Monthly Archives: March 2017

March 27th


Hi All,March snow

As spring gathers apace with some lovely sunshine and warm temperatures late last week and over the weekend (for some areas), I spent two days in Scotland and Ireland driving through snow, so winter is not totally done with yet. In a topsy-turvy weather day we went from snow and 1°C at 8 a.m to warm sunshine and 11°C by midday. I also scraped frost off the car on Saturday morning. So this week we will see a week of weather contrasts with increasingly warm temperatures early on peaking on Thursday and then a sharp drop off by the end of the week before I think bouncing back again into milder temperatures next week.

So let’s put some detail on that…

General Weather Situation

Well an easy one to start the week because Monday will start dull, cool and overcast as that easterly wind pushes Haar off The North Sea. As we progress through the morning this thick cloud cover will start to break in the west and north first I think and that’ll allow temperatures to rise nicely. That cloud cover will continue to thin through the afternoon so a nice afternoon I think for most of us with temperatures rising up to 14-16°C with more warmth in the west because you’re further away from that cooler moderate easterly wind. Central and easterly locations will be last to lose that cloud cover and so here it’ll sit cooler and duller I’m afraid.

Moving onto Tuesday and overnight we see some light showers developing over Leinster and these will kind of hang around in the morning to make a dull start to the day there. Plenty of cloud cover around elsewhere on Tuesday so most areas starting off grey again. A band of rain looks set to push into The South West and South Wales through Tuesday morning and it’ll push up and across country as it does so, tracking along the south coast as well. That Irish rain will push north and west into Donegal through the latter part of the morning. As we progress into the afternoon, that rain continues to push north and east across the U.K so I expect it to be up in The Midlands and beyond by mid-afternoon. Similarly that rain across Ireland consolidates to give a wet p.m. in a line north of Dublin to beautiful Galway. By the evening rush hour that rain will have pushed up into The Borders but most of Scotland will stay dry, if a little dull through the daylight hours of Tuesday. With all that cloud and rain around it’s not surprising that temperatures are down so expect 11-13°C as the norm. Wind-wise we see a change from easterly to south westerly through the course of Tuesday and that signals the arrival of low pressure and unsettled conditions.

Mid-week already and we see that rain from Tuesday now off into The North Sea but with that wind change to south westerly we know what that means and especially for the south west of Ireland. So no suprises then that Kerry sees some Atlantic rain push in early on Wednesday morning and quickly push up country into Munster and Leinster to make it a soggy morning staring at the back of a lorry on the M50 🙁

For the U.K we see that rain into The South West at the same time and it’ll quickly push north and east up into Wales and the west coast of the U.K. So central and eastern areas look to start drier and stay drier for longer on Wednesday. By the afternoon, that rain is across Ireland, the south west, Wales, north west England and south west Scotland with some moving along the south coast as well into the south east of England later. Pushed along on a moderate, south westerly wind it’ll continue its march north and east so most areas will see rain by dusk across the U.K but as always the case with a south westerly airstream, the east will see it last and least. Temperature-wise I think we will be 13-15°C depending on whether you’re under the rain or not.

Moving swiftly onto Thursday and we start off cloudy and unsettled with rain soon arriving into Ireland, The South West and Wales I think. Elsewhere it’ll be a dull and cloudy start again to the day so a lot less sun than the previous week. At present we look to have a west-east divide on Thursday when we look at rain with Ireland, Wales and the north west of England in the firing line. South and east of this looks at this stage to remain dry with potentially some hazy sunshine breaking through as well. The same may be true for the north and east of Scotland where you have the best chance of seeing the sun along The Moray Firth, south of this it’ll be dull with that cloud thick enough for some drizzle. By close of play that rain appears to sit over most of Ireland and then track along the west coast of the U.K with significant rain into the north of England and The Borders pushing more north into Thursday night. A significantly warm day on Thursday away from that rain and expect to see temperatures pushing into the high teens, maybe 18°C in the south east of England. Under that thicker cloud and rain it’ll be more like 12-13°C for Ireland and most of Scotland.

Closing out the week (hurrah) that cool Atlantic low pressure system is projected to slowly sink south so that’ll begin to peg temperatures back somewhat for Friday, so a chillier feel to the day where you enjoyed the warmth on Thursday. Again a lot of cloud around on Friday with rain (again) into south west Ireland during the morning. They’ll also be rain for The South West, Wales and the south of England and this will push north and east through into the afternoon pushing thicker cloud cover before it. Only the east coast may see some sunshine initially on Friday but then you’ll see the cloud and by tea time the rain will arrive to cover Ireland, England and Wales with only Scotland looking to be drier. That said the thick cloud base may be thick enough here for some drizzle and light rain as well through Central Scotland during the afternoon. So most places seeing rain on Friday clearing through though as we progress through Friday night. Temperature-wise that thick cloud and rain will unsuprisingly keep temperatures pegged back to the low teens, so 11-13°C I reckon.

In last week’s forecast I promised and delivered a lovely weekend…well I’m not going to do the same this week 🙁

Saturday looks a dull day with thick cloud, some rain around for sure and a change in the wind direction to boot. Cooler as well as that low pressure sinks south right over Central England and drags cold air down with it, so a chilly and dull day for Saturday. They’ll be some rain around I think as well though some areas will just stay dry but dull. So after the heady heights of earlier in the week we stay cooler for the weekend and 11-13°C I reckon will be the order of the day. Slightly better news for Sunday though because at last we see that cloud cover breaking overnight to give most areas a sunny and dry day for the second part of the weekend. It’ll feel milder as well as that cold low slips away from the south of England, so maybe 12-14°C during the sunnier periods of Sunday, that’s nice.

