Monthly Archives: January 2017

January 30th


Hi All,

If I said there was a 15°C temperature difference last Thursday between Scotland and the south of England, many of you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. After all it isn’t unusual for Scotland to be cold and the south of England to be mild in January.

What was unusual was that it was actually the other way round with some parts of Scotland recording 13°C whilst in Kent it didn’t get any warmer than -2°C. Factor in the windchill and it was a Baltic -6°C during the day.

The unusual weather situation was caused by mild air pushing into the north and west of the U.K and Ireland butting up against cold continental air. In effect we were right on the edge of a peak and trough situation with the jet stream. The situation is back to normal (whatever that is :)) this week with Scotland sitting cold and frosty and the south of England mild and wet. So onto the weather.

General Weather Situation

So as we kick off Monday morning the key word is dull. Lots of cloud cover over all of the U.K and Ireland with maybe just a few breaks across The Lakes and the north east coast of Scotland. A dry if mizzly start but it’ll be short-lived because rain is into south west Kerry and the south west of England just after the morning rush hour and this will push north and east across Ireland and England during the morning reaching Wales by lunchtime. Further north and east of this rain we will see some breaks in the cloud cover along the north west coast of England, west coast of Scotland and across The North East. Here it’ll stay dry. By the evening rush hour that slow-moving band of rain is into The Midlands and south of England and it’ll cover Ireland in its entirety. Continuing mild in the west with double figure temperatures, slightly cooler inland with mid to high single figures the order of the day. The wind will be light to moderate and changeable ending up as an easterly me thinks.

Onto Tuesday and overnight that rain should have cleared Ireland but it’ll be firmly entrenched over most of the U.K with only the far south east likely to miss it initially. As we progress through the morning it will move unusually from east to west so back into Leinster, Wales and the west coast of the U.K clearing the east as it does so. So by the evening rush hour it lies across Ireland, Scotland, most of Wales and the west coast of the U.K. Not much chance of seeing the sun today with only the south west tip of Kerry odds on to do so. Slightly milder across England into double figures with Scotland and Ireland a couple of degrees cooler. Milder across the west again furthest away from that moderate south easterly wind.

For Wednesday we have two active rain fronts. The first is a vestige of Tuesday’s rain and this will still be sitting over the south east coast of England but clearing east into the North Sea through the morning. The second is across the west of Ireland and this will push north and eastwards possibly missing the south east of Munster as it does so. By lunchtime the bulk of the U.K is clear and they’ll be some breaks in the cloud cover pushing up temperatures. That rain across Ireland will still be affecting the north and west of Ireland but also the south west of Scotland where it’ll be falling as a mix of wintry showers and rain depending on elevation. A windier day on Wednesday, especially across Ireland with a strong south to south west wind present. Lighter winds across the U.K and southerly now in nature. Similar temperatures to Tuesday with high single figures possibly nudging double figures in the south of England and Ireland.

Moving onto Thursday and more rain for Ireland at the start of the day, some of it heavy across the south coast of Munster. That rain will swiftly move into the south west of England and Wales during the first part of Thursday morning and at the same time it’ll make landfall across the north west coast of England and Scotland. By lunchtime the projections are that the rain wil be moving eastwards, straddling Ireland and now across all of Wales and perhaps 100 miles or so inland. As we approach the evening rush hour it begins to fizzle out to leave a showery picture across the U.K and Ireland so you may catch one across the east, you may not 🙂 Mild just about everywhere with temperatures just nudging into double figures for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England with a moderate southerly wind in situ.

Closing out what has been a wet week, we have a deep low pressure system sitting over the U.K so that means a wet and windy conclusion to the week on Friday with a strong south westerly wind in place and frequent showers rattling across the U.K and Ireland. At this stage it looks like these will clear quickly through the afternoon to give a bright end to the day especially across Ireland. Similar temperatures everywhere with 10°C, a typical maximum daytime temperature and some very strong, south westerly winds in place especially for the west and north of the country.

With a deep low pressure system pushing across the country it’s perhaps no surprise that we have an unsettled outlook for the weekend. The centre of that low will be over the south east of England so I expect the worst of the rain here on Saturday but that said they’ll be plenty of rain for Ireland and the rest of the U.K as well as it sweeps up from the south west overnight. Scotland will see a mix of rain and wintry showers across higher elevations on Saturday. With the low sitting over the south of England it means that locations in the west and south will have a strong to gale force westerly wind but the north of England and Scotland will pick up an strong to gale force easterly wind so much cooler here and in fact cooler everywhere on Saturday with temperatures just above mid-single figures. Sunday sees a continuation of that unsettled theme with a mixture of sunshine and longer spells of rain over most of Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland. We will still see that split in wind direction with easterlies up north and westerlies down south so a little cooler up north I’d say and the wind strength will remain strong to gale force in places.

Weather Outlook


With an ‘L’ pattern in the jet stream, next week looks like being a bit of a continuation of this week with another deep, intense low pressure lining up in The Atlantic to whistle in and bring us windy and wet weather during next week. So Monday next week looks like starting off the week dry but cool with a chilly north west wind in situ but this is just the calm before the storm with that Atlantic low destined to hit the west of Ireland during Monday / Tuesday. So a very wet Tuesday in store I think accompanied by strong to gale force south westerly winds, but milder in that Atlantic air flow. That wet and windy theme continues into Wednesday morning I think but quietens down in the second part of the day so some respite here and possibly some sunshine. For Thursday we have a quiet start but I think more wet and windy weather will push in from the west affecting all areas by the second part of Thursday and continuing the same theme on Friday to give a wet, windy and mild end to the week and hopefully a good tailwind for my flight home 🙂

Agronomic Notes

As I mentioned at the start of this blog we had an extreme temperature contrast from north to south this past week with mild temperatures across most of Scotland and extremely cold temperatures from The Midlands south I’d say with many rootzones frozen solid for the best part of two weeks. This can create a number of issues.

The first one occurred this weekend when milder air and rain arrived over the south of the U.K and fell onto deeply frozen ground. This then led to a situation where the surface underwent rapid thawing but the rootzone below it was still frozen hard.

The surface of the rootzone  becomes ‘plastic’ in nature meaning it is mobile and when subjected to force will shear at the point that the thawed rootzone meets the frozen rootzone.

