the worst of the heat and moisture stress. A lesson learned for me, not just in terms of drought tolerance, but also plant vigour and the role of surface fibre on rooting. The latter isn’t anti-Fescue, it’s a field-based observation from one site that illustrates the role of surface organic matter in the success or otherwise of overseeding.

Organic Matter Distribution

If you do check your surfaces, don’t just pick one place on a green for example because surface fibre depth will vary according to traffic routes with heavier traffic routes showing less fibre than less used areas. (see image above)


One last point on surface organic matter if you are seeing thatch fungus. In my experience there are species of Basidiomycetes that are active right down to low single figure temperatures so don’t be surprised to see evidence of Superficial Fairy Ring and Thatch Collapse during the coming winter months.

Disease Activity

With humidity levels falling through last week after the rain event and continuing to drop now into the 80’s, it will mean a lowering of disease pressure everywhere I think. I can’t stress enough how having a wet plant leaf is a driver for pathogen development but with high pressure in place and a continuation of drying winds through this week for many, I think we will see disease pressure drop off nicely. If the forecast is accurate and we pick up milder, wetter weather for a portion of next week then that is the time to watch carefully for any ‘flare ups’ particularly on existing scars. It would take a brave man to say we are through the worst of it but I think with the way the winter has played out so far and no set jet stream pattern on the horizon to flip us into mild and wet weather, that may indeed be the case. On the flipside if you have heavy scarring and therefore a high disease population in situ, you will see periods of activity from now on 🙁

OK that’s me done for another week…

All the best…

Mark Hunt






November 21st


Hi All,

What a miserable morning to be typing this blog, barely light outside and the rain gauge has already passed 15mm overnight to add to the 20mm of Saturday night / Sunday morning. Apparently this one is called Storm Angus, now I could make a few jokes here because some of us know a certain wee man of the same name but I’ll stop short in the interests of future relations :).

It’s a really slow-moving storm this one because it’s sitting in a trough in the jet stream, exactly as described in last week’s blog so it is slowly revolving around its axis and dumping rain.

I took 3 screen shots from NetWeather’s excellent V7 rain radar overnight and you can see its really slow progression from last night to this morning…


The good news is once it’s passed we have a bit more tomorrow and then we go dry for maybe a week. Now already that’s different from last year because when we went wet last November / December, one of the stand out issues was the lack of drying days with no rainfall, i.e they were few and far between. A week of drying easterly winds could be just what the doctor ordered for the battered south of the U.K.


On the plus side, (trying to be positive) we are now only a month away from the Winter Solstice so after that the sun begins climbing again on the horizon, albeit slowly 🙂

General Weather Situation

So no surprise to say we start and in some places finish Monday wet but it isn’t the case  everywhere because this storm is very much a southern-orientated jobbie. So Scotland and Ireland start the day dry as does the north of England. The path of Angus is north though so it won’t be dry all day where you start dry if you get my meaning. So early afternoon has the rain stretching from the south coast of England all the way up to close on Newcastle with the heaviest rain over The South West and Wales I am afraid to say. Scotland and Ireland though start cold and dry with a harsh frost in the former and you’ll have long spells of winter sunshine for most of Monday. That rain is moving very slowly so I don’t expect it to clear the south coast till the evening and reach Scotland till overnight Tuesday. With temperatures on the low side it could easily turn to wintry showers over the higher ground of The Pennines, The Lakes and The Borders. Winds will be blustery and from the east initially swinging round to the south through the day but it won’t feel that mild I’m afraid with mid to high-single figures under that rain. You may just hit double figures in the south of England but it won’t feel that jolly.

Overnight into Tuesday that band of rain is still affecting the U.K and it’s possible the eastern side of it may dip a toe into Leinster bringing a mix of rain and wintry showers overnight and for the morning rush hour. By this time it’ll be into Scotland and potentially heaviest on the east side with again a mix of rain, sleet and snow forecast. Further south it won’t be totally dry with some vestige of rain over Wales, the south of England and The Midlands through Tuesday morning with perhaps the south east of England starting and staying dry. By early afternoon we have rain affecting Wales, The Midlands, north of England all the way up to Scotland with possibly the west of Scotland staying dry. Ireland looks set to miss it again so apart from some rain and wintry showers over East Leinster early doors, it should be a dry, bright and cold day on Tuesday. Similar temperatures to Monday with high single figures, possibly just breaking into the double digits in the south of England and a strong to blustery south wind in the south and north wind in the north.