Weather Outlook

So what’s the story with next week’s weather, back to winter or early to summer ?

Well it looks like we will start next week with a deep low pressure system sitting off the north west of Scotland and this will drag down some cooler and unsettled conditions for Monday, initially to the north, north west and Ireland so I think a wet start to the week there. Overnight into Tuesday I think we will see that rain move eastwards across most of the U.K and it’ll feel cool as the wind temporarily swings round to the north. Fear not though because if it pans out as projected, that shift in the wind to northerly heralds the arrival of high pressure and that will begin to build from mid week, next week. So staying unsettled across Scotland I think for Wednesday and perhaps Thursday but all the time that high is pushing in and pushing warmer air further north. So by the end of next week we look warm, settled and dry with potentially some very warm conditions / temperatures for the end of next week / weekend.

Now as always there’s a caviat with a weather scenario when you have a low and a high pressure battling it out. The money’s on the high winning the day but that could change and in which case we will stay cooler and unsettled. Three of the long-term weather models agree so I’m sticking to my guns and willing that high pressure in.

Agronomic Notes

Ok as promised last week I intend to keep a weekly log on how the spring is progressing GDD-wise and isn’t it flying ? (well in some places anyway !).

Next week we will have our usual start of month round up so then I’ll be able to compare a growing number of locations across Ireland and the U.K so don’t moan that I’m just using one location this week 🙂


So I have used the projected figures for our location (in this case The Oxfordshire at Thame) to finish off the month. If this week’s temperatures pan out as planned we will hit a total y.t.d GDD figure of 174 at the end of March 2017, which is significant and I’ll explain why a bit later. Before I do so (yes you’ll just have to be patient) let’s compare 2017 with the same period 2016 GDD-wise.


So you can see the way spring tracked (or rather didn’t track) in 2016 in red vs. where spring 2017 is tracking in green.

Some difference I’d say and the above graph typifies to me why understanding and applying growth models to year-on-year data is so useful.

So comparing for this location (not necessarily yours though) I can see that on March 31st, 2016 we finished the month at a total yearly GDD to date of 75.

We passed the same cumulative GDD figure this year on March 8th !

That means for the Thame location we are 23 days ahead of 2016 from a GDD standpoint.

Poa annua Seedheads 🙂


So in my studies marrying up Poa annua as a flowering spring plant (because that’s how we must think of it) , I have seen the annual biotype (Poa annua var. annua) flower from 100GDD measured from January 1st using a base temperature of 6°C.

I have also noted the perennial biotype (Poa annua var. reptans) begin to start its seedhead flush from around 180GDD measured from January 1st using a base temperature of 6°C. So for this location by the end of March we will be knocking on the door of the commencement of the seedhead flush in earnest.

Now a couple of things to take on board here…

Firstly, you have a mix of biotypes on your surfaces in most cases though on sports pitches which are aggressively maintained annually I think you’ll have more of the annual biotype.

Established golf greens usually have a mix of bunch-type, fine perennial Poa annua (see below left and right core) or more elongated, coarser annual biotype (middle core)


So you’ll see some seedheads early which will be mainly annual biotypes and then the main seedhead flush will be from the perennial biotype in most golf green situations (unless of course you’re pure Fescue or pure Bent and in which case this blog and my ramblings are meaningless to you)

Secondly, is that your Poa biotype will be specific to your situation because it’s an adaptative species. For that reason your Poa may seed at 160GDD or 200GDD and that’s where you need to marry up your own GDD data and your visual observations. It won’t be the same for every location, in fact I have a feeling that Poa annua seeds earlier across the sea in Ireland (especially in the west of Ireland) than it does here but that’s just a feeling…

Looking ahead…Poa seedhead formation…

Looking at the way the weather is panning out I think we will see a start to the main seedhead flush later this week though with temperatures dropping it may be a slow start, however with some warm temperatures on Thursday that may do the trick in some locations…

Looking at the Meteoturf prediction we can see a pronounced spike this week before the temperatures drop away…This will be particularly pronounced in Central and Southern England and Wales as well.


For Ireland and Scotland it won’t be as marked a spike (see below) and so I think the seedhead flush will be slower, possibly later and will have a less pronounced start…


So for me I’d be starting my Cultural Poa seedhead work this week in the warmer locations and in the cooler ones I think you’ll be 10 days or so behind. Certainly if the weather for next week pans out then a warm high pressure will really tip the cards towards a Poa seedhead flush.

Looking ahead….Microdochium nivale activity

Now this week will be interesting because if we do get a very warm day on Thursday and indeed we carry that temperature into Thursday night / Friday morning then coupled with high humidity (from the rain earlier in the week) you may see a sudden flush of new M.nivale across turf surfaces and even some of the more temperature / humidity-liking fungal diseases like Superficial Fairy Ring and Red Thread.

The key will be the strength of the wind and its ability to dry down the leaf surface. If the wind dries down the plant leaf fast enough then you won’t see that disease spike, if it doesn’t, you will…Feedback welcome please either way…

Looking ahead….Weed Growth


It’s interesting to see how suddenly weeds have sprung into flower particularly Daisies and Dandelions and how two weeks ago you could hardly see any and now they are everywhere. The spike shown in this week’s growth forecast would normally provide a great uptake opportunity for applying a selective herbicide but I’m afraid that might be difficult with the strength of wind and the risk of rainfall. Next week’s high pressure (if it does come to pass) will provide good spray conditions and a great opportunity to get good uptake.