I have tried to express this diagramatically below ;


The effect is most severe when just the top 10-20mm has thawed out and as the thaw penetrates deeper the rootzone regains stability. I was down the south east of England last week and I envisage that some of you had a tricky Saturday and Sunday morning in terms of golfing pressure to get out and play and delaying this whilst the rootzone thawed sufficiently deep to have surface stability.

There is always a debate about playing on frost, there has been since I came into the industry in 1989 (cripes 🙂 ) but I believe the above scenario is one of the most-damaging frost / thaw events that golf course managers and groundsman have to manage. I take my hat off to your powers of communication and persuasion. Of course many of you are reading this in the west and north and are probably wondering what I’m on about because you’ve been milder but in some areas the above was a problem I can assure you.

Cold Temperature Desiccation


Continuing on that vein (Scottish and Irish readers please bare with me :)) I also saw cold-temperature desiccation last week for the first time since 2013. In this situation the frozen soil is so dry there is no moisture available for the grass plant and it wilts, particularly under foot pressure just like you see in the middle of summer during drought stress.  I got some weather data through from York today (Cheers Adrian) and you can see the period of January when this occurred. In actual fact the temperatures and lack of rainfall were actually worse in the south of England because the skies cleared from the south during the 3rd week of January so the temperatures dropped faster and earlier in the south of England than they did in the north.


It’s not all bad news…

It’s worth remembering that this time last year we were on the flipside of our third successive month of high rainfall and mild temperatures with winter projects not even started on plenty of courses because the ground conditions were so saturated. This winter so far we have had much drier conditions because of the stablising high pressure situated in the Atlantic (until recently) and that has made life easier I reckon. Even in the west which typically receives the highest amount of winter rainfall I know totals are much lower than the norm so we must be grateful for these small mercies 🙂

The weekend ahead

Looking at the Meteoturf outputs across the U.K and Ireland in terms of GDD and G.P, I expect you to see a pick up of growth this week as we return to milder temperatures and rainfall.

See below ;


The lowest growth prospects are up in Scotland as they return to cooler temperatures and the best across Ireland, the west of England and Wales. With moisture as well this makes it a good time to put down a gentle granular fertiliser on areas that require recovery from winter play and scarring and / or where you want to hit moss with a high iron treatment.

As mentioned last week it’s often the case that we get better growth in January and sometimes February than we do in March. Looking at your GDD / GP spreadsheets for 2016, the worst growth month of the year for some of you was March 2016 !!


Blog Disruption Predicted 🙁

As I’m off to the GCSAA show on Friday it’s going to be tricky for me to publish a blog next week as you’ll be 5 hours or so ahead of me and I have seminars booked for the entirety of Monday and Tuesday. The week after I have a P.I.T.A (you can work that one out) of a meeting on Monday, 10TH Feb, so I don’t expect to publish my normal blog till Tuesday 11th February. Sorry for the disruption but hopefully I’ll have lots of interesting work to share with you courtesy of the GCSAA Seminars and your month end data for January 2017.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

January 23rd


Hi All,

We are rattling through January and are already starting the third week with just one more winter month to go and typically it is the coldest one to come but who knows what we’ll get served up ?


Last week the skies cleared from the south of the U.K as forecast and so we picked up some pretty heavy frosts with -6°C common. Depending on your location this continued through the weekend but I think there was more cloud cover up north and that kept you frost-free if a tad miserable. (as reported by Mike and Sue !)

We were sitting at -5°C at 8 a.m. yesterday morning which made for a beautiful winter walk (it may sound daft getting up early at the weekend to walk but all the ploughed fields are frozen solid so offer much better walking and you don’t end up with mud platform shoes 🙂 ). Our resident high pressure has been responsible for these cold nights but there are clear signs that this is being pushed aside in the coming week and that’ll give way to a more westerly airstream which means milder air and rain. We know what happens when a westerly low pressure meets a resident high pressure and typically you’ll see a much windier week in store for us all but particularly across the west and north initially.

So what’s ahead for us this week ?

General Weather Situation

This week will see a strengthening low pressure system butt up against our resident high pressure and this will slow the progression of the former. So initially you’ll see that milder air and rainfall falling in the classic diagonal pattern across Ireland up to the north west of England and Scotland with areas south and east of this still sitting under the effects of the high pressure till the weekend, so calmer and drier here.

For Monday we have a very settled picture and most likely one of the only dry days of the week for Ireland and Scotland in particular. So cloud is well distributed and for many has kept off a frost first thing. As we progress through the day we should see more breaks in that cloud across the eastern coastline of the U.K and in the south west. Dry for everybody with cool temperatures ranging from mid-single figures across England and Wales and high single figures across Ireland. Depending on your location, winds will be light to moderate and from the south or west. Those cold temperatures and light winds will present a problem with persistent fog especially across the south of England I am afraid.

Moving onto Tuesday and we see the first of those Atlantic rain fronts push into the west so overnight rain has moved into and across Ireland and by dawn that’ll be into the west coast of Scotland as well. Further south and east and this we will be dull and dry with the chance of mist and fog again presenting an issue. Through Tuesday morning that rain will drift slowly south and fizzle out as it does so leaving a vestige across the south west of Ireland and north west England. Other areas will have a dull but dry day with similar temperatures to Monday for most areas but milder where you get that rain and into low double figures across Ireland I think. There’s again a chance of some breaks in the cloud across eastern coasts. Winds will begin to strengthen from the south across the west and they’ll be more westerly across central parts of the U.K.

Onto Wednesday and again we start the day with some light rain and thick cloud across south west Ireland, Scotland and north west England. South and east of this we may be frost-free but it all depends on cloud cover in your area. Through the morning we’ll see rain, some of it heavy push into south west Munster and Connacht and this will slowly push north and east into Leinster by the afternoon. For most of the U.K we will see that early cloud cover clear to give a lovely winter’s day with plenty of sunshine. Later on Wednesday night we see that rain make landfall across south west Scotland and it’s likely to be heavy in nature. A clear west – east split in the weather with mild temperatures into double figures in Ireland with that colder air still hanging on across the south and east. One thing you’ll notice on Wednesday is the much stronger winds pushing more southerly now as the low and high butt up against each other so extremely windy across the west and lighter winds across the east.

