Category Archives: Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog

22nd October


Hi All,

You get some beautiful sunrises and sunsets at this time of year don’t you ?

This was the scene that greeted me early on Saturday morning at Thornton Reservoir in Leicestershire. Sadly it’s likely to be a thing of the past come the end of this week when we pull down a distinctly Arctic wind and that’ll bring the first taste of winter for all of us I reckon. Some of the weather sites are getting excited about the possibilities of snow on higher ground even across the south of the U.K.

Difficult to believe when yesterday I was walking in shorts in a nice and sunny 18°C, but that change is a coming and  due to us moving from a peak to a trough pattern in the jet stream.

Over the last 9 years, the coming week has typically been one of the mildest weeks of the autumn with 7 out of the last 9 producing temperatures in the high teens and even low twenties, but not this year.

Image courtesy of Netweather

Our old friend the jet stream is responsible for this cold blast and apparently it’s doing the same thing along the west coast of America. You can see its orientation clearly in the Netweather graphic above.

Nature as usual seems to be ahead of the game meteorologically-speaking because yesterday I noticed lots of Redwings and Fieldfares flying overhead and landing on the copious Hawthorn berry crop in the hedgerows. I see there’s also been reports of the first Waxwings (above) into Scotland, Yorkshire and Norfolk. Now they are one sign of winter I absolutely love. I took the photo above of a Waxwing in the winter of 2013, just outside of Loughborough Railway Station. All of these bird species typically spend the summer in Finland and Russia before heading west to the U.K to over-winter in our relatively mild conditions on our berry crop. Maybe they know something we don’t but the signs from nature are starting to suggest to me that we are possibly in for a hard winter…

General Weather Situation

Ok, so we start the week on Monday with a clear cold start (looking out of my office window) and that’s the way we are set to stay today for practically all the U.K and Ireland. More cloud across Ireland and the west of the U.K initially but this will clear through the morning to give long spells of autumn sunshine pretty much everywhere apart from the far tip of Northern Scotland where it’ll stay. It won’t feel warm though as the wind will have a distinctly northern chill about it (though nothing compared to the end of the week) so temperatures across all areas will struggle into the low teens only despite the sunshine.

With clear skies overnight, expect to start Tuesday chilly again over most places though the west and north will pick up some cloud overnight. This is the result of a rain band that is set to push into north-west Scotland during the morning and head south into south-west Scotland by lunchtime. Further south and west of this across Ireland, Wales and England, expect another cold, bright and pretty windy day as those isobars close together and really ramp up the wind strength. Milder on Tuesday due to a north-west aspect to the wind with temperatures creeping up towards the low to mid-teens despite the strong wind. A good drying day.

Overnight into Wednesday we see that rain in situ over north-west Scotland and much more in the way of cloud for all areas to start the day. This cloud will gradually thin to leave a hazy outlook across most areas and plenty of sunshine as well. Across Co. Cavan and the north of Ireland I think it may be slow to clear, the same across the north-west coast of England and Scotland. Not as windy on Wednesday so we keep the mild feel to the weather with mid-teens the order of the day over Ireland, Wales and England and just breaking into double figures across Scotland with that thicker cloud cover.

My the week is flying by and Thursday will probably be the last ‘mild’ day of the week with a cloudier start to the day on the cards. A pronounced west wind as well will keep those temperatures decent but it’ll also be responsible for pulling in some rain to north-west Scotland and a much thicker cloud base to Connacht, Donegal and the west of Scotland to boot. Further south another decent day, more in the way of cloud about but some nice breaks of sunshine as well. So again a good drying day with that moderate westerly wind in place.

Overnight into Friday and we will notice two features of the weather, the first a swing from westerly to northerly in terms of wind direction and the second a strengthening of the wind to strong / gale force. This will have an immediate impact on temperatures in the north with them not likely to make double figures despite a sunny day being on the cards. We will also see a rain front push down quickly across Donegal, Connacht and the north west of England overnight into Friday and this may bring some wintry showers for high ground over The Lakes overnight. It should have cleared by dawn though.That change in direction and strength of the wind will be felt across Ireland, England and Wales and again despite the fact that we should see plenty of sunshine, it’ll feel pretty chilly in the wind. So maybe in the south of England you’ll make it into double figures temperature-wise, but elsewhere 7-9°C is likely to be your best.

If you think that’s a bit poor, wait for the weekend 🙁

Talking about the weekend, well overnight into Saturday we will see that northerly air stream pull in a mix of wintry showers across Scotland, the north of Ireland but also along some north-west and north-east coasts as well. We may be cold enough for a ground frost as well in some sheltered areas. A mixed picture on Saturday with some sunshine but also the risk of rain across all areas particularly for the first half of the day turning to sleet and wintry showers across higher elevations. That wind will be due north on Saturday, maybe north-east on Sunday and despite the possibility of plenty of sunshine on Saturday and Sunday as well, it’ll feel really raw with 7°C likely to be the maximum temperature. It’s all about the the wind chill though with temperatures not much above freezing in the wind further north. Sunday looks a bit cloudier but still we will feel a strong north-east wind and cold day / night-time temperatures. Ireland may just break double figures being further away from that cold air stream but it’ll still feel pretty parky.

Weather Outlook

So after our winter weekend, how does next week look ?