Looking ahead….Outfield PGR Usage

The same rationale in my mind applies to a PGR on outfield height-of-cut turf, it may be advantageous to sneak one on this week but if it’s not practically feasible then I’d apply next week if the high pressure arrives so you have your labour-intensive areas of turf buttoned down before Easter because it’ll be with us before you know it.


Ok that’s it for this week, lots to chat about and again I’d appreciate any feedback you’d care to leave regarding the points I have outlined.

I guess I should stress this blog constitutes my thoughts and observations and not the company I work for or represent just so we’re clear on that front.

All the best..

Mark Hunt


March 20th


Hi All,

Hedgepigs2017Well right on schedule my first Hedgehogs conformed to the last one in, first one out principle of life by emerging from hibernation on Friday night. Initially it was the last two of the 2016 brood, but one of their brothers (sisters ?) from an earlier in the year brood has since joined them. Mum and Dad though are still asleep which is par for the course, their old wise heads know that winter isn’t quite finished with yet and so they’re staying tucked up, nice and warm 🙂

As hinted above, our nice little snippet of spring will be coming to a (hopefully) temporary end this week with a cool and a wet interlude as a cold trough system in the jet stream (shown below) settles in to affect our weather. Just to give you something positive to focus on though I think by the weekend we could be warm, dry and settled with lots of sunshine, so get your head down and work through a crappy, cool week and focus on the weekend 🙂


General Weather Situation

So kicking off Monday and we have a wet picture on the rain radar as a thick band of rain sits from south east Munster across the Irish Sea, straddles Wales, The Midlands and pushes up from The Humber to The Borders of Scotland. South of this main rain band it is grey with some light rain around. There is also a band of heavy showers across Connacht, Donegal and these reach across in Scotland. Through the morning on Monday this rain will settle into two bands, one affecting the south of England righ tup to the north, the other affecting Scotland where that rain will fall as sleet and snow at higher altitudes.  By lunchtime we also see some more rain pushing into south west Kerry and into south west Munster and this will slowly move north and east through the afternoon / evening to cross and cover Ireland. As the U.K rain sinks south to central and southern England and north across Scotland, it’ll leave a chunk of clear and sunny weather across the north of England so a clear, dry end to the day here. In those clearing skies temperatures will drop overnight and some areas will come close to a ground frost to start Tuesday. Temperature-wise I’d expect Monday to be reasonable with 12°C across the south of England, 10°C  across Ireland, Wales and the west and cooler across Scotland with temperatures just tripping 8°C. Wind-wise, they’ll be light to moderate winds and from the west / south west.

Tuesday sees a band of wintry showers stretching down the spine of the U.K overnight and these will be principally affecting the south west of Scotland and Ireland / north west of England as dawn breaks. South and east of this it’ll be a bright but cold start to the day with ground frost in places. Through the course of Tuesday morning that mix of rain, sleet and snow will push across Ireland, the south west of England, Wales, the north west and Central Scotland so very much a west theme for that moisture initially. East and south of this it’ll be a bright but chilly day. Through the afternoon, those showers will push inland into The Midlands and if anything intensify across The South West and Wales unfortunately. That band of rain, sleet and snow across Scotland looks to be set in for the day so it’ll be full waterproofs for me, with a buff and wooly hat I think this week 🙁 A much cooler feel to Tuesday with a stronger westerly wind and as that cold air sinks south I’d expect high single figures to be the order of the day for all areas, so way down on the heights of last week and feeling chilly in that wind despite the sunshine in places.

Wednesday sees that that band of rain and sleet push across from Wales into The Midlands overnight so by dawn we have a large mass of rain and wintry showers across The South West and Central England stretching up the north. Ireland looks to start dry except for some wintry showers affecting Connacht. Scotland should be drier but they’ll still be some wintry showers across central areas and The Highlands. Through Wednesday morning we will see some wintry showers across the west of Ireland, south west / south east of England and the north east of England and Scotland. Between them they’ll be some areas that’ll receive long spells of winter sunshine, I say winter sunshine because it’ll feel right parky under that cloud cover with temperatures barely over mid-single figures in a light to moderate wind. One of the reasons it’ll feel cooler on Wednesday is that the wind will swing round to the north east in most areas pegging back the temperature even further. Closing out Wednesday we still see that rain across the south of England stubbornly in situ over the south east and East Anglia as dusk falls.

Overnight into Thursday we see more wintry showers coming off The North Sea pushed on by that light to moderate, north easterly wind so across the North East of England, down The Humber and Wash Estuaries and across the south east of England, you’ll see a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. With a north easterly wind, the boot is on the other foot for the 2nd part of the week because Ireland and the west of the U.K will be brighter and drier though there is a risk of wintry showers across Leinster first thing. Through Thursday morning we see that mix of sleet and snow sink south and affect an area from the Humber south I think as well as pushing inland into The Midlands. Bright, clear and cold elsewhere. So I’d expect temperatures between 6 – 8°C  on Thursday

Finishing off what has been a cool week for all Friday sees a much clearer and drier picture across nearly all of the U.K and Ireland with just some rain and wintry showers affecting north west Scotland. So a much clearer picture for the end of the week, still cool though with that north easterly wind in situ but at least we are dry for 90% of the U.K and Ireland with only those persistent wintry showers spoiling the picture over north west Scotland. Remaining cool but you may just see a gentle lift in the temperatures across Wales and Ireland pushing up into high single / low double figures.