For Thursday we have that low continuing to exert its influence and as it does so it’ll edge slowly eastwards so Thursday is due to start wet across Ireland and Scotland and particularly wet across the former. The west-east divide continues with a beautiful sunny start to the day on Thursday with ground frost likely if your skies cleared on Wednesday night. Through Thursday that rain will slowly move over Ireland and Scotland but south of The Borders you’ll be dry again. Not surprisngly you’ll see a west-east split in the temperature with 11-12°C across Ireland and 5 -6°C across England. For Scotland you’ll have a much cooler day on Thursday as cold air from that low pressure nudges in. Extremely windy again across the west and north and through the day those winds will ramp up down south to gale force so quite a chill factor in the wind I’d say.

Closing out the week on Friday and we see that slow moving band of rain push clear of Ireland into Scotland from first light and gradually that rain will push eastwards into north west England and South Wales by mid-morning. Through the course of the afternoon that rain will push south and east across England and Wales as the high pressure finally relinquishes its grip on the U.K so a potentially wet end to the week for England and Wales whereas Ireland may miss that rain and have a dry day. Still windy with perhaps the strength of the wind dropping across the west from gale force to moderate. Temperature-wise not such a difference now with most places looking to be between 6°C and 8°C, so hardly tropical 🙂

Looking ahead to the weekend and that intense low will dictate the weather for most of the U.K and Ireland so no clear sky, frosty walks next weekend me thinks. More like hang onto your hat and pack your waterproofs I’d say with rain likely over the west and north on Saturday, dry south and east of this but eventually this rain will push south later on Saturday though it may be very light by the time it does. More risk of rain on Sunday especially further south and east and all the time we will see a very windy aspect to the weather with strong westerly winds in place. It will however feel noticeably milder across the south of England with temperatures likely to creep into double figures later into the weekend.

Weather Outlook

So we look to start next week with low pressure firmly in charge and that’s the way I think it is set to stay for most of next week. With high pressure firmly out of the way, we will have a strong westerly airstream in place so that means milder but also much wetter with frequent rain across the U.K and Ireland. In particular there’s a risk of heavy rain from mid-week onwards as a tight low pushes in. Much milder in that westerly airstream so double figures for most of the week are very likely next week.

One caveat and that’s the high pressure system moving off as projected. It’s proved very stubborn this winter and whilst all the models point to this westerly airstream becoming dominant, keep an eye on your forecasts to make sure it does behave as projected 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Firstly thanks to everyone I met at Harrogate last week, always good to catch up and chew the cud so to speak. Before I get on my soapbox I should state that what I write in this blog are my views and not necessarily the views of the company I work for 🙂

Between a rock and a hard place….


It was clear to me that one of the areas of most discussion was the chemical situation specifically the loss of an effective insecticide for Leatherjackets and Chafers. There was also much discussion about fungicides and the level of disease pressure autumn 2016 / winter 2017, not just on greens but also outfield areas as well.

I admit the current situation makes gloomy reading especially on the insecticide front and what I’m sure you’ll see is that unless we find a solution as an industry, it will drive usage underground with off-label products being utilised out of desperation. Whilst in any way I don’t condone this, it is dificult to blame an end-user who when faced with a deteriorating turf surface, pressure from management because of revenue loss, resorts to trying anything to resolve his or her situation.

This shouldn’t be the answer and you wonder how legislators in the U.K and Europe can leave our industry (and agriculture as I understand it) without an effective control whilst still expecting business as normal ?. It is the same piece of legislation that will leave most areas of Germany without an effective Microdochium fungicide going into this autumn 🙁

And before someone plays the sustainability card, remember that Leatherjackets and Chafers aren’t particularly fussy about which grass species they affect.

We are between a rock and a hard place for sure.


The situation with fungicides for the U.K and Ireland isn’t so grim and I see it more like a changing of the guard in terms of the likely loss of some established chemistries but importantly we are seeing newer ones take their place. It will necessitate change in terms of how we use products, specifically in terms of application windows and timing but I am confident with the tools at our disposal we can still present very good surfaces from October to March. We will also have to be more on the ball in terms of cultural controls, reducing surface organic matter, overseeding to give a mixture of plant species and trying to maintain as dry a leaf as possible during periods of high disease pressure.

Above all it will require a change in mindset.

Greenkeepers, groundsman and club management alike will have to buy into these changes, it’s no good loading fixtures onto a playing calendar regardless of the need for aeration, plants like human beings breath oxygen and we have to provide it, it’s as simple as that. We have to control surface organic matter or else it will detract from our playing quality and produce an environment for disease and that disease will be more difficult to control.

I am sure we will have to get used to seeing more disease on greens because the newer chemistries have much lower loadings of active ingredients / substances and so won’t be as effective as the ones we are used to, but they still will offer very effective solutions if applied correctly. If a golf green has 5% of its surface affected by Microdochium, it is still playable, if it has 20% then I think we are borderline. If I tell you that in our autumn 2016 / winter 2017 disease trials, our untreated plots were at 75% affected by Microdochium nivale prior to Christmas you can see how high the disease pressure was that we faced last autumn !

Ok soap box away although with my lack of height it does come in handy sometimes 🙂

Weather Window

So it looks to me like we have a weather window in front of us with milder temperatures and rainfall on the horizon, earlier this week for the west and north and from the weekend onwards further south. Before I talk about the potential for applying a bit of nutrition to push areas onwards let’s just consider the last two spring seasons.

If you look at the graph below you’ll see that in spring 2016 we had precious little good growing weather during March and April with very few days when day and night temperatures conspired to give us good growing conditions. The line drawn at 0.4 for Growth Potential is where I would consider you’d see as an end-user a nice amount of clip in the box during March and April.


The problem is that we often seem to struggle in springtime to have decent night temperatures and it is these that are the ‘handbrake’ to growth.

Consider two days in the spring with the same lovely day temperature (difficult to imagine that today though !) but two very different night temperatures.


So in scenario 1 we have a lovely warm day but it is preceeded by a cold night and you can see that despite the warmth of the day we have a very low G.P figure, 0.16, which means practically zero growth. In scenario 2 we have the same nice day but we have a semi-mild night with 5°C minimum temperature. You can see how the G.P increases to 0.44, high enough for some good growth and recovery.