Well that cold theme will continue through to the start of next week with Monday looking cold and wintry with the risk of some wintry showers along eastern coasts and still windy from the north east. Overnight into Tuesday we see some rain and wintry showers push across Ireland and into the west coast of the U.K and we should notice a drop in the wind so to me that means a risk of frost. That risk continues through Wednesday but we then see a Bay of Biscay low come into play and that’ll swing the wind round to the south for Thursday introducing milder and wetter air into the forecast. So I expect a wet and windy end to next week but milder with it.

Agronomic Notes

Microdochium nivale pressure – what else ?

It’s October, it’s been mild and humid so what else is there to start this blog with but Microdochium ?

I mentioned at the start of last week that we had a critical period coming up with lighter winds, high overnight temperatures and the possibility of dew formation and indeed that’s what we got. Consequently we saw plenty of Microdochium nivale activity at the start of last week, Monday and Tuesday in particular.

It wasn’t that straight-forward though because a number of you mentioned a repeated requirement to remove dew from surfaces during the day with it consistently re-forming.

Although we did see dew last week, we also saw a related phenomenon, Guttation Fluid, courtesy of that very wet Sunday (14th October) loading up the soil moisture level.

I took the picture below at 10.15 a.m. on a golf course last Tuesday and you can clearly see the droplets of Guttation Fluid on the tips of the grass plant leaf. (Bloody spellcheck keeps trying to change this to Gas Station !)

So what’s the difference between dew and Guttation Fluid ?

Dew is simply moisture condensing from the atmosphere when we reach 100% humidity. The dew point is the predicted temperature when dew will start to form and when the air temperature drops to the dew point temperature that is what we are supposed to see, i.e dew formation, but it isn’t quite that straight-forward when we are dealing with grass…

What I have noticed is that the air temperature doesn’t have to equal the dew point temperature for dew to develop on grass. This is because the grass leaf loses heat to the atmosphere (particularly on clear nights) and consequently cools down quicker than air temperature. So that means the actual grass leaf surface temperature is lower than the air temperature.

In the weather station readout below you’ll see the air temperature is 1.5°C and the dewpoint is calculated at 0.8°C, so theoretically dew shouldn’t be forming as the air temperature ≠ dewpoint temperature. As you can see from the accompanying image below, the reality was very heavy dew formation on grass. (Thanks Sean for this)

Ok that’s dew but what is Guttation Fluid ?

Simply put, Guttation Fluid is exudate from xylem sap that is forced out of the tip of a grass plant leaf through holes in the tip called hydathodes. Since it consists of xylem sap it contains water, nutrient salts and sugars that are normally transported up from the roots to the leaves of the grass plant. When we have heavy rainfall, water pressure builds up in the roots and then the xylem, forcing water up through the xylem vessel and out of the grass leaf tips. As Guttation Fluid evaporates, you can see white crystals of these salts and sugars forming on the plant leaf tip, initially I thought this was fungus forming but it’s actually nutrient salts evaporating. I snapped this phenomenon on a golf course awhile back, see below ;

Guttation Fluid will reform after removal if the pressure gradient is still present from the roots to the grass leaf tips and that’s why the presence of Guttation Fluid is more of a problem than dew when it comes to disease.  It’s not just the reformation that marks it out as a contributory factor to disease development..

As mentioned earlier, in a droplet of Guttation Fluid, we have everything a fungus needs to live and as far back as 1968, the formation of Guttation Fluid was linked with increased levels of foliar diseases like Dollar Spot.

So we last week had a wet grass leaf, a combination of dew and Guttation Fluid, high overnight temperatures, high humidity and low wind levels.

In other words perfect conditions for Microdochium nivale development.

Not surprisingly that’s what we saw with very high levels of disease noted across the U.K early last week. Ireland and Scotland had a much lower disease pressure because they were colder, brighter, drier and had less humidity. I have used some disease prediction models I am developing to map out disease intensity this autumn and I think it makes interesting viewing.

So you can see last week we had moderate to high disease pressure culminating in a peak on the night of the 15th, morning of the 16th of October. On this date you may have noticed lots of mycelium development on the grass leaf particularly on untreated areas like approaches, tees and outfield turf.

The previous last peak of this magnitude was way back on the 27th August, but it is unlikely you would have noticed the same phenomenon and that is because of growth levels and evapotranspiration. Back at the end of August we were at optimum growth and so even though we had high Microdochium pressure we didn’t see the same level of disease on the turf surface because it was growing so fast plus E.T levels would have been higher. (drying the leaf down quicker)

Fast forward to last week and although we had some growth peaks, we also had some growth troughs in G.P, which indicate slower grass growth and therefore more significant damage potential from Microdochium nivale. Also E.T levels were low last week so the grass leaf stayed wetter for longer, further increasing disease intensity.

So that’s hopefully a pretty broad explanation as to why last week presented some significant challenges from a disease management perspective.

On the plus side I think we are already learning the lessons of ‘life after Iprodione’ with many clubs putting in place good systemic fungicide programs interspersed with non-pesticidal, disease-suppressant sprays. In addition the important take-home message of reducing the interval between sprays during this month when growth is still significant (despite the troughs) is also providing better efficacy in terms of disease control.

All in all I think we are well-advanced in the process of observing, learning and adapting to the new environment of disease management without the safety net of contact, curative fungicides. That can only be good news for our industry.

