Monthly Archives: April 2018

April 30th

Hi All,

A short blog this week because I have to be down south at lunchtime for a meeting so I’ve got up extra early to get this done. The main talk of today  is the low pressure system over Holland bringing a ‘months worth of rain in a day’ to some parts of the east and south-east of England.

You can see it’s orientation on this graphic from Meteoblue shown below ;

Image courtesy of Meteoblue

Currently its tracking as shown below and has already given 15-18mm by 7 a.m. this morning to some parts of East Anglia, Essex, Kent and Sussex, with the rainfall rate falling at 3-6mm per hour. It’s really slow-moving because of the trough pattern in the jet stream so that means it’ll rack up some hefty rainfall totals through the day (hence the ‘month of rain in a day’ quotation floating around the media)

Image courtesy of Netweather Extra

Another less disruptive but by no means any more welcome feature of this low pressure is the temperature. With sleet and snow forming higher up in atmosphere within this system, the rain and air temperature will be unusually cool so currently I’m sitting here at 4.5°C and I wouldn’t expect it to get much above 6°C all day. Factor in the strength of the wind and it’ll feel more like 1-2°C with the windchill. All in all not a nice day for people on the receiving end.

Image courtesy of Meteoblue

Interestingly if you flatten the world out, you can see our European trough event is one of 3 currently going on in the path of the sub-polar jet stream with the eastern seaboard of the U.S also on the receiving end and Alaska (where I’ll be shipping out to again this year for my dose of true wilderness) also getting a cold, wet start to their spring.

General Weather Situation

Now last week I was forecasting that this low temperature trough was here to stay this week but the weather gods have smiled on us (for once) and better weather is around the corner.

Owing to the time constraints I’m under today, this week’s weather will be in abridged, summary form ;

At this point I’m tempted to write “Starting off crap but getting much better by the end of the week”, oh dear, I just did 🙂

So this week we have that high rainfall event for the east and south-east of England kicking off a cold, dull and pretty windy Monday for everyone. As mentioned earlier, that low pressure is slow-moving so I don’t expect it to exit East Anglia till later tonight making it a very soggy day on the beach at Holkham I’d say, definitely not a bucket and spade jobbie. North and west of this rainfall, Monday looks dry, windy, cold and dull with better temperatures into the low double figures for Scotland, Ireland, Wales. Winds will be northerly for the south of England and north-westerly further west and north.

As that rain departs eastwards overnight, a new frontal system is into the west of Ireland in time for the morning dash in Kerry and Connacht. This rain will move slowly eastwards across Ireland on Tuesday and make landfall across the west of Scotland and north-west England on Tuesday afternoon. It’ll then move across eastwards for the rest of the day affecting Wales and The South West from early evening onwards clearing Ireland as it does so. Temperature-wise, a bit of a role reversal with England and Wales picking up low teen temperatures and Ireland and Scotland will be cooler under that rain and cloud cover at 10°C. Winds will be a welcome westerly 🙂

Wednesday sees that rain affecting most of the U.K, heavier across the southern half of the country mind. Ireland looks to have a mix of sunshine and showers, whereas Scotland starts dry and then sees rain, sleet and even snow (at elevation) move in later in the morning. By lunchtime that rain should have cleared southern England and Wales leaving showers and sunny conditions behind it. Ireland likewise, with showers still affecting western and northern areas. Similar temperatures to Tuesday, cool over Scotland, just scraping double figures, milder across the west and south, especially once that rain has moved through with low to mid-teens on the cards. Winds will vary from south to north-westerly.

Thursday looks a better day for most, certainly for England and Wales anyway. They’ll be showers from the off across the north-western coast of Scotland and these will move inland during the morning, pushing into central parts later in the afternoon. Ireland starts dry but cloud cover will thicken progressively through the morning with rain projected to arrive in Connacht during the early afternoon pushing showers across most of the country later in the day. England and Wales look to have a dry day, clouding over from the west for the 2nd half of the day but by and large nothing to complain about. With sunshine breaking through the cloud cover and a light westerly wind, temperatures will rise towards the upper teens down south, so good drying weather for you guys affected by Monday’s events. Scotland will see a wet end to the day with heavy rain for the north and west I’m afraid and cooler temperatures.

Friday sees the week finish with thicker cloud and rain for Ireland and Scotland, clearing from the south and east through the day. No such issues further south across England and Wales with another good drying day on the cards with the sun breaking through in the afternoon to give a sunny and warm end to the week, with temperatures in the mid to high teens again I reckon. Low teens for Scotland and Ireland and away from that rain it shouldn’t be too bad a day here. Winds will be light to moderate and welcome westerlies.

With this weekend being a U.K Bank Holiday I reckon things could be fine and dandy across Saturday and Sunday with high pressure building and plenty of warm sunshine and temperatures pushing up into the high teens and low twenties by Sunday. Maybe a bit of extra cloud cover on Monday with some showers for eastern areas of the U.K and maybe western areas of Ireland and Scotland but otherwise a cracking forecast to leave you with 🙂

Weather Outlook

Next week looks to continue the fine weekend with high pressure sitting across the east of the U.K. So fine and settled I think, still with the chance of showers across the south-east and south-west / west during the first part of the week but a south-easterly airstream should vector up some warm air from the continent. From mid-week, an Atlantic low pressure system will make its presence felt across Ireland and the west of the U.K with thicker cloud and showers from mid-week onwards. Just how far east that low pressure moves later on next week, time will tell, but I’d reckon on unsettled for Ireland and the west and staying largely dry with warm weather for central and eastern regions. Scotland should see some welcome warm and dry weather as well.