So March and April are proving to be really fickle months to generate consistent growth and I accept there’s no guarantee that this coming spring will follow the same pattern, but if it did why not use weather windows like the one coming up in January and February to push on weak areas that need recovery ?

I accept you have to be careful on fine turf because of the ever-present threat of disease (though i believe if you’re clean now you’re more than likely to stay that way) but here a light tonic applied before the winds ramp up may suffice. On tees, aprons, wear areas and sportsfields currently receiving winter wear, there’s a good opportunity for some recovery over the next week or so if you apply ahead of the moisture and temperature rise. Obviously this will be different in different areas of the U.K and Ireland but I think next week offers a good window provided the weather plays ball.

Ok that’s it for today, wrap up well and remember we are heading rapidly towards spring, the nights are noticeably stretching out so we only have February to endure.

All the best

Mark Hunt


January 16th


Hi All,

I think today is entitled ‘Blue Monday’ and is billed as the most depressing day of the year. (whereas all that comes into my mind with ‘Blue Monday’ is a cracking track by New Order that can’t fail to get your feet tapping and put a smile on your face  🙂 )

As I look outside it’s dark and yakking it down so I can understand why this may be case in some people’s minds.  There’s a flipside to every coin though and at the weekend I got up early and went for a cracking walk on still frozen fields and watched the sun come up. Simply beautiful and a winter treat I’d recommend to anyone, especially if there’s a nice cafe brekkie somewhere on the route.


We are six weeks from March now and the days are visibly hanging on for longer so Spring is just around the corner. The first Snowdrops are poking through the soil and I can see the flower heads on my Hellebores pushing through as well, so even if we aren’t in spring mode, nature is 🙂

Onto our lovely weather, do we have more snow on the way or is that Atlantic high going to shelter us again ?….

General Weather Situation

Well Blue Monday won’t describe the sky colour today because we won’t see much of the sun and for most of the day we will have a vertical band of rain stretching from the east coast of Scotland right down the spine of England to the south coast. This band of rain will be very slow-moving so some places will get a significant drop today. West of this band of rain it remains dull so Ireland, Wales and most of Scotland except the far east looks like having a dry start to the week but a dull one. This cloud may just be heavy enough for some mizzly drizzle across the north and west later in the day. Across Ireland, Scotland the west of England and Wales, it’ll be mild as well with temperatures into double figures. Central U.K sits under that rain band so a pretty miserable day here with on-off rain that gradually peters out as we approach dusk and a loud cloud base.  The far south east and East Anglia may just pick up some snow showers first thing but will miss the bulk of this rain though and sit cloudy but dry with temperatures around 5-8°C. Winds will be light for everyone and from the south. With that cloud cover I don’t expect any frost.

Onto Tuesday and we retain that dull theme with some rain moving into north and south west Scotland overnight and then proceeding to drift slowly south into The Borders and north west England through the morning. Mild across Scotland, Ireland and the west as you lie closer to the Atlantic high pressure system so here temperatures into double figures again especially if you manage to catch any breaks in the cloud. For Ireland and Wales another dry day with some breaks in the cloud and mild temperatures pushing into double figures again. Winds will be light to moderate and from the south to south west. Later in the afternoon we might see some breaks in the cloud across the west of Ireland and south east of England. Quite a temperature contrast again with the east and south east sitting cold at 3-5°C and the north / Scotland into double figures.

Another frost-free night going into Wednesday and as predicted our high pressure system is being squeezed between three low pressure systems that surround it but for Wednesday it remains resolute.  So another dry and largely dull day for everyone for mid-week once some mizzly drizzle has cleared the north and west of Scotland.  You may see some breaks in the cloud across the east of Scotland through the morning. Further south we sit dull and dry for most except the south east of the country where there’s a risk of rain pushing in from The North Sea into Essex and Kent and this may then drift slowly south and west into Southern England through the course of the afternoon. Ireland looks to have another dry one with plenty of cloud around and some sunny intervals with temperatures just nudging up into double figures so not bad at all. The wind will be mainly westerly but may swing round to the north later in the day across the U.K. Frost-free again I think going into Thursday.

So for Thursday we see that wind complete its swing round to the east across the south of England and this will have the effect of pushing the cloud away to give a sunny start to the day for the south of England and particularly the south east. Elsewhere we are dull again across the rest of the U.K and Ireland but after lunch we may see some clearing of cloud cover again across the north east of Scotland. With clearing skies in the south of England extending north as we approach dusk we will see temperatures drop markedly and that could mean a ground frost if your skies clear late in the day or overnight going into Friday. So day time temperatures sitting in the 5-9°C region, milder across the west than the east again. Winds will remain light to moderate and predominatly from the south west / west.

Closing out the week on Friday we remain with high pressure in charge so dry and for the south of England up to and including The Midlands a nice start to the end of the week with sunshine in attendence. Further north and west of this you’ll have cloud cover sitting over you but that may mean you are frost-free. So a dry end to the week with that cloud cover clearing north and therefore many will have a better 2nd half of the day compared to the 1st. A cold day though with temperatures not much above freezing all of the day maybe a little higher 5-6°C across Ireland, the west and north of the U.K. Ireland, Wales and Scotland look to have a cloudier day, a little milder though as well with some breaks in the cloud later in the day and winds for everyone light to moderate and from the east in the lower part of the U.K and southerly for the west and north. Temperatures will drop quickly on Friday night to bring another hard frost for many.

Onto the weekend and after last week’s inaccurate forecast I’ll try to do better for this coming weekend. It’s alot easier forecast-wise because we still have high pressure sitting over us so that means a dry, cold Saturday / Sunday is on the cards. Temperature-wise it’ll all come down to cloud cover and I think we’ll see more in the way of the sun over the weekend but that’ll mean if you do it’ll be on the back of a frosty morning. So a cool, dry weekend in prospect with overnight frost for many and a brisk easterly / south-easterly wind in situ providing a significant chill factor. Temperature-wise I’d think 3-5°C where you have sunshine and 5-8°C where you retain cloud cover. I think later on Sunday we will start to see some rain pushing into the north west of Ireland and Scotland as low pressure does its best to shift that high pressure away.

