Monthly Archives: October 2017

October 30th


Hi All,


In last week’s blog I mentioned that I could smell winter round the corner and last night we got our first proper frost of the year in The Midlands, so that makes me a smart chappy. (If only that were true :))

Nowadays October is almost seen as a weather extension of September with no real thoughts about cold weather commencing to November and winter proper saved for January and February in my books.


Now that the clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in good and proper but it does give you the opportunity to have some lovely dusk walks, none more so than yesterday when I had a nice 8 mile jaunt across Leicestershire’s finest complete with the obligatory Latte and Flapjack stop 🙂

Apart from being a cracking walk, I chalked up a first in watching a pair of Short-Eared Owls hunting over some Fodder Beet fields at dusk. I’ve seen them before at known hotspots, but never out in the open countryside whilst walking. Absolutely lovely to see one of our diurnal Owl species.

I see that the tabloids are up to their usual tricks this year in forecasting a winter of snow storm hell and the like commencing in December.


Their weather contributors logic is that the jet stream is behaving erratically (no s**t Sherlock) and so is likely to plunge south and allow cold air to be drawn down from the North Pole.

Unlike a lot of their weatehr headlines, this time there may be some rationale in this because last week we were looking odds-on to pick up a cold snap this week from an easterly low pressure system that was doing just that. Fortunately it has moved eastwards into Russia so we are currently sitting under a peak rather than a trough. You can see this graphically portrayed on this Unisys GIF for todays weather with a mass of cold air stretching all the way down to Turkey.


So on balance I think it is more likely this winter than others that we will pick up some cooler weather but for now in The Midlands we could do with some rain with only 11mm for the month so far in October. Dry we are whilst other parts of the country are excessively wet like The South West, North West and Scotland, another consequence of the jet stream’s behaviour but I’ll talk about that next week when I summarise the month of October.

General Weather Situation

So we kick off on Monday with a pretty dry picture across all of the U.K and Ireland and where skies cleared overnight, a decent frost as well. So a cool day for us all with plenty of winter sunshine in the south and east of the U.K and across Ireland initially until some thicker cloud spills in from the west later this afternoon, eventually bringing rain to Donegal and north west Scotland later this evening. Temperatures may be just breaking double figures across the U.K in light northerly winds but milder across Ireland and the west as you pick up a westerly airstream.

Onto Tuesday and that overnight rain has moved south and east across Scotland and down into northern England. You’ll also see rain across Connacht through the morning as it moves north and west across the tip of Ireland into Scotland. A milder start compared to Monday across central and southern regions of the U.K and Wales due to a change in the wind direction from north to west but much less in the way of sunshine on Tuesday as thicker cloud pushes in from the west. For the 2nd part of the day we will still see rain across north west Ireland, Scotland and the north west of England as well. Temperature-wise, up into the mid-teens in that moderate to strong westerly air flow so a mild day to finish off October with.

Wednesday marks the first day of November and for Connacht and the west coast of Scotland, we will still see that persistent rain in place from the off and through much of the day I’m afraid, but it will tend to stay westerly coast-orientated. Towards dusk that rain and thicker cloud will push southwards across The Borders into northern England. Away from the north west of Ireland and the U.K, we should see another dry day with perhaps more in the way of sunshine and broken cloud through the day with thicker cloud pushing south and east across Ireland and the U.K later on in the day. Even without too much sun we will see another mild day with mid-teens likely across Ireland, Wales and England and a couple of degrees lower for Scotland and north west Ireland under that thicker cloud base and rain.

Thursday sees the last of that thicker cloud move off across Ireland and Scotland overnight to give a pleasant start to the day with varying amounts of sunshine. A cooler night though with temperatures down into the single digits and that’s because we are back in a northerly air flow. So a dry day for Thursday, but a cool one, with some winter sunshine probably more across the east and central regions of the U.K. Temperature-wise, just breaking double figures I’d say for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England in light to moderate, northerly winds.

Closing out the week on Friday and we have an active low pressure weather system down in the Bay of Biscay and that is projected to push northwards into southern England during Friday to bring rain for the 1st part of the weekend. For Friday though we have another calm day and if I could summarise it, I’d say dull is the word for the end of the week with plenty of thick cloud across Ireland and just about the entirety of the U.K, with possibly the south coast seeing the only meaningful sun. Despite the fact that we pick up a westerly air flow, we will also be cool because of that thick cloud and lack of sun, so cool, dull and dry just about sums up the day. That said, that thick cloud may just be thick enough for some rain across the west coast of Ireland and Scotland, the latter more likely to get some meaningful rainfall.

So onto the weekend and as commented I expect that Bay of Biscay low pressure to make it a damp start to the weekend with rain pushing up across Ireland, Wales and England overnight on Saturday morning and lasting through much of the daylight hours, so if you have a bonfire made, it’ll be a damp one by dusk :(. Now because the low pressure is eminating up from the south it means that the north of England and Scotland should miss most of this rain with just pick up some thicker cloud and light showers through the day and these tending to be confined to the north west of Scotland again. A cool day under that thick cloud for England and Wales barely making it into double figures if indeed it does at all. Drier I think across the west of Ireland and really from Dublin north as that rain is south-focussed, just like in the U.K.  Winds looks to be light and northerly on Saturday changing round to moderate westerlies for Sunday which promises to be the better day of the weekend, still cool though but with a much drier picture everywhere, with longer spells of sunshine, especially for the north of England and Scotland.