Agronomic Notes

Ok as explained earlier, a bit of a short blog this week so here goes…

GDD – Year to date

I know we will be doing a more in detail look at April on next Tuesday’s blog, but these stats are taken from my Netatmo weather station here in Market Harborough and offer a good view on what we’ve been through…

So you can see the fit’s and starts of growth (inclined areas of graph) through March and then the really steep during April incline representing that very warm period mid-month. As predicted a few blogs ago when I chatted about Poa annua seeding, that mid-April warm spell has taken us right up to perennial Poa annua biotype seedhead initiation territory and then the cold spell since has slammed the anchors on good and proper.

You can see the growth profile better when you look at daily growth potential for April below ;

So you can see that growth really dropped off last week with no clipping yield at all projected from daily G.P. Now all that is set to change with the improving forecast this week…

As you can see growth is picking up through the week, slowly at first but by the weekend we will be motoring a tad…

Perennial Poa annua biotype – Seedhead Flush

So if you haven’t seen the start of the seedhead flush already, you will if your total GDD is up towards the 180 mark over the Bank Holiday weekend. So the end of this week would be a great time to drop in some cultural Poa seedhead work, you know grooming, brushing, Poa busters, maybe a nick down in cutting height and a light topdressing to keep an even surface, you know that type of thing…

Amazingly we can see great consistency in terms of when we hit 180GDD, Poa annua seedhead flush initiation AND had an SSW-event. I’d say it’s pretty much set that the first week of May is as near as damn it seedhead initiation when we get a cold spring due to a SSW event. Cracking data that if I do say so myself.

Growth Flush

It also means we will see a strong initiation of growth during the 2nd half of this week and over the weekend, so outfield areas, tee banks, bunker banks and the like may benefit from a PGR application (with some iron as Poa will be more prone to discolouration if it’s heading towards seeding) to nip that flush in the bud and make sure you don’t come back after the Bank Holiday to clippings round your ankles. The growth will I think be largely welcome in pushing that last bit of recovery from winter into the dim and distant past and repairing any damage from Leatherjackets, quite an issue this last month or so in some areas.

End of week = better spraying conditions and better uptake

Looking at spray days, it’ll vary with area of course but I’d be targeting Thursday onwards because the warmer air temperature will give you much better uptake than if you apply earlier in the week. (though that’s unlikely with Wednesday’s general rain and the strength of the wind as well)

The same applies for any liquid nutrition / foliars you are thinking of applying and of course selective herbicide.

Disease Activity

No blog would be fit and able if I didn’t mention disease I’m afraid.

There’s been a lot of it about of late because of the high rainfall, high humidity and almost deadpan day and night temperatures. That lack of growth over the last 5 days (shown above) has meant that grass has been unable to grow away from a pathogen and so we have seen localised flare ups of Microdochium in particular. With warming temperatures and humidity dropping towards the end of the week I would expect the balance to tip in favour of grass growth and away from pathogen growth with respect to Microdochium nivale.

We will see more in the way of Fairy Ring activity I think, particularly Superficial with a moist rootzone and plenty of temperature but I don’t rank this as a cause for concern in terms of maintaining surfaces.

Ok short and sweet this week, but ‘tempus fugit’, the M40 and M25 beckon… (groan)

All the best..

Mark Hunt




April 23rd

Hi All,

Well that certainly was the week that was….

Summer temperatures, huge growth flushes and venues going from closed due to water logging to hand watering dry areas within a week of each other. Plus someone managed to cock-up the publishing of this blog for which I apologise, thanks to Paul for sorting it out. Last week when I was out walking in Leicestershire and Rutland, some parts were up to your ankles in mud and the same areas yesterday were dusty, dry and cracked…that’s some transition (but a welcome one nonetheless:)).

Couldn’t believe how quickly things dried up and how much growth the countryside put on in just a week, wow, the power of nature, you could definitely hear things growing as someone commented !

Nevertheless, I did say last week (and the week before) that we weren’t out of the woods yet from a jet stream perspective and as you’ll see as we go through this blog, normality (for this spring) beckons….I’ll give you a taste below when you see Meteoturf’s GDD/ G.P projection for this week and last week, that’ll give a clue…

As you can see, quite a drop-off in temperature on the way, not to mention potentially some heavy rainfall…So we are going from a warm air peak to a cooler air trough over the space of the next week or so.

Firstly let’s put some detail on it..

Tuesday sees rain that crossed Ireland on Monday move into Scotland and the western coastline of the U.K overnight pushing across The South West, Wales and the southern half of the U.K during the early hours leading up to dawn. By the morning rush hour, the heaviest of the rain will be south-east and east of England orientated leaving behind thick cloud and some showers for the west. Ireland and Scotland look to start dry but by mid-morning they’ll be some rain into Connacht, east Leinster and the north-west of Scotland. South of this rain it looks like an improving picture as that southern rain moves off into The North Sea with breaks in the cloud and sunshine breaking through. For Ireland we will see some heavy showers push across country during the 2nd half of the day, though with plenty of sunshine in-between. Close to tea time we see more rain push into Wales, The South West of England and move eastwards on Tuesday evening to give a wet end to the day anywhere south of Newcastle. Scotland looks to have a half reasonable day with some rain lingering across the north-west but otherwise pretty dry. Temperature-wise, expect low teens for Ireland, Wales and England and a couple of degrees down on that for Scotland with a moderate to strong westerly wind.