Weather Outlook

So another week of high pressure protecting us from the worst of the winter but will it last for nest week  ?

Well no I don’t think it will because next week looks like being a change week to me. For the beginning of next week we will still have that high pressure just hanging on so a settled start to the week for many, remaining cold though but already I think in the north west, the weather will be changing. Now there’s some disagreement as to the way the wind will be coming from next week but in contrast to this week when things have been calm and settled, next week looks much, much windier. So unsettled and windy weather pushing into the north and west next week and by Tuesday we will see that wind ramping up from the west pushing rain across all of the U.K. Mild initially but as we go through the week I can see those showers turning increasingly wintry over Scotland and possibly the north of England. In contrast to this, the west and south may sit mild with temperatures touching double figures. As we close out next week I think it’ll be colder, remaining very windy with packed isobars and a tendency for those wintry showers to possibly extend southwards.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Activity

With some milder nights in store for some areas of the U.K this week (and actually last night as well)  you can expect to see a continuation of Microdochium nivale activity on previously-scarred areas. The catalyst isn’t just the temperature though it’s the lack of wind and therefore drying conditions which means the leaf is sitting wet for 24 hours of the day and with a saturated atmosphere even when you remove the dew it soon re-settles.

Insect Activity



One of the biggest areas of concern though as we turn towards spring in many people’s minds is on the insect front with reports already of the now familiar counter-sunk effect of nocturnal feeding from Leatherjackets in winter aeration holes. (see above)

This year will be our first full one without any labelled insecticide for amenity turf (barring a pyrethroid with a 5-day re-entry caution on the label for Bibionid damage reduction) and like agriculture we have nothing to protect us from Leatherjackets, Chafers and Bibionids. The latter may give us cause for hope though because with such a large market potential it makes a tempting prospect for a chemical company to develop an A.I but that isn’t for now so all we can do is wait.

I accept it is hard seeing areas of turf wiped out by Badger and Corvid damage with no real alternative available but that’s where we are. A bigger concern for me is spring aeration when we have a high larval count in the rootzone holding up recovery. I remember seeing one course awhile back with core holes still prominent weeks after aerating because any lateral growth was being grazed by a massive Leatherjacket population. It only became evident after a treatment with Chlorpyrifos.

There is a flipside though to this coin and the truth is that Chlorpyrifos was a pretty crappy chemical and we needed to move on from it as an industry. Reading in New Scientist I see that the next generation of insecticides is well underway using a mechanism that interferes with the RNA of the target pathogen effectively stopping it breeding. In the article it states that “Monsanto, for instance, is developing RNAi sprays that kill pests. Its spray targeting the varroa mites contributing to the woes of bees is now entering the final stages of development, the company revealed on 5 January”. You can read the article here

Irony indeed with the finger pointed firmly in the direction of Big Pharma and neonictotinoids as the cause of Bee decline and ultimately it may be Big Pharma that contributes to their survival if this new technology comes to fruition.

So there is hope on the horizon for our industry but I think it’s also true to say it won’t be arriving any time soon so we have to grin and bear it. Easy to say but not easy to do if the presence of the afore-mentioned pests affects the quality of the product you’re producing and ultimately your revenue stream as a business.

Aeration Slot

Ok here I go again but I will continue to flag up the fact that this week presents some areas of the U.K and Ireland with another aeration slot. Cloud cover will mean no frozen ground and if you escaped the worst of Sunday / Monday’s rain, ground conditions may not be too bad. A dry week in prospect with some milder weather in areas as well and some more likely next week as well together with rainfall.  I know of some courses already that have got a hollow coring in during 2017 with no problem at all.


With mild weather in some areas (Scotland, Ireland and the west possibly) there’s an opportunity in the first part of this week to get a nice response from a well-timed foliar application but as you’ll see from the output from the Meteoturf module on Weathercheck, the opportunity is only present at the start of the week if you’re in an area with milder temeperatures (such as the west of Ireland shown in the top Meteoturf).

The bottom Meteoturf module is from Kent and here you see there’s no GDD and practically no G.P either for the entire week so no point in applying here 🙁


OK that’s it for this week and I hope to see some of you up at BTME in the coming week. It should be a largely dry one after today’s rain has moved through so hopefully no digging yourself out of a snowdrift this year 🙂

Get your forecast for BTME here….

All the best.

Mark Hunt

January 9th


Hi All,

As I type this we are sitting at a shade under 10°C and it’s not even light yet. Uncanny really when you look at the temperatures that the continent is receiving with record low temperatures and snow as far south as Greece. Last week I said that currently we were dodging an Arctic bullet and you can clearly see why as this cold trough in the jet stream has sunk all the way south to Greece and Turkey whilst we sit protected under a peak of mild air.


Protected for the time-being but later this week (as forecast last week) we will briefly become part of an Arctic trough when it’ll become pretty chilly and some places will likely see snow. (Sorry Sue I know you don’t like Baltic 🙁 )

Don’t worry though because I think it’ll be short-lived, it’s the next potential trough that I’d be concerned about, more on that later…Here’s a snap shot of Thursday’s Unisys output and you can see the difference…A more northerly orientation in the wind direction and a cold air mass….


So how are we looking this week ?

Well as intimated above, Monday is starting off mild and wet for Ireland, Scotland and the north west of England. South and east of this it is pretty dull with a dense cloud mass over all of the U.K. Through the morning that rain will move south and east into Wales / The Midlands by mid-morning and then across the southern half of the U.K during the afternoon. As it does so it’ll leave behind showery weather for Ireland and Scotland with some sunny breaks between the rain especially for eastern Scotland and the north east of England. That rain will continue through this evening for north west Scotland and Northern England and will also turn more wintry in nature over higher ground. Temperatures will be mild though, high single figures, low double figures even depending on your cloud cover and wind direction which will vary between south westerly (for the south) and westerly for the north.