In recent weeks it occurs to me that I’ve talked a lot about fungicide efficacy and not a lot about Best Management Practices but that doesn’t mean I see this as secondary, far from it. The reality is that of the contributing BMP’s to better disease management, I believe surface organic matter is the most significant.

The days of getting by without doing sufficient aeration to reduce surface organic matter levels in the top 25mm are behind us, those that think they aren’t are in for a wake up call.

Sure there’s always a reason not to do it, like there’s never a good time to take a holiday when you have a high workload ( 🙂 ), but with the twin challenges of climate and legislation our industry cannot be complacent in this area. I 100% understand the commerciality of running a business and the negativity surrounding aeration but the flip side of having heavy scarring from October to April and poor surfaces (that will not justify a high round cost nor recover till late in spring) has to be considered in the mix as well. Like everything in life it comes down to willing partners working to find compromise and good two-way communication, something incidentally the Brexit process looks to be bereft of 🙁

Next week I will focus on this area specifically looking at aeration dates vs. recovery vs. disease pressure but for now I’ll sign off with having a quick look at the coming 7-10 days from a disease management perspective.

So looking at the disease projection matrix in terms of the forthcoming early winter blast, it’s no surprise that we see very little disease peaks on the horizon over the next 7-10 days. Dove-tail this lower disease pressure with a low weekly GDD / G.P projected total and it’s further good news for fungicide / non-pesticidal mix longevity as well.

So if you’ve got this far with good surfaces, you can relax for a little while but we must remember that in the last 2 years early December has given us a pretty nasty sting in the tail disease-wise, so we shouldn’t be complacent.

Until next week, all the best.

Mark Hunt

October 15th

Hi All,

Well last week was one week I probably didn’t want to miss when publishing a weather blog but it was unavoidable. Gale force winds, torrential rain and scorching high temperatures were all packed into one week in October together with record high, night temperatures and a 15°C temperature drop from Saturday to Sunday.

Digressing from the weather for a mo’, I did have a good deal of correspondence asking what I was doing on that Monday, in particular a certain James Watson suggested I might be getting married. (ha ha) Nice one James, glad to see your imagination is as over-enthusiastic as ever (like your shirt choice) but clearly not a realistic proposition 🙂

Actually I was competing in the Troutmasters Final at Draycote Water, which is a national competition and quite challenging mentally and physically as I found out.

Bearing in mind the long-held viewpoint (by many) that fishing involves sitting staring at the water and doing nothing for long periods, I think my Garmin readout for the day suggests otherwise. Fly fishing is a different matter because you cast a lot and competition fly fishing even more physically demanding because of the pressure. Don’t normally like blowing my own trumpet (Law of Jante and all that) but I managed to finish a lucky 9th out of 100-odd competitors which I was chuffed with 🙂

OK, enough of the fishing, onto the weather and are we in for another week of gales and rain or is there more of a settled aspect to the job ?

General Weather Situation

After yesterday’s rainfall and much cooler temperatures, Monday continues to follow that trend with a dull, cool and in some places, extremely wet start to the week. There’s a raft of heavy showers moving up across London and eastern counties and further rain north and west of that. Now for Ireland and Scotland it’s the reverse with a cool but sunny start for both as you kick off the week. Through the morning this band of rain will stretch in a line extending from South Wales up to The Humber and it’ll slowly move northwards through the day. East and west of this line you’ll see a dull and cool 2nd half of the day really with the sun not breaking through till we head north of The Pennines. So cool and dull across England and Wales with that central rain belt staying in situ most of the day, contrasting strongly with bright, sunny and dry for Scotland and Ireland. Light southerly winds across the latter but fresh, north easterlies across England and Wales will keep temperatures down to low to mid-teens across all areas. Mild overnight.

Onto Tuesday and overnight that rain clears off into The North Sea to leave a dull, dry start to the day. It won’t stay that way for long as a rain front is set to push into the west of Ireland around late morning reaching Connacht first and then slowly moving eastwards pushing thick cloud ahead of it. Contrast that with the south-east of England which will have a bright, cool and dry day as will most of the U.K, but further north and west we will see more in the way of cloud and less in the way of sunshine. That rain is set to reach Leinster by late afternoon clearing the west as it does so, whilst across The Irish Sea, we see the northerly extremity of that rain reach north-west and Central Scotland by sunset. So not a bad Tuesday for the U.K, cool, dull and wet for Ireland. Temperature-wise, similar to Monday with mid-teens typical, although the wind will swing round to the south over most areas. Mild overnight again unfortunately.

Mid-week and Wednesday sees that Irish rain band move across into Wales and western England overnight so by dawn it’ll be sitting over the West Midlands, but diminishing in terms of rainfall levels as it does so. Away from this narrow band of rain we will see another dull and mild start to the day with maybe some hints of sunshine across The South East, East Anglia and along the east coast of the U.K. This rain band is projected to extend from the Isle of Wight all the way up to The Wash and pretty much sit there all day with more showers joining it from the west and east later on Wednesday. For Ireland, Scotland and northern England, a dry day with some sunshine and plenty of cloud as well from the off with maybe the odd chance of a shower over Ireland. As we approach dusk we see the cloud lift over Scotland and northern England signifying a much cooler night in store with single figure temperatures. Further south over England and Wales, that cloud cover is set to stay so again double figure temperatures but maybe not as mild as earlier in the week. Winds will be light and southerly.