Onto Wednesday and the rain that crossed England and Wales overnight will still be lingering across East Anglia by dawn. Thereafter we will have a typical April day, sunshine and showers with a cooler than of late, westerly wind pushing those showers along. By the afternoon those showers will be concentrated across Ireland and the western coastline of the U.K with sunnier intervals further east, but again expect them to move eastwards during the 2nd half of the day. Temperature-wise, similar to Tuesday with low teens for England, Wales and Ireland and just into double figures for Scotland.

Thursday follows a similar pattern after a dry start, although this time I think the showers that crop up during the late morning will be mainly focussed on the west coast of the U.K and Ireland, with longer spells of rain for Scotland. More in the way of sunshine I’d say on Thursday, except for western parts where you’ll see more of the showers and Scotland of course. As we approach Thursday evening I think we will see longer spells of sunshine across Ireland, England and Wales with rain lingering over Scotland. Similar temperatures for Thursday and again a strong to moderate westerly wind in situ for all of us.

Friday sees the arrival of cooler air and thicker cloud so a much duller day to finish off the week and a cooler one to boot, albeit with lighter winds. Initially I think that cloud will thin over the U.K and Ireland during the morning to leave long clear intervals with good sunshine, however as we move into the afternoon, we will see that cloud build again and rain move into The South West and across southern counties of England and Wales. A very similar picture for Ireland, early cloud thinning to give sunny intervals, only to be replaced by thicker cloud and rain showers for the 2nd half of the day, concentrated across the south and Midlands. Scotland sees rain from the off for the north-west and Highlands, with some of that rain, wintry at elevation. As we progress through the morning, that rain clears to longer spells of sunshine and a dry end to the day. Cooler on Friday with the cloud cover despite lighter southerly winds with temperatures just scraping into low double figures.

Onto the all important weekend and a change in wind direction to easterly, (yes remember them) with low pressure sitting just off Kent heralding a not-so-great weekend to come 🙁

Tricky to say where the rain will be concentrated on Saturday during the 2nd half of the day, but at this stage it looks like north-west coasts, The South West, Wales and southern half of England as well as across Ireland. Feeling much cooler with that easterly wind and cloud cover, another couple of degrees down on Friday I’d say unfortunately. Sunday sees that low pressure system spin another rotation across the south of England so more rain expected for the southern half of the U.K and Ireland I think though possibly feeling slightly milder as the wind swings southerly from easterly. Temperature-wise I’d say low double figures for the weekend, possibly pushing a bit higher on Sunday with that change in wind direction but a long way shy of where they were this weekend.

Weather Outlook

So are we returning from whence we came or should we keep that sun cream handy ?

Now things can and do change with this weather lark and believe me when I say it, I hope they may do else next week at this stage looks pretty crap to be honest. The low pressure that affected our weather over the weekend looks to stay close at hand for the early part of next week so a wet start I think, albeit we will have lost those easterly winds so mild in the rain 🙂

We look to continue that unsettled theme through all of next week, with another deep Atlantic, low pressure projected to take over mid-week, next week bringing south-west winds, mild temperatures and sunshine and showers (more of the latter than the former though) for all of us. A wet start to May beckons then….

Agronomic Notes

Growth Spike…

Well last week was pretty remarkable when you consider it growth-wise with as many GDD / G.P recorded in 7 days as we’d pretty much had in the entire year up to that point.

You can see from the Growth Potential Stats from the Northampton location, just how pronounced that growth spike was…

Five days on the bounce when the grass was growing at maximum rate, with more growth produced in those five days than we had for the entire months of February and March combined, quite amazing.

Now I know we have had these growth spikes before in prior years but of late they have been in the first and second weeks of May, rather than mid-April. It was though a very welcome period of not just warm but dry weather so we dried out as well. Hopefully most of you got some dry cuts into fast-growing grass to the point where you got on top of it and picked up nice definition to boot 🙂

Looking at our picture y.t.d, we are however still behind last year, some 20 days now though we have caught up some.

Here’s how the picture looks in terms of a comparison with prior SSW-event years, again using data from the Northampton location.

You can hopefully see from the graph above that we have now caught up with 2016, remain ahead of 2013, but lag behind 2017.

How we are improving our forecasting…

The last thing I’d like to say about this growth spike was that we saw it coming so you all knew about it a week before it appeared and hopefully were better prepared for the consequences.

It wouldn’t have been that long ago that not only wouldn’t we have been able to accurately forecast this but also to correlate its likely effect on grass growth and general agronomics.

I’d like to say cheers to Meteoblue for this one 🙂

In this way I think we are improving as an industry and if anyone asks me why recording GDD / G.P and rainfall is important, I’d point to the start to the year we have had in 2018 as a worked example. If they still can’t see its relevance, then it’s not for them fruity pie 🙁

Consequences of growth flush…

Now last week I talked about how the perennial biotype of Poa annua seeded on the 5th and 7th May in other SSW-event years as we hit a cumulative GDD total of 180 for the year. Well alot of locations will have hit (or will hit) a cumulative GDD of 180 this week, so I expect to start seeing more and more seedheads from perennial biotypes as we go through the week.

Now if you then take into account that we are due to hit the brakes in terms of growth rate (as opposed to growth)  later this week and return to a more normal April scenario, I think that means we will just see increasingly more and more seedheads as we close out April. Obviously we can’t do anything about them from a PGR perspective but if I was looking to put some cultural work in place, I would focus on this week because currently we have temperature and next week, being unsettled, means life may be trickier to get the work done. I’ll be taking some Poa plants apart later this week for a look-see and will duly report back.