Overnight into Tuesday and we still see that rain lingering across south west Scotland and north west / northern England by dawn. Elsewhere across Ireland, Wales, central and southern U.K,  it’ll be a pretty dull start to the day with only the eastern coastline of the U.K likely to see the sun to any degree. Through the day that rain will slowly fizzle out across Scotland but will linger most of the day across Northern England into dusk. Elsewhere a dull and dry day looks to be on the cards with a slightly cooler feel as the wind swings round to the north west. Temperatures still hovering around double figures though or high single figures in a strengthening north westerly wind.

Already we are mid-week and Wednesday seees a mixture of rain and wintry showers pushing into north west Ireland across Connacht and Donegal overnight and moving south and east, clearing by dawn hopefully to leave a dry day for Ireland with some spells of sunshine. For the U.K we see that mix of wintry showers into Scotland from first light and it’ll then drift southwards into north west England by late afternoon becoming more wintry in nature as it does so. South and east of this band of wintry showers we look to have a much brighter day on Wednesday and dry throughout the day with long spells of winter sunshine. It’ll be very windy though as those isobars pack together with the wind pushing in from the west / north west. This will keep the temperatures down in single figures for most places with Scotland feeling the chilliest as that cold air mass moves in.

Onto Thursday and this really is the change day as that cold air mass begins to make its presence felt. Overnight we have rain, sleet and snow on higher ground move into Donegal, Connacht and west Munster falling more as rain the further south you go. For Scotland and the north of England, that band of wintry showers is still in situ with maybe only the eastern coast missing the worst. Through Thursday morning those showers will push southwards into North and South Wales and the south west of England. It’ll be very much a west – east divide though because the east looks to have a dry but very cold Thursday. By the dusk we may just see those wintry showers extend down into The Midlands. For Ireland we will see that rain and wintry shower mix move south and east to cover most of the country by the close of Thursday falling mainly as rain I think at this stage. Temperature-wise it’ll feel really cold everywhere with low single figures the highest you’re likely to see. This is because we will have that strong westerly wind in situ so the wind chill will be significant, in reality feeling not much above freezing I’d say.

Closing out the week on Friday and we see that west – east split again with wintry showers into the north of Ireland, north west England and Scotland as the day begins. East and south of this it’ll be a bright and pretty cold start with a ground frost likely. As we move through the morning we will see those wintry showers clear Ireland but push in from the west coast across the north of Wales, north west England / Scotland and possibly The Midlands fizzling out by dusk. Most areas and especially eastern ones will miss any wintry showers completely and have a dry, bright but cold day with an even colder wind as it shifts to a more north westerly orientation.

So how is the weekend looking ?

Well Saturday looks wet for Ireland as a rain front pushes into the west at dawn and moves east across the country reaching Leinster I think by mid-morning latest. Some of that rain may fall as snow across The Wicklow hills and mountains (lucky you). For the U.K it’ll be a bright, dry but cold start with a ground frost likely to be widespread. By lunchtime that rain will push into the south west of England and Wales and move eastwards reaching The Midlands later in the day. Scotland and the north of England will follow a similar pattern to Ireland with rain, sleet and snow moving in from daybreak and pushing south and east through the morning. By dusk that rain will have moved south into The Midlands before it moves into the south east on Saturday night. Another chilly day in that gusty westerly wind with temperatures struggling above mid-single figures. Sunday looks a drier day for all of us after another batch of wintry showers clears north west / south west Scotland into The North Sea so dry cold and sunny with I’m sure another ground frost likely across all areas. During Sunday that westerly / north westerly wind will drop off and become lighter towards the afternoon so it’ll feel a little milder. Temperature-wise expect little change from mid-single figures across all areas.

Weather Outlook

So will this cold spell last or will our protective peak re-assert itself in time for Harrogate ?

As it looks at this stage we will indeed see the Atlantic blocking high that has been a close weather companion to the U.K and Ireland now for the last three months drift back in and push that colder air mass north and east of us. So next week looks like starting off a little milder with a south westerly wind in situ and that’s the way it stays but there will be subtle changes. It looks to be dry though over most of the U.K and Ireland through the early part of next week. As we go through the week that high will be pushed down so that means more unsettled weather for the north of Scotland and Ireland later in the week as another trough of cold air sits north and west of us. It’s this trough that I’ll be keeping an eye on because it’ll begin to squeeze that high pressure away from the U.K and Ireland and that could allow that colder air to dominate as we get to the weekend after next. I’ve got a sneaky feeling that we will see a colder end to this month and then a pretty cold February but we’ll see…..

Agronomic Notes

Harrogate Weather Forecasting


First off for all of you travelling to Harrogate over next weekend and the week after, please feel free to use this Meteoblue weatherlink for Harrogate. You can see the forecast by clicking here

2017 Growth-Degree-Day and Growth Potential Spreadsheet


A little later than usual for that I apologise but please find the new spreadsheet onto which you can enter your daily maximum and minimum temperatures (and rainfall of course) and it’ll automatically convert these to Growth-Degree-Day and Growth Potential readings.

It’s worth pointing out that I use 6°C as a base for my GDD calculations and 18°C for the optimum temperature (To) for cool season growth in the G.P calculation.

For the sake of clarity the reasons are these ;

  1. GDD Calculation – In the U.S they use 0 as the base temperature for their calculations so if we had a day of 6°C day temp and 0°C, they would calculate that to be 6-0 / 2 = 3 growth degree days. Now to my way of thinking if we have that kind of day we’d be seeing no above-ground growth and by using 6°C as a base instead we’d be calculating 6-6 / 2 =0 growth degree days. Since GDD is meant to be a growth model I think it should be returning a 0 figure when we aren’t getting actual growth rather than a positive figure as it does if you have 0°C as a base. I’m sure there are counter-arguments either way but at the end of the day I think there’s some logic to my use of a 6°C base rather than simply an NIH-based argument. (Not invented here 🙂 )
  2. Growth Potential – Using 18°C for the optimum temperature (To) instead of 20°C I think is more relevant to our situation and tends to predict stress on Poa annua more accurately. I’ve run it by the oracle of Growth Potential – Micah Woods and he confirmed that in some other areas they do the same (Canada I think was mentioned). I’m doing the Growth Potential class at the forthcoming GCSAA Educational Seminars so I hope to come back with some more information to impart in this area 🙂

You can download the spreadsheet here

The beginning of January, it’s unseasonably mild isn’t it ?…well no it isn’t…..