Looking ahead to the weekend we have two key processes at play here and they could conspire to give a very pleasant forecast (which is nice). The first is that the cold trough slinks south and clears the U.K and the second is that a warmer high pressure pushes in from the east. So the weekend looks warmer, dry and settled for most although still with an easterly wind in situ for central and southerly regions. The north and Scotland at the other end of the high will have westerly winds and these will pick things up nicely temperature-wise, so rejoice and enjoy a lovely weekend if it comes to pass. The only fly in the ointment could be across the north west of Scotland where those wintry showers may persist I’m afraid through Saturday / Sunday.

Weather Outlook

Next week is a tricky one to forecast because although we have high pressure in situ, we also have low pressure sitting in The Bay of Biscay. This is the remnants of the cold low of this week. The key is going to be exactly where the two pressure systems sit in relation to one another from a north / south perspective. At present the low is projected to sit just off the south coast of England and that means it may be close enough to bring some rain to the south of England / South Midlands, The South West, South Wales and South Munster from Tuesday onwards. Otherwise calm and settled with light winds and pretty dry for the U.K with the driest areas the further north you go. Like I say a good deal of uncertainty on this one but I think towards the end of next week we will see a new Atlantic low appear and that’ll shift the winds to the west and bring windier and more unsettled conditions. Mild though with light winds i think on the whole next week, just the rain bit which is hard to call.

Agronomic Notes

A lot to talk about this week because last week’s temperature has really changed the game growth-wise…

Growth Degree Days – Aren’t they useful 🙂

First off, I think it’s good to show you how really useful Growth-Degree-Day models are from a spring growth perspective. So what I’ve done is graphed out the cumulative GDD for the last 4 years, 2014 to 2017 inclusive, from January 1st to the end of March (using projected temperature for 2017 of course as time travel isn’t one of my personal qualities though sometimes I wish it was ! 🙂 ).

I have also put a line in at 100 cumulative GDD because that’s when Poa annua var. annua starts to produce seedheads in my humble opinion…

So let’s look at 2015 vs. 2014 and see how the growth curves matched up…


So you can see that 2014 was a much warmer spring than 2015 and that Poa annua var. annua started seeding on the 21st March, 2014, whereas in 2015,  we didn’t reach this point until later in April because we were cooler. Let’s look at this year vs. 2016 for the same location.


We can clearly see that 2017 (in black) has been much warmer so far this year with good growth really from mid-February and some very good growth through early / mid-March.

In terms of Poa annua var anPoaannuavarannuanua (that’s the annual version of Poa annua incidentally not the perennial) we can see that it started seeding in earnest on the 10th of March, 2017 and sure enough last week I found Poa annua var. annua seeding (image right) on greens and others areas in the south of England, so I know the model is accurate.

In 2016 at this location we didn’t hit 100GDD cumulative until the 3rd of April, so currently we are tracking 24 days ahead of 2016 in terms of spring growth…

So finally let’s look at the last 4 years graphed over each other…


Hopefully this demonstrates how really useful Growth-Degree-Day models are in providing a quantifiable measurement for grass growth and for using it to predict specific agronomic events like Poa annua seeding.

Perennial Poa Seedhead Development


Staying on the subject of Poa annua seeding, so far I have only talked about the annual biotype of Poa annua rather than the perennial biotype – Poa annua var reptans. To me this biotype begins seeding on or around 180GDD over here in the U.K and a little earlier the more west you are I think. So if the weather pans out as expected over the next 14 days we will hit 180 cumulative GDD some time in early to mid-April in this Watford location and that means the start of the seedhead flush in earnest. That said, this GDD figure will be specific to your location and your perennial Poa biotype, it may be higher or lower GDD-wise, but I think it will be earlier this year.

As a frame of reference, last year we didn’t hit 180GDD at this location until May 2nd !

I’ll keep a running total of GDD on this blog and we can see how things pan out weather, GDD and Poa annua seeding-wise..

Microdochium nivale

Last week I predicted that the mild weekend of March 11th, 12th could have kicked off some new Microdochium activity on existing scars but I also wondered if it was mild enough to initiate new infection as well ?

On my travels last week I clearly saw new M.nivale infection as well as new activity on the edge of existing disease scars. I also had some feedback confirming the latter as well (thanks Ian)

So it looks like there is a particular temperature / humidity combination that is required for new M.nivale activity and a different temperature / humidity combination for new activity around existing scars. This is logical as the former schematic would involve a saprophytic fungus becoming pathogenic and the latter, an existing pathogenic population that becomes active again. (What do you reckon Kate on that one ?…now I’ll see how far down she reads :))

Diary of a disease scar…


Now you’ve all seen a disease scar before I know, nothing new in that, but I’ve been following this particular location quite closely so I thought it would be interesting to look at the above and understand more fully what I believe we are looking at. (though I stand to be corrected as usual)

This area received no fungicide over the winter so what you’re looking at is how Microdochium nivale develops over the course of a winter after initial infection which ocurred in this case around the 28th, 29th October, 2016.


It is to me an interesting time lapse of how Microdochium nivale (Fusarium in old language) can develop in a Poa / Bent sward over the autumn winter and I think something we will have to get used to, to a certain extent as we enter a period of less-effective chemicals and more activity. I don’t mean a golf green plastered with scars, more like a low number of scars on susceptible greens.