Weather Outlook

So this week we started off with a high pressure peak across the U.K and Ireland and next week it looks the same, but this one isn’t projected to last with a very deep low pressure set to influence our weather next week from the 2nd part of Monday. So I expect Monday to be calm, dry and cool but as we go through the day and from the north first, I expect the wind to get up pretty quickly pushing bands of rain down into Scotland and then the north of the country and Ireland, finally reaching the south of England later on Tuesday. Thereafter I expect it to be a sunshine and showers week as that low pressure pushes rain fronts across the U.K and Ireland on a strong westerly / north westerly wind. Perhaps more of the latter because it’ll remain cool with barely double figure temperatures, but that’s normal for November. Thereafter we have high pressure pushing in from The Atlantic so it’ll be interesting to see who wins that battle and what happens where the two meet.

Agromonic Notes

Disease Pressure – What else ?

Without a doubt September and October, 2017 (to date) represent the most sustained period of high Microdochium nivale activity we have experienced in my time in this industry.

Usually September is a dry month dominated by high pressure, fine days, cool nights and relatively low humidity overnight. Not this year though, September 2017 followed the example of September 2016, in terms of high humidity and high night time temperatures making disease very aggressive. I’m not just talking about Microdochium nivale, but also Dollar Spot and late-season Take-all as well, which following the wet 2nd half of summer showed renewed activity on high bentgrass-content areas.

Next week I’ll present the full month’s data from different locations but for now I’ve picked a Central England location which will work for Ireland as well because the weather won’t be a million miles away from each other, though we do tend to run warmer, night time temperatures here.


So what I have graphed out is minimum air temperature on the bottom graph vs. maximum relative humidity above it. I have then shaded in individual days where the air temperature is > 10°C AND the maximum relative humidity is > 90%, as I feel this combination of climatic conditions leads to the most aggressive Microdochium nivale activity.

So if we look at the graph above, it covers a 59-day period starting from September 1st through to October 29th. In that 59-day period, we experienced 33 days when we had a combination of humidity and night temperature conducive to high Microdochium nivale activity.

That is just short of 56% of the period in question representing high disease pressure, with 3 distinct, 7-day periods. Tough going in anyone’s books.

Fungicide longevity vs. Growth – October 2017

I will look at all the stats at month’s end but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if October 2017 checks out as the warmest we have measured in terms of GDD / G.P, that alone has a number of implications.

Firstly, as I’ve already shown, the high temperatures, particularly at night, promote disease, and secondly and perhaps more importantly for our industry going forward, they also promote grass growth.

So if we are talking about the newer systemic fungicides with less active ingredient content (in systemic rather than protectant form because that’s what gives you longevity), how long do we think they are lasting ?

Well for the high A.I / more effective older chemistries like Tebuconazole / Prochloraz, I reckoned we normally got 24-28 days from an application in terms of outright longevity.

With the newer chemistries I have tried to map Growth Potential vs. Efficacy, starting in some disease trials last year. I’ll be presenting the data at BTME 2018, but for now I have looked at the growth patterns in October 2017 and plotted that against anticipated fungicide longevity.

I reckon we were looking at 14 days maximum longevity from a lower A.I, newer chemistry during October 2017 over in the warmer parts of the U.K, perhaps 5-7 days longer in Ireland and Scotland. That’s a sobering thought both in terms of efficacy and financially.

Even more so when you consider that by next autumn we won’t have a contact curative chemistry like Iprodione to fall back on when activity is at its worst.

Looking ahead


Looking at the Meteoturf projections for the coming week across the four nations and you can see the pronounced drop off in temperature and hence growth / disease activity afetr we clear Wednesday. From a night time temperature vs. humidity perspective and the combination that we know promotes disease activity, I think only Ireland will have high disease pressure for the start of this week (because of the milder, westerly air flow) before that too drops off from mid-week onwards.

So the fact that we are picking up a northerly airstream and lower air temperatures both during the day and night will mean that disease pressure will drop off for now and in addition, any applied systemic fungicide applied recently, will last longer, which is good news. The continued spell of drier weather across the south of the U.K will also mean lower humidity levels until we get rain at the weekend.

Compare the above charts for the end of October / start of November with these below, which were from about a month ago. You can see the growth rate now is roughly 30 – 50% of what is was a month ago. That’s good news to me in terms of disease activity and control.


From a nutrition perspective I’d be suggesting just keeping the grass plant ticking over through the coming period because if you have some scarring from September / October, you’ll be wanting to get some re-growth. whenever conditions allow this to occur. Combining iron with that nutrition is a given and making the switch from warmer-temperature nutrient forms, like urea, to more cool temperature nutrient forms, like ammonium sulphate and potassium nitrate, would be prudent in light of the forecast.

Ok that’s it for this week, I’m off to prep for Saltex at The NEC and I hope to see some of you there if you’re intending to pay it a visit.

All the best.

Mark Hunt





October 23rd


Hi All,

After Storm Opehlia last week and Storm Brian over the weekend, the next ten due are called, in sequence, Caroline, Dylan, Eleanor, Fionn, Georgina, Hector, Iona, James, Karen and Larry.

No Storm Mark, Issacc or Yorac though which I find disappointing 🙁


Some of you reading this blog will be old enough to remember a group called “The Housemartins”, one of my favourites of the 80’s, and they had a track called “I smell winter” on the re-release of Hull 4 London 0, their first cracking album. The song always comes to my mind at this time of year because I can smell winter with the arrival of Redwings and Fieldfares from Scandinavia, over to feast on our berry crop. Now I’ve been hearing them at night for the last 2 weeks so in my books they’re here early as last year I reported them at the end of October. Is this a sign of a cold winter I wonder, well maybe in Scandinavia and Russia where they have shipped over from and incidentally where they are due to get their first snowfall this week. We may also feel winter ourselves in early November if the weather outlook pans out as projected.