The main seedhead flush will probably be reserved for the next growth spike after the cooler interlude we are heading to at the end of the week / next week.

Weeds a plenty…

Of course it’s not only grass that has hit the turbo button over the last week, you only have to look at the crops in the fields and see Winter Rape coming into flower, tram lines deepening as wheat and barley get a march on and hedgerows burst into blossom and leaf. Dandelions, Plantains and Daisies are all in full growth and therefore very receptive to the application of a selective herbicide. Given for some areas we have a spray window this week and a pretty low chance of the same next week, then ‘Tempus Fugit’ my friends 🙂

Disease but at least it grew out rapidly…

The early part of last week with its cloud cover and high humidity combined with milder night-time temperatures saw plenty of Microdochium activity around on greens surfaces. Fortunately the growth spike we saw soon afterwards has meant most of this has grown out as quickly as it appeared and with drier days and lowering humidity later in the week, conditions tipped away from activity. The combination of very warm soil temperatures and high E.T would normally have kicked in some new pathogens like Fairy Ring but as yet I’ve had no reports along this line.

It was also warm enough to germinate spores of Anthracnose last week but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will see the disease at a later date because we need prolonged periods of plant stress somewhere down the line for it to develop fully. Time will tell…

Lastly I’ve been getting lots of reports of grub activity last week, principally Leatherjackets. Noticeable I’m sure because affected areas weren’t responding growth-wise as temperatures rose. Nothing we can do here but tap our fingers and whistle Dixie and hope that our industry has an effective tool in the toolbox some time soon..

Ok that’s it for this week…

All the best….

Mark Hunt



April 16th

Hi All,

For some of us this week we have some warm, dry and sunny weather and be jaysus it has been a long, long time coming.

Soils are still saturated mind from weeks of incessant rain so it won’t be an instant turnaround but it is heading in the right direction and accompanying those temperatures is significant evapotranspiration. 22mm of E.T is forecast for my location here in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. So effectively we will expect to see nearly an inch of rainfall evaporated from a grass sward this week (sorry for the mixed measurements) and that’s good news for sure in terms of drying up turf.

We have to be patient though and let Mother Nature do her job before we can take over.

I was out walking on Saturday and to have warm sun on my face was a true pleasure even if it was matched by wet boots and mud splattered trousers. I watched Buzzards climbing in the thermals and then fold their wings and plummet like a stone before pulling up just before the ground, only to do it all again 10 minutes later :). They seemed to be having a blast…

The air was full of Skylarks as well on some parts of my walk and the chatter of Swallows and Martins, newly arrived from Africa and gorging themselves on the huge Midge hatches taking place. Simple things please simple minds for sure and definitely the case this weekend that bigger fools on….(politically)

So onto this week’s weather and the crucial question, is this just a welcome blip for most places or something longer term remembering that April isn’t traditionally the greenkeeper / groundsmans friend when it comes to growing grass.

General Weather Situation

With a deep Atlantic low west of Ireland and high pressure over the U.K it isn’t going to be sunshine and warm winds for everyone for sure..

So Monday sees the last vestiges of Sunday’s rain push up north across North Wales, north-west England and western Scotland during the morning and fizzle away to leave a dry day just about everywhere. I say just about because that Atlantic low will make landfall across south-west Munster and Connacht early afternoon and will push rain across Ireland through the 2nd part of the day. Some of that rain will be heavy in coastal areas of Kerry, Sligo and Mayo. Away from this low pressure, the U.K looks to have a dry and dull day according to the forecast but looking out of the window right now, it is blue sky and so your temperatures will depend on cloud cover. I’d expect 11-13°C over Ireland and Scotland and something approaching 13-17°C across England and Wales if you see breaks in the cloud cover. A strong to moderate south-westerly wind will be in situ and that will only help in the drying game.

Onto Tuesday and that heavy rain over Ireland continues overnight and then edges west into Scotland by dawn bringing heavy rain to the west and south-west of Scotland. This same rain front pushes into Mid and North Wales and the north of England in time for the morning rush hour, edging slowly eastwards through the morning pushing cloud cover ahead of it. By mid-morning that rain will be into The South West, across Wales, the north of England and most of Scotland leaving behind a pale of thicker cloud over Ireland which will break slowly through the 2nd part of the day. Further south and east looks to start dry with clear skies across the south-east of England and bright sunshine greeting the day. As that rain front pushes eastwards through Tuesday it’ll push thick cloud ahead of it so you might start bright but it’s likely to cloud over from the north-west through the morning. At this stage that rain looks to halt over the western side of the country, so south and east of this you should stay dry. I also think The Midlands should miss most of that rain. Temperature-wise, a real split as you can imagine, 11°C for Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 14-16°C for central and southern regions, maybe higher.

Mid-week beckons and Wednesday promises a better day for those areas that picked up rain on Tuesday with thick cloud and light showers starting the day off for Ireland and the west coast of the U.K. Just in time for the morning rush hour, another rain front pushes into Kerry and south Munster but the majority of this rain will track northwards and quickly clear so by lunchtime it’ll be away out into The Atlantic. Closer to home and after some thicker cloud and light showers across the west coast of the U.K, the cloud will thin and break by lunchtime with the sun pushing through and temperatures really ramping up. For most areas, Wednesday will be the warmest day of the year so far. Scotland will see some thicker cloud and rain for the 2nd part of the day but this will clear through the evening to finish dry and sunny. With a strong to moderate south / south-easterly wind in situ, Wednesday will also be a significant drying day to boot with 13-16°C for Ireland and Scotland and I’d say 19-21°C for England and Wales.