By mid-week, we have a much better weather picture I am pleased to say as high pressure pushes in and moves Angus up north where he belongs (having fun on this one). So Wednesday should start dry for many places with the exception being a possibility of showers over the south west of England and the last part of Angus stubbornly refusing to leave the north east coast of England and Scotland. (Angus ? stubborn ? nah 🙂 ) Plenty of cloud about though particularly for eastern and central regions but Ireland, the west and later Scotland should see some long spells of winter sunshine. The reason for the cloud cover is a change in the wind direction to more north easterly direction and that’ll push in Haar off The North Sea so dry, dull and cool on Wednesday for central, southern and eastern regions. Lighter winds on Wednesday though so not a bad day, just a bit drab for some. Where you see the sun you’ll be up to high single figures but only mid-single figures under it 🙁

For Thursday we have a dry day everywhere with again plenty of cloud cover across central and southern areas. Scotland and Ireland will stand the best chance of seeing the sun but even here it’ll cloud over later. That wind will pick up strength and blow from the north east so it’ll be breezy, cold, but dry and after the beginning of the week, that’s just what we need. The same looks to be true for Friday, with more in the way of cloud cover for areas previously sunny like Ireland and Scotland. Dry again though for Friday with similar temperatures and wind direction, i.e high single figures in a strong to moderate north easterly wind. It should be a good drying wind though. There is a possibility that some of that cloud cover coming in from The Humber and The Wash will be thick enough to fall as a mizzly, drizzle.

Looking ahead to the weekend and on the whole it looks like a continuation of Thursday and Friday, that is dry, dull and cool with very little in the way of sunshine as lots of cloud cover is pushed across the U.K and Ireland on a slightly lighter north east wind. Again some of that cloud cover may be thick enough to fall as drizzle and light rain along eastern coasts.

Weather Outlook

So I think next week will start out pretty similar to the weekend, that is dry and settled with plenty of cloud cover. As we progress into Tuesday we see the first signs of change over Scotland as a northerly low pressure system begins to edge its way in and then push down from Scotland through Wednesday bringing a more unsettled feel to the weather for the north and west. It should feel slightly milder as the wind swings round to the south west but because this is another northerly low pressure system, maybe not. By Thursday I think we will have showers of rain, possibly falling as sleet and snow over the higher ground of Scotland and Northern England accompanied by a strong north westerly wind. So closing out next week and into the weekend I think we will be unsettled and possibly milder as a stronger westerly air stream takes over at the weekend. Mild and westerly winds in the winter usually only mean one thing though and that could be more rain 🙁

Agronomic Notes



First off another thank you to Tracey Walker and all at the BIGGA team for the invite to speak at and the organisation of the South West and South Wales BIGGA Regional Conference. It was a well-attended event and hopefully useful for everyone who made the effort with some very good speakers (aside from me that is). I’m also grateful to James at Long Ashton and Richard at Burnham for the local weather data that allowed me to make comparisons relevant to the attending audience, cheers lads, appreciated. That’s pretty much the last of my talks now for this year so you can all relax now 🙂

Disease Pressure

The one benefit of our cool and wet and then cool and dry weather outlook will be a lessening of disease pressure with none of the high night temperature / high humidity scenarios experienced last week.


The data from Long Ashton clearly shows the 3 peaks in grass growth and also disease populations this autumn culminating in last weeks hIgh disease pressure period when night temperatures and day temperatures were pretty much equivalent.

It is these peaks that have to be managed going forward with a limited but effective (I believe) range of fungicides available to the end -user. Stop the Microdochium nivale population establishing during this period and you’ll be more assured of lower disease pressure thereafter. On the flip-side if you have incurred some scarring during this period then I’d have expected to see renewed activity around the circumference of the disease scar last week for reasons I have explained before. Thankfully with this week’s temperature reduction and from Wednesday, lower humidity (due to strong north easterly winds) I think we will have weathered the worst for the time-being.


