Author Archives: Paul Vipond

September 17th

Hi All,


After not a bad weekend, the gentle slip into autumn continues, with some chilly mornings,heavy dews and a pretty cool interlude on the horizon. As you can see from the graphic (right), we’re still in essentially the same jet-stream trough pattern that has dictated our weather since the 1st week of April. The issue going forward is that if it remains so, the weather it’ll bring down will be unseasonably cold for this time of year.

General Weather Situation

The dryish theme continues this week, but the U.K is neatly bisected by the influence of a northern low pressure system that is bringing strong winds and some rain to Scotland and the north of England, so very much a north-south divide at present, though things are set to change at the end of the week. For Monday, in the south of the U.K, we start off with a heavy dew and bright sunshine after some overnight light rain. That cloud soon thickens and rain will push into Connacht and north Leinster by late morning / early afternoon and moves south to affect all areas of Ireland during the afternoon. This rain front pushes east to affect Scotland and the north of England p.m, but the south should stay dry all day, with just a risk of a shower. For Tuesday it’s a day of sunshine and showers for us all, though amounts will be light and the greater risk of rain will be on western coasts and across Ireland. It’ll be breezy with winds mainly from the south-west / west and temperatures in mid to high teens, though towards the end of the week, the wind will be northerly and temperatures will dip. Wednesday looks dry again, but there’s a greater risk of showers for Ireland, Scotland and the north of England from late morning, pushed along on a cool wind that may blow from the north-west for a time. Thursday sees a heavier band of rain pushing into Connacht, N.Ireland, Scotland and the north of England, reaching as far south as Manchester at a guess, so The Midlands and the south will stay dry. For Friday, that rain front is due to push south into Leinster and Munster, The Midlands and south of the U.K through the day, pushed along on a cool northerly wind, that’ll dip the temperatures a little to mid teens at best I think, so feeling nippy….time to dig out the buff me thinks…:)

The weekend looks to be a cool affair as that cold trough sinks south, with strong south-westerly winds and potentially some heavy rain for Sunday, so not great really.


For the start of next week, that cold low is weakening so winds will drop, but that may well pave the way for some chilly nights and I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t get a ground frost or two if skies clear that is. So dry and cold for next week I think and maybe pretty dull as well.

Agronomic Notes

No.1 topic for this week is the huge amount of Fairy Ring and Thatch Fungus doing the rounds over the last 7-10 days, with lots of greens affected. The latter can be an inaccurate description because you don’t have to have excessive thatch to have Thatch Fungus. That said as the picture shows below, it does a great job of taking out organic matter, so rather than see these as a blemish, look at them as an indicator that there is an organic matter fraction in the surface of the greens that’s providing a food source. To determine if that organic matter level is excessive, push down on the affected area and if it depresses significantly, then you do have too much surface fibre.

An interesting aside is that the picture above was taken at the end of November, 2006, so some species of thatch fungus are clearly active at low soil temperatures. With respect to treatment, I’d just make sure the affected areas don’t stand out significantly by maintaining adequate nutrition and iron applications. If possible solid tine and apply a penetrant wetting agent to neutralise any hydrophobicity present and prevent ammonia accumulation. One issue that may occur on higher surface fibre greens, is that you may get more heave on thatch-fungus affected areas when running over the affected areas during hollow coring or tining.

The Superficial Fairy Rings tend to be less problematic at this time of year and often fade naturally as temperatures drop (which they will do soon) so no need in my mind to reach for the fungicide, except in extreme situations and even then treatment isn’t fantastically effective with Azoxystrobin.

Out walking at the weekend I noticed the high levels of Yellow Rust (see boot) present on coarser grasses. This is often the case at this time of year, particularly during a dry spell and it tends to affect semi and uncut rough areas most. Rust is linked to growth and hence fertility, but normally once we get rain and some natural growth, it grows out.

I’m off working in Germany and Austria for the rest of the week where it will be interesting to learn of the impact of the E.U Thematic Strategy on turf management, yet another brilliant piece of E.U legislation that confuses many, achieves very little and misses the target by a country mile… ho hum…


All the best…

Mark Hunt

January 23rd

Hi All,

Apologies to all who did not receive notification yesterday (Monday 23rd) about this post due to some minor technical issues with our new mail server. These have been corrected now so we shouldn’t have this problem again 🙂 Anyway, on with the blog…

Typing this from my hotel room at Harrogate prior to the educational conference tomorrow and the show, Tue, Wed, Thur. As I normally do, I was reading through last week’s blog to see how accurate the forecast was and for sure I was a long way off at the weekend with the strength of the wind.  I was out mountain biking on Saturday and boy was it hard work cycling against it, I was in the granny gears  a lot of the time 🙂 On the plus side, isn’t it noticeable how the evenings are beginning to draw out already?