For now though, we couldn’t be more different as will see warm weather at the end of October for the 8th year out of the last 10 and it wouldn’t surprise me if we hit 20°C at the weekend in the south of England, though we will have a northerly airstream, so that may peg things back a bit. Before you get your hopes up though, there’s another weather feature 10 days out that may take us back the other way quite quickly into winter, but that’s 10 days out, so plenty of time for things to change.

General Weather Situation

So for Monday we have low pressure out in the North Atlantic and so an unsettled start to the week as we have bands of rain crossing northern England, The Midlands and the west of Scotland. Through the morning we will see further bands of rain cross the U.K from west to east clearing to leave brighter weather behind them. This brighter weather was there from the off in Ireland and here you look to have a pretty nice day all in all once some showers along the west coast have fizzled out.  That rain may stay in situ across the north west of Scotland and keep with it a thicker cloud mass, so less chance of seeing the sun here. Wind-wise, well a lot calmer than the weekend with a moderate south westerly wind in situ and temperatures up in the mid-to high teens.

Onto Tuesday and overnight we see rain crossing Ireland and pushing into The South West, Wales, the west coast of England and Scotland. By the morning rush hour this may be quite heavy over South Wales and will likely extend in a line down from Scotland to The Midlands, so the South East and south of England may start dry. During the late morning we will see further rain into The South West and South Wales, making it a pretty sodden day down there. This rain will push east into The Midlands and north of England by dusk clearing Ireland and Scotland as it does so by early afternoon. Wind-wise we maintain that strong to moderate south westerly airflow but on the plus side this will push temperatures up into the high teens across the south of the U.K, low to mid-teens for Ireland and Scotland.

Mid-week already, how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself 🙂 So Wednesday looks to a much drier day everywhere as high pressure begins to exert itself from the south. Still a little bit of rain around across the south coast of Cornwall and Devon I reckon during the morning and as we approach dusk we could see a band of rain pushing up across The South West into South Wales. Scotland looks to have a mainly dry day save for some rain from the off across the north west coast. Mid to high teens with a more westerly wind in situ, a couple of degrees cooler for Scotland and Ireland.

Overnight that band of southerly rain has pushed north and east and will be sitting across The Midlands by dawn on Thursday.  This band of light rain and thick cloud wil lhang over the south of England up to The Midlands through most of Thursday so a cooler day here. North of this across northern England you should have a bright, warm and crucially dry day as I know you’ve copped a packet of rain this autumn. Pleasant too across Wales and Scotland with again only the north west of Scotland likely to see rain. A bit cooler on Thursday because of that cloud mass so only low to mid-teens expected and because of a change in the wind to a more north westerly orientation.

Rounding out the week on Friday and we have high pressure pushing up from the south of England so after that overnight thick cloud base and rain has departed from the south east of England we should see some brighter intervals and dry weather but it will feel cool with a strong to moderate north westerly wind calling the shots. For Ireland you look to start cool and dull with maybe some heavy drizzle over Connacht and Donegal but the skies will clear from the south at lunchtime to give you a pleasant end to the week. Scotland looks to have a thick cloud base across the country so cool and dull with a strong to moderate westerly wind for you. Temperature-wise, a good bit down on the rest of the week with low teens, low double figures likely in that cooler breeze.

The outlook for the weekend looks pretty fab apart from Scotland I’m afraid where that cloud mass will give rain overnight on Friday and this will extend through Saturday to give a dull and sometimes wet day. You could see some light rain across north west Ireland as well early on Saturday but otherwise dry I think. For the rest of us we also look to have a pretty dry weekend with some spells of warm sunshine pushing temperatures up into the high teens across the south of England depending on cloud cover that is. Dry throughout with the only fly in the ointment being a cool, north west wind courtesy of that high pressure system. Out of the wind though it’ll feel lovely.

Weather Outlook

So it looks like we will have high pressure in charge for the start of next week so calm and settled with only some rain likely across the north east and perhaps eastern side of the U.K. We will be on the cool side though with that north westerly wind remaining in place so gradually through the week we will drop temperature and feel the winds increase in strength and become more northerly in nature. By Thursday we could start to see the influence of a rare easterly low pressure system and if this comes to pass it will really bring us down to earth with a bang compared to the prior week. Pulling cold air across from Siberia we could see frosts and even snowfall across the north east coast of the U.K. Quite a change. Now that’s 10 days away so alot can change in that time but it will be interesting to keep an eye on it. Quite a few of my weather models point to a cold northerly airstream for the start of November so we will see.

Agronomic Notes

Iprodione Withdrawal

On October 6th, the European Standing Committee voted not the renew the approval of Iprodione given safety concerns that were identified in a review. Although these concerns are more consumer-focussed and not related to turf and amenity, Iprodione is likely to disappear some time soon. The question is when ?

The smart money is that there will be a 3-month sell-out probably commencing close to year end and then a three-month use up, so effectively if that comes to pass, the last applications of Iprodione will be June 2018 or thereabouts. Whatever way it shapes out, it is highly likely we will enter autumn 2018 without a contact, curative fungicide and that my friends is a game changer.

Why is it a game changer ?