You can see the outlook for grass growth over the next week is minimal with a total of 1.0 for this location in Berkshire, 0.1 for Central Scotland (not a lot happening there then!), 0.4 for Leinster and 0.2 for Limerick over in Ireland. In other words, little growth and little opportunity to do anything about it anyway because of the strengthening wind later this week. (so no spray days until next week I’d say and then it’ll only be for a short interval)

For this reason I’d expect to see some of the other pathogens out and about last week which included Red Thread, Superficial Fairy Ring / Thatch Collapse, Pink Patch, Ectoparasitic Nematodes and the like, to be put to bed and a lessening of their negative effect on the plant.

Dry Autumn / Salty Boreholes !

Not for everyone this, but an email and some water sample results from a colleague over in the east of England reminded of a scenario I hadn’t seen or heard of for years.

During very dry summer and autumn periods it is a fact that in some locations the freshwater table shrinks inland and is followed inland by the salt water table from the sea. This can have the unwelcome consequence of a golf or sports clubs borehole suddenly changing from freshwater to brackish water if they’re located close (ish) to the sea. I’ve noted this in South Wales, the North East of England, Essex and Kent before. Now although it sounds quite dramatic, the issue rarely has serious consequences because although sodium levels rise, if there are good levels of calcium and magnesium also present, then the sodium is buffered and doesn’t present an issue. (This relationship is measured by the Sodium Absorption Ratio or SAR for short)

If calcium and magnesium levels are low though, you will see an accumulation of sodium in the profile, in fact in my experience, right at the top of the rootzone profile and this can cause issues with respect to surface root scorch, particularly after application of a quick release fertiliser. (Because it releases additional ions that add to the high background ion level from the sodium and chloride). As the autumn and winter rains arrive, the situation corrects itself as the freshwater table pushes out again towards the sea.

Interesting one that and observed last week in some water samples from the East of England.

Ok that’s me for this week, I hope you weather the storms and the windchill and let’s hope for better things to close out November.

All the best.

Mark Hunt


November 14th


Hi All,

Well we are nearly half way through November already and this week we will see a marked contrast in temperatures, starting off mild with a warm westerly wind in place but by the weekend we’ll have some really chilly northerlies calling the shots and likely snow showers in some areas of the north. Below is the Unisys schematic of today and Saturday to illustrate the difference between the start and end of the week.


Driving home from fishing yesterday evening I noticed how large the moon looked and gather tonight we are in for a 1 in 20 year event when we have a full moon at the same time when it is closest to the earth (and so appears larger), a so-called ‘Super Moon’. Sadly judging by the amount of cloud about I don’t think many of us will get to see it.

So onto our topsy-turvy weather….

General Weather Situation

So as intimated above we have a cloudy start to Monday with very few of us seeing the sun. We have plenty of rain showers around today especially down the west / north west side of the country. Ireland also will see plenty of showers but amounts shouldn’t be too heavy, more like light rain / thick drizzle. The north east of Scotland and England will if they’re lucky see some sunshine later in the day and that might just give them a glimpse of the Super Moon, lucky you. Winds will be from the west, moderate to gusty and that’s what will be rattling those showers against the west coast fo Scotland, England and Wales through the morning especially, but it will be very mild with temperatures hitting 15°C in many areas. Further south those winds will be much lighter.

Onto Tuesday and we have some overnight rain pushing into the west of Scotland, north west of Ireland and this will have moved south by dawn to give rain for the north west of England, North Wales and the south west of Ireland. As we progress through the morning this rain will become isolated to Wales and possibly eastern England with other areas drying up and possibly seeing some hazy sunshine pushing up those temperatures again to the mid-teens. Through the afternoon we will see most of that rain fizzle out with maybe just the possibility of that east coast rain drifting south into the south east of England as we approach dusk. It’ll be another very mild night with temperatures not dipping below 10°C. Winds will continue from the west but later on will drop and swing more northerly.

Mid-week means Wednesday and overnight we see a band of rain push into north west Scotland and drifting south. Some of this rain may indeed be heavy. Likewise we will also see some light rain pushing into Connacht in time for the morning rush hour in Sligo 🙂 Through the morning the rain over Scotland will sink south into north west England but lighten as it does so with areas brightening up after it has passed through. By lunchtime we will see that rain isolated to north west England, West Wales and possibly across the North Devon moors. East of this we look dry with some good breaks in the cloud across the east especially. Ireland looks to have a mainly dry day with just some coastal showers for Connacht. It’ll be cooler though as the wind picks up and begins to draw in some cold air for Scotland so those showers over the north west and Central Scotland will become wintry in nature as we go through the afternoon, especially over higher ground. Cooler down south as well in that strong westerly wind but temperatures are still likely to hit double figures / low teens.