Thursday sees the last vestiges of that rain clear the north west of Scotland and then for the rest of the day we will see cloud clear (where it is present) and the sun pushing through. I’d expect the south-east of England to start be clear from the onset and that means here you’ll likely to get the highest temperatures. With cloud clearing Ireland and Wales quickly as well, Thursday promises to be a cracker of a day with long spells of sunshine and rising temperatures. The wind will be very light and swing round to the north by close of play, not that it’ll be very noticeable though. So I’d say 16°C for Ireland and Scotland, rising to 23°C or even a smidge higher for the south-east of England. What a turnaround, factor 30 here we come.

Closing out the week on Friday and we see more in the way of cloud around for Scotland and the north of Ireland. Some of this cloud may be thick enough to give some light rain in coastal areas. Ireland looks to start cloudy with that cloud breaking through the morning whereas England and Wales will start with pretty clear skies and so another warm, dry and sunny day beckons. Similar temperatures to Thursday, maybe a degree or two down but I’d expect to hit the twenties again in the south of England, high teens for The Midlands and north of England and mid-teens for Ireland, with Scotland only low teens because of that thicker cloud cover. The wind will be north-westerly / westerly and light to moderate.

So how does the weekend look, are we hanging onto that high pressure ?

Well the weekend will be mixed as we still have rain fronts trying to push in from The Atlantic so expect to see more in the way of cloud and showers of rain across Ireland and the west of the U.K, probably more so for the 1st part of Sunday I’d say than Saturday. Lot’s of sunshine as well so temperatures will stay up in the high teens I think, maybe touching 20°C down south. With moist air fronts pushing into a column of warmer air, there may be an increasing risk of some thunder and lightning as well.  With thicker cloud over Scotland I think the temperatures will remain cooler here so just breaking into the teens possibly.

Weather Outlook

The above image is the prediction for the jet stream position come this time next week and hopefully you can see that it is sitting in a more traditional position with a westerly air flow, an Azores high pressure below it and an Icelandic low pressure above it. This is where it should be and so I think next week we are set for a sunshine and showers, April scenario. So initially on Monday we will start a little unsettled with rain across the west and as we progress to Tuesday we see low pressure push in westerly, mild winds and more showers. I think the tendency will be for more cloud cover and rain across the north of Ireland with some heavier rain on Tuesday and Wednesday for these areas. Unlike past rain though, this will whistle through on a westerly wind so that’s the key difference between last month and this month, no dwelling low pressures sitting in a big deep trough next week 🙂 Further south I think it’ll be sunshine and showers with good growing conditions, high teen temperatures and mild nights, all in all good I’d say. Maybe a little cooler at the end of the week as the wind swings a bit more north-westerly.

Agronomic Notes

Growth Spike

Ok it doesn’t need me to tell you this week that we have a significant growth spike coming for the areas that are set to receive the highest temperatures. You can see how it relates to the rest of the year in the graph below using data from my Netatmo Weather Station, I’ve added in the rest of April from temperature projections.

So on the 12th April, 2018 we were ticking along with scarcely any growth here and a G.P of 0.1 and 7 days later the projected G.P is 0.94, that’s some growth spike and traditionally the type of growth we have seen in the first week of May over the last 2-3 years and not the middle of April.

We know that the Sudden Stratospheric Warming event that took place in mid-February has brought us a very cold (and wet) start to the year but it is uncanny when you compare it with 2013 that the effect of this SSW ceased practically on the same date. In 2013 we started to get strong growth on the 13th of April and in 2018, it was the 14th April, weird.

So this growth spike brings with it both welcome and unwelcome consequences.

Firstly, we must remember that there are lots of sites which are still sitting saturated and so trying to keep on top of this will be very tricky without causing more mess than just a lot of clippings. Patience is the key here on all sides. We will obviously get a reduction in greens speed regardless of nutrition because the plant is growing 8-9 times faster than it was a week ago. On the flip side, newly seeded areas, areas that have received high levels of winter wear, scars from Microdochium nivale last autumn and of course, aerated surfaces will heal up so much quicker now and that’s a welcome bonus.

Remember I said in one of my recent blogs I put some Fescue / Rye seed down in mid-February hoping for an early spring and had seen nothing. The transformation in 3 days has been incredible, bare areas are filling in and newly-germinated seed is popping. So that means divot recovery or if you are able to undertake the work, overseeding thin areas will pay its way from now onwards.

For some areas in the north I would temper the description of a growth spike to just growth because up there it has been practically non-existent up until the middle of April. Happily despite your projected lower temperatures this week, you are still going to see some good growth and some drying days.

Poa annua

A week ago as we were just starting to see some growth I remarked that it wouldn’t be long before we started to see the annual biotype of Poa annua pop up its head. Now I know the annual biotype will produce seed in any calendar month of the year but traditionally for me it starts to really push along when the cumulative GDD hits the 100 mark, with the perennial biotype following on behind some 80-100 GDD days later. So for my location here we hit 100GDD tomorrow and sure enough I can see plenty of annual biotype Poa seedheads.

The question is when will the seedhead flush start for the perennial Poa annua biotype ?

What never ceases to amaze me is the fact that whatever type of winter we have we end up reaching a very similar time for the perennial biotype seedhead flush, typically the first week of May.

For my location I have projected forward the potential GDD count for the rest of April. Now there’s going to be siginficant variation with actual because of the inaccuracy of weather forecasting past 7 days temperature-wise.