It will utimately change our industry in terms of disease management because we will no longer have a fungicide that we can apply onto visible, active disease and obtain control. The two classes of chemistries we will have available will be either Protectant Contacts – actives that work on the outside of the leaf and control spores and fungal mycelium before they enter the leaf epidermis or Systemics – actives that have to be taken up and into the plant in order to achieve control. Depending on the type of systemic, these may take up to 7-10 days during cold periods of weather to achieve control of Microdochium nivale.

mcelium3So if you see active disease on the turf surface like this during cold periods of weather then there will be no effective fungicide to control it. Incidentally this disease outbreak (on a greens approach I think) took place in the first week of December, 2016, when we had two days of mild night temperatures, mild day temperatures, no wind and high humidity.

So we will have to rise to this challenge as an industry and make no bones about it, it is a challenge that goes beyond just agronomics. If you have heavy disease scarring in October, November, then you are unlikely to grow it out until the following spring, that could be 6 months if we have a cold, dry start to the year. So from a revenue perspective, if your surfaces are poor because of disease, this could cause issues in terms of golfers and their perception and a potential hit on revenue.

What’s to be done…

Well in a word…lots….IMHO (In my humble opinion)

Firstly, we need to understand the situation clearly and communicate it within our clubs, that means to members, committees, club secretaries, directors of golf, owner-managers and the like. It’s not an armegeddon moment, but it will have consequences for how we manage turf going forward and perhaps just as importantly, for the perception of disease on a turf surface. We already accept disease on fairways without feeling the need to spray (unlike in the U.S), perhaps we have to make golfers more aware that this is likely to happen more often now on fine turf surfaces ?

This year, I’ll be speaking at the GCMA National Conference (Golf Course Managers Association) in early November and during my talk I will be highlighting the two drivers to increasing disease pressure, climate and legislation, and how I think we need to adapt going forward. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and thank the GCMA for the invite in advance. (Cheers Karen and Bob)

New technologies for the future ?

Secondly, in terms of fungicides, I don’t think we are looking at a move towards the end of fungicides, more it is a changing of the guard in terms of what we have available and how we need to use the technologies. There will I’m sure be newer technologies coming through in the near and far future and some of these may use an entirely new approach to target a fungus.

There’s a lot of research work currently underway on RNA pesticides which instead of using an active ingredient / substance to target a pathogen, they use pieces of RNA specific to the pathogen itself. RNA is a key component of an organism’s genetic coding and plays an important role in gene expression. You can read about RNA here.

The scope of RNA pesticides isn’t just restricted to fungi, it also has applications on insects and already in the U.S, they have genetically modified crops that target a specific insect pest and because it is RNA-based, it is specific to that pathogen and that pathogen only. Read about it here

Of course the E.U won’t approve it because it is genetically-modified.

Just like the nonsensical situation we had recently with the example of a genetically-modified Potato that was resistant to late season Potato Blight, a severe disease of Potatoes. Scientists at The John Innes Institute, Norfolk used a gene from a South American Potato to turn on the plants natural defences to blight and in a three-year trial, the GM Potatoes proved higher yielding and required far fewer pesticides.

So here you see the farcity of E.U legislation in all of its hypocritical glory.

They don’t want to approve a crop because it is genetically modified (to be resistant to disease), so the alternative is for farmers to grow a crop that requires more pesticide inputs. Where is the sense in that I ask you ?

The technology ended up in the U.S, where they are commercially producing and eating this potato. So here we have a technology developed in the U.K, currently banned in Europe and now exploited in the U.S. Read about it here

You can probably tell that I am not a fan of the E.U with respect to legislation in any shape or form, I find it totally nonsensical, restrictive to innovation and scientific advancement, particularly in our industry. Quite frankly it makes my blood boil.

Ok heart rate monitor back to normal and back to the subject in hand 🙂

Heightened Cultural Emphasis

Without a doubt the loss of a contact curative fungicide like Iprodione will heighten the focus on the cultural factors that increase the severity of disease and specifically Microdochium nivale.

In my mind that means surface organic matter which perches moisture and provides higher canopy humidity levels as a result, a key driver to this disease. I think it will also increase our focus on the level of topdressing we apply in order to make the surface free-draining and move moisture away from the upper fibre layer. Air flow across a turf surface is another one, the better the air flow, the drier the turf canopy, the less aggressive the disease. Grass species will also play a part and here I think we should look at the role of plant breeding in providing us with cultivars that are naturally more resistant to Microdochium nivale.


Disease in Poa annua in a mixed Poa annua, Bentgrass sward

After all we know Poa annua is the most susceptiable grass to this disease and bentgrass, be it Colonial or Creeping is far more resistant to Microdochium and in some cases, Anthracnose as well. I’d make the point that I think Creeping Bentgrass breeding has been more focussed on disease resistance than other bentgrass breeding programs, certainly if we look at the results we currently have in the respective trials programs in the U.S and within Europe.

I’d love someone with more knowledge of grass breeding than I have to correct me on my perception, as I freely admit this isn’t one of my strongest areas and I’d be happy to publish some facts and data on this if you have them available. Whatever the rights or wrongs of my perception, it seems logical to me that if we introduce a mixture of grass species into a sward (and that’s no easy task in itself because it has a cost and is also inter-related to surface organic matter as well), we will reduce the disease pressure because it’s less easy for the disease to move from plant to plant.

Back in the late 80’s in my formative years (ahem) I used to work in agriculture contracting seed acreage for Wheat and Barley mainly. I had an area that stretched from Gloucestershire right up to 40 miles north of The Black Isle in Scotland (so north of Inverness) and I serviced that area whilst driving a leaf spring suspension, 4-speed, Volvo 340, which I eventually wrote off out of sympathy (but that’s another story 🙂 ). At the time there was a variety of Winter Wheat called Slejpner, it was high-yielding and so become very popular to the point where > 60% of the Winter Wheat acreage was sown down to this one variety. That meant that 6 out of every 10 fields of Winter Wheat you could see growing was the same variety. This Winter Wheat showed a sensitivity to Yellow Rust that severely affected it’s yield and that pathogen took less than a month to show up across my entire area. How did it move so fast ?, well because there were some many identical fields of the same host wheat variety that it could move from field to field with impunity. It was a very early lesson to me in terms of the importance of biodiversity.