Moving onto Thursday and that cold air begins it’s move southwards pushing a mix of mainly cool rain and some wintry showers across the west of Scotland, England and Wales. Ireland also looks to start Thursday with plenty of rain across the country. Yet again the south and east of the U.K comes out better with dry conditions and some sunshine as well through the day. That western rain stays pretty much entrenched along the western coastline of the U.K stretching all the way from Scotland down to Cornwall. Plenty of showers for Ireland too through the day as well. Feeling much cooler on Thursday as the cold low is sinking south and again it’ll be very windy with tightly-packed isobars. I’d expect a marked drop in temperatures because of the wind chill factor with only mid-single figures over Scotland and high-single figures for England, Wales and Ireland.

Onto Friday and we will see a vestige of showers, now wintry in nature across the west of Scotland, The Lakes, Wales and the south west of England for dawn on Friday. The same for Ireland with the west / south west likely to see showers but a brighter, cold day for the east of Ireland. The same for central and eastern U.K regions with plenty of sunshine around but feeling raw in that strong, cold westerly wind. Through the afternoon those showers over the north west of England may slip slightly inland across The Pennines but this will be the only blot on an otherwise dry and sunny landscape. Cold again though as we are now fully gripped in that northern low pressure system so I think mid-single figures is all you’re likely to get wherever you happen to be. As skies clear temperatures will drop and I think we will see a frost starting off proceedings on Saturday.

Typical really that we have mild weather at the start of the week and then Ice Station Zebra for my last weekend of fly fishing for the season. Expect a bah bah grumpbags Mr Hunt for anyone foolish enough to engage me in conversation this time next week 🙁 So as intimated above a cold Saturday and overnight we will see a mix of rain and wintry showers push into the north west of Scotland and Ireland so by dawn on Saturday we will see this mix of rain and sleet across Ireland, Wales and the north west of England. Maybe also some snow showers across The Highlands as well. It wouldn’t surprise me to see some snow on the tops of the Wicklow Mountains either with a potential for a dusting on Lugnaquilla. Through Saturday this band of wintry showers drifts south and east into northern England and possibly the North Midlands as well. Other areas will be bright, cool and sunny after a sharp frost. Much lighter winds though for Saturday after the strong winds of the preceding week with a change in wind direction to the south west heralding the arrival of a more north westerly low pressure. Sunday looks a drier day for most parts except Ireland where that change in wind direction will push a good lot of rain across the country during the day, maybe a good day to get sorted for Christmas ! By Sunday afternoon that westerly rain will have crossed The Irish Sea and will be affecting the west coast of the U.K, quickly pushing inland through the late afternoon, evening, pushed along on a strengthening south westerly wind. Temperature-wise, nothing to shout about with high-single figures likely initially but they will rise through the day as milder air pushes in so a midl night in store for next Sunday.

Weather Outlook

Not surprising when we finish the weekend with a south westerly low pressure in place that we start next week windy, wet and mild with a lot of rain likely across all areas, but mild for sure. As we progress through the first part of the week the low sinks south and weakens so the winds will be more southerly-orientated but it won’t necessarily remain warm with increasing risk of first I think for the second half of the week. Plenty of rain around as well for the south west and south but because the low is in the south it means Scotland may get the lions share of the drier weather. So starting off mild, getting cooler as we progress through the week and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we get a heavy lump of rain towards the end of next week / weekend.

Agronomic Notes

Thank you…

Before I start the agronomics I’d just like to say thanks to all the lads and lasses in the Devon and Cornwall BIGGA Section for making me feel so welcome last week when I was down that way giving a couple of talks. You’re a long way down for sure from sunny Market Harborough but it was very enjoyable, so thanks Graeme, Jason and Tracey in particular for making it a good day. I will get copies out of my talks later today to anyone who has requested them.


Disease Activity


No surprise really to be talking about disease during November and if you look at the Growth Potential chart above featured on Meteoturf you can see a strong peak for tomorrow due to the mild overnight temperatures and high day time ones as well. Since the atmosphere is humid this will mean very strong disease pressure (I suspect you’ve already seen it overnight) for the start of this week so best keep an eye out. If you suffered from activity at the end of October then it’s likely you’ll see some re-occurrence of this on scarred areas, particularly around the circumference of the scar where the disease population is highest.