Thursday sees that central band of rain still sitting along the M5 sort of direction and here it’ll be accompanied by thick cloud as well. East, west and north of this, another dry, cloudy day with some sunshine breaking through during the morning. By lunchtime that rain band has finally fizzled out to give a dull, but dry 2nd half of the day across The Midlands. So dry in most places, dull and remaining on the cool side with low to mid-teens the order of the day for the U.K and Ireland. One reason for the extended period of dullness is a change round in the wind to the north-east and an increase in strength pushing cloud in off The North Sea.

Friday rounds out the week with more of the same really with most of the U.K and Ireland starting off dull if a little cooler courtesy of that north-east wind, though The South East may see some sunshine. As we approach late morning we see a band of rain push into the west of Ireland and Scotland and this will slowly progress eastwards over lunchtime and into the afternoon with maybe more rain across south-east Munster and the west of Scotland and not central areas. For England and Wales we will see the sun break through during the afternoon so not a bad 2nd half of the day at the end of the week and with a much lighter, westerly wind, it’ll feel a little milder possibly. So a wet, dull end of the week for Ireland and Scotland and a brighter, hazy, dry end for Wales and England. Similar temperatures to the rest of the week, maybe a degree or two higher across England due to the lighter westerly wind.

The weekend forecast is a bit of a north-south divide with the north of the U.K and Ireland affected by strong winds and low pressure vs. central and southern regions which pick up an Atlantic high pressure system. At this stage I think Saturday will see cloud and rain over Scotland and maybe Ireland for the 1st part of the day before clearing easterly afterwards. It’ll feel warmer across the west first as that Atlantic high pushes in. Further south I think we should miss this rain and instead have a largely dry and dull day with a moderate to breezy south-west wind. I think the worst of the rain for Scotland pushes through overnight into Sunday morning before clearing to give a better Sunday after early rain. Across Ireland I think Sunday may still see some showers across the west but for Wales and England a much better weather picture with warmer winds and sunnier intervals pushing up temperatures into the high teens in the sunshine.

Image courtesy of Netweather

Weather Outlook

With high pressure pushing in from the weekend, next week looks to be a battle of low vs. high where high wins out, so despite the start of next week looking a bit unsettled with strong northerly winds and some rain showers, I think the weather will calm down soon after this and allow high pressure to dominate bringing calm, settled and mild conditions to the fore with light winds. The Netweather graphic above shows a high jet stream position mid-way through next week pushing winder and wetter weather over us before it takes a sharp right and pushes cold air down into Scandinavia and Central Europe.

Agronomic Notes

It’s been a really interesting weather dynamic over the last 7 days or so and one that makes me realise how little we understand about disease dynamics with respect to Microdochium nivale.

I will drill down into it from a weather conditions vs. disease population growth dynamic later but first off let’s look at October 2018 vs. the previous two years to see how it pans out…

Daily Growth Potential Comparison – October 2018 vs. 2017 vs. 2016

What we are looking at here is Growth Potential for this month over the last 3 years and you can clearly see the peaks and troughs. October 2016, was a reasonably cool month with lower than normal G.P figures but last October you’ll remember we had some particularly aggressive Microdochium nivale activity coinciding with the middle of the month and extending on into the third week of the month (red dashed line).

This year we have had two G.P peaks culminating with the one that began last Tuesday and lasted until Sunday when the wind direction changed to north dropped the daytime temperature and G.P significantly.

I have used the projected day and night temps to plot out the projected Growth Potential (faded green) for the next 10 days and you can see we have a couple of daily peaks coming up but we shouldn’t be as bad as October 2017 from a growth perspective.

That is significant because of course growth this late in the season is a double-edged sword isn’t it ?

Firstly it can be very beneficial in growing out disease activity but secondly of course it will also grow out fungicide applications leading to reduced longevity.

Cumulative Growth Potential Comparison – October 2018 vs. 2017 vs. 2016

We saw this in 2017 if you remember, when we had a very warm month with elevated periods of grass growth. I work off a cumulative Growth Potential figure of 10 for a systemic fungicide application based on my observations in the field and in research trials.

Now there’s a fair % of SWAG (Scientific wild-arsed guess – Copyright Dr Jame Beard) here and I accept it is also wholly-dependent on lots of variables, not least your grass species, level of nutrition, PGR usage but above all the effectiveness of the fungicide active ingredient (s). A more effective A.I may go longer, a less effective one, will definitely last less.

I’ve plotted out the cumulative G.P for the last 3 October’s, workeing on applying a fungicide on the 1st of October and then seeing how many days it takes to reach a cumulative G.P of 10, the results are interesting…

So what we see is that in both October 2018 and 2017, the predicted systemic fungicide longevity is pretty much identical at 14 days, whereas in October 2016, this extended to 26 days because it was cooler. I’ve plotted out the cumulative G.P for the next 10 days and you can see the good news is any application made now should be lasting longer because we are set to be cooler than October 2017 for the second half of the month 🙂

Disease Dynamics

Now let us consider the dynamic of systemic fungicide control vs. fungal population growth.

First off when we apply a systemic fungicide there is a lag period before it is present in sufficient concentration to combat fungal growth. Now the more effective the active ingredient, the shorter this lag period because lower doses achieve better control, quicker and vice-versa. Once in the plant, there is then the ever-present dynamic between rate of fungal growth vs. rate of population reduction by the fungicide A.I.