So by the end of April we will be hitting a projected cumulative GDD of 170 in Market Harborough and just as importantly stacking on 30GDD a week. So ‘if’, and it’s a big ‘if’ at this stage, we carry on like this we will see the start of the perennial biotype seedhead flush at the end of this month / first week of May.

Looking back at data from our Northampton location makes interesting reading (Ta Rob) when we take into account SSW events vs. the date we hit a cumulative GDD total of 180….

So I’d say the smart money on the first week of May for the main Poa annua seedhead flush 🙂

Disease Activity

Last week’s climbing day and night-time temperatures coupled with high humidity resulted in a good amount of disease appearing and not just on existing scars carried over from last autumn / winter. Last week saw significant new disease ingression and so we can deduce from this that the infection cycle has gone full circle and that last week represented high enough temperatures to initiate new infection activity from new disease populations rather than existing disease populations. A fortunate consequence of the growth spike though will be that this and any existing disease should be happily grown out without having to apply a fungicide.

Ok that’s it for this week, enjoy the sun if it is heading your way and don’t forget the sun cream…

All the best….

Mark Hunt


April 11th – Mini Update

Hi All,

After another two days of rainfall when areas have received between 15-40 mm falling on what is already saturated ground, one could be forgiven for retiring to a dark place and sitting with your head in your hands, rocking gently back and forth.

Coupled with that, yours truly here gave you a brilliant blog (not) this week imparting the news that next week looks pretty dire as well with a deep Atlantic low pressure system on its way mid-week, next week.

It seems very much to me like Groundhog day doesn’t it but this isn’t funny, businesses are struggling for cash flow with course closures, loss of buggy and F&B revenue to name but just some of the issues facing golf clubs. Cancelled fixtures on sports pitches and a looming cricket season are also ‘in your face’ pressures on the Groundsman side of the fence.

So it’s nice to be the purveyor of some better news with a change in next weeks synopsis 🙂

That low pressure system due to arrive mid-week, next week, is now projected to come to a grinding halt courtesy of a continental high pressure system. Now as we know when a low and high pressure system butt up against each other usually it either means north winds or south winds dominate the weather picture.

Well this time it looks like it’ll be south winds and that means they’ll pull up warm air from The Med. So by this time next week expect us to be looking at 18-20°C and possibly higher for the south of England.

There’s still some discussion about the exact position of the high and the low, east / west, but the effect of funneling southerly winds and warmer temperatures is clear.

Here’s a Netweather graphic to illustrate the temperature gradient next Thursday…

Image courtesy of

South winds and warm temperatures will mean E.T rates will ramp up and so that means we will get some really good dry down of surfaces. Now I know we have a lot of moisture to shift but believe me it’s better to be looking at this scenario than the one I posted on Monday and you’ll be surprised just how quickly surfaces change.

Now that low pressure will still be out in The Atlantic so it’s likely to still affect the west of Ireland next week before moving off but even there it shouldn’t be the end of the world and temperatures will pick up afterwards.

Growth Spike

Looking at the Meteoturf readouts below from 4 geographical locations you can see the predicted GDD / G.P figure for the next 7 days is already high and that’s really before the heat arrives in earnest mid-week.

To put it into perspective, some of those forecasted GDD totals for the next 7 days exceed the total amount we got in February and March combined !!!!

So we are going to see a really significant flush of growth next week as those temperatures kick in and the plant responds to elevated soil temperature and available moisture.

Not a major problem on greens unless you have heaps of N down, though speed may suffer for a short while. The issue is likely to be outfield areas, tee and bunker banks and the like where just getting machinery out to cut will be challenging in the early part of the week. Hopefully the situation will improve as we go through the week and you’re able to get on top of it.

Will it last ?

Well according to Metman James, who is currently living it up in Vienna attending the snappily named ‘European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2018’ event ( 🙂 ), temperatures will settle back down again by the end of the week / weekend.

Looking at the 850hpa output below on his Twitter feed you can see the spike in temperature quite clearly with only one model predicting otherwise….(we will ignore that for the sake of everyone’s sanity)

Image courtesy of Metman James (

So ok some more rain to come this week before things pick up but at least we have something around the corner that will help our major issue at present, that of saturated playing surfaces.

True, it’ll throw us another turf curve ball in terms of a growth spike but from where I’m currently sitting in my dark room, rocking on my well-worn office chair, I’ll take that any day of the week.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

April 9th

Hi All,

I think the map below explains the weather story for March very well.

Image courtesy of The Met Office (

Access it from The Met Office website here

The negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which caused (and continues to do so) the jet stream to sit lower than normal allowed low pressure after low pressure to affect the U.K, hence the heavy rainfall. Coupled with the predominantly easterly wind aspect, we can see the result in terms of rainfall distribution, it has a pronounced eastern bias.

The bad news for us is that the jet stream is still sitting low and the NAO is still the wrong side of where we need it to be. The indications up to the middle of April point towards another strong negative dip so in my books it looks like more of the same I am afraid in terms of rainfall.

On the flip side we have seen much better temperatures over the last week and that has at least allowed some growth. In fact there’s been more GDD across the U.K over the last week than we had in 3 weeks during March and that rise in temperature will help a little in terms of faster drying of the turf surface. Yes I know I’m trying to put a positive spin on it when a lot of surfaces remain saturated but that’s just me 🙂

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with a dull and pretty dry picture on Monday save for a raft of showers that is working along the Dorset coast. With an easterly wind in situ these showers will move west across Wiltshire and into The South West through the course of the day. Elsewhere we have plenty of cloud cover that will eventually break across the east coast, north-west England and Leinster to reveal some patchy sunshine. As we close out the morning, that rain across The South West will push north and eastwards into South and mid-Wales and later The Midlands. At the same time we see another strong rain front push into the south-west of Ireland. Through the course of Monday night that rain will edge eastwards to cover most of the south and central regions of the U.K, pushing up into northern England by dawn on Tuesday. A north-east / easterly wind will keep temperatures down to low double figures, so maybe 11-12°C for the U.K and Ireland.