It may be worthwhile just putting a little dab of paint on the edge of any larger scars just to see if it’s moving because sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Red Thread

TreatedRT untreatedRT

I’d expect to see some aggressive Red Thread as well with the temperatures and humidity coming over the next couple of days but this should also conincide with a growth flush so we should be cutting it out as quickly as it appears.

Above are two images, the top one had an iron treatment with a smidge of N and the bottom one had nothing. Not the best photo in the world but top centre in the bottom image is aggressive Red Thread mycelium so it shows that turf health still has a part to play with respect to the intensity of Red Thread as a disease.

Once we get to Thursday this week then we should be fine as temperatures will be dropping away and as we saw last week, disease activity follows suit. You may also see a little activity in Anthracnose-affected areas with the wet weekend weather saturating the surface and then mild temperatures promoting fungal growth and it will be more Basal Rot orientated.

Looking ahead I think we will see the same events unfold at the start of next week as well as milder weather pushes in after a chilly interlude. It’ll be tricky to get a good srpay window this week with the rain and also strong winds later in the week so I’m hoping you’ll have everything buttoned up coverage-wise from your fungicide.


Now that we have had some rainfall and temperatures are heading south later in the week, now would be a good time to get granular Mosskiller products out on mossy areas because the moss will be well wetted up and most affected by your iron application.

The same goes for wear areas, pathways from green to tee and the like because soil moisture levels will be up now and so you’ll see some benefit whereas a couple of weeks ago we were still very dry in some places.


I appreciate applying nutrition in the autumn / winter is always tricky but I believe that if your turf health is good, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages and this is especially true on winter season pitches, tees, etc that receive plenty of wear through the winter.


We know that moss for example tends to colonise grass swards aggressively from November to February. This lesson was taught to me many moons ago when we still had the active Diclorophen or Super Mosstox as it was also known. I visited a customer who had applied the product on greens at the beginning of November but had run out so his last green received nothing. When we looked at the same greens in the early spring, the one green without treatment had a much higher moss population. I think during this period of the winter when light levels are low, moss will out-compete grass so if we can hold it back with an iron treatment and at the same time encourage the grass to grow to tip the balance in its favour, I think that will mean less playing catch up in the spring. The latter can also be tricky applying a moss control product in the spring as you need consistent growth and no plant stress. The last two spring’s have been cool and dry so this makes applications hard to make.


Ok a short blog this week because I still have to complete my talk for the BIGGA South West and Wales Regional Conference as Tracey will not be a happy bunny 🙂

All the best..

Mark Hunt



November 7th


Hi All,

So we have had a proper taste of winter over the last few days with some very cold winds, overnight frost and the first proper snow showers for Scotland and Northumberland.

So is this a portent for the start of another 2010 / 12 winter ?

Last week at Saltex I had plenty of questions on that front and the honest answer is we simply do not know. For sure though we have a very different jet stream pattern compared to last year.

The image bottom left is the pattern of the jet stream on the 10th November, 2015. It has the familar ‘L’ shape which means it is flowing strongly across the Atlantic and pushing weather systems across so we were wet and mild.

The image bottom right is very different, much more fragmented, still with the vague ‘L’ shape but above it we have fragmented currents across Northern Scandinavia and Russia. So in my books there is a greater chance of colder weather this November but remember November 2015 was one of the mildest on record so maybe what we’re likely to see is a return to a ‘normal’ November with night frosts and a colder, more northerly wind direction. What I do know is that winter has started early across Scandinavia and Russia with snow already on the ground in the latter and currently 3-4 weeks earlier than usual.

If I had a choice though I’d take colder and possibly drier than wet and mild any day of the week.


So after a cold blast how are we looking this week ?

General Weather Situation

Well Monday looks like a quiet start to the week (as predicted last week) because it is a changeover day between a northerly low and a westerly low. So that means lighter winds today, plenty of dry weather around and sunshine. There is a risk of the odd shower along the north east coast of England and perhaps the far extreme south east coast as well, but on the whole we look dry for Monday. Although the winds will be lighter than of late, they’ll still be moderate to gusty in places and from the north so that means a chilly day for all with high single figures the order of the day temperature-wise.