Now two of the most important factors affecting fungal growth are plant leaf wetness and temperature and last week was so-so interesting when we look at the dynamic between these factors.

On one hand we had really high air temperature at night which for sure was promoting fungal growth, but on the other hand we had a really strong wind and not only was it strong, it was warm, so it was drying the grass leaf. This resulted in very little dew formation and so we didn’t see lots of disease, in fact some sites reported no Microdochium activity at all. Others noted disease ingression from the 10th of October, but more so on the 12th, when the night-time temperature was > 15°C and the humidity increased as well.

We were on a real knife-edge though and depending on your site dynamics you may have seen no disease if you manage an ‘open-aspect’ location or you saw varying levels with the difference noted between shadier and open-aspect greens.

I have used the output from 2 different weather stations, one sited in a reasonably open location, the other in a sheltered one. The geographical locations are different but you can see in the open-aspect location how the humidity just hovered below 90%, enough to avoid aggressive disease, whereas the other sheltered location recorded a much higher level of humidity.

I have circled the night-time temperatures in both graphs and you can see the high air temperature during the night of the 12th / 13th of October, however if you look at the humidity you can see if tops out above the 90% mark in the sheltered location but stays under it in the open location. This was due to the effect of the wind reducing humidity in the open site location.

That night-time temperature on the 12th / 13th October was a record for October in many locations and here in Market Harborough we didn’t dip below 17°C all night !

Tipping of the balance

If you were in a location where the humidity increased on that night above the critical value and you picked up +17°C, you would have seen Microdochium nivale activity no matter whether you had an effective fungicide down or not. The difference of course would have been the severity of the damage but for sure the balance would have tipped very much in favour of fungal population growth to the detriment of fungicidal control, no question.

Disease activity outlook for the coming week….

Well again we have an interesting dynamic, quite different from last week.

OK, it depends entirely on your location and that’s where trying to generalise on this blog does me no favours but the dynamic this week is one of cooler night temperatures but critically lighter wind speeds which will allow for higher humidity levels and hence dew formation. If I look at 6 different locations across the U.K, I think that Tue night / Wed morning represents the highest likely disease pressure this week. After that the temperature at night should drop off nicely and the wind speed will probably stay high enough to decrease dew formation.

High soil temperatures means there’s still time to get recovery on worn areas…

After the very dry (and already forgotten in some quarters) summer, we have a lot of thin / worn and bare areas on golf and outfield turf alike. Last weekend in Leicestershire marked our first decent rain that will have wetted down through the profile so is it worth continuing renovating these areas ?

Definitely so in my books because we are retaining plenty of soil temperature necessary for seed germination and we have soil moisture as well. I remember awhile back we had a very dry summer and autumn to such an extent that a lot of clubs didn’t renovate bare areas till early November. They overseeded as well and I thought it was a waste of time but it wasn’t because those areas got away before the winter and recovered quicker the following spring.

The graph below shows where we are soil temperature-wise vs. previous years…

Ok a long blog for this week, that’ll teach me to take a week off 🙂

All the best.

Mark Hunt










October 1st

Hi All,

It may be just me but September 2018 felt very much like we were firmly set on the road to autumn / winter and not a continuation of summer. We’ve had 3 ground frosts here last month and I can’t remember getting close to that last year. There are also some signs from nature that we are cooling down quicker this year with a lot of the Martins and Swallows already away on their migration south and I’m pretty sure I heard a Redwing yesterday, newly arrived from Scandinavia to feast on what has to be said is a mega berry crop in the hedgerows. If so that would be 2 weeks earlier than usual. Meteorologically-speaking, some of the longer-range forecasters are stating that we are in for a cooler than usual October, but we will see, long-range is notoriously fickle when it comes to our climate and the jet stream. I charted out the temperatures at my location for September 2018 and 2017 using data from my Netatmo and you can see the difference in temperatures (particularly minimum temperature)

Onto this week’s weather and the prognosis last week was for an extended stay of high pressure, so we shall see if it was right.

General Weather Situation

So we start off on Monday with an Atlantic high pressure butted up against a cold, Arctic low sat over northern Scandinavia with the result that the wind is funneling between them from the north. So we are noticeably cool to start the week, down in single figures. A dry, bright and sunny day for most areas with some high cloud across the west and just a few showers dotted over East Anglia, Wales and Co. Clare. That’s the way we should stay for most of us but Scotland will see thicker cloud through the afternoon and the arrival of heavy rain into the north-west later this afternoon. It’ll be cool enough for this to fall as sleet over elevation. Through Monday evening this band of heavy rain will move south across north-west Ireland and western Scotland, accompanied by a freshening wind blowing from the west up north but firmly from the north further south making it feel nippy even in the sun. So that wind will keep temperatures down to the low teens for Ireland and Scotland and maybe a degree or two higher further south.

Onto Tuesday and that band of rain has sunk south overnight across Ireland and down the west coast of England into Wales and that’s where it’ll reside first thing. So a wetter start for the north and west on Tuesday but as we go through the morning that rain will fizzle out over Ireland, Wales and The South West to leave a clearer and milder 2nd half of the day. Away from this rain front we see the wind change from north to north-west, but it’ll keep on blowing hard ushering in warmer air from that high pressure. So despite being windy it’ll also be warmer on Tuesday with mid-teens for Ireland and Scotland and high teens, possibly even 20°C for South Wales and the south of England. Windy and warm then but plenty of cloud around as well.