My greens are purple…


Yes folks it is that time of year again when we see the distinctive purple / red discolouration across golf greens. In brief this is caused by some biotypes of Poa annua photosynthesising during the warmth of the day but once the temperature drops they are unable to translocate those sugars from the leaf. The sugars accumulate and bind to a pigment called Anthocyanin which is a purple / red pigment (the same pigment that we see expressed in the colour of leaves in the autumn) and this becomes the dominant pigment in the grass leaf for a time in place of chlorophyll, the green pigment.

It’s most noticable on greens that are in the open light-wise and so can photosynthesise more during the day. As we reach more consistent day and night temperatures it grows out as chlorophyll once again dominates the grass leaf from a pigment perspective. If you look closely at the affected purple leaf blade and turn it over you’ll notice the purpling is only on the upper side of the leaf because this is the side exposed to the sun.

There’s an article from Peter Dernoeden’s excellent book “Creeping Bentgrass Management” on the net re-printed from Turfax that you can view here.

Ok that’s all for this week, I’ve got a flight to catch and some shirts to iron as well as a tediously long T.T.D list 🙁

All the best.

Mark Hunt




March 13th


Hi All,

“Beware the ides of March” it was once said in a Shakespear play, the ides is I gather an old way of saying the 15th of the month, so looking at this week I can say from a Meteorological perspective, poppycock ! , because we have a nice week in store for most 🙂

IMG_6908Very happy that my weekend forecast of a cold low pressure system didn’t turn out to be accurate for large parts of the country because instead we had a pretty nice one, though I know yesterday morning some of you got hammered rainfall-wise. Did a lovely 10 mile walk across Leicestershire yesterday afternoon, once the rain had moved off and came across some lovely White Violets pushing up through the ivy in a small copse.

So spring gathers apace with days lengthening, soil temperatures rising and some noticeable drying winds as well.

So will it last or has winter not quite released its grip ?

Well yes and no….

General Weather Situation

Monday looks to start off cool but dry for a large part of the U.K and Ireland save for some mizzle, drizzle, rain over the west and north west of Scotland. They’ll be some cloud cover over Ireland, the north west of England and Scotland but south and east of this the sun will come out and I think it will be a lovely spring day 🙂 Through the afternoon that cloud cover over Ireland and Scotland will fragment and dissipate leaving a nice end to the day here as well. Winds will be light to moderate and westerly allowing the temperature to push up nicely into the low to mid-teens. All in all, a lovely day and one to cherish 🙂

Tuesday sees some rain move into north west Scotland, Donegal and Connacht during the early hours of the morning and by the rush hour it’ll push south and east into Ireland and Scotland, but it will largely fizzle out into a thick cloud layer as it does so.  South of this another dry day beckons with perhaps more in the way of cloud cover for the southern half of the U.K compared to Monday. As we move through the morning we could see some isolated showers break out over the Pennines and north west of England, but these will be in the minority I think. As we close out the day we will see some rain into the west of Ireland and this will move eastwards through the evening, preceded by some thicker cloud cover. They’ll also be some rain for north west Scotland at the tail end of the day. Westerly winds again, light to moderate and these will usher along some nice air temperatures pushing into the mid-teens in the south of England and low teens elsewhere.

Mid-week and Wednesday looks to be another pretty decent day though we will again see some showers troubling the coast of North Wales and the north of England. These will push east but fizzle out again as they do so. Elsewhere for Scotland, Ireland, South Wales and the rest of England we look to have another cloudy but pleasant spring day and importantly dry again for alot of the day with breaks in the cloud cover through the afternoon and latter part of the day. As we go into Wednesday evening we will see some thicker cloud cover spill into north west Ireland and Scotland and push south east through Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Similar temperatures again on Wednesday with if anything lighter winds pushing in from the west / south west.

Onto Thursday and a cloudier day in prospect I think which in some areas will hold back the temperature a degree or two from the previous days. Again thick cloud and cooler temperatures for north west Scotland with rain pushing in during the late morning / early afternoon. Some of that moisture may fall as a wintry shower mix with snow at elevation here. Further south and indeed across most areas, another cloudy but mild and dry day with that cloud cover breaking through the afternoon to let temperatures rise into the mid-teens and maybe beyond. Some of that rain across north west Scotland may sink south into Donegal, south west Scotland and north west England through the 2nd part of Thursday but it won’t amount to much I think. Westerly winds again ruling the roost so mild but perhaps a little cooler due to the thicker cloud base across some areas and moderate now picking up in intensity.

Closing out what has been a largely good week for the U.K and Ireland I think weather-wise (except for North West Scotland I’d add 🙁 ), Friday sees a settled start to the day but a rain front is predicted to push into north west Scotland and Ireland from dawn on Friday and then move quickly across country. By mid-morning it is likely to be affecting most of Scotland and Ireland and it may fall as sleet / snow over higher elevations signalling a cooler feel to the weather as we close out the week. Through the afternoon this rain is projected to push south and west across Ireland into North Wales and the north / north west of England. It’ll be heavy in places with the possibility of localised flooding where the ground is already saturated. By evening this rain front will be across Wales and into The South West with the worst of it more westerly-orientated. During Friday night and Saturday morning expect this rain to push south over most of England to give a wet start to Saturday. (It’ll be bailing out the boats again then 🙁 ) Winds will strengthen from the west to moderate to strong and that’ll peg back temperatures somewhat, down into high single figures across Scotland and low double figures further south. All in all a pretty poor end to the week.

So will my weekend forecast be as inaccurate as last time ?