The same holds true for our turf surfaces, biodiversity will be important in terms of grass species within a turf canopy and their sensitivity to disease.

Ok a big jump off a very high soap box today, but as you can probably guess it’s a subject I’m passionate about 🙂

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt





16th October


Hi All,

Back to normal this week after only a so-so Troutmasters Final last week 🙁

A really busy weather picture and one of contrast as I sit here and type this on a Monday morning with not a whisper of breeze and humidity / temperature off the scale for mid-October.


Image courtesy of Met Eireann –

No wind over Leicestershire, but across The Irish Sea we have the remnants of ex-hurricane Ophelia heading towards the Irish Coast and due to track across The Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and then onto Scotland. It’ll make things pretty tricky across The South West, Wales and the western coastline of the U.K as well, so all the best to you if you’re in an area affected by Ophelia.

Another contrast this month is rainfall with areas like The Midlands / south of England dry so far with only 4mm of rain in the first 16 days. Contrast this with somewhere like Kendal in The Lakes where they are 100mm+ and counting already. That dry start to the month is set to change this week with a southerly-orientated low coming in to affect the weather picture.

Finally we have the temperature contrasts of the last few days where we hit 21.5°C day time temperature and were still 17.1°C at midnight on Friday 13th October. Challenging to say the least from a disease perspective.

So onto this week’s weather..

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with an unsettled picture with showers already peppering the U.K and west of Ireland, extending in a line from The isle of Wight right up to the west of Scotland with more significant rain present once you get past North Wales. Through the course of Monday morning we will see those showers across the U.K become more confined to the north and west, fizzling out in the south to leave sunny intervals. Meanwhile the centre of storm Ophelia looks set to make landfall around lunchtime across the south west of Ireland. Here we have a Red Warning in place with gusts expected to reach 100mph plus through the day and accompanied by heavy rainfall as well. So we have a north / south and west / east split in the weather today with the bulk of the rain crossing Ireland and heading north and west to affect the U.K really from The Lakes northwards it looks like to me at present. Further south and east after some early showers we can expect to see some brighter weather to take over with a pleasant and unseasonably warm end to the day. The winds will ramp up in the second half of the day so gale force by the end of the afternoon and expect temperatures to vary from 14°C under that storm to 21°C in the south of England and Midlands.


Overnight into Tuesday and that storm system will have tracked across Ireland and be sat just off Scotland so a pretty windy and wet day in store for you guys on Tuesday especially first thing in the morning, I’d say peak wind will be probably 5 a.m ish.

In marked contrast to today, Ireland will have a much, much quieter day with gentle winds and a noticeable drop in temperature feeling cooler. That cooler feel to the weather will extend south with a cooler start to the day for the south of the U.K as well. The rain accompanying that storm system will be very much across the north west and central Scotland on Tuesday with heavier rain in the morning gradually becoming lighter through the afternoon as the storm moves across and out into The North Sea. So windy for the north and Scotland and pretty gusty for the south as well during Tuesday, with that wind declining through the afternoon as it will in all places.  Later on Tuesday evening we see a new pulse of rain push into the south coast of England and this marks the beginning of what I think will be a sustained wet spell of weather as low pressure takes over. Temperature-wise, expect mid-teen temperature for Tuesday, maybe a little lower where you have the worst of the wind.

Onto Wednesday and overnight that pulse of rain over southern England has pushed north into central England and Wales, reaching the north of England by morning rush hour. By mid-morning this will have pushed into The Borders of Scotland, clearing the south of England as it does so. We will also see a new pulse push into South Munster and this is projected to move north across Ireland through the course of Wednesday afternoon. By late afternoon, the heaviest rain is across Scotland and Ireland with the southern regions having clearing now in both the U.K and Ireland. Despite there being gentler winds and from the south, it will feel cooler with low to mid-teens the best that can be expected.

For Thursday we have a very unsettled picture as low presure is pushing swirls of showers across the U.K and Ireland. Overnight we will see heavy rain across Ireland and this will push westwards into Wales, The South West and the west coast of England during Thursday morning before pushing further inland and consolidating into heavier rain as it does so. For the 2nd half of Thursday we will see some potentially heavy rain across the south of England, but Scotland should miss out on the worst, instead having a dull day with thick cloud and some light rain. Ireland will see bands of rain clearing east to be replaced by new bands coming in from the west later on in the afternoon. Again feeling much cooler under that rain with low teens expected everywhere and quite a contrast from the beginning of the week.

Closing out what has been a very busy weather week and we should see a much drier picture on Friday for all areas, except Central Scotland which looks to start wet. This rain will slowly move eastwards clearing the west coast of Scotland and then central areas through the afternoon. For Ireland and the remainder of the U.K, a more settled picture on Friday with a moderate westerly wind turning southerly as we go through the day but feeling chilly with nearly a 10°C difference to the previous week. They’ll be some showers affecting western coasts from the off but at this stage these don’t look to move inland so a drier picture to close the week out on. However, it won’t last as that low pressure is due to sink south and east through the course of the day and that’ll bring rain, some of it very heavy into the south east coast of Ireland, The South West and Wales later on Friday afternoon in time for the rush hour I’m afraid. This heavy rain will push north and eastwards quickly through the course of Friday evening to give very heavy rainfall amounts in a short period of time. At this stage, Ireland is projected to miss 95% of this rain with perhaps eastern Leinster picking up the fringes of it. Another cool day with temperatures barely breaking into the teens everywhere and maybe across Ireland and Scotland it’ll only just scrape double figures in that cool westerly wind.