Thanks to Paul in I.T. for collating the data and putting it together and all of you who submitted data to our first rainfall survey, you’ll find the interactive version here and a download-able version here (You’ll need Adobe Reader to view the downloadable version, follow this link if you haven’t already got it).

General Weather Situation

Well those high winds have come about as a consequence of a low pressure system sliding diagonally down the side of our resident high out to the west of us over the Atlantic. I looked back at some weather charts last week and we’ve had the same basic weather pattern now for close on 4 months. That is to say an Atlantic high sitting just off the west coast of Ireland and stubbornly holding off incoming low pressure systems. A consequence of this is that our wind direction has been westerly / north-westerly nearly all the time with only a few days of south-easterly and no easterlies at all to speak of. (no bad thing there)

Onto this week; the weather is going to continue the unsettled, mild and windy theme as another low pressure system pushes down and brings rain and strong north-westerly / westerly winds through till the end of the week, when it looks like the high will re-assert itself and we’ll lose the wind, but also the temperature, with overnight frosts again putting in an appearance for the weekend. Temperatures will be double figures Tuesday and Wednesday, but as that low pushes through, colder air will follow behind, so I expect Thursday and Friday will be increasingly cooler. The main rain events for the week begin with blustery showers, wintry over higher ground in the north, for Monday with rain pushing into Munster during the morning and heading south-east across Ireland into Wales and the South-West of England, but amounts should be light. Over Scotland I expect those showers to fall as snow. Tuesday looks like being a wet day for most areas, with rain pushing into Ireland overnight Monday and onto the whole of the U.K, reaching The Midlands by morning rush hour and persisting through most of the day. More rain is forecast for Wednesday, initially over Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the West of England, but again it’ll push inland during the day. Thursday look similar,but with lighter amounts of rain and the colder temperatures, that rain will turn to sleet and snow in Scotland and the north of England. I expect it to fell pretty raw in the wind as it begins to move round to the north-west for Friday. At this stage Friday looks drier, but with the drop in temperatures and ground frost more likely, any moisture that is about may fall as snow in the west and North Wales in particular.


I expect the wind to drop by the weekend, but it’ll feel cold with a high likelihood of frost for both days. The week commencing the 30th January looks like starting off with high pressure in charge, so dry on the whole with an increasingly colder feel to things as that high pressure brings cold air off the continent on an easterly wind. It’s often said that the first two weeks of February are the coldest weeks of the year and certainly it’ll be interesting to see if that’s the case in 2012.

Agronomic Notes

Golf courses are on the whole looking in good order for mid-January IMHO with a little bit of new growth on outfield areas since we came out of those frosts last week. I was at a local course of Friday and greens in the shade were still frozen 2″ down, even though it was raining and the air temperature was 9°C. So although we haven’t had many frosts, those of last week / weekend were pretty penetrating! Disease activity appears low with a small amount of Fusarium about, but no horror stories and I think we’re set fair going into February, the last month of winter 🙂

Of course the mild weather, has brought rain to a lot of areas and that means quite a bit of Bibionid activity, with lots of pecking from Corvids (Crow family) noticeable. The concern for me remains the lack of appreciable rainfall for us here in The Midlands and thoughts will soon turn to how supplies are placed for the coming Spring / Summer. Remember last year, we actually had negative E.T. as early as February, that is to say more moisture was evaporating from the ground than was received from rainfall, difficult to believe I know.

Moss has kicked off big time since Christmas with a lot of new moss growth noticeable on outfield areas, kicked into life by the mild temperatures and wet weather. It’ll soon be time for a high iron treatment for these areas and in my view, the earlier the better as long as the moss has wetted up properly. I’d suggest starting from as early as mid-February if conditions allow you to get out and about on the course and apply.

All the best..

Mark Hunt

October 3rd

General Weather Situation

Well, what an amazing week for us, with record high temperatures in England, Wales and I think Ireland for this time of year.
It’s surreal to be cycling as I was last night, at 9 p.m in a tee shirt and shorts in the first week of October, with the temperature sitting at 23°C !.
Lee at Mid Kent Golf Club (Gravesend), I think you were officially the warmest spot, at 29.9°C, so I hope you’ve still got your irrigation on 🙂
Now I know that wasn’t the case for everyone with rain for most of Ireland, particularly the west last week, as that low pressure mentioned last Monday sneaked in and gave significant rainfall, but Dublin had I think the hottest day of the year last week, amazing..