Saturday I see starting off wet for most parts of the U.K as that overnight rain has yet to clear. Ireland though looks to start dry but I don’t think it’ll stay that way for long as low pressure is set to tighten the isobars and push rain across the west and north west through the day. So a very windy, unsettled Saturday with some sunshine in the afternoon between the blustery showers is my forecast as we stand now. Feeling noticeably cooler as well with that strong westerly wind pegging back temperatures especially across Scotland. Sunday sees that windy and unsettled theme continue I think with a sunshine and showers day and still with that strong westerly wind in situ perhaps turning more north westerly for the 2nd half of Sunday further dumbing down the temperatures to high single figures, maybe just breaking into double figures further south.

Weather Outlook

I think next week could well be a week of two halves to borrow an ofted-quoted phrase. The first part of the week looks like a deep, cold, low pressure system will be sitting over the north of Scotland and this will drag the wind direction round to the north and pack in those isobars. So I think Monday will start cool, windy and largely dry with rain moving into the north and west through the 2nd half of the day. Tuesday looks wet, windy and unsettled with strong winds in situ before high pressure begins to edge in from The Atlantic and push in warmer temperatures and more settled conditions from the west with lightening winds. The end of next week then looks to be settled and dry with increasingly warmer temperatures as high pressure strengthens its grip over the U.K and Ireland’s weather.

Agronomic Notes


Had this lovely picture sent in From Ken Siems at Pestovo Golf & Yacht Club, north of Moscow where they have enjoyed a typically harsh Russian winter with temperatures until recently down at -19°C, so if you’re behind with your winter projects don’t complain, at least you don’t have this to contend with :).

Lovely snow scene though and you can almost hear the crumping of the snow beneath your feet and the sharpness of the air in your lungs.

Ok back to reality…

Weather Window

GlasgowMeteoturf130317 EnglandMeteoturf130317 WalesMeteoturf130317 DublinMeteoturf130317

For most of us this week provides a great weather window to get some good groundwork done ahead of a more cooler, unsettled picture from the weekend onwards.

So if you’re finishing off winter project work or embarking on some spring aeration, Tempus Fugit my friends and use the time wisely…Looking at the Meteoturf readouts for the various locations you can see we have a reasonably good growth window for the next 5 days with 22-26 GDD predicted for Ireland, England, Wales and 14GDD for Central Scotland. This should allow some recovery for those of you who have aerated already or are aerating this week.


A good deal of choice here because of the warm, daytime air temperatures and the prospect of moisture at the end of the week. With these kind of conditions I’d expect good reaction from folairs this week and ideally I’d try and work on a 50/50 mix of urea (or slow release urea) and cool-temperature N forms, be they ammonium nitrate, sulphate or potassium nitrate-based. Obviously you’d be looking to add in some iron as well to maintain that colour as temperatures begin to decline later in the week / weekend.

If you’re granular-orientated then I’d say applying prior to the weekend rainfall looks a good strategyand again I’d be looking for a mix of cool temperature N forms in my product because you want the minimum of reliance on microbial activity at this stage of the season to ensure the nutrient is plant-available. That means the same nitrogen forms as I have detailed above.



Made an interesting observation at the weekend whilst cutting a lawn. The lawn in question is mainly Fescue / Rye and after last autumn was in good condition with a small amount of moss present. It got cut very late in the year because it had become long and so went into the cold December / January period with less leaf present. The amount of moss in the lawn now is substantial and I think its ingression has been aided by the lack of coverage due to the late cut and also the lack of winter grass growth / recovery through December and January as they were colder than normal.

It made me think again about winter cutting heights because I’m a big fan of keeping the winter cutting height at 3-4mm on greens because not only does it present better, you get less of a physiological difference between your mix of grass species come the spring, but maybe it comes at a price ?

Now we all know cutting heights are an emotive issue in our industry 🙂 but I’d be really interested to see some research done in what is the optimum cutting height through the winter in terms of moss ingression. Of course it will differ depending on the type of sward, surface organic matter levels, topdressing inclusion rates, etc because if you have a well-integrated, surface fibre layer, presumably you could roll to maintain good green speed through the winter (subject to the weather conditions of course) and maybe keep that height up just a tad ?

Lot’s of variables here really, maybe too many to test because we also know that cutting heights in the winter in terms of bench set vs. actual must vary more as the mower sinks in on softer, winter surfaces so are you actually cutting shorter than you think ?

Just thinking out loud, I’d be interested in your comments / thoughts / experiences on winter cutting heights and moss ingression.

Microdochium and other plant pathogens…


Looking at the weather station on Friday and Saturday nights (I live such a pacey, interesting life don’t I ?) I noted that on both nights we stayed >10°C air temperature and > 90% relative humidity which ordinarily would set alarm bells ringing in my mind regarding Microdochium nivale activity. I haven’t had any reports as yet but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case with some new activity noted on the edge of cold scars on Sunday…what say you ?

Insect activity


This spring will be the first one we face without many of you being able to apply Chlorpyrifos / Imidachloprid last autumn and with the recent mild weather in late February and early March, it is likely that we will see increased activity from Chafer and Leatherjacket grubs feeding on plant roots.