With a southerly-orientated low pressure system it’ll be no surprise to you when I say that Saturday looks like being a wash out for most of the U.K, south of the borders with some really heavy overnight rain likely. Ireland should miss most of this so Saturday looks better and Scotland may stay dry on the whole but just dull and cool, except for the north east where it looks wetter. The rain is projected to head north and east out into The North Sea during the second half of Saturday so clearing from the west through the day to give a drier end in western and central regions. Sunday sees that wind swing round to northerly as the low pressure moves east, so a really cool feel to the weather now and more typical of where we should be for late October than the balmy, barmy conditions of late.

Weather Outlook

I think next week will start quiet as one low pressure exits stage right and another one is lining up to come in from The Atlantic. So Monday looks a quiet, settled and largely dry affair with light northerly winds. As we move overnight into Tuesday the wind shifts round to the west and we see the first rain bands push in from a new, Atlantic low pressure system. These will affect western areas first.  So Tuesday and Wednesday at least looks breezy and unsettled with frequent rain pushing in but as we approach the end of next week, we should see those winds and rain begin to lessen as the low pressure moves off. Now this takes us up to Thursday, the 26th of October and that’s significant in my books because the end of October / beginning of November has been unseasonably mild for 7 years out of the last 9. I wonder what it’ll be this year ?. Looking at the weather picture at the end of next week it’s delicately balanced between high and low pressure so we will see which one wins the day.

Agronomic Notes

Not surprising when you take into account the pulse of warm air and humidity that we got from Friday to Monday that I’m going to begin this blog talking about that old cheshnut, disease or more specifically, Microdochium nivale..


The stats above are taken from my weather station and highlight 5 periods from Friday till today when the air temperature was 14°C or higher and we were running at 90% humidity (or higher).


This combination of temperature and humidity is likely to result in new activity of Microdochium on greens and on older scars, the tell-tale sign of mycelium occurring around the edges of the original infection. It is also likely that you’ll see mycelium on higher-height-of-cut turf on sportsfields, golf fairways and semi-rough as well.

It is important to understand what you’re looking at here in terms of what you have applied and what you are seeing.

Mycelium on the edge of an original disease scar is most likely to represent disease that has already gone through its whole disease cycle, so that means spore germination all the way through to spore production and now the mycelium are growing from affected plants outwards towards unaffected plants in order to begin the whole cycle again.

So if you have sprayed a fungicide and you see this, it is because the disease is already at the point of spore production and at this stage few fungicides are able to stop this occurring. That’s because they would need to perform strongly as eradicants, late on in the disease cycle and most of the products we have now (if not pretty much all of them) don’t do this, regardless of what the manufacturers blurb says. So if you’ve sprayed recently and can still see mycelium, you have effectively shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. Sure you will ring fence the area of activity, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll stop it occurring when we have a combination of climatic drivers like the above pushing on the activity of disease.

Just to keep some geographical balance, I lifted some data from a weather station in Dublin and put together the same chart. Again you can see we have some pretty sustained disease pressure over the last 4 days for Ireland. (Yes I know Dublin isn’t representative of all of Ireland, just like London isn’t representative of all of England 🙂 )


Disease pressure looking ahead….

After a bruising 4-day period we can look forward to a decline in disease pressure over the coming week because of increasing wind strength and declining temperatures, so although the humidity will stay high because of rainfall, I think the windy nature of the weather and the lowering air temperature as that cold, low pressure system moves in, will reduce the disease pressure accordingly.

Growth reduction as well…

The decline in disease pressure will also be accompanied by a decline in growth as you can see from the Meteoturf graphic below ;


Currently today we have optimum growing conditions, so a Growth Potential figure of 1.0 and that’s on the 16th of October mind !, but by the end of the week, this will be down to 0.3.

That in my mind is a very good thing as well because with a wet outlook, the last thing we need is grass growing out of our ears, particularly when we have heavy leaf fall as well with wind this week.

G.P and Fungicide Longevity

The declining temperatures will extend fungicide longevity as well because when we have daily G.P figures over 0.8, I think a systemic fungicide will only be effective for 14-17 days maximum before either it is removed from the canopy by cutting or new growth emerges that doesn’t have the fungicide present in sufficient quantities to reduce disease ingression.

In future I think we will need to think of fungicide longevity in terms of Growth Potential rather than days and I have started work in this area and will present some of my findings at the Turf Managers Conference at BTME ’18.

Not just Microdochium nivale doing the rounds..

With a wet summer period in August and sustained humidity through August and September, Microdochium isn’t the only disease that’s been doing the rounds. Late season Take-all has reared its head on Poa annua this autumn and we have seen quite heavy disease pressure from Anthracnose, especially if the plant has been under stress. This is particularly the case if the turf surface has been consistently saturated as it has been across the north / north west of England and through Scotland. Here it is more likely to be the basal rot Anthracnose that has done the damage.

Ok that’s it for this week, need to get some trials down before the rain arrives 🙂

All the best and particularly for Ireland and the west coast of the U.K today, wrap up well and keep your heads down…

Mark Hunt


October 2nd


Hi All,

mistyI think this lovely picture of rural Leicestershire sums up September well to me. Misty and murky weather with not a lot of air flow and at times exceptionally humid. This blog is the first one of October and traditionally to me one of our worst disease months that we face as an industry after what would normally be a pretty stable September, but not this year. September 2017 has been exceptionally hard from a disease pressure scenario, particularly in central and southern England.