I was chatting to a chap on Saturday at Rutland Water who was saying how unseasonably mild it was for the beginning of January and I said it wasn’t (politely of course). In my mind it’s the norm now for the first part of January to be mild.

So I thought I’d go back as far as I’ve been collating weather data from The Oxfordshire. Turns out we started in 2005 which means it’s now 12 years since I first started sending Sean irritating texts / emails asking for his weather data. To his credit he has never once told me to sling my hook but I suspect it was close sometimes 🙂

So here’s the first 14 days of January’s maximum air temperature going back every year to 2005 and I’ve split it into 3 graphs because it’s too confusing in one…

Jan2005-08 Jan2009-12Jan20013-17

If I pick an arbituary day like the 10th of January we can see that over the last 13 years the following applies ;

Maximum air temperature on the 10th January ≥ 8°C = 12 Years out of the last 13.

Maximum air temperature on the 10th January ≥ 10°C = 6 Years out of the last 13.

So I think that’s reasonably comprehensive proof that the beginning of January is now traditionally mild and that’s why I think that January aeration (provided ground conditions in terms of rainfall or frost allow it) is more relevant now than it was back in the old days. If you look at the above data we have only had 2 years out of the last 13 when we have been properly cold at the beginning of January, those years were 2009 and 2010.

So gearing up for a mild first part of January from a nutrition and aeration perspective should I think be on the radar. What we can’t predict with more accuracy though is if it’ll be a dry or wet start to the year and I fully accept that can put the handbrake on early year aeration more than anything.

Microdochium nivale activity


I suspect when you have night temperatures of close on 10°C and a saturated atmosphere courtesy of Friday’s rainfall of close to 95%, it is inevitiable that we will see more disease activity on existing scarred areas. Leaf wetness really is key to fungal development and so my advice would be always to dewy the most-susceptible greens for Microdochium first when we are talking about dew removal.

As I showed last week it really has been an exceptional year for Microdochium activity going right back to September so that’s 5 months now when we have had mild peaks of air temperature coinciding with leaf wetness which has pushed the disease on. There is however clear evidence that it is currently October and November that are most critical for establishing a disease population or more precisely stopping a disease population establishing.

If you are clean or reasonably clear of scars by the end of December I think you’re much less likely to get a new outbreak after that. I have some cracking trials running currently which feature some of the heaviest disease pressure I’ve ever seen and bear that last statement out perfectly. I will share that data on this blog when the trials are complete or if you want a sneak preview come and have a chat at Harrogate 🙂

Ok that’s all for this week, all the best, wrap up well at the end of the week and count the days down till spring. You can already feel it is getting lighter in the evenings I think.

Mark Hunt






January 3rd


Hi All,

Firstly may I wish you a Happy New Year and all that baloney 🙂

I see The Express is up to its usual weather tricks with their forecast of……

“January 2017 DEADLY FREEZE: Heavy SNOW to hit in days as UK faces 4-WEEK -15C polar plunge”

Well I’d say it is likely that we will see some colder weather during January and February, bearing in mind the latter is always the coldest month of the year, I mean no something Sherlock but 4 weeks of -15°C, hmmmm !

That said there is a cold air mass over the continent and one sitting above us and the jet stream is still fragmented with large Rossby Waves patterns present as you can see from the Netweather graphic. All this increases the risk of a cold temperature trough forming which will indeed bring very cold weather if it does so, but for now we are sitting under a peak as you can see below…



Over Christmas we saw a peak of mild air pushing up to give us mid-teen temperatures on Christmas Day. I was cycling in my shorts on Christmas Day in a vain bid to head off calorific armageddon…:)


This mild air pushed all the way up to The North Pole to give the warmest Christmas Day ever at that location with temperatures only just freezing would you believe. Since then we’ve had the opposite though with a long spell of cold and largely dry weather for the southern half of the U.K and a much wetter, milder spell for Scotland. We have also had some pretty hard penetrating frosts that have lasted all day in the shade….


So are we in for a Polar Vortex, an Arctic Blast or have the headline writers been sipping on too much of their Christmas booze ?

General Weather Situation

So we start the week off on Tuesday of course (just to remind myself as I found it extremely difficult to get up early this morning) and a pretty grey picture greets us at daybreak with plenty of cloud cover over the U.K and Ireland. The far south of Ireland and England may just see clear skies but for the rest of us it’ll be a dull day with thick cloud, thick enough for some drizzly, mizzle in places I’m sure. There will be some rain around over the north west of Scotland and this will drift south through the course of the morning into south west Scotland and later, north west England. It’ll feel pretty raw out there courtesy of a light to moderate north west wind that picks up intensity during the day so that means cool daytime temperatures maybe tipping mid-single figures in the south of England. Higher for Scotland though as you sit in that milder airstream with possibly double figures on the cards in some areas of Scotland.

Onto Wednesday and a much brighter start to the day for Scotland and the north of the U.K as a shift in the wind to north pushes that cloud mass away, clearing north and easterly areas first. Other than Ireland which looks to keep that thick cloud all day on Wednesday, other areas will have a cold, bright day with long spells of winter sunshine once the cloud cover has moved off. The further south you are, the later in the day this will be. A much colder day for Scotland as you join the rest of the U.K enjoying barely mid-single figure temperatures in that biting northerly wind. Dry again though for most which is a blessing in our industry in January.

So Thursday beckons and again we look to have a largely dry day on the cards for most of the U.K and Ireland starting with a ground frost for many courtesy of those clear skies on Wednesday night. We are set to lose that northerly wind as it’ll shift to a southerly direction through the course of the day and then lessen in intensity as well. It won’t be dry for everyone though as rain is set to move into Kerry mid-morning (ish) on Thursday and this will push inland across Ireland through the course of the day. By Thursday evening that rain will be into the west of Scotland and then push eastwards overnight affecting most of Scotland. Further south we will see a dry day, bright at first and then clouding over from the west as that rain front pushes cloud cover before it. Temperature-wise it will still feel cold despite the absence of that northerly wind with mid-single figures for most, rising to high single figures for Ireland and the west under that cloud cover.