From a Peak to a Trough

Last weeks weather diagram (included in my post) showed how the warm air from Africa was filling in below an undulation in the jetstream, well later this week, we’re going to get the reverse, as cold air forces down in a trough, bringing strong north winds, much cooler air for a few days, before I think it’ll revert to high pressure, but we’ll see…

So for the start of this week, the very warm air over the south of the U.K is gradually pushed south and eastwards, by the arrival of a cool, low pressure system, which will initially swing brisk, ever strengthening winds round to the west and by Thursday / Friday, the winds will be very strong and from the North-West, so it’ll be much cooler.
It wouldn’t surprise me if we get hill snow in Scotland at the end of this week !..

They’ll be some moisture associated with this low pressure system and I expect rain showers, which are currently affecting Scotland, to push down south over the week.
The first rainfront will arrive in the west (Ireland, Wales, Scotland) on Wednesday and these showers will push south and east over Wednesday night / Thursday, so all areas have a risk of rain, and won’t it be welcome if we get it!. The next rainfront is projected to arrive at in North-West Ireland on Saturday and push south and eastwards through Sunday, so again this could affect all areas.


At the moment, the projections are for this cold snap to only last a couple of days and from Saturday / Sunday, temperatures will start to recover as we lose the northerly winds and warmer air pushes into Ireland, Wales and England. At the moment, next week looks nice and settled, but one word of caution, the weather patterns are extremely volatile at present and it wouldn’t surprise me if it changes again, such is the level of volatility.

Agronomic Notes

The very warm temperatures have resulted in some particularly stressy conditions late last week and worsened the already dire drought situation in the Midlands of England, with E.T rates reported up to 2.5 mm per day and next to no rainfall in the south of the U.K.

Surprisingly, disease activity, with respect to Fusarium did not seem to increase dramatically and I think this was mainly linked to the lack of moisture (once the heavy dews had evaporated) and the fact that Fusarium as a fungus goes dormant above 20°C. (Didn’t know this before)

Although Fusarium has been relatively inactive, other diseases not normally associated with late Sept / early Oct have been, so late Take-All, Fairy Rings and Thatch Fungus have all been making an appearance. I’ve also seen alot of ectoparasitic nematode activity, particularly Spiral Nematodes and these are often confusing to diagnose because of the irregularity of the symptoms. When we’re up and running on my blog, I’m going to be able to post pictures there in a gallery so you can look to see if any problems on your turf match up.

Fertility-wise, light-rate liquids have been the order of the day, keeping the plant ticking on, but don’t expect much to happen this week because it’s going to be quite a shock to the plant going from nearly 30°C to close to 10°C in the matter of a couple of days. I expect this knock the colour out of turf areas, it’ll also slow up fungicide uptake, but if we do settle down weather-wise next week, then will be the time to spray, failing that, early this week before the plant shuts down, however the strength of the wind will make this difficult from tomorrow onwards….

All the best and don’t forget to click the subscribe link when it comes through…that is if you won’t to continue receiving this info.,…:)
Mark Hunt

September 26th

Hi All

General Weather Situation

At present we are in the process of loosing a westerly low that brought wind and rain to some parts over the last week and this is being replaced with an Azores high pressure which will provide us with an Indian Summer. (So break out the factor 30 and wrap arounds 😛 )

In a re-run of previous autumns, the jet stream is undulating significantly and allowing high pressure / warm air to build under the peak. (see pdf attachment)

So a very simple forecast, the weather will be dry and become increasingly warmer this week, with the warmest temperatures easily hitting mid-twenties in the South of England. At this stage I think we’re settled for the next week to ten days in this pattern, though there is a low pressure sitting off Ireland and this will rattle in if the high pressure weakens. Winds will be from the south, light, but increasing as we go through the week and after today, cloud cover will decrease, so it’ll be very bright.

I expect this will also result in some heavy dew formation, as heat is lost to the atmosphere at night when cloud cover is absent.

Rainfall after some light showers today will be non-existent, fine if you’ve had plenty, but not good news for us here in The Midlands 🙂


At the moment I think that the warm, settled weather will last till at least the early part of next week and after that a low pressure system is set to slowly move south.
Having said that, it won’t surprise me if I’m typing the same weather report next week as this week because of the inherent weakness in the pattern of the Jet Stream.


The area of interest over the next week or so will be how disease reacts to the combination of warm temperatures and heavy dews.
If surfaces dry out quickly I can see disease pressure dropping back after the initial surge as temperatures increase from the early part of this week.