Let’s see what this month is going to kick off with, maybe we got the worst side of the coin in September and there’s better things to come ? (the eternal optimist in me making a rare appearance there…)


Well when you look at the packed isobars on the Unisys Weather GIF above, I think we can safely assume that weak air flow won’t be an issue for the coming week or so with an Atlantic low pressure firmly rooted over us.

So Monday starts with a real north -south divide in terms of wind strength and rainfall with high bridges over Scotland already subject to delays and heavy rain over Central Scotland. Here in Leicestershire we have a gentle breeze and it’s dry and that’s the way we look to stay across England and Wales with a dry day, moderate to strong breeze and periods of sunshine. That rain over Scotland has already pushed down into the north west of England / North Wales and so a wet start to the week here. Ireland looks to have a largely dry start as well save for some thicker cloud and coastal rain up in Donegal though I expect to see some showers cross The Irish Midlands during the morning and also across the south coast of Munster. As we progress through the morning that rain over Scotland will become confined to western coasts and the same across the north west of England so a drier picture emerges for all for the 2nd part of Monday although that rain will linger over western Scotland. A strong westerly wind in the south will pick up during the morning but it’ll be there from the word go in Scotland with gale force westerly / north westerly winds already present. Temperature-wise it’s mid to high teens depending on your location so pretty typical for this time of year.

Moving onto Tuesday and as that low pressure nudges past the tip of Scotland that means the wind direction will change to more north westerly and so feeling cooler on Tuesday. That air stream will pull cloud in from The Irish Sea so north westerly and westerly areas will have a dull day with potentially cloud thick enough for some drizzle across north west Scotland. Further south and east of this and it’ll be a bright, dry, but chilly day for Wales, England and Ireland with that strong north westerly wind in situ. Temperature-wise I expect low teens for most of us because of the wind direction.

Mid-week already and overnight we see that low push in rain to north west and Central Scotland and this will quickly push southwards into north west England in time for the morning rush hour. A dry start for Ireland, Wales and England but it won’t last as by late morning we see rain pushing into north west Ireland and England and this will soon cross the former to give a wetter, 2nd part of the day. Later in the afternoon that rain will reach Wales, northern England and The Midlands clearing Scotland as it does so. This rain front is westerly focussed so the eastern half of the country may escape the worst effects of it through Wednesday. By late on Wednesday evening the rain is projected to sit over the southern half of the U.K extending all the way down into The South West. Slightly milder temperature-wise as the wind shifts round to the west but it will still be moderate to strong in force.

Onto Thursday and that overnight rain will stubbornly clear the south eastern corner of the U.K by morning rush hour to leave a clear, bright start to the day for many. And that’s the way it is set to stay for nearly all of the U.K and Ireland, save for some heavier bursts of rain across the far north west of Scotland. Later in the day we may see some thicker cloud across Donegal, the north west of England and western Scotland and some of that cloud may be thick enough for some drizzle. Aagin we see another shift round to a north westerly wind so that’ll peg back the temperatures to low to mid-teens teens for most of us.

Closing out the week on Friday and a dull start for many save for The South West and South Wales where you look likely to see some sunshine 🙂 Speaking of thick cloud, Ireland will see a bank of thick cloud push into Kerry in time for the morning rush hour and this cloud and rain will cross the country during the course of the day reaching Leinster by tea time. For the U.K we will see some sunny intervals during Friday but by and large a cloudy, dull and dry day to finish off the week. Later on Friday evening that thick cloud mass and rain will reach western Scotland and western coasts. The winds will still be north westerly but they’ll begin to drop in strength through Friday and that’ll allow temperatures to nudge up into the mid-teens across the south of England, low teens for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the rest of the U.K.

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

Well I don’t think it’s going to be an exceptional weekend, particularly across Ireland, Wales and the western side of the U.K with thicker cloud and rain showers likely on Saturday and Sunday. It will be very much a west – east split with less cloud and rain and more sunshine across central areas and eastern coasts. It’s possible that Sunday could see more gaps in that cloud cover and therefore more in the way of sun and with lighter winds it will also feel a bit warmer for everyone with mid to high teens likely, so all in all not great, but not a right off.

Weather Outlook

So next week starts with a bit of a hiatus as high pressure timidly extends a finger of calm after this week’s low pressure and before the arrival of another later next week. So a quieter start to next week especially for Scotland but it won’t be entirely dry with some scuddy showers around coastal areas. Through Tuesday we will see more in the way of rain for Scotland and the north of England and Ireland as a new low pressure starts to sink towards the U.K and that rain will push southwards I think from Wednesday onwards with a risk of more rain, some of it heavy through Thursday and Friday. So an unsettled week next week with some drier weather for the east earlier on in the week before the weather breaks down at the end of the week. Lot’s of blue associated with this low pressure on Unisys so that means cooler as well.

Agronomic Notes

Since it is the first blog of October we can take this opportunity to look back at September and how it played out GDD-wise.

GDD Comparison – Thame Location


So looking at our Thame location we can immediately pick up that September didn’t conform to the norm from a temperature respect and in turn tracked very differently to last year. In 2016 we had a total monthly GDD of 318.5 for September compared to 234.5 for 2017, so in other words we were 26% cooler this year than last in September.