We are also likely to see more Corvid / Badger foraging as well because I noted at the weekend that Rooks, Jackdaws and Crows already have young in their nests and therefore hungry mouths to feed. We are for sure in a desperate situation but how desperate is it in terms of grub damage in the light of no effective chemical control ? (Yes, yes I know there are biological controls but so far I haven’t exactly been amazed at their success at a 20x cost alternative to where Chlorpyrifos was 🙁 )

Really what I am saying is, is anyone seeing success from a particular strategy that they’d like to share ? I’d be more than happy to use this blog as a portal if there is, just drop me a comment…

Plant Parasitic Nematodes (PPN’s)


On the subject of non-fungal pathogens, the mild February has definitely kcked off PPN activity ahead of normal years with both Ectoparasitic and Endoparasitic species ahead of the game in terms of activity and numbers present in rootzones so if you have a known issue with these pathogens (and I hope you don’t), expect to see symptoms earlier than usual.

Ok that’s it for now, enjoy the warm sunshine on your backs and face because we’ll likely to lose it for a time before it comes back 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt






March 6th


Hi All,

My first blog of March and a welcome one to say we’ve turned the corner into spring on the calendar if not with the weather as some places had more snow yesterday and most, plenty of rain.

This week we are going to be sandwiched between a northerly low pressure and a warm Azores high so that means the weather will split into two, colder and wetter in the north, warmer and drier (but still with some rain) in the south. Temperatures as predicted last week will nudge up nicely into double figures only I think for a cold low pressure to re-assert itself over the weekend and take us all into a cooler and wetter interlude. Changeable the weather is at present…. 🙁 Bah humbug I say ….

So let’s put some detail on the coming week and the weekend…

Monday looks to start dry for a good deal of the U.K and Ireland save for some snow over The Highlands and a pulse of rain, sleet and snow pushing into south west Munster and south west England. During the morning those wintry showers over The Highlands will sink south bringing rain to Central Scotland and that south westerly rain will push north across the western side of Ireland, so mainly Munster and Connacht affected and Leinster keeps it’s toes dry 🙂

For England and Wales that band of slow moving rain in the south west will move slowly up towards Bristol and across to the Isle of Wight, with South Wales just picking up some light showers. During the afternoon that Irish rain finally crosses eastwards into Leinster to end the day wet over most of the country. For the U.K we see an improving picture during the afternoon as the rain moves off and becomes confined to West Wales, the rain clears Scotland and we see the sun there and across The Midlands and northern England (which makes a change recently). The southern half of the U.K looks to retain quite a bit of cloud cover so not such a nice end to the day there. Temperature-wise I’d expect to see it stay on the cool side after a cool start to the day, so 7-9°C and a moderate north westerly wind but a drying one importantly.

Rolling along to Tuesday and with a clear sky in places I think we’ll see a ground frost in places but that means a nice dry start to the day for all areas. With such a mixed weather picture it won’t last though and we’ll soon see rain push into the west of Ireland, falling as sleet and snow over the mountains of Donegal push in and move eastwards, covering the whole country by lunchtime. For the afternoon, that rain breaks up into showers over Ireland with the heaviest rain across the north and west. For the U.K, a dry first half of the day pretty much all over, but by lunchtime that rain has crossed the Irish Sea and is into the west coast of England, Wales and Scotland, falling as a mix of wintry showers over elevation. During the afternoon this rain will push eastwards into The Midlands and central regions but I expect the east coast to stay dry till dusk. So a pretty wet end to Tuesday for most. Again staying cool with temperatures in a similar range to Monday 7-9°C, maybe a little higher for Ireland and still with that moderate to gusty north westerly wind in situ.

Onto Wednesday and that overnight rain will be heavy across the U.K clearing to the east by dawn, but we will see still see rain across the east and south east and it’ll be slow to clear. At the same time expect some rain and wintry showers into the north west of Scotland. Ireland looks to start dry on Wednesday. During the morning there may be some showers flirting with the south coast of Munster and Leinster but that looks about it for you guys. For the U.K, a much drier day on Wednesday but that rain that clipped the Irish coast will move into the south west of England by lunchtime and track along the south coast of England. Through the afternoon we will see some breaks in the cloud over Ireland, Scotland and the north of England, but they’ll also be rain around for Munster, the south coast of England and north west of Scotland. Through the evening that rain will push north into The Home Counties, The Midlands and East Anglia. Another feature of Wednesday is a more westerly aspect to the wind later on so temperatures will push into double figures across Ireland, England and Wales, with only Scotland staying in single figures.

Onto Thursday and they’ll still be rain around across South Wales, the south west and southern half of England, but most of it will clear through the morning. Ireland looks to start off dry but dull, however through the day this cloud will break, temperatures will rise and you’ll have a sunshine and showers type of day I think. The same for the south of England, mild with some showers around, but for The Midlands, the north of England and the bulk of Scotland (save for those persistent wintry showers affecting the north west), it’ll be a drier day with some extended periods of sunshine and some showers. Most likely the warmest day of the week, I expect temperatures to push up well into double figures, low to even mid-teens in places, so proper spring like in a moderate to light westerly wind 🙂

Closing out the week on Friday, I’d love to say that we are set fair for a nice end to the week and a pleasant weekend but it won’t be I am afraid 🙁 Overnight rain, some of it heavy moves into and across Ireland and by dawn this will be into the south west of England, South Wales and the south of England and it’ll track north and east through Friday morning. So Scotland and the north of England will start dry but by mid-morning I’d expect that rain to be across northern England and into The Borders, falling as wintry showers again over elevation. By lunchtime that rain and thick cloud is across Ireland, Wales and England and the south of Scotland, with only The Highlands and north east of Scotland dry.  By dusk we have a full covering of rain, thick cloud and increasingly wintry showers over The Pennines and Scotland, so a pretty cack end to the week really. Temperatures down on Thursday but still remaining in double figures but that cooler, north westerly wind returns I’m afraid so still in single figures in Scotland.