Moving onto Tuesday and after a widespread frost, we have the beginning of that change from the west I’m afraid as a band of rain pushes into the west of Ireland in time for the daybreak and this rapidly crosses the country through the morning reaching Leinster and east Munster by mid-morning latest. For the U.K we have another dry start with the exception of some snow showers working along the north east coast of England. By lunchtime this milder, wetter air from the west is beginning to meet the colder continental air and that means it will fall as snow initially over Scotland and the north west of England, though Ireland will just have a very wet day, fullstop. Some of that snowfall will be heavy. As we close out Tuesday that rain is into all western parts of the U.K and falling as snow along a central strip from Scotland down to the North Midlands as it butts up against a colder airstream.

Overnight into Wednesday that rain becomes locally heavy across the south west and South Wales as it pushes eastwards clearing Ireland. It will continue to meet that colder continental air though so a high risk of snow all the way down from Scotland to Birmingham with northern, central and eastern areas the most likely to be hit as over western areas it’ll turn to rain. So starting off Wednesday morning we have a dry picture for Ireland thankfully and that rain will feature in a vertical strip stretching from Inverness to The Isle of Wight. On the eastern perimeter of that strip it’ll be falling as snow so a high risk of snow through Wednesday morning for Scotland, the North of England extending as far down as The Wash possibly. As we move through Wednesday that threat decreases as the rain sinks south into south eastern England leaving behind it another cold day with high single figures the best you’re likely to get as the wind remains from the north west.

For Thursday we see a change as the wind begins to swing round to the west so immediately it’ll feel a little milder maybe even breaking double figures in places. (A Gosh Golly Moment!)  That milder westerly airstream only means one thing though at this time of year as showers are likely to push in overnight to the western coast of the U.K and inland through Thursday morning. Ireland looks to be mainly dry after overnight rain but perhaps they’ll be showers over Leinster through the latter part of the day. Those U.K showers look to die out by the afternoon to leave a milder feel to the weather and it’ll be dry. Scotland though will see a continuation of wintry showers across the north west through the 2nd half of Thursday. So not a bad day all in all, milder in that westerly wind for sure.

Closing out the week on Friday, we have the arrival of a much heavier, second band of rain into Ireland and southern Scotland, The Borders and the north west / north of England by daybreak . This will quickly push east covering most of the U.K by late morning with the exception of the north of Scotland which appears to miss the worst. If anything, Friday afternoon looks even heavier rain-wise than the morning in particular across the western coast of Ireland, the south west of England and Wales. During Friday evening this rain pushes east and south clearing the north of England leaving it and Scotland, dry. What a difference in temperature though as it’ll be dig out the shorts time again on my Friday night cycle with increasing temperatures as we go through the 2nd part of the day as the wind swings temporarily from the south west. That means low to mid-teens in the south of England on Friday night and low teens through the day. Cooler though for Scotland with just double figures I think. For Ireland and The Midlands of England I think we will be low double figures.

Looking onto the all-important weekend and the outlook is ‘mixed’. Saturday looks to be a north-south divide with Scotland and the north of England dry whilst an area of thick cloud and rain hangs over Ireland, Wales and England. As we progress through the day, the wind swings round to the north west and pushes more rain through so I think Saturday looks like being mild and wet initially changing to a more showery outlook thereafter. Winds will be strong and from the west / north west. Sunday looks the drier day of the weekend I think but still you’re likely to see some showers rattled across on a strong wind which comes increasingly from the north, so much cooler on Sunday as we return to single figure daytime temperatures.

Weather Outlook

Well surprise surprise, the weather models fail to agree yet again on the outlook for next week but I’ll be going with the Unisys intepretation as they got this week bang on.

So next Monday looks quiet and cool after the strong northerly winds of Sunday, so dry possibly with overnight frost and likely foggy / misty I think. As we move into Tuesday we see a strong northerly low pressure pushing up the wind strength from the north so windy but crucially from the west from Tuesday onwards with less wind further south and pretty dry except for some showers over Scotland. As we get to Wednesday we see that low sink south so the wind swings round to the north west and we lose some degrees temperature-wise. This change also increases the risk that some of that northerly rain will sink south as well so a higher risk of rain for England from mid-week, next week.  Closing out next week I think we will see that northerly low push slowly down so increasingly colder from the north and the risk of wintry showers increasing over Scotland and the north of England as we progress towards the end of next week. Windy with it as well. This is the main bone of contention climatically, i.e will the cold low sink south or be kept northwards by a developing high. My hunch is the former so we’ll see this time next week.