Does that set a precedent for the coming winter in terms of temperature and rainfall ?..No I don’t think it does because when we have had cooler Septembers in the past we have had both cold, dry and mild, wet winters, so no clues yet I’m afraid. (I’d rather not know anyway)


Looking at the y.t.d we are still tracking as the warmest year recorded since we started this exercise but the difference between the last warmest year, 2014, is beginning to decrease. I wonder what I’ll be typing in another months time ?

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – September 2017 – UK Locations


Looking at the graph above we can see that there has some significant variation in both temperature and rainfall across the U.K with the western side of the U.K receiving the bulk of the rainfall and cooler temperatures. When you consider that September is usually a stable, drier weather month with high pressure traditionally dominating then we can see quite clearly how different this September was to the norm.

Looking at the variation in rainfall, we can see that the west has picked up the majority of rainfall with Manchester, Bristol and Okehampton all > 120mm for the month compared to 50 – 80mm being closer to average in central locations. So although the temperature wasn’t great in terms of GDD, many people experienced high growth levels because there was consistent moisture present through the month. That consistent moisture has also been driving another issue and that is disease…more on that later…

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – September 2017 – Irish Locations


Again we can see the effect of the west – east split in terms of rainfall figures with September 2017 going down I guess as one of Ireland’s wettest Septembers ?

GDD-wise, there isn’t much difference between all the locations even from Clairemorris to Dublin but it’s the rainfall that is really striking. Close on 200mm on all the Irish locations, except Dublin. I had to re-check all of this data because the difference was so striking but yet again we can see a huge difference geographically across Ireland as we do across the U.K.

It’s no surprise then that with this combination of temperature and rainfall, disease has been a huge issue across the U.K and Ireland during September 2017.

I’d really point the finger at the moisture part of the above stats as providing the humidity in the atmosphere to give long periods of leaf wetness, a key driver to fungal mycelium growth.

September 2017 – Why was it such a bitch of a month from a disease management perspective ?

So I’ve picked Manchester as my location to analyse for no good reason than it is typical of a western U.K / Irish location in September receiving high levels of rainfall and consequently humidity…


So if we look at the graph above (apart from the obvious lack of dry / drying days) we can see that the dotted blue line stayed above 90% humidity for the entire month and that means the plant was wet most of the time.

It isn’t just a case of being wet overnight and drying in the day though because high humidity in the day means there’s less dry down potential for the leaf because the air is already saturated.

Last week I was spraying some trials and had to swish off 1500m2 of turf nursery before I did the trial (a great way of getting my daily step count up and working those hips 🙂 )

As I was spraying the trial, some 30 minutes later I noticed that the dew was reforming on the leaf.

I noticed this specifically because one of the fungicides I was spraying had an adjuvant package within the formulation that effectively decreased dew formation and the next fungicide I was spraying patently didn’t. (Regardless of the manufacturers blurb claiming this and that…)


The picture above shows the difference between the plots, fungicide 1 (on the left) had no effective dew mitigation compared to fungicide 2 on the right. The picture isn’t really about fungicide adjuvant packages and their performance (though it is interesting to me) it’s more about the fact that the dew had already reformed enough in 30-40 mins after swishing to make the plant leaf wet enough for me to see the difference.

That’s the feature of high humidity we have all experienced in September, re-forming dew after mechanical removal / cutting and that’s been the key driver to disease intensity be it greens, sportsfields or fairways.

We aren’t just talking Microdochium nivale with respect to humidity and being a key driver, Dollar Spot, Leaf Spot and Red Thread all share this feature, so if you’ve seen high activity of these diseases on your outfields during September, then you know why…

Last week was an absolute bruiser in terms of sustained disease pressure, one of the worst I’ve ever known at this time of year and you can see why when you look at the data from my own weather station…


Above you can see long periods of the day (and night) when the air temperature was > 14°C and the humidity was at 100%. On the 25th, 28th and 29th of September in particular.

This combination of conditions allows fungal mycelium to express themselves fully as they look for a new host so this sight below was common on higher-height-of-cut turf last week.

Mn0917f Mn0917f2

If you look very closely at the top image, you can see droplets on the end of the grass leaf blade, this is guttation fluid, a subject I have covered before and basically this contains sugars and nutrients exuded from pores at the tip of the grass leaf.

It has long been associated with the encouragement of disease formation, I read an article right back from 1968 discussing the presence of guttation fluid and the incidence of Dollar Spot.

In the image below, you can clearly see mycelium of Microdochium nivale growing in the guttation fluid…(circled in red)


Cutting to the chase…

So my final point is this….If you saw mycelium on your turf last week and you’d recently applied an approved fungicide, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t worked. It means that climatic conditions  tipped the balance so firmly in favour of disease development that the fungicide A.I (‘s) is / are / were incapable of holding back the population growth of the pathogen to the point where the disease dies / died out. My other point is that you were not alone, lots of people were in the same boat.

When you see aerial mycelium like this it means the fungal disease is likely to have gone through its complete life cycle and is now looking to move to a new host to infect it and that’s what you can see above, cottony white mycelium growing from one plant to another…


With declining night temperatures this week, high air flow (wind) and some rain I think we will see a big drop in disease pressure, even in the south of England where bar one night this week (Wed), the projected night temperatures are all in single figures, (a big difference from last week), so fingers crossed we will get back to a bit of normality…..

Troutmasters Final


No blog next Monday I’m afraid because I’m taking part in the Troutmasters Final at Draycote Water, near Rugby, so the phone will be turned off and that’ll be me fishing against 100+ professional competitors…This time next week I’ll have done my first 3 hour session on the bank or boat and will have no nails left….seriously though it should be a great experience whatever happens and I’m kind of looking forward to it…

All the best..

Mark Hunt