The combination of temperature and moisture (from last week) will also make fungicide application interesting because one would expect grass growth to pick up significantly during this week and that’ll effect the longevity of your applied product, particularly contact fungicides. I think if you already have disease ‘nibbling away’ (like that term) in the background, then I would apply this week because the population is likely to grow very quickly, however if you’re clean, you may want to sit it out, but be warned, I expect there to be a disease surge.

From a nutrition perspective, liquids are the order of the day, light rate tonics with plant hardeners and elicitors are best suited to this weather pattern, but keep iron rates on the sensible side because they will desiccate the plant and if your rootzone is dry and the air is hot, that may spell trouble in the form of wilt and tip scorch, especially on areas of overlap.

As with last week, this is a great time to establish seed and also apply late-season herbicide applications to difficult to control weed species.

All the best and enjoy…
Mark Hunt

September 19th

Hi All,

Back on track this week for my usual weather update, apologies for missing last week, pressure of work, full intray, small company, blardy blah 🙂

General Weather Update

The weather pattern for September seems to be pretty fixed with a succession of low pressure systems barrelling over from the eastern seaboard of the U.S (some of them the remnants of Hurricane systems), so we have quiet interludes of settled fine weather interspersed with periods of high winds and rainfall. The rainfall has been following the usual pattern of splitting diagonally across Ireland and the U.K, with the North of England and Scotland bearing the brunt of it. Whilst here in the Midlands, we’re still drier than 1976.

This week starts off fine and settled on Monday, but winds will strengthen through the day as a new low pressure system moves across Ireland and the U.K bringing rain showers into Ireland through the day and pushing into Wales and the North of England later, but the rain will lighten as it heads eastwards.
For Tuesday, Ireland looks dry, but a rain front will push into the South-West of England and move eastwards tracking along the M4 / M25 to bring rain through the day. Wednesday looks dry for most with weak showers affecting the North of Ireland, Scotland and the North of England, further south it’ll remain dry and this could be the best spray day of the week, wind allowing of course. Talking of which, it’ll be breezy all week from a Westerly – South-Westerly direction, so temperatures will be mild, around normal for this time of year, that’s mid to high teens through the day and cooler at nights, down to high single figures if the wind drops. Thursday also looks settled and dry, but breezy, however a new low pressure is projected to form off the North-West coast of Ireland on Thursday / Friday, (I think this one is the remnants of Hurricane Maria) and it’ll push heavy rain into Ireland later on Friday and this rain front will track eastwards affecting the U.K during Saturday.


The low pressure system that’s going to affect our weekend weather is projected to merge with another westerly low to form a very intense low, so the start of next week could be very windy and wet for all places. Thereafter it’s tricky to say, but I expect the low to track eastwards and the weather to settle down for the 2nd half of next week.

Grass Agronomics

Fusarium is nibbling away in the background at present, but with the current warmth and moisture, growth rates have picked up recently and at present I think the balance is still tipped in favour of grass growth vs. disease activity, i.e it’s still possible to grow disease out because soil temperatures are currently sitting around 15°C and looking at the weather I don’t expect this to change much over the next 10 days. That said, I’d still be targeting my first preventative fungicide for the last week of September (in the U.K, Ireland is earlier) as historical weather data shows us that this is the time Fusarium activity really begins to ramp up.

There is some late season Take-All and Anthracnose doing the rounds, but because stress levels are now on the decline, it should be possible to keep most of the grass cover and initiate recovery with light applications of well-timed fertiliser.

Worm activity is on the increase on outfield areas and now is a good time to apply treatments if you’re able. The same applies to late season herbicide applications because with the combination of moisture and temperature, uptake of A.I’s is good right through till late October usually. There’s plenty of that Etiolated growth around with the autumnal weather, particularly on collars and approaches, it’s a tricky one this as there is no control option, other than a potential positive side effect when applying a DMI fungicide for a labelled disease, but even this appears hit and miss depending on the applied product.

It’s also a great time to try and initiate recovery on outfield areas with optimum conditions for seed germination, but remember, it’s no good seeding into a thatch layer, you must achieve seed / soil contact. Last year I seeded an area of my lawn with a straight Rye mix in the last week of October, it barely came through before winter started in late November, but by this Spring, it looked great. I also remember back in 2006, we’d had a dry summer and a dry autumn and many greenkeepers overseeded outfield areas damaged by the drought, right into November on the basis of ‘If it comes up then great, if it doesn’t, I’ve only lost the cost of the seed’. By and large it came up and established through the winter and prevailed through the following summer because it had been able to establish a root system, unlike seed applied the following Spring.

All the best.
Mark Hunt