Agronomic Notes

It’s the first week of the month so that means a review of GDD data from the Thame location, thanks to Wendy for sorting this as usual 🙂


So for October 2016, we can see a monthly GDD total of 134.5, which is low for the month and compares very similarly to some other years when we had colder winters such as October 2010 at 132.5 and October 2012 at 128.5.

A word of caution though as last October was only 147 and then we went on to have the mildest November and December months on record so as an indicator to colder winters we will have to reserve judgement. We can though see why October 2016 wasn’t an aggressive disease month on the whole because a mild October would have a GDD figure over 200.

If we split October down in more detail and feature 3 different locations, we see a pattern of a dry, cool month with 3 pronounced peaks in disease activity.

Rainfall3LocOct2016 GP3LocOct2016

If you look at the start of the month we see high G.P readings for the south west of England and Ireland and a quick increase for Bristol as well then things settle down and the G.P is low for the U.K sites, but remain high for Ireland. Again mid-month there’s an increase in G.P readings which coincides with milder, wetter air so we have higher air temperatures and moisture and that spells disease.

Finally the strongest disease pressure in October 2016 was at the end of the month. You can see the increase first in Dublin and then mirrored by the U.K locations as milder, south / south westerly air brought warm air temperatures. This culminated in the Devon locaiton running at a G.P of 0.9 one day from the end of October, so that means the grass is growing at 90% of its optimum ! Of course it would be fascinating to mirror the G.P of grass with the G.P of a disease pathogen so we can see what the optimum temperature is for disease growth and when it truly stops.

Coming up to the present day we have had a very fast transition from high disease pressure at the end of October, beginning of November to very low disease pressure currently because of the rapid cooling winds and drop in air / soil temperature. Prior to this though we saw Microdochium nivale forming bunch mycelium on the tips of grass similar in appearance I think of Pink Snow Mold.

Microdochium2 Microdochium1

This disease is on a Rye / Fescue mix rather than Poa and shows how aggressive disease activity was at the beginning of last week.  Sad to say it was on my front lawn and yes I know I need to get my blade sharpened. Makes a great trial site though, very cheap and convenient like 🙂

The coming week..


Onto this week’s outlook and you can see that blast of a milder, south westerly airstream will provide an increase in G.P over Saturday. Coupled with moisture at the end of the week this means we are likely to see a short period of high disease pressure over the weekend, especially in the south of England.

What you may see then is the classic re-occurrence of a disease outbreak around the edge of an existing scar rather than new sites of innoculation. We have covered this before but the rationale is that the highest disease population lives on the edge of a Microdochium nivale scar and so when conditions conspire to cause an increase in pathogen population growth we see this area showing symptoms of disease more quickly. It’s also this area where you are asking the most of any fungicide application because the disease population is often developing at a faster rate than the fungicide can hold it back.

Iprodione – where are we at ?

Last week I talked about the loss of pesticides from our market and mentioned Iprodione as one of the active ingredients on the list. It’s clear from the amount of comments / emails and texts buzzing around that we have a confused picture surrounding this active ingredient currently.

So what is the latest official statement ?

Well looking at the CRD website, the latest amendment was published on the 9th of September, 2016 and reads ;





Amendment Notice – Extension to Expiry Dates – Iprodione

Date of issue:                              9 September 2016

This authorisation ends:            

(a)      31 October 2018 except as set out in (b) and (c) below:

(b)      30 April 2019 for sale and distribution of existing stocks by any persons

(c)      30 April 2020 for the disposal, storage and use of existing stocks

The expiry dates of the authorisations for the plant protection products listed in the Amendment Table have been amended to the above dates.


So if you take this as gospel, end-users will have up until April, 2020 to use up stocks of Iprodione in the amenity market.

Now before we all breath a collective sigh of relief, this isn’t written in stone, things change in the regulatory world and seldom for the better, so I must stress this is the current status of this active ingredient. Think of it as the best case scenario but not the most likely.

Ok that’s it for this week, lot’s to do, talks to write and a long journey down to Cornwall awaits.

All the best.

Mark Hunt