Mid-week and Wednesday sees a continuation on that theme with warm and dry conditions for central and southern England, along with Wales. Ireland stays dry as well with pleasant enough temperatures in the mid-teens. As we progress north we see more in the way of cloud cover building from the north-west and that’ll usher in some thicker cloud, rain and drizzle during the late afternoon into Scotland and later northern England. More in the way of sunshine for the east of England and again here we may see temperatures hit 20°C in the lighter winds on Wednesday. Mid-teens for Ireland and low teens for Scotland under that thicker cloud and light rain. The winds will be lighter and from the north-west / west for Wednesday.

Onto Thursday and overnight we see that thicker cloud and rain extending south across Ireland, Scotland, the north of England and North Wales so a cooler feel to the weather as we approach the end of the week. More in the way of cloud cover with a strong to moderate westerly wind as well. That rain will slowly fizzle out and dissipate but may stay stubbornly entrenched over North Wales and The Pennines. As that cloud thins we should see sunny intervals end the day across the east of Scotland, The North East and possibly further south as well. So mid to high teens for England and Wales, but cooler over Ireland and Scotland as the wind flips back to the north / north west. Those winds will be particularly strong over Scotland.

After a mild night everywhere we see a much better weather picture for Friday with a lot of dry weather around and some sunshine across the east of Ireland and England. Through the morning we see more cloud build as a prelude to rain pushing into the north of Ireland and west of Scotland. We may also see some thicker cloud into The South West and along the south coast of England through Friday morning with some of it thick enough to bring some rain. The majority of areas away from this will have a dry, warm and pleasant day but they’ll be more cloud around as we go through the evening. It’ll feel cooler again as that northerly wind provides a nip in the air. Later on Friday night we see another rain front push into Northern Ireland, western Scotland and the south-west of Ireland. Mid to high teens for England and Wales but with that thicker cloud across Ireland and Scotland, along with lighter winds, temperatures will barely scrape into double figures.

So next weekend looks a bit mixed really with that rain moving across all areas of the U.K and Ireland overnight into Saturday. There’s a risk that some of it may be heavy across The Midlands and East Anglia through Saturday morning as a low pressure pushes in from The Bay of Biscay, but the flip side is that Ireland and Scotland should miss this so here you’ll see more in the way of sunshine. As we go through the morning into the afternoon we should see a much brighter 2nd half of the day for Wales as the weather clears from the west, but it’ll still feel on the chilly side with low teens across England and Wales and low double figures across Scotland and Ireland, even in the sunshine. It’ll be pretty windy on Saturday with those isobars tightly packed pulling in northerlies so that means cool with a capital ‘C’ and a great day to do indoor jobs or tie flies 🙂 Sunday looks a much quieter day as high pressure again pushes in from the west so dry, settled with milder westerly winds and plenty of sunshine. Scotland though looks cooler and dull I’m afraid.

Weather Outlook

So does that high pressure pushing over the 2nd half of the weekend mean we are in for more settled weather or will the gathering Atlantic storms finally win the day ?

Well next week to me looks like being a transition week from high pressure to low pressure.

The weather scene is that we have a deep northerly, low pressure slowly squeezing away an entrenched southerly high pressure residing over The Bay of Biscay through the course of next week. So it looks like it’ll be settled and largely dry for the south of England, Wales and the south of Ireland for the first part of the week. Further north across Ireland and Scotland you will feel the influence of that low pressure with stronger winds and rain through the 2nd half of  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. At this stage it doesn’t look like that rain will extend its grip to the south but all areas will have a predominantly south-westerly airflow. Thursday looks like being a bit of a hiatus for all areas before I think a succession of low pressures finally push the high out of the way and bring rain and strong winds for the end of next week / weekend. My guess is with a south-westerly airflow we will see mild temperatures day and night but with an ever-present wind hopefully not the still, muggy balmy nights we just don’t need at this time of year.

Agronomic Notes

First off we will start with a look-see at our usual GDD data from The Oxfordshire location for September 2018.

Looking at the stats from a GDD perspective September 2018 looks pretty similar to September 2017 from a growth potential perspective and pretty average really which is surprising to me because I would have bet on it being a lower GDD month. (Just goes to show what I know)

Cumulatively that puts us in a very similar, if near identical position to 2017, which again highlights the way we have caught up so much from this perspective. That said I know you’ll say well we might have had very high GDD through June, July and August, but it didn’t actually reflect in growth because the grass plant was moisture-limited and for most species the temperature was above-optimum for growth. That is of course one of the drawbacks of GDD in that it has no ‘top out’ whereas Growth Potential does, so when I get the time I’ll plot the same stats from a G.P perspective or I might just throw that job Wendy’s way (cue running for office door sounds 🙂 )

Soil Moisture Status

It was only a week ago odd that I was driving along the M1 in Yorkshire aquaplaning between Costa Coffee stops so I know for some of you this next bit will seem a bit academic. We know it’s very much been a north-south split rainfall-wise this autumn so far and whereas the north has had some pretty horrendous rainfall totals, the same cannot be said from The Midlands south.