So a very wet start to Tuesday beckons for England and Wales and also for the east and west of Ireland as a band of rain is set to lie horizontally over the country. South of this band you’ll be dry and dull though. As we go through the morning rush hour, the band of rain over England and Wales tracks northwards clearing the south and south-east of England as it does so. The reason I haven’t mentioned Scotland yet is because you’ll be dry and dull through Tuesday but expect that southerly band of rain from northern England to push into north and east Scotland during Tuesday afternoon. As we go through the afternoon the rain over Ireland, Wales and England begins to dissipate and we may even see some spells of sunshine break through as it does so. Still plenty of rain showers around though it has to be said. Where that sun breaks through it may just lift the temperature up from 11°C to 13°C in places as we close out Tuesday, cooler in Scotland mind.

Onto Wednesday and a much better day with a pretty dry picture, save for the risk of showers over Northern England. Plenty of cloud initially but this will clear from the south and south-east to give long spells of sunshine and rising temperatures pushing up into the mid-teens during the day. More in the way of thicker cloud for the north of England and Scotland in particular means that temperatures will sit a good bit lower and struggle to break out of single figures. Ireland should almost mirror England, with a dull start and the cloud cover breaking across the south-east during the morning and clearing northwards. A lighter easterly wind will allow a much milder feel to temperatures.

Thursday sees the effect of the east wind come into play as a bank of thick cloud is pushed in off The North Sea. This will bring rain to the east / north east from first off pushing north and westwards during the morning into The Borders and North East Scotland. South of this band of thick could we will see a dull, dry start with cloud breaking across The South West and east of Ireland to reveal hazy sunshine. Through the late morning there’s a risk of a narrow band of rain running along the south coast westwards, some of this may be heavy across The Isle of Wight and Hampshire, rain shadow or no rain shadow 🙂 During the course of Thursday evening this rain pushes into The South West from the east and may be heavy in places. Further north we see that rain peter out and be replaced by a bank of thick cloud so nothing great about the temperatures here. 9-10°C under that cloud and 13-14°C further south, so a real north-south divide. Winds will be easterly swinging round to the south east at close of play.

Closing out the week on Friday and overnight we see that band of heavy rain over The South West and Wales extend into Leinster and Connacht bringing the risk of heavy rain here. Likewise we see thicker cloud over the south and central parts of England on Friday and so a dull and potentially damp start here too. This time the north of England and Scotland gets the better start with sunny intervals breaking through a clearing cloud base but it won’t last long as more cloud pushes in from The North Sea on a south-easterly wind bringing rain to the north of England and Scotland for the second part of the day. This will clear from the south mind. For the south and central regions which had that thicker cloud and early rain you’ll see it clear during the afternoon to finish pretty nice really with hazy sunshine and warming temperatures.

So how does the weekend look ?

Saturday looks potentially pretty good at this stage with a warm, sunny day for most of England and Scotland at least. There’s a threat of some rain for The South West and South Wales possibly but plenty of time for this to change yet. Ireland looks to have a dry Saturday morning but there’s a threat of rain for the east for the 2nd part of the day I’m afraid 🙁 With those rising temperatures we could see some snap showers associated with thunder across the U.K later on Saturday afternoon.  Mid to high teens for England on Saturday, cooler across the west with that cloud cover and for Scotland, but low teens here and dry crucially. Sunday looks similar, more cloud cover about though and heavier showers running up from The South West up the west coast. There’s also a rain risk for the east coast of Ireland as well. Some of these showers may extend into The Midlands during Sunday afternoon. Winds will swing round from the south east to more westerly on Sunday and I’d expect temperatures to stay in the mid-teens for Central England and low teens elsewhere. So a bit more unsettled on Sunday but remaining mild.

Weather Outlook

Images courtesy of Unisys Weather

So the outlook for next week is I’m afraid a continuation of unsettled conditions with a deep Atlantic low pressure developing from mid-week onwards and set to give us some heavy rain for the 2nd part of the week and extending into next weekend possibly. As you can see from the Unisys graphics above, the orientation of the low is more south-westerly so perhaps reversing the easterly trends of late.  If I try to pick some crumbs of positivity, I’d say it will remain mild with a south-westerly / southerly airstream but we really don’t need any more rain as we all know.

Agronomic Notes

Until I see a change in the weather I will keep churning out comparisons with prior years because I think they’re helpful in understanding exactly where we are.

Now I got this idea from Rob Hay at Northampton County who kindly forwards his weather data to me. (Thanks Rob)

His contention is that 2018 is closely following 2016 in terms of growth and rainfall patterns and we know that in both years we had late SSW events so there’s some logic there. I happen to think he is right.

I plotted out his data and expressed it as Cumulative Growth Potential comparing 2013, 2016 and 2018, when we had SSW events, with 2017 when we didn’t.

Here’s how it looks….

So you can see from the data that all SSW-affected springs show lower (and slower)  growth levels compared to 2017, when we had a decent spring with no SSW.