So as intimated at the start of this blog, the weekend doesn’t look fantastic sitting here on a Monday morning, but the weather may just conspire to prove us wrong as it did on Saturday last weekend. So I think the feature of the weekend will be a low pressure system rattling in to bring packed isobars, a north westerly wind and plenty of rain across the west and north, but also further south as well. It’ll be a blustery, wet day with temperatures, cooler in the north and Midlands but hanging on further south into double figures and this is where you may see the drier weather on Saturday. A sunshine and showers day for sure on Saturday. Sunday looks drier and duller because the wind swings round more northerly / north easterly and that’ll pull in cloud from The North Sea, so potentially drier, but cooler / duller on Sunday as high pressure tries to make an entrance stage left.

Weather Outlook

So is there any let up on the horizon for our wet March theme ?

Well possibly on a temporary type basis because next week looks like we may start with high pressure in place and that means stable conditions and above all dry for Monday and most of Tuesday but we have a low pressure entering in from The Atlantic so I expect that to push us back towards a more windy, unsettled and cool theme from Wednesday onwards next week. Since the low pressure system will be over the west and north it could end up being a re-run of this week for the latter part of next, i.e cooler and wetter in the north, slightly drier and milder in the south with less rain. Plenty of time for this outlook to change though as I’ve always said, long-term forecasts are for la-la land.


It’s interesting though because the shape of the jet stream is pretty much identical to last year with a strongly pronouned ‘L’ pattern and that gave us a very wet and a cool March in 2016 and looks like doing the same this year.

Agronomic Notes

Ok since this is the first blog of March, it’s time to look back at how February fared for us in terms of growth and rainfall, so let’s start off with the GDD stats for our Thame location.


So the first thing that should be apparent is how mild February was as a month compared to when we first started logging monthly GDD at this location back in 2010. A total GDD of 51 for the month is 25% higher than the best February to date back in 2011and 4 x warmer than the preceding month. Cumulatively for the year we are well up there but before you get excited I don’t expect March to tear the sheets off (can I say that?) GDD-wise.

Putting a bit more detail for the U.K and Ireland (and of course many thanks to all the contributors that make this comparison possible, so much appreciated at my end I can tell you) Here’s how we look around the U.K and Ireland ;


A definite north / south divide when it comes to GDD with Scotland, the north and The Midlands on a par from that perspective, whereas the south of the U.K, Guildford and Devon are 50% higher in terms of temperature / growth. Not so rainfall with a clear indication that February’s rainfall came in from the south west because Devon came out the wettest at 96mm for the month and Thame, the driest.

Looking at Ireland, further evidence of that south westerly rain tracking with Valentia (no surprises eh lads?) coming out the wettest, but look at the difference between Cork and Dublin, nearly 2x the rainfall in Cork vs. Dublin and that’s because of that south westerly rain movement pushing below and to the west of Leinster.


GDD-wise, similar figures to the U.K really (which kind of goes against the Irish authorities viewpoint that the climate is so different in Ireland vs. the U.K) with a good growth month despite the rainfall.

Patterns of growth – February 2017

So let’s see how the grass grew in January through February bearing in mind the latter was such a mild month ;


Above I have compared Fife with Guildford and you can see some interesting data. Although Fife showed lower growth than Guildford overall, there were periods of the January and February when it was milder in this area of Scotland and the grass was growing better than it was in Guildford, 450 miles odd further south.

Both locations showed good growth through February with strong growth at the beginning and mid-end of February.

Just to put things in perspective, the G.P reading of 0.75 on the 20th February, 2017 in Guildford was higher than we saw through any day of January, February, March and April 2016 and wasn’t topped till mid-May 2016 !


Looking at two locations in Ireland across January and February, we see a similar pattern of growth, but with slightly lower daily peaks. Again the heady heights of the third week of February saw stronger growth in Ireland than we saw on any day for the first four months of last year.

What this means is that February 2017 was a better growth month than March 2016 and similar to April 2016 and I wouldn’t bet against it being better than March 2017 either.

What can we take from this data ?


Well it’s back to that old cheshnut again and that’s early year aeration.

I know, I know it doesn’t work for all sites because of patterns of play, club policies, rainfall, ground conditions, labour, resources and the like, but you can’t argue with the facts if these don’t apply to your site.

The facts are that we are now getting consistent growth in January and February and on the flipside March and April are almost an extension of winter with cooler temperatures and wind patterns in particular not conducive to good, consistent growth.

So if all of the above are in place then we have to change our way of thinking from the traditional March / April aeration slots and maybe do the work earlier ?

There’s also a trend to do more work earlier, get more aeration done in that window if it’s available and that means less disruption later in the season. It doesn’t mean that you do all of your aeration and then nothing because it’s imperative that we keep the surface free-draining and topdress through the season, but the bulk the organic matter removal can be done in one operation and the greens put to bed to recover before the main spring play starts.

I know a number of clubs that have scarified, double cored and applied close to 100mt of topdressing in January 2017 and are now well on their way to recovery.

Granular applications provide more consistent growth early on…

Fertiliser SamplesGT15515RISThe growth during January and February is I think definitely more suited to granular rather than foliar applications, because they are more consistent, deliver their nutrients more efficiently under higher rainfall incidences and in so doing bring you into March stronger, so less nutrient has to be applied then to push sward density.


Ok I’d like to chat more about that concept but the phone messages and emails are mounting so I’ll have to draw a line under the blog until next week…

All the best..

Mark Hunt