Closing out the week on Friday (I must say I like these shorter weeks 🙂 ), that rain over Ireland has shifted eastwards overnight pushing into Wales, The South West and westerly coasts of England and sits resolutely over Scotland as well. By mid-morning it continues its easterly path clearing Ireland as it does so to leave behind a mass of thick dull cloud, moving into The Midlands and south east of England by late morning. Through the course of the afternoon that rain pushes south and east to give a wet end to the day (and the week) for the south of England. For Scotland and the north, you’ll see that rain clear by dusk but like Ireland it’ll leave behind a very dull picture. Temperature-wise, it’ll feel milder in the west and north so double figure temperatures for Ireland, near that for Scotland but down south and for the rest of England we’ll be lucky to edge 6°C or thereabouts under that thick cloud mass and rainfall. Winds will be moderate and from the south west.

Moving into the weekend and Saturday looks a dull day for most of us with a thick cloud mass covering the U.K and Ireland as the wind swings round from south west to north west . That cloud may be thick enough in places for some drizzle / light rain, especially during the afternoon on Saturday with Ireland, the south west of England and south west / north west of Scotland the most likely to receive some moisture later in the day. Temperature-wise a tad milder over central and southern parts of the U.K with temperatures pushing a degree or two up on Friday so maybe 8 – 9°C tops I’d say. Where you see some sunshine break through in Ireland and Scotland (a few select places I think) you’ll see those temperatures edge into double figures again so not bad really.  Sunday looks a dry day as well except for the west of Scotland where you may see some scuddy rain first thing but this should clear to leave a nice, dry and settled day. The same goes for Ireland and the rest of the U.K, settled and dry with perhaps more in the way of winter sunshine but it’ll remain cool with that north westerly wind firmly in situ, so similar temperatures to Saturday.

Weather Outlook


So let’s be clear, so far we have been dodging a winter bullet with the cold air mass sinking east  in a trough in the jet stream leaving us protected under a high pressure peak and that’s the way we are set to start next week as the Unisys graphic above shows. The question mark is really towards the end of next week when there is a projection that we will begin to be affected by a movement of colder air south. (see below for 13th January)


If this does indeed happen then we will see some snow for sure towards the end of next week and probably over the weekend. (Just in time for Harrogate !)

So for the start of next week we look to have west / north west winds in place and with high pressure we should be settled and dry. By Tuesday those winds swing more round to the north west and increase in intensity and that’ll push more unsettled weather into the north and west and later down south on Tuesday. So from Wednesday onwards next week we will be more unsettled with a cool north westerly wind in place. The question mark as inferred above relates to the end of next week when it looks possible that the winds will turn more northerly (in the north first) and this will push cold and unsettled wintry weather into Scotland and then later the north of England. Time will tell if this projection is correct…

Agronomic Notes


The first thing to say starting off in an optimistic frame of mind is that we are on the way to spring with a clear gap between mid-winter (blue trace) and today (yellow trace) in terms of the position of the sun in the sky according to Sunseeker. So whatever you may be experiencing today, in just 8 weeks it’ll be March 🙂


As it’s the first post of January 2017 we can look at our completed GDD stats for 2016 courtesy of Wendy’s charts 🙂


So December checked out pretty cool as predicted with only 27% of the GDD in December 2016 compared to December 2015.  But appearances are deceptive because we also experienced high disease pressure in December 2016 despite the coolness of the month with periods at the beginning and mid-month of high humidity and high night time temperatures. So what we can learn is that monthly totals weather-wise don’t tell the whole story.

It’s a bit like reading that for a certain month you only had 40mm of rain but if it occurred on two consecutive days it would be anything but a dry month in your mind !

Looking at December in detail from a rainfall and Growth Potential perspective we can clearly see the peaks that gave us heightened disease pressure during December 2016…Here’s December 2016’s stats from various locations with high disease pressure periods highlighted in red…


You can see from the two U.K locations that the main disease pressure occurred between 6th – 10th of December and also the 13th – 16th December with the south west location showing an extended period of activity.

Looking at three Irish locations we see a similar but not identical pattern ;


The Cork and Central Dublin locations started off December with an absolutely balmy (barmy) day on the 2nd with air temperatures in the day of 16.8°C and 21.4°C respectively and night temperatures of 13.2°C !

You can also see how important location is because the Coastal Dublin location missed out on the balmy early December weather probably because of coastal cloud cover.

Together with the early December warmth, we can see two similar peaks to the U.K locations for the Irish locations and so despite low GDD totals for the month it was a high disease pressure month for us all, U.K and Ireland alike.

Little wonder I received so many reports of very aggressive Microdochium nivale activity during December !

GDD totals for the year…


We hear alot about 2016 being the warmest year on record but for the U.K / Ireland I think the jet stream has the biggest effect on our yearly climate. So 2016 wasn’t the warmest year from a GDD perspective coming in well behind 2011 and 2014 but ahead of 2015.

If you look at the Irish data you can see that 2016 was a much better year for all locations but significantly better across the more westerly locations where GDD totals were so low in 2015.


So all in all not a bad year and I think a much better end to the year rainfall-wise compared to 2015, though I know some of the Scottish locations had an extremely wet run up to Christmas.

What’s to do ?

Well If you’re site location is dry and workable then why not slip in that early season hollow core this week to remove some extra surface organic matter ?


Now I 100% appreciate it may not be for you, your site may be too wet or too frozen but for sure there’s a dry window for some this week which would allow them to hollow core and collect without issues with core ejection and harvesting. (or hopefully too much moaning about holes in the greens from membership / players alike)

I think areas would also benefit from a brush to flick out some of that dead grass in the base of the canopy and stand up grass prior to a cut maybe ?

If the weather does close in later next week this may be the only window in January to do this kind of work so my advice would be “Carpe Diem Quam Minimum Credula Postero” which I am reliably informed translates to “Seize the day and put very little trust into tomorrow….”

You’ve probably got till Friday’s rain arrives to do this or other forms of aeration which will benefit you going forward.

Not really much to say about nutrition because at present there’s very little growth going on so I’d expect you to still be getting good results from your pre-Christmas winter tonics if you did indeed apply them….Disease activity as well I’d expect to be at a minimum because of the low temperatures and night frosts so hopefully no mycelium pictures to send me this week 🙁

Onwards and upwards as they say…

All the best

Mark Hunt