Broadly-speaking, 2018 is tracking mid-way between 2016 and 2013 in terms of cumulative growth and roughly 25 days behind 2017 (as of 08/04/18). The gap has closed a bit because we have had some growth over the last week or so.

The other interesting parameter that Rob documented was rainfall, so here’s the same graph as above but looking at cumulative rainfall.

So you can see from the above that a SSW event doesn’t necessarily mean we will pick up high levels of rainfall as a result because in 2013 we had lower rainfall than 2018, beset by a pattern of cold, dry easterlies. If you look at 2018 and 2016 though, the rainfall total to date is very similar though the pattern is different.

So we continue to track behind 2017 in terms of growth and a long way ahead in terms of rainfall. That trend will I am afraid continue through the next 10-14 days by the look of it with further high rainfall predicted. As a reminder, April 2016 finished off cold and dry in the last week with night frosts but come the end of the 1st week of May we had a massive growth flush.

Warming air means higher E.T rates and quicker drying

I am determined to keep positive despite how the weather looks and one point I’d like to emphasise is the effect of that warmer air coming into play. As we progress through April and pick up warmer day temperatures it means we also get higher evapotranspiration and that means surfaces dry down quicker.

If I look at the stats over the last week from The Oxfordshire, they received 17.4mm of rainfall but crucially 13mm of E.T so some of that rainfall effect was negated by evaporation. Now the further north you go, the lower the E.T and I accept it isn’t the case for everyone, but warmer air dries surfaces quicker so I’d like to think we will dry down quicker as we go through April.

Where is Poa annua in all of this in terms of seedheads ?

Well usually what we see in the spring is that the annual biotype of Poa annua begins to seed at around 100 cumulative GDD from Jan 1st. If I pick the data from Northampton, they’re up at 82 come yesterday so a little way off. That said they were only at 62 at the end of March so have packed on 20GDD in the last week. That means if we continue this trend we will see the annual Poa biotype seeding in greens in a week or so for The Midlands and given the fact it’s been warmer down south, you’ll already be seeing it.

The perennial biotype seeds later in the spring and typically anywhere from 180 cumulative GDD so we are a long way off that at present.

I haven’t had the opportunity to strip down any Poa plants of late and have a look (a great way to pass time if you are exceptionally sad like me) but I wouldn’t expect to see much at current GDD levels.

Just as an aside, if the perennial Poa annua at Augusta (perish the thought) seeded at a similar GDD point, the seedhead flush there would have been around mid-February !

Following Rob’s line of thought that we are tracking similar to 2016 in terms of GDD and rainfall, the Poa annua seedhead flush started on 7th May, 2016 looking back at my records. It was the week when we went from a G.P of 0.25 to 1.0 in a matter of two days, with Poa seeding profusely and clippings around our ankles !

Disease Activity

With the milder weather and high humidity of last week comes Microdochium nivale with plenty of reports of disease activity out there last week. Looking back at the data from my little Netatmo Weather Station, I recorded a period of 34 hours between the 2nd and 3rd of April when the humidity and air temperature were above the threshold for Microdochium activity, so it is not surprising that we are seeing disease activity. Thankfully though with those same temperatures comes growth and that means we are at least able to grow the effects of the disease out of the sward.

Linking your Netatmo Weather Station with Weather Underground

Now I know quite a lot of people have gone out and purchased one of the above weather stations after reading my blog. I should point out there is no commercial connection between myself and Netatmo and therefore you won’t see me retiring to a life of fly fishing and mountain biking just yet….:)

I have though found it a cracking piece of kit so far in terms of weather monitoring but to the contrary I have also found The Netatmo dashboard quite limiting in terms of the ability to look back at historical data.

I thought I’d got round this when I found out you could link your Netatmo Weather Station to the Weather Underground (WU) – Personal Weather Station Network (PWS).

When you do so you can spot your weather station on their map, click on it and look at your data. My weather station is 1of 5 in Market Harborough as you can see on the Weather Underground (WU) map below.

Now I am not going to go into how you link your Netatmo with WU because I don’t think the software marriage between the two of them is very robust. I encountered a number of instances when the WU map said my Netatmo wasn’t reporting data to WU when it was working fine, but the link between them wasn’t so I ended up with missing data, sometimes for days.

I then happened upon another solution using software from a company called Meteoware Plus.  They offer the ability to look at your weather data from your Netatmo in a fancy dashboard set up which is nice but their ace card is that they also offer the ability to link your Netatmo PWS with WU, if you click here

It’s really simple to do once you enter your Netatmo login details and within an hour or so you’ll see your data featuring on the WU map. It transmits your PWS data every 15-20 mins or so and you can click on a log (shown above) to check that your weather station is uploading data.

So what’s the advantage of sending your weather data to the WU site ?

Well if you click on your weather station you can put in custom historical dates and it will pull up your data in either graphical or table form. Here’s my March summary…

So you can easily take this data and fill in your GDD / G.P spreadsheet, rainfall and the like. What’s more WU have a map of PWS’s all over the world so you could say hypothetically click on a weather station next to Augusta and look at their weather or anywhere really where there’s a PWS indicated.

Now the idea of a PWS Network is pretty recent so don’t expect to find years worth of data, also sometimes there are gaps in the data if the weather station wasn’t maintained, battery went flat, WiFi broke down or the software between the two didn’t work for while.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on this so please don’t email me asking ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ because I probably won’t have the answer, I’m simply relating my experience so far with my own PWS and data usage / availability.

Ok that’s it for this week, it must be a record for me to finish this blog it on the day I actually started it 🙂

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt