Author Archives: mark.hunt

January 14th

Hi All,

My first blog of 2019 and a Happy New Year to you all…

So we endured a really mild and a really dull Christmas period with precious little sunshine or frost. With temperatures up in the teens on occasion you can’t blame nature for being a bit confused with spring bulbs well on their way to flowering.

The October-born Hedgehog litter that visits my garden have kept on feeding, taking advantage of this mild spell to fatten up for when winter will inevitably start. The advice is that Hedgehogs need to be around 600gms to last the hibernation process and as you can see from the image below, some of my lot have reached 575gms, so nearly there.

And that’s a good job because winter is due to start this week and I expect them to hibernate 2-3 days before as if they always seem to know it is around the corner.

The Christmas period and early January was characterised by mild weather conditions, nothing unusual in that really, but actually there was.

Mild weather in the winter is usually the result of Atlantic low pressure systems. pushing in windy, wet and mild air. This time the heat came from an Atlantic high pressure system and that in my books is highly unusual. Normally high pressure in the winter means cold, dry, sunny and frosty with mist or fog but that isn’t what we got. This weather system brought in mild air, lots of cloud, no wind and very little else. This of course had huge ramifications for disease activity which I will cover later in the blog.

You may remember my last blog of 2018, the meteorologists were predicting a Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) during December and indeed it occurred on December 29th. Last year it took just over 2 weeks for the SSW to affect the wind direction in the troposphere and turn it to easterly, the rest is history. This one is on a slower burn and in fact only 43% of SSW events actually result in a changing of the weather patterns that affect you or I.

So will this SSW event pan out as another Beast from the east scenario ?

It now looks like the picture above will change subtly over the next 10 days with the trough pattern edging further west and that could bring winter our way. So let’s put some detail on it…

General Weather Picture

So Monday starts with a mainly dull picture across the U.K and Ireland, although sitting here I can see some breaks in the cloud as the sun is rising. There are some wintry showers around over The North East but these will edge out into The North Sea through the morning. After that the scene is set on another dull day with light to moderate winds and precious little sunshine except maybe for the north-east of Scotland. Temperature-wise, we are looking at 8-10°C.

Tuesday sees rain edge into north-west Scotland overnight and push slowly southwards so by dawn it’s into Central Scotland and The Borders. South and west of this sees a re-run of Monday with a calm but dull start to the day for England, Wales and Ireland. As we move through the morning that rain over Scotland drops south into northern England and at the same time intensifies over north-west Scotland, falling as wintry showers over elevation. So for most another ‘dull as dishwater’ day with similar temperatures to Monday albeit with a fresh westerly wind.

Overnight into Wednesday and we see that rain front over Scotland push into north-west Ireland and move eastwards across Ireland during the small hours edging into West Wales, the north-west of England and Scotland by dawn. This band of rain and wintry showers will edge eastwards brightening up behind it across Ireland as it does, reaching The Midlands by lunchtime and central / eastern areas by the afternoon. If anything the mix of rain and wintry showers tends to intensify over north-west England / The Lake District through the latter part of the day with other areas brightening up as skies clear. Slightly cooler through Wednesday as the wind swings more northerly across Scotland and introduces cooler air but this change won’t become apparent further south till Thursday. Here a westerly wind will prevail but with clearing skies temperatures will drop to around freezing for Thursday morning.

So Thursday starts a good bit cooler for most with a ground frost in places. A much brighter start to the day than we have been used to as well with most of those wintry showers dying out overnight and moving off into The North Sea. So cool but bright on Thursday with a strong to moderate north-westerly wind now in situ. As we progress through the morning, we see cloud cover push in from the west for Ireland as another Atlantic low pressure front approaches. This cloud cover pushes east across Wales and central areas as we approach dusk, but the east should stay relatively clear and bright all day. By dusk the rain that threatened is now into the west of Ireland and will push eastwards overnight falling as wintry showers at elevation. So a much cooler feel to Thursday with that north-westerly wind direction, expect temperatures around 4-5°C at best, quite a drop since the start of the week.

Overnight into Friday that rain front over Ireland pushes eastwards reaching The South West and South Wales by the small hours and falling as sleet over Dartmoor and The Black Mountains. By dawn the mix of rain, sleet and snow is placed diagonally from Connacht down to south-east Munster and extending across South Wales into The South West. East and north of this front, we start the day dull, cold and dry over the majority of England and Scotland. As we progress through Friday morning the front edges along the south coast of England and across Wales, clearing Ireland from the west as it does. The skies will also clear across Scotland for the 2nd half of Friday to leave a cold, but clear end to the day. As we approach Friday afternoon / evening this mix of moisture has edged further eastwards into The Midlands and south-east of England, falling as sleet across elevation. We may also see that mix of wintry showers sit across east Leinster and bring a Christmas Pudding dusting to The Sugar Loaf and the mountains of Wicklow 🙂 Another cold one with temperatures barely breaking 6°C all day with the wind having switched round to north-easterly / easterly.

So what’s the outlook for the weekend look like ?

Well we may still have some of that overnight mix of rain and sleet / wintry showers sitting over the southern half of England first off but this will soon move off into The North Sea to leave a bright but cold Saturday and indeed Sunday for most. So dry, bright and cold would be my prognosis once we have lost that early Saturday front. The wind will be strongly from the north on Saturday so they’ll be a pronounced windchill but as we go into Sunday, the winds will drop and it’ll feel a little nicer because of this. Still cold though with frosts likely on both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Weather Outlook

So this is where life gets interesting…

So next week looks like starting off pretty calm and settled after a not-so-bad weekend for many with dull conditions and a north-westerly wind for Monday. It should be pretty dry though. As we go through Tuesday the winds begin to ramp up as a very intense low pressure system threatens to swing down through the 2nd half of the day bringing some strong winds and heavy rain / wintry showers to Wales and England in particular. This continues through Wednesday with some very strong north-westerly winds and heavy wintry showers especially over Scotland initially. Much colder air is likely to push south to all areas for the 2nd half of Wednesday with snow more likely across all areas and a bitter windchill because of that wind strength and direction. Thursday at this stage looks like a continuation of those strong north-westerly winds but less intense wintry showers rather than a concentrated band of snow.

Now a big caveat, things can change for sure and this deep low could just roll over the top of us into Europe as it has done so far this winter, but this one looks different and if it occurs could mark the start of a longer-term trough pattern for the U.K and Ireland. If this is the case we will see much colder air push down with a higher likelihood of snow and it may last.

Agronomic Notes

Since this is my first blog of 2019 it would be pertinent to look at how the year ended up GDD-wise after such a year of extremes. The yearly summary from my Netatmo Weather Station kind of says it all though, 36.5°C highest temperature, just 438mm of rain all year and a -7.7°C low !

December 2018 – GDD Summary – Thame Location

So looking at December in isolation, the Thame location came in with a total GDD of 37, which is around about average, nothing special either way. The yearly total GDD of 2055 is only just shy of 2017’s total, despite finishing March such a long way behind. Is there any pattern to this ?

I was chatting this through with Mr Kirby of Syngenta and we surmised that there wasn’t a great deal of consistency in terms of a general GDD trend year-on-year, but that’s hardly surprising when you think this is just a 9-year snap shot. We also know that during some years we got SSW events that dealt us a cold winter and spring and others we didn’t.

Interestingly I charted out the GDD totals from May to December which effectively removes any influence of SSW (as they tend to occur and affect our weather from Jan onwards)

I think I can see the beginning of a pattern with our GDD increasing by 3-5% over the last 4 years from May to December. (Glenn???)

The devil is in the detail as they say because these totals hide some really big agronomic effects  such as ;

Prolonged hot and dry periods with record summer temperatures and E.T levels. This has left some areas of the country still deficient in rainfall as we tip-toe into the following year with a threat of reduced abstraction and water restrictions likely if we don’t get a top up before summer starts again. You only have to look at the number of new housing estates springing up all over the country to know that the demand for water is only going one way and for sure the water companies are nervously looking at their water table figures with a view to Summer 2019.

Not for all parts of the country that’s for sure, but for some I think….

Our soil moisture deficit going into the autumn of 2018 was 2x the previous year and rather than just being a figure, I think some of the effects of the summer heat weren’t really appreciated until afterwards. For sure we saw a dry-down of not only surface organic matter but also deep into the rootzone profile below our fairways, rough and outfield. This has made soil profiles (not just the surface layer) hydrophobic and many autumn over-seeding efforts were I think thwarted by a dry surface fibre layer and also a dry soil underneath.

Last but definitely not least we have Microdochium activity which I think was the worst we have endured. Not in terms of peaks of activity in October but more so what followed during December and into January. I will look at this in more detail further down the blog and open up a bit of a discussion on just where we are going as a industry..

GDD & Rainfall Summary – December 2018 – UK Locations

Well one of most variable graphs I’ve done for a while in terms of rainfall and GDD totals. As with some of my past graphs, the south-west of England picks up the wettest weather with nearly 10″ (247.2mm) recorded for our Devon location (my sympathies Pete) and similar amounts for Wales as well I’m told. You can see the localised effect of rainfall as well with 108.2 recorded for Central Birmingham and 53.6mm recorded for Market Harborough less than 50 miles away.

From a GDD perspective, a lot of variability here as well ranging from 24.3 in Fife (though similarly low in York as well) right up to 69.4 down in Guildford (it must be the warming effect of the M25!) . On a serious note though that’s approximately 3x the growth for the south of England vs. the east of Scotland.

GDD & Rainfall Summary – December 2018 – Irish Locations

Just like the south-west of England, the south-west of Ireland picks up the highest rainfall total (278.6mm) by a long way, but you can see the spread of rain across Ireland was extremely variable. 3x the rainfall for Cork compared to Dublin ! The south and west of Ireland again came out with higher rainfall totals as it has done all year.

GDD-wise, again significant variability with Valentia the highest at 120.4 (that’s nearly double the highest total from a U.K location) right down to Cavan and Claremorris, which came in at 51.1 and 52.7 respectively. Low for Ireland but much higher than many U.K locations for the same period.

Microdochium nivale – Disease Pressure – Autumn / Winter 2018 / 19

Without a doubt the autumn winter period has been challenging in terms of keeping a clean sward from a Microdochium perspective. The advent of a mild Atlantic high pressure appearing in December and lasting through to January has been a real game changer in my mind because rather than just seeing activity on existing disease scars, we also saw very aggressive new activity late in the year.

This level of disease activity is set against a background of reduced fungicide options and the first season without Iprodione as a curative control. Normally when we saw activity late in the year we would reach for this active ingredient in front of any other because of its local penetrant action and the ability to knock back new disease.

With this option missing on the Chemsafe shelf there was no way of stopping new infection unless you were fortunate enough to have applied a systemic fungicide period to the Christmas period. I say this because spray windows leading up to Christmas were few and far between, it was very wet and also windy. Even then I have had reports of some of these applications not achieving control of new disease activity such was the extent of the disease pressure.

Existing scars showed significant movement as well…You may remember in a previous blog I marked the outside of some disease scars with dots of white paint when I was doing a trial.

Two such scars are shown below ;

The disease scars shown below aren’t the exact same ones but were marked the same way on the 27th November.

The pictures were taken on the 17th December (before the worst outbreak but after significant pressure in the 1st part of December)

You can clearly see the previously-affected area in the centre of the patch showing signs of recovery but the white dots no longer mark the edge of the affected area as the patch has grown visibly outwards. I’ll update with a January image in due course…

So why was the Christmas period so bad for Microdochium ? (and also Red Thread it has to be said..).

Well blame it all on that Atlantic high pressure system because it gave us mild, humid air and no wind, so night and day temperatures varied little and the leaf stayed wet for long periods of time.

The graph above shows the period from December 20th through to January 13th and looks at maximum and minimum air temperature as well as humidity.

The period of weather that really did it for disease pressure started on the 26th December and carried right through to the 29th December unabated. What characterised this period so markedly was a night and day temperature  > 6°C and 100% humidity for the whole period.

So in other words, the plant leaf sat wet for 72 hours and provided an ideal environment for Microdochium nivale. The air temperature maintained above 6°C day and night through this period which I now know allowed for significant development of Microdochium nivale.

I say ‘now know’ because I have just completed a population growth curve study with 2 different Microdochium nivale isolates, one from the U.K and one from Germany (to keep neutrality in the Brexit debate 🙂 ) looking at fungal growth vs. air temperature.

I will present the findings in my talk at BTME next week but suffice to say this pathogen has a healthy growth rate at 5°C….:(

Microdochium nivale – Where do we go from here ?

So we experienced very high disease pressure probably at a time when it is fair to say we didn’t expect it. It also emanated from a weather pattern that was unusual in my experience for the end of December / start of January.

Some of the clubs that had weathered the worst up until this time were caught out and sustained high disease scarring even though they may have applied 3-4 preventative fungicides prior to Christmas leading some to question whether they were actually better off for having applied 4 fungicides ?

For me without a doubt the degree of scarring would have been so much higher without keeping the disease pathogen population lower on the run up to this period. I know this because I’ve seen the untreated areas in trials at the S.T.R.I, in my own field trials and where some end-users have attempted to go through this period without a fungicide. That said I am not dismissive of the sentiment behind such thinking. We know modern-day fungicides contain far less A.I than their past counterparts and as stated earlier we no longer have the luxury of a contact-curative so we aren’t by anyone’s admission in the same boat as we once were.

It is also unfair to point the finger solely at pesticides because now more than ever we have to have an effective overall IPM program in place. It’s no longer good enough to pay lip service to this statement because climate and legislation have tipped the balance firmly in favour of the pathogen.

All is far from lost but it does mean we have to pay more attention to surface organic matter, cultivar mix, dew dispersal and non-pesticidal treatments than maybe we once did when we had an effective safety net of pesticides at our disposal.

It is going to take some education as well within clubs because the average Joe isn’t used to disease scarring and we need to explain to management and members alike that we have to implement an effective IPM program. That means aeration, overseeding and everything else we know is necessary but also some fine tuning of tolerance to a level of disease scarring because of the reasons I have already highlighted.

Disease on drier, more open greens vs. wetter ones…

Now here’s a thing…

Plenty of you have fed back to me that you have seen consistently worse disease on your more open, free-draining greens and precious little on your soil based, wetter greens. Logic would suggest this should be the other way round surely ?

Sometimes it isn’t though and it has got everyone I think scratching their collective heads a little..

I have discussed it before as a noted phenomenon, so what may be the cause behind this disease pattern ?

Well firstly greens that have a higher sand content will hold less water and will usually (if the sand is the correct particle size) hold more air than their equivalent soil based counterpart. Now we know that gas heats up and cools down quicker than liquid so one theory of mine is that a higher sand content green will heat up faster than a soil green and this will encourage a higher pathogen population (because we know that the speed of mycelium growth and spore germination of Microdochium nivale both increase with temperature)

This is my SWAG answer (Scientific wild arsed guess – copyright Dr James Beard) but to me its logicial, do I have proof ? No.

My second theory relates to the survivability of Microdochium nivale spores with respect to temperature and moisture. We know from research conducted in agriculture on Microdochium nivale populations in Winter Wheat that spore survival is poor during periods of cool, wet conditions and high during drier winters, regardless of temperature. So I am wondering whether a soil green that sits wet during the autumn / winter will actually have a lower level of viable spores than a sand / soil or USGA-spec rootzone ?

Please note, this is a separate discussion from Microdochium nivale mycelium, i.e the behaviour of the fungus itself once the spore has germinated. Here we know plant leaf wetness encourages growth of the pathogen, period. One reason why I favour the spore viability theory is that I tend to see the phenomenon of more aggressive Microdochium on drier, more open-aspect greens once we reach the spring and it begins to warm up. The fact we have seen it now on some courses is I think because of the unusually warm weather patterns I have discussed earlier.

Ok that’s it for this week, I have a lot more to say but as usual I’m going to run out of time. I hope to see some of you at Harrogate next week and yes I know I’m always yapping on the stand but I’ll do my best to say hello and have time 🙂

If you are after the forecast for Harrogate, click on the banner above for the Headland Weathercheck portal.

All the best for the coming year.

Mark Hunt





December 17th

Hi All,

The last blog of 2018 for me and how the year has flown by.

It started as you’ll no doubt remember by me waffling on about a Sudden Stratospheric Warming Event (SSW) back in late January after an unremarkable start to the year.  The SSW occurred around the 12th of February and this spun our prevailing winds round to easterly from the 21st of February, pretty much to the middle of April. We endured a really cold March / April period as a result.

Well the meteorologists are at it again, with a SSW event predicted to occur around Christmas Day.

In layman’s terms (i.e mine), an SSW is a sudden warming of the air miles up in the stratosphere (10-50km above us) with temperatures rising by up to 50°C over a short period. Now at this stage it doesn’t affect our weather at lower altitudes but it is how the SSW breaks down that can. In certain circumstances the breakdown of the SSW can permeate down through the Stratosphere into the Troposphere (lower altitude) where our weather systems occur and reverse the orientation of the sub-polar jet stream. This as you’ll know flows ordinarily from west to east but a breakdown of the SSW can split / weaken this flow and in some cases even reverse it to easterly. There are lots of variables as usual that come into play, not least the magnitude of the SSW. The one earlier this year was significant and this one is looking similar in intensity so there’s a chance we could see an easterly flow / very cold weather coming in for the end of December / start of January. Too late to earn me a Paddy Power White Christmas win though I think (Bah bah humbug)

There’s a good explanation by the Met Office of what an SSW actually is here

Just picked up a tweet from James Warner that confirms the above…

Reproduced by kind permission of James Warner

Onto the weather for the time-being…

General Weather Situation

So you may have noticed over the 2nd part of the weekend that the wind turned round from the Baltic east to a slightly milder south-westerly. This heralded the change to a westerly airflow and some milder, wetter and at times, windier weather. So although Monday is starting calm it won’t be long before rain pushes into Kerry and marks the start of what will be a pretty wet week for Ireland I’m afraid. This rain is set to move across Ireland during the course of the morning. The U.K on the flip side will be calm, dry and settled, one of the few spray days of the week I think. By dusk the rain will push into The South West and West Wales and then move slowly eastwards, fizzling out as it does. This is just the first skirmish though because by mid-evening, another front of much heavier rain will be into the west of Ireland and this could bring some flooding along the southern coast of Ireland with heavy rain predicted for Kerry, Cork and Wexford I think. So Monday (away from the Irish rain) will be a nice, settled day with temperatures up in the 8-9°C range and moderate to strong winds. Ireland will be milder with 11-12°C and stronger winds.

Tuesday kicks off with that heavy rain front over much of Ireland though clearing the west. During the morning it’ll be into the west coast of the U.K and then it’ll move slowly eastwards bringing heavier rain with it and maybe not reaching East Anglia till dusk clearing Ireland as it does so. So for Ireland once that rain clears it’ll be a pleasant day, more so in the west though with temperatures up around 8-9°C. Summing up for the U.K, a dull, cloudy day with a strong to gale force southerly wind in situ and rain pushing in across Wales, Scotland, England from the west through the day reaching eastern parts late in the day. Temperature-wise, similar to Monday at 8-10°C.

Overnight into Wednesday and by dawn that rain should have cleared off into The North Sea leaving a dry start for the U.K and Ireland. That said it won’t be long before another rain front pushes into the west of Ireland and moves eastwards through the morning. We may also see some rain across the south-east of England from dawn onwards. That rain over Ireland quickly clears from the west to bring showers to the west coast of England, Wales and Scotland for the 2nd half of the day with the latter falling as wintry showers over The Highlands. At this stage it looks like the bulk of these showers will be confined to western areas but later into Wednesday evening we will see a new rain front across Ireland. Feeling a little cooler across all areas with temperatures a degree or two down on Tuesday and a strong to moderate south-westerly wind in situ.

Thursday sees the low pressure firmly over the U.K so expect another wet start to the day but it should clear eastwards through the early morning fizzling out as it does so. By mid-morning we have another front of heavy rain associated with that low pushing into the south-west of Ireland. This will move across Ireland through the morning and make landfall across The South West, South Wales and the south coast by late morning and then push up across England and Wales during the early evening. Scotland may see a similar pattern with some wintry showers early doors before these become localised over The Highlands leaving thick cloud behind. The rain from the south will arrive with you overnight in the wee hours me laddie. Again we are stuck around the 8-9°C mark this week but Thursday sees the winds strengthen again and swing in from the south-west.

Friday may see a cooler start to the day across the south of England if cloud clears overnight on Thursday. We will still have a vestige of that rain across the north and north-east of England and some of it may be wintry in nature across The Pennines. Right from the off at daybreak we will see more rain across the south / south-west of Ireland and this will push north and west into mid / north Wales by late morning. Away from this rain front, the rest of the U.K looks to have a dry, if cool start to Friday. Through the afternoon though we will see the cloud thicken and that westerly rain track easterly from Wales into the north Midlands and north of England. Scotland will still pick up some showers chiefly across the north and west with these falling as snow across The Highlands. A mucky day really with some showers also moving along the south coast of England and lots of cloud about as well. Temperature-wise, I should sound like a stuck needle by now, a heady, yes you guessed it, 8°C. Another feature of Friday will be strengthening winds from the west reaching strong to gales force for the 2nd part of the day across the U.K and there from the off for Ireland.

Ok into the last weekend before Christmas and shopping bedlam 🙂

Saturday looks like having a dull and unsettled start to the weekend with plenty of showers around across the west and north, though Ireland looks to start dry. A better 2nd half of the day for England with the cloud thinning and sun breaking through across The South East and East later. Sunday looks like seeing more heavy rain push into the west of Ireland and move eastwards with much milder air as well. This will probably reach The South West and Wales overnight into Sunday so a wet start to the day for the west of the U.K before this rain moves eastwards through the morning into all areas. So Sunday looks to be the wetter day of the weekend, a good day for wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards for neighbours you’ve forgotten and the like. A much milder day on Sunday with 11-12°C typical for Ireland and England and again very windy from the south west with gale force winds.

Weather Outlook

OK onto the crucial Christmas period forecast and what the weather has in store. Will I lose my White Christmas Paddy Power bet for the 4th year in a row and return my overall balance into deficit. Living proof that gambling seldom pays 🙂

So Christmas Eve looks to start off very wet and windy, particularly for the west and south with some strong winds as well accompanying that rain. For the 2nd half of the day that rain pushes away and the wind swings round more northerly and drops away so a bit cooler for what will be the start of my Christmas celebration (Having a Danish Mother and English Father pays dividends at Christmas because they celebrate on different days 🙂 )

Now the buggeration factor if you wanted a White Christmas is that the change of wind direction to northerly signals the approach of an Atlantic high pressure which I think will give us a dry and settled Christmas period with 8-9°C during the day and maybe frost, fog at night. Definitely no sign of snow.We see some nice winter sun though so ideal to walk off the excess of calories and vent (ahem).

Now of course I started this blog with the warning of a SSW event so I’m pretty sceptical of anything beyond the 10-day forecast I’ve presented you with. It really depends on how this breaks down for the early part of January but I think the run up to The New Year will be dominated by high pressure and settled weather on the whole with maybe some rain / wintry showers for the far north and west between Christmas and The New Year.

Agronomic Notes

2019 GDD / G.P Spreadsheet

As 2019 approaches Paul and I have been working hard on an improved version going forward.

One of the areas I find on my travels that needs improvement is the consistency of disease recording so for 2019 we have added these columns onto the GDD / G.P spreadsheet.This will let you get a clear view of when disease was active and you can then assess both the contributing weather conditions and the efficacy of your respective applications going forward.

We have also been working on some background charts that collate the data you’re entering and summarise it, so you have some meaningful stats at the end of the year. The data is on the tab called “Charts” at the end of the sequence of monthly spreadsheets.

In theory the charts self-populate as you enter the data into your normal monthly spreadsheet so at the end of the year you’ll have a full set. This I think is particularly pertinent going forward with the weather and our industry being what / where it is.

I have included images below of some of the charts to give you a teaser as I’ve been doing it with my own weather station data in 2018.

The above documents the growth as denoted by Growth Potential through the year. You can see how low March and April 2018 were compared to May because of the cold spring (SSW-related). You can also see the reduction in the monthly G.P for July due to the excessive heat pushing the average day temperature above the optimum for cool season grass growth.

This chart records dry day / wet day and frost day statistics and should be particularly useful. The December entry is still ongoing obviously so don’t worry about the numbers there because the default is for a frost day and it only changes as you enter the data.When it comes to discussing playability I would think the number of wet days may be particularly beneficial for those in the west, north-west and north 🙂

Some of you may have to change the scale on your site for the monthly rainfall total but you can also see what a dry location Market Harborough is with only 424.8mm to date, not a stat I’m comfortable with going into 2019 🙁

When did the good consistent growth start this spring ?

Well around the 15th of April at my location which incidentally compared to the 23rd of February in 2017, some 8 weeks difference !

Some big depressions on the G.P chart at the bottom as high heat levels suppressed growth and in theory we entered Anthracnose territory as early as the 1st week of May at this location.

Now we didn’t actually see as much Anthracnose as I was predicting in the summer of 2018 and there is a very straight-forward reason for this, humidity or more precisely, the lack of humidity. Summer 2018 was as we know an exceptionally dry one and without that plant leaf wetness, Anthracnose as a fungus couldn’t develop. When the rains came in the third week of August, we then saw significant Anthracnose and that continued through the autumn and even now we see some signs of Basal Rot on greens in small, defined areas.

This worksheet is intended to provide more data to you guys to support your management decisions be it disease, aeration, drainage-related, whatever works at your end.

The only thing I’d ask is that you don’t forward your spreadsheet to any of my crappy competitors who use a Rank Xerox machine as their R&D dept. Many thanks 🙂

I hope you find it useful. You should be able to download it here

Disease Activity

Going forward into the Christmas period it looks like Santa has one last unwelcome surprise from a Microdochium perspective with a peak predicted in disease activity on Christmas Eve (sorry the scale is tricky to read) as we transfer over from the mild low pressure to the cooler high pressure. I would predict that this is because we will have a reduction in wind coming into Christmas Eve / Christmas Day and that will cause dew to form over Christmas morning and increase disease activity. Certainly our models are predicting significant dew formation.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news particularly when finding spray windows for the north and west this week will be particularly tricky. I know quite a lot of guys are out today even though we are getting a late air frost in order to get an application down. The good news is once we are past this peak I think activity will drop markedly from late December and that should be that until the spring whenever that is 🙂 ! ???

So this marks my final blog of 2018.

I’d like to say a special thank you to everyone that has diligently sent their weather data to me at the end of every month, posted comments and feedback and generally kept me motivated enough to plant my backside on a well-worn office chair early on a Monday morning and start typing. You are stars.

I wish you all a great, relaxing break after what has been after all a testing year, some good R&R and hopefully we will all touch base in 2019 to start it all again 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt




December 10th


Hi All,

As we sit barely two weeks from Christmas (must start to think about it I guess 🙁 ), thoughts turn towards the prospect of a White Christmas after many headlines suggest we are expecting a cold, easterly air flow for a while. The weather presenter on Countryfile got it right last night when he said that they really didn’t know which side of the weather coin we’d get come next weekend, easterly or westerly, at least he was honest. My hunch is firmly on westerly and a wet one at that. So there we have it again, sitting 5 days out and not really knowing the type of weather we are going to get, that just about sums up the accuracy of weather forecasting when we have a complex weather picture. (Two competing weather systems)

My hedgepiglets are still feeding up, keen to pack on weight before winter sets in, in earnest. One of them obviously hasn’t been weaned by his mum who is now hibernating because he was walking around in the day (never a good sign). A quick meal and some puppy milk soon had him in better shape and I placed him in a nice and snug Hedgehog house at the end of the garden. They’ll hibernate just before the real winter weather starts so when these chaps disappear I’ll know what is around the corner  🙂

OK, onto the forecast and an outlook that takes us 5 days before Christmas so this time next week we will know how the Christmas period is looking.

General Weather Situation

So we start the week with a pretty dry picture everywhere with just a few showers feeding off The Mersey and a patch of rain over South Leinster that is due to move off shortly. Monday to me looks the best day to get on and spray if that’s what you’re looking to do because wind speeds are low and rainfall likelihood likewise. A dull day on the whole with just some sunshine likely across the eastern coast line of the U.K, otherwise dull and mainly dry is the synopsis. Those showers feeding off The Mersey will move diagonally inland into The Midlands in a narrow band, but that’s the only area likely to see some rain. The winds will be light to moderate and from the north-west but it’ll feel cooler than of late with temperatures down in the mid to high single figures.

Now there’s a real west-east divide likely at the beginning of this week so if you are sitting over in the west, across Ireland, you can expect a southerly, milder airstream. Here I’d expect temperatures up in the low double figures as you come under the influence of an Atlantic air stream.

Onto Tuesday and a similar day in terms of dullness and plenty of cloud cover for many. An overnight change to a south-easterly wind will mean thicker cloud for eastern and central areas but crucially remaining dry. That west-east split comes into play as Kerry sees some rain push in around lunchtime and this is set to move across country through the afternoon / evening. This band of rain will make landfall across The South West early on Tuesday evening and then push into Wales, the west of England, Scotland overnight into Wednesday covering the whole of the U.K by the early hours. Temperature-wise for Tuesday we see that west-east divide again with double figures or close across Ireland but down in mid-single figures for the U.K in that cooler, continental, south-easterly airflow.

For Wednesday we see that band of rain projected to sit over central and eastern areas by dawn with Ireland and the west of the U.K starting off dry as that rain clears eastwards. Through the course of the morning that rain begins to lighten and break down into showers that will sit across central and eastern parts all through the day, intensifying in some areas as we approach dusk. So a dry day for Ireland, the west and most of Wales but as you move eastwards you pick up more cloud and rain. Remaining chilly in that moderate south-easterly wind with temperatures not much to write home about really, firmly rooted as they are in mid-single figures, maybe a degree or two higher for Ireland.

Overnight into Thursday and we see another band of heavy rain moving across Ireland and pushing into Wales and The South West around dawn. Where we have lingering moisture from Wednesday you can expect to see some wintry showers across elevation in Northern England and Scotland first thing. This rain band will be slow-moving and at present it is only projected to move into western and central areas in a line stretching from The South East across to North Wales. That may change. So through the afternoon it’ll clear southern counties of Ireland and fizzle out as it encounters that wind and weather system from the east. A mucky weather day on all accounts on Thursday, wet for the west and some thick cloud and wintry showers around for the north, east and Scotland. Feeling even cooler on Thursday with a pronounced south-easterly windchill for the U.K, but for Ireland you’ll already be picking up that slightly milder westerly wind so maybe a degree or two higher.

Onto Friday and the end of the week and those wintry showers are set to persist over Scotland overnight. Ireland unfortunately picks up another band of heavy rain overnight which will cover most of the country by the time dawn arrives. Across The Irish Sea that rain will already be tip-toeing into The South West at dawn and through the morning will push up into Wales and Central England. It will be heavy in places. With all this cloud and rain around it is no surprise that it will be dull with plenty of cloud cover, particularly along eastern coasts. By lunchtime this slow-moving rain front will still be affecting central and northern Ireland, Wales, Central England and The South East. North of this looks to stay reasonably dry but of course dull and for Scotland reasonably dry save for some wintry showers on the north east coast. As we approach Friday evening most of this rain will fizzle out into The North Sea. A windy day for Ireland as it sits between an Atlantic low and a continental high forcing strong southerly winds across Ireland and the U.K.  Cold again in that wind with mid to high single figures the order of the day, with the higher temperatures out west.

So a pretty unsettled and cool week then and you can guess that it isn’t likely to stop for your Christmas Shopping. Saturday sees heavy rain cross Ireland from dawn pushing north and east into the western half of the U.K in time for the rush to the shops to buy the same items that will be half price 10 days later :). This unsettled outlook for the west will move eastwards by lunchtime as the wind swings from south-easterly to south-westerly and pushes that rain across Ireland and all of the U.K for the 2nd half of the day. A windy, sunshine and showers type of day beckons for Sunday but with a milder, south-westerly wind, feeling just a little bit warmer (not much though). Temperatures remaining in the high single figures despite that milder air stream from the south-west.

Weather Outlook

Lots of conjecture round next weeks forecast as I mentioned right at the start of this blog with some pundits backing an easterly-dominant pattern and others mild, wet, windy and westerly. Personally I can’t see how we are going easterly with such a dominant storm system out in The Atlantic pushing in over the weekend so I am going with westerly.

My feeling is then that we will start next week very windy and pretty wet with a new low pressure system moving through next Monday morning. Tuesday morning sees another new low barrel into Ireland bringing with it very windy and very wet weather before this crosses The Irish Sea into the U.K through the 2nd half of Tuesday / first part of Wednesday. It’ll be extremely windy with some very tightly packed isobars. Cooler from Wednesday onwards as that low pulls in northerly winds. Sunshine and showers then for the end of the week on a north-westerly / westerly air stream so no risk of night frosts and maybe some respite after the very wet and windy start to the week.

Mystic meg wise if I peep into Christmas week I reckon we will still be low pressure-orientated but we may just pull over some easterlies for Christmas Day. Now easterlies and moisture mean….hmmm we will see…. maybe my Paddy Power bets for a White Christmas aren’t totally out of the window 🙂 A long way away for sure but this time next week I’ll have a much better handle on it.

Agronomic Notes

November Summary

Last week I covered the GDD info from our Thame location so below is a summary of U.K and Irish locations along with rainfall totals.

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – U.K Locations

So we see some very distinct geographical differences from a growth and rainfall perspective with the Thame location pulling in the highest GDD and the Okehampton location, the highest rainfall by some way.  It is quite striking the difference between Thame and Birmingham, not that many miles apart but the latter has a pretty low GDD in comparison, nearly half actually. Rainfall-wise the south-west as usual is in the firing line but Fife had a wet month as well courtesy of a month in which only 6 days were dry. The Midlands remains I think the driest area of the U.K and one where the reservoir levels are still at their summer levels, a concern for next year. It just goes to show how measuring your own sites data is invaluable.

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – Irish Locations

Looking at the U.K GDD and noting that the wettest areas were in the south-west primarily, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the same is true for Ireland with Valentia recording 10″ of rain during November as well as 107 GDD, twice the GDD of Mayo, Tipperary or Cavan.

There are some anomalies though with Wexford (Johnstown Castle) recording 204.4mm of rain in November alongside Cork at 197.6mm, suggesting the rainfall pattern was more southerly focussed. If you draw a line across the Irish Sea, it is Wales and The South West that are next up which explains the high rainfall for Okehampton / Bath. (Sadly we don’t have one contributor from Wales 🙁 )

Further up the Irish coast we see that Dublin received half of the rainfall of Cork because the tracking of the low pressure systems was more southerly during November. Still a wet month in anyone’s books. Growth-wise from a GDD perspective, the Irish and U.K locations were very similar in terms of the spread of GDD across the respective countries.

Disease Pressure – Microdochium nivale

The last 7 days or so has been quite bad for a number of clubs in terms of both Microdochium activity around existing scars and in some cases, new infection of Microdochium into fine turf. Our disease model doesn’t pick up the role that dew played in the whole schematic but it did pick up the disease peak of early December.

This marks the third year in a row that disease activity has been significant during either the first or second week of December.

December 2nd and December 6th were the 2 days that brought with them the highest disease pressure as these two graphs confirm.

Looking ahead…

Running the model from today there is very little on the radar in the next 7-10 days from a disease pressure perspective due to the cooler temperatures and lower humidity overnight.

Let’s hope it keeps that way.

Now it is a double-edged sword because those with new scarring may want temperatures to remain on the mild side so we get some recovery and fill in of the affected areas. Others will welcome the lower temperatures and humidity that indicate lower disease pressure.

Certainly we look to have come to a halt growth-wise after a very mild start to December from a with next to no GDD predicted (2) for the next 7 days.

When I say come to halt, I am referring of course to top growth because the plant will continue to produce new root growth right down to close to 0°C. So whilst not a lot will be taking place on the surface, there’s likely to be some root growth over the next week or so. This root growth would normally be encouraged by aeration but for many it is too wet to contemplate this type of process at the moment. Less is more sometimes.

Revocation of Propiconazole / Propiconazole-containing products….

There are still some details to be filled in yet but it looks like Propiconazole may be joining the ever-increasing list of active ingredients removed from the market. I’m not 100% clear on the dates but it could be a June 2019 sell-in period and a March 2020 use-up by you folks if the chatter is correct.

That at least gives us till Autumn 2020 before we are without this very useful A.I. Now I must stress it isn’t 100% clear yet and some things may change from a timescale perspective but the writing is most definitely on the wall for one of the best systemic A.I’s on the market sadly. On the flip-side it is likely that we may pick up two new systemic fungicides at some point next year so it is not all doom and gloom on this front, more a changing of the guard.

OK, that’s me for another week, just next week’s blog and I’ll be closing down for the year as the following Monday is Christmas Eve and for some of us with a Scandinavian parentage, it’s our Christmas 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt

December 3rd – Mini Blog

Hi All,

Time is against me this week so it’s going to be a mini-blog until normal service is resumed next week. Thanks to everyone for sending in their monthly summaries, I’ll do my normal UK and Irish comparison next week when I have more time.

So this week gone has seen some pretty mild temperatures for what is after all the beginning of December. I measured 14.5°C air temperature yesterday and currently my soil temperature in the top 25mm is sitting at 12.4°C !

Early December has been synonymous with mild weather periods over the last 3 years and this one is no exception but as I’ve commented upon in earlier blogs, there are two sides to this mild weather autumn / winter coin 🙂 / 🙁

Nature is a bit confused by this mild weather as well with these Hellebores pushing up flower buds really early and spring bulbs already emerging from the soil.

The pic above shows the arc of the sun on the very useful Sun Seeker 3D app. Today is shown in yellow and the light blue line is the arc of the sun at the Winter Solstice on December 21st. You can see we are nearly at the lowest point of the sun on the horizon. So all you guys managing shade-affected sites, this is close to as bad as it gets from a light availability perspective 🙂

OK, onto an abridged version of this weeks weather as ‘Tempus fugit’ for me 🙁

General Weather Situation

So this week we start in the grip of low pressure with a slightly cooler aspect as the winds have turned north-westerly through Monday and that’ll give a chilly night overnight into Tuesday. Plenty of showers pushed over on this north-west wind and bright spells in-between and a wedge of heavy rain now moving east from northern England. As we go into Tuesday after a cooler night than of late, we have a brief hiatus between one low swinging off onto the continent and another one pushing in off the Atlantic so Tuesday looks largely dry but feeling much cooler with temperatures only in the mid to high single figures if you’re lucky. Largely dry though. Not for long as that new Atlantic low will push into Kerry (where else lads) at dusk  and then quickly move north and east making landfall in The South West during Tuesday evening and then pushing across Wales and most of the southern half of the U.K first thing on Wednesday. So Wednesday promises to be a very wet one for the southern half of the U.K with that rain clearing Ireland from the west during the late morning and hopefully missing Scotland entirely. Milder on Wednesday as the wind swings round to the west so high single figures, maybe just touching double figures in the south. That said the far end of that rain front may fall as wintry showers for a time across elevation in the north of England. Thursday sees that westerly wind ramp up so pretty windy and dry for the U.K initially with a new rain front pushing into western Ireland around dawn. So wet on Thursday for Ireland and western coastlines of the U.K with Scotland picking up the worst of the rain I think on Thursday morning. Away from the western coasts it’ll be a sunshine and showers type of day and back to very mild with temperatures in the low double figures for Thursday. Friday sees a new rain front push across Ireland into the U.K overnight and so a wet start especially for The South West and Wales on Friday. At this stage the projections show the worst of the rain confined to western parts but some will push into central areas of the U.K early Friday morning. Again looking very wet for north-west Ireland, England and Scotland on Friday morning with some localised flooding likely and very windy with that low pushing north across Scotland during the day. Further south it’ll be a wet start to Friday but a better second half of the day beckons as that rain pushes east into The North Sea after lunchtime. Still some showers, some of them wintry along north-western coasts and feeling a little cooler again on Friday.

The outlook for the weekend is windy and wet on Saturday with the winds turning more northerly overnight into Sunday to give a cooler but potentially drier day after early rain clears.

Weather Outlook

So after a mild and unsettled week is it more of the same or do we get a high pressure respite ?

Well the answer is yes and err no…Initially we do with high pressure asserting itself from the start of next week so that means colder, drier and more settled weather certainly for the 1st part of the week with night frosts likely. On Tuesday we may see some rain for the west of Ireland and this heralds the weather pattern for the 2nd half of next week which promises to be wet and windy again I think as another Atlantic low pressure pushes in. So cold, dry and settled early next week with it becoming milder, windier and more unsettled from the west from Tuesday onwards. No sign of a White Christmas event at the moment but we won’t really start to get our first markers till the middle of December despite what the media say 🙂

Agronomic Notes

GDD November – A quick look…

As you can see from the chart above for The Oxfordshire location, November 2018 will go down as a mild one, particularly for the 1st part of the month when we had double figure, day time (and sometimes night time temperatures). It ranks as our 3rd mildest November since we started this GDD -measuring exercise back in 2010.

As a matter of interest, my stats for November 2018 in Market Harborough are ;

Warmest air temperature =14.5°C 

Coldest air temperature = -4.8°C 

Rainfall 30.7mm (Yep we remain so dry)

Average Humidity 97.3% !

As I said earlier there are drawbacks and benefits to this late mild air…..

Overseeding / Drought-damaged area recovery

As predicted, the mild temperatures and rainfall have pushed soil temperatures up into double figures at some locations and this has meant continued growth and even some late germination of early November overseeding.  This can only be viewed as good news because It’s a fact that many clubs have gone into the autumn / winter with poor cover on fairways and because of the extremely dry soil from the summer have struggled to gain recovery. With our rainfall total above it has only just started to become possible to vertidrain down to full depth locally.

Looking at the G.P stats for November we can see we had some periods of reasonably good growth particularly up until the third week of the month. It dropped off thereafter when those easterlies kicked in but has now recovered and continued into December. The total G.P for November in the Thame location was 9.21 and they had 55.8mm of rain. Happy days for some…

Disease Activity

Last week I flagged up the very mild day and night temperatures we faced as we exited November and moved into December and wondered how it would shake out from a disease activity perspective ?

The dilemma in my mind a week ago was that although we were forecast to have very mild set of day and night temperatures it was also forecast to be extremely windy and wet as well. I surmised that this doesn’t always translate into as aggressive disease activity compared to when we have similar temperatures that are associated with still, muggy conditions and heavy dew.

I was out spraying some trials last Tuesday and they were some scars associated with the mid-October peak of activity we saw this autumn. I marked the outer edge of the scars with two small paint blobs. The scars were wet and water-soaked suggesting activity.  Now I did spray a trial non-fungicidal mix across the areas I was assessing because I wanted to see if there was any effect on existing disease activity during extremely favourable conditions.

The image above shows the same disease scars with the left hand pic taken on the morning of the 27th November after I’ve sprayed (so that’s why it looks greener because of the marker dye)

The right hand pic shows the same disease scars on the 30th of November after an intervening  G.P figure of 1.5. It’s also worth mentioning that when I sprayed on the 27th, I had to remove the dew off the plots first (good core exercise isn’t it ? 🙂 ) so conditions were ideal for disease development.

Now I would say my conclusion is that there was some lateral movement on existing disease scars last week and over the weekend. The feedback I got off Twitter (for which incidentally I am extremely grateful to everyone who has posted their observations) was similar and it was slow movement at that. I did not get any feedback related to new infections which we have had before in December.

Casting my mind back to December 2016, we saw very aggressive new infection on tees, approaches, fairways and the like (pic above) during the first week. Comparing the temperature and humidity levels from that period to last week, we were milder this year and as humid but we didn’t see the same level of activity.

Why ?

I think it was to do with the very strong wind levels and rain events, I can’t be 100% on the mechanism but for sure when we get wet, windy and mild weather we don’t see the same activity compared to the same temperature stats when it is muggy and still.

Interesting eh ?

Ok that’s it for this week, a short one but like I said Tempus fugit and all that…

All the best…

Mark Hunt

26th November

Hi All,

This is already the last blog of November as we speed towards the Winter Solstice and that dose of mayhem that is Christmas 🙂

So far this winter we have got off lightly I think but then again that’s often the pattern nowadays, mild till Christmas and then we start winter sometime in January.

I follow (ed) some weather outlets on Twitter and 7-10 days ago some of them were pointing to an emerging Beast from the East, blardy blah this week based on output at the extremes of forecasting. This obviously made its way into the tabloids because I got asked the other day if we should be preparing for 2 weeks of snow ?

Yet again this type of media- slanted sensationalist meteorology shows that it has no place in the real world and shouldn’t be taken seriously. The reality is that we need to turn our head 180° and look to the west to see where the weather is coming from over the next 7-10 days because wet, windy and westerlies it certainly will be…

My Hedgehogs don’t like wet weather and that’s maybe why mum and dad went into hibernation last week, either that or they just couldn’t stand another month of extended Black Friday, Cyber Monday or crap Christmas adverts on telly way before the actual event 🙂 (Can you tell I’m not a fan of Christmas?)

Their young though are active and feeding and last night I had a record of 5 in the garden at one point. Lovely to see. Interestingly it is the same week of November every year that the adults hibernate, I wonder what the trigger mechanism is, maybe day length ? (it definitely isn’t GDD!)

As hinted above we have some pretty unsettled weather heading our way, so let’s put some detail on it…

General Weather Situation

After a pretty wet weekend for The South West, South Wales and south coast of England, there’s a band of showers already pushing into the south-east of England, East Anglia and eastern coastline of the U.K, extending right up to The Black Isle, north of Inverness. These showers are pushing westwards and so today for many will be a sunshine and showers day with the west of the country drier till later. Since the weather is coming from the east, expect eastern coasts to see more showers on Monday and for it to be duller there as well. There’s some space between the showers so some locations may miss them entirely. We can also expect some showers along the south-east coast of Munster and Leinster this morning but Ireland will on the whole be dry. The showers will be pushed along by a moderate north-east – easterly wind so as expected it’ll be a cool one with temperatures between 6-8°C.

Overnight into Tuesday and some of those showers across Scotland will become wintry in nature over The Highlands. For Ireland we see the first sign of a changing weather picture as a front of heavy rain pushes into Kerry late on Monday (I can see it on the radar now actually)  and moves north and east overnight into Tuesday, on a strong southerly / south-westerly wind. This rain looks potentially very heavy so may cause flooding in the south-west of Ireland. By dawn that rain is also into The South West and by mid-morning, South Wales and during the day that band of heavy rain will push north and east across the south of England and into The Midlands and north of England by late afternoon. Where it butts up against the cold continental air it could fall as snow over higher elevations in The Lakes and Pennines. By the evening it’ll have cleared the west of the U.K and lie in a band up central and eastern areas stretching up from Kent to Inverness. So Tuesday promises to be a wet day for many depending on where you are located. The further north and east you are, the later the rain, the better the day promises to be. As that rain pushes across the U.K and Ireland, it’ll switch the wind direction round from easterly to south-westerly. Temperature-wise, milder in the west with that earlier wind change so 9-11°C for Ireland, but further north and east you are looking more like 6-8°C.

Wednesday sees that band of rain push out into The North Sea overnight but it has already been replaced by a new band that came into Ireland overnight. So by dawn we see this extending over all of Ireland and affecting The South West, Wales and the western coastline of the U.K. Through the morning it’ll push slowly east with some heavy totals for Kerry (sorry lads), North Wales, The Lakes and Scotland. So from dawn to dusk, a wet one for most areas with only the south-east and East Anglia staying dry for the first half of the day. Not only will it be wet on Wednesday it’ll also be very windy with a strong to gale force south-westerly wind associated with that rainfall. It will however feel a good bit milder with temperatures up in double figures ranging from 11-13°C across the U.K and Ireland.

Overnight into Thursday and that rain has cleared all but north Scotland by midnight, however (sounding like a stuck record) a new rain front is projected to push up The Bristol Channel into The South West of England and South Wales by early morning and by dawn this will already be affecting all of England and Wales. Ireland may just get a glancing blow from this rain across the south-east coast. The rain is projected to be heaviest across South Wales and the south coast of England. With a strong wind associated with that rain it won’t be hanging around and so by mid-morning it’ll have cleared the west and be affecting central and eastern parts of the U.K and Scotland south of The Highlands. So for the 2nd half of the day the sun should come out across Ireland and the west and that’ll give a nice bit of drying, mild wind for you. For Scotland it is role- reversal with that rain falling heavily across central and eastern regions during the afternoon and some of that rain again wintry over higher ground. Mild again but maybe feeling a little cooler than Wednesday with 9-12°C the range over the U.K and Ireland. It will again be extremely windy with strong to gale force winds.

Closing out a pretty active weather week on Friday and a north-south divide will be in place by dawn with Scotland and the north of England looking to have plenty of showers around. South and west of this expect a much drier day than earlier in the week, still with some showers affecting westerly coasts but for many in the south and west, it’ll be a drier day with some sunshine, a welcome respite particularly for Ireland, Wales and The South West. Those showers may linger over northern England and for Scotland form into a more consolidated rain front for the north and west later in the afternoon. Still really windy from the west for all areas with strong to gale force winds much in evidence. Remaining cooler as well so similar temperatures to Thursday, with 9-12°C.

So how are we looking for the weekend, well pretty wet I’d say, especially on Saturday for Ireland and most of the U.K up to central Scotland with a new rain front pushing in from the west. This will clear Ireland from the west later on Saturday but it looks like plenty of showers around for Ireland on Sunday as well. More rain overnight for the U.K but it may be drier and sunnier on Sunday for England with much milder temperatures pushing up to 13°C across the south of England in a more southerly air stream. Wetter the further north and west you go I think on Sunday, particularly in the morning but maybe a bright interlude for the 2nd half of the day before more rain pushes in. Winds will be strong to gale force on Saturday dropping to strong to moderate from the south on Sunday.

Weather Outlook

So next week looks like starting off pretty much as this coming weekend will finish, wet and windy for Monday breaking down into showers for Tuesday and then possibly high pressure building in The Azores to bring some cooler, drier way into the picture from mid-week, next week. This will push any Atlantic rain over the north and west of the country and towards the end of next week it looks wet and windy across northern and western parts. It will also turn the winds north-westerly / northerly so cooler air as well as we approach the end of next week. With lighter winds I’d expect a return to fog and frost as well.

Agronomic Notes

Flare up of Microdochium nivale around existing scar this weekend. Note annual Poa biotype producing seedheads in photo.

Disease pressure

So last week I said that disease pressure was due to drop away with the advent of cool easterlies and that’s the way it panned out except for I think over the weekend when we picked up some really heavy dew and very little wind to dry the leaf out so we had a long period of extended wetness…

As you can see from the readout above and below taken from my Netatmo weather station, the air temperature and the dew point were practically identical going through Friday night and Saturday morning and this means humidity levels were high.

In fact if we look at the last 4 days you can see how quickly the temperature rose on Thursday morning after our coldest night of the year so far and how over the following 4 days, the dew point and air temperature were practically indistinguishable. So we ran high humidity and a wet plant leaf for a long period of time. The air temperature was on the cool side though and that stopped Microdochium from being really aggressive, instead we saw activity around the circumference of existing scars where the disease population is at its highest. (image top)

Unisys projection for Thursday 6th December

Looking ahead…

Now it is a tricky one to call because we are going milder with the south westerly air stream but typically I find that in periods of wet and very windy weather we don’t tend to see aggressive Microdochium outbreaks even though the air is damp and the mild overnight temperature should cause high levels of activity. I wonder if this is due to the fact that high wind speed inhibits the formation of mycelium or the mechanism / speed / rate of growth across a grass plant leaf ? Pure supposition on my part but maybe the effect of the wind and repeated wet / drying patterns aren’t conducive to rapid mycelium development ? Our model shows the highest activity will be on the 2nd of December as it stands now. (but it is still rated as low to medium activity)

Bearing in mind that for the last two December’s we have had some very aggressive Microdochium activity I am on the look out for a similar pattern of weather and scanning the data regularly for a repeat of that weather pattern. So far I can’t see it but if an Azores high pressure establishes later next week, that might be such a weather event. A lot will depend on how warm the air associated with the high pressure is and of course whether it comes into play at all.

Recovery window

With a milder air stream comes growth potential and sure enough looking at the Meteoturf output above for the coming week you can see we are likely to pick up some pretty good growth (especially on Sunday and Monday. So all of you that are hoping to see some more recovery on drought-damaged areas should be pleased, especially with the combination of rainfall and milder air.

I mention this because we know that warm rain will push the soil temperature up faster than warm air and though currently here it is sitting around 8.5°C, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw it > 10°C by the end of the weekend. That will promote a nice bit of handy growth in areas that are thin or indeed scarred areas of fine turf from the mid-October peak of Microdochium activity.

Now I know other parts of the country have had plenty of rain but here locally on some soil types it is still very difficult to get a vertidrain down further than 100mm (4″). I’m hoping this week’s upcoming wet spell will push moisture down further and enable compacted areas to take a vertidrain when surfaces firm up again.

Certainly the benefits of deep aeration (undertaken in the appropriate conditions) whether it be by vertidrain or AIR-2G2 were plain to see in the drier periods of this year. For those who missed it earlier in the year, here’s a couple of pics showing non-vertidrained areas under drought stress this summer. (Thanks again to Mark Todd for these pics)

Now this week’s blog will definitely be published late and it’ll be my fault as I had to be elsewhere this morning. The same will be true next week where I might only get a mini-blog out next Monday.

In the meantime, all the best and hang onto your hat this week 🙂

Mark Hunt