Here we are still extremely dry, the rivers and reservoirs are still at below summer level so I have continued by exercise from earlier in the summer for soil moisture surplus / deficit using data sent in by Sean at The Oxfordshire, a location that tends to be on the dry side I’d say and quite representative for that reason.

So here’s where we were at the end of September last year at this location ;

A net moisture deficit of 149.4mm from June 1st to September 30th, 2017, which reflects a change of -3.7mm from the end of August 2017. So in other words during September last year the difference between accumulated rainfall and E.T was -3.7mm, i.e we lost 3.7mm from the soil over the month when you add up the accumulated rainfall and subtract the accumulated loss of moisture by E.T.

Let’s see how we look for 2018 at the same location ;

We sit at -311.8mm, so more than double the moisture deficit of 2017 for the same period and what’s more if we look at September 2018 in isolation, we continued to lose more moisture by E.T loss than we received by rainfall. Whereas in September 2017 the moisture deficit was -3.7mm, the figure for September 2018 was – 37.1mm, so we have continued drying down through September. So we are dry and strange as it seems, some areas will need irrigation to avoid going under moisture stress, particularly outfield areas where you may have overseeded.

That’s why we saw this information above from The National Drought Group (yes there is such a thing) declaring that the water supply situation in the southern half of the U.K is still fragile and good autumn / winter rainfall will be required to avoid water restrictions next year. I am grateful to Glenn Kirby of Syngenta for the link in one of his tweets…Read about it here

What of disease pressure through September ?

Well I think it has been a mixed picture with less disease pressure in general than last September and that’s down to humidity differences between September 2018 and September 2017, there is a caveat though. (more on that later)

If you look at the chart above which plots humidity across September 2018 and 2017, you’ll note in general a lower level for this year than last with shorter periods when it exceeded 90%, the critical value for disease pressure. Last September we had 6 peaks during the month when the humidity > 90% for extended periods of time vs. only 3 this September and the periods have been shorter. I have also highlighted the period at the end of September 2017 when we had a peak of humidity which carried into October, this generated high Microdochium pressure so we were already on the back foot from that perspective.

Now The Oxfordshire is a pretty open-aspect site, so in general humidity levels are lower than other sites which may be tree-lined. Data from my Netatmo comparing this year and last shows a different picture and that’s because my back garden sits in shade for a good % of the day and is less-affected by the wind.

So you can see in general much higher humidity levels because of the closed-aspect of the garden and it also shows the period at the end of September 2017 when we had extended periods of high humidity. In both locations, the end of September 2018 has shown lower humidity levels than the previous year so I think we are running into October in a better situation this year on the whole. Now for the north and west where you have received more rainfall this may not be the case but your ‘advantage’ is that you run cooler temperatures, particularly overnight, so the disease pressure tends to be earlier in the autumn rather than later.

Before I leave the chart above you’ll note that during this month there were some high humidity periods, notably around the 6th/7th, 20th, 21st and 23rd and these would have generated disease pressure on a shaded site.

That I think is the story of the autumn so far, lower disease pressure overall, but on shaded sites, it has still been significant.

Disease pressure looking forward

Looking at the stats for the coming week they illustrate my point above about the north-south divide with respect to temperatures and humidity. With low pressure influencing conditions in the north of Ireland, Scotland and northern England, it’ll be cooler and windier, so less risk of high overnight temperatures and high humidity and therefore disease.

It’s a different picture in the south as the winds are set to be lighter, particularly overnight and once we pick up the warmer air on Tuesday that’ll represent high disease pressure on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Much will depend on the intensity of wind on your site because if it continues to blow overnight then the humidity will be low, but if the winds are lighter and / or you have a sheltered site, I would expect higher localised humidity and consequently high disease pressure I am afraid.


Ok that’s it for this week, I’m off on my travels to Switzerland and Germany, celebrating a 12th Birthday with Meteoblue in-between 🙂

There will be no blog next Monday because I’m off for the day for an event which I may or may not chat to you about in future blogs depending on how it goes of course.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

September 24th

Hi All,

There’s a distinctly autumn feel about the weather this morning as temperatures overnight dipped to low single figures and the trees are on the turn. The nights are also drawing in fast. It’s about this time that light levels start to impact turf growth from now right through to the middle of March with shorter days and a much lower arc of sun in the sky. I took the snap above this morning using the Sunseeker 3D App and you can clearly see the difference between midsummer (red line) and where we are today. (yellow line)

If you look closely you’ll also see a faint green line next to the yellow one and that marks the Spring Equinox, the time when the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator moving from north to south. Yesterday was actually the Fall equinox which is the exact opposite, i.e the time when the sun crosses the celestial equator moving from south to north. So we are at a crossing point and having passed the autumn equinox we are now officially heading towards winter.

Ok onto the weather and last week I indicated that high pressure should be in charge this week, so is it ?

General Weather Situation

So we start Monday with a distinct chill in the air but crucially after the battering some areas received last week, we have a dry outlook and yes that’s because we have high pressure establishing over the U.K and Ireland. So today’s outlook is dry and bright for most areas with the best of the sunshine across the east and south east of the U.K. That said, Ireland and The North East of the U.K should also see some sunshine but cloud will push across later to spoil the party. Now it won’t be particularly warm because we have a moderate to strong north wind in situ so I expect low to mid-teens to be the order of the day depending on cloud cover. Tonight under clearing skies, temperatures will drop quickly once the sun disappears behind the horizon.

Onto Tuesday and a very similar day to Monday for the first half of the day however across The Irish Sea and the west coast of Scotland you’ll notice more cloud. That cloud is the precursor to a band of rain that’s due to move into the north west coast of Ireland and Scotland around lunchtime before pushing eastwards across the latter during the afternoon. It’s a real north -south divide though because south of a diagonal line drawn from The Humber to Mid-Wales, it looks sunny, dry and bright. As we progress into the evening that rain over the north-west of Ireland will sink south and the same for the U.K with rain reaching down into the north-west of England later in the evening. On Tuesday we see a change in wind direction as that north wind swings round to the south west and that ushers in warmer temperatures so a much milder night for us all on Tuesday as that cloud cover keeps temperatures up.

Mid-week beckons and we are into Wednesday already and we see that rain and thick cloud lingering over Ireland, Scotland and the north west of England overnight and into the morning rush hour.  So again another north-south divide with the south and central areas of the U.K enjoying the warmest day of the week after a milder start courtesy of that south west wind which will strengthen significantly on Wednesday. So warm, dry and sunny for the majority of England, Wales and Ireland, but for north-west England and Scotland, that rain and thick cloud lingers through much of the day, if anything intensifying over Scotland to give a wet and dull day. Temperature-wise I think we will see high teens, perhaps touching the magic 20°C down south, but only mid-teens for those areas affected by thicker cloud and rain.

Thursday sees that north-south divide continue with another wet and dull start to the day for Scotland with that rain touching the north of Ireland as well. Thicker cloud remains over The North West but as we head south we have another bright and sunny day ahead of us after a mild night. As we head through the morning that rain and thicker cloud eventually breaks over Scotland and sinks south into northern England so at last a little sunshine. Ireland will see that bank of thick cloud and drizzle over Donegal and Connacht sink south across the whole country during the day bringing drizzly rain in places. Thursday sees another change in the wind direction from south westerly back to northerly, initially for Scotland but as we progress through the day that wind change will head southwards so by tea time the south of England will feel that wind change. So similar weather and temperature to Wednesday for England and Wales, dry and sunny with high teens perhaps breaking into the twenties, with only mid-teens likely for Ireland and Scotland.

Closing out the week on Friday we end as we started with a dry outlook for the U.K and Ireland, albeit with some thicker cloud floating around across the north west of Ireland and Scotland. Now that wind didn’t stop on a northerly trajectory it swung completely round to the east for the start of Friday. An easterly means only one thing in my mind and that’s Haar, that lovely thick and dull cloud bank that pushes in from The North Sea 🙁 So yes you get the picture, a dull and cloudy day for the U.K on Friday with the best chance of any sun across the west and for Ireland a much better day with long spells of sunshine. The north west of Scotland will see that thick cloud as well persist throughout the day. So much cooler on Friday with temperatures ranging from low to mid-teens at best despite sunshine for some. That easterly breeze will keep everything on the cool side.

So how are we looking for the weekend ?

Well the outlook is dry with plenty of sunshine around for the U.K and Ireland. That easterly wind will still be present on Saturday for most areas so don’t expect a heatwave, it’ll be on the cool side with temperatures in the mid-to high teens I think if you see the sunshine which most areas will. Crucially though it will be dry so all in all not a bad Saturday beckons for most. Sunday sees the wind swing round to the north again and that might pull in some more in the way of cloud but temperatures will stay up in the mid to high teens. Cooler for Scotland and Ireland which look to pick up more in the way of cloud cover.

Weather Outlook

Well next week looks remarkably like this week with high pressure in charge again and northerly winds initially. So I’d say dry with plenty of sunshine and mild / warm for periods of the week. So a stable weather picture which looks to hold pretty much to the end of the week though there is a suggestion that low pressure may come to play at the end of it. That said, plenty of time for that scenario to change.

Agronomic Notes

Ok it’ll be another short blog this week because as usual the workload is knocking at the door and I have another busy week ahead 🙁

Major Events and Legislation

I saw a tweet from Syngenta last week (above) as I made my way back from a very successful, but very wet, last day at the S.T.R.I Research Event up at Bingley (You can find the tweet here incidentally if you want to respond). It got me thinking.  So I posed the question above because I know (I think:)) Dan and Glenn well enough that they won’t be contacting the legal department in Basel just yet. It was and is a serious question.

I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the work behind the scenes at some of the most significant tournaments we have seen held in golf over the last 15 years in the U.K, so I know the amount of time, manpower and preparation that goes in by the greenkeeping / management team, not to mention the investment financially. This discussion isn’t by the way just confined to golf, you could equally apply the same question to major events in football, rugby, cricket, horse racing and so on.

As I have discussed at length in this blog, we face 2 great challenges, climate (or climate change if you want to stir up that can of worms) and legislation. The combination is perhaps the most significant one to face turf management in recent years.

Just look at this year for starters, one of the coldest winters followed by one of the wettest, coldest, late springs, followed by one of the hottest, driest summers and who knows what the autumn and first part of the winter will throw at us (though it’s looking ok so far).

Dove-tail that in with a loss of insecticide technology and contact fungicides and life gets trickier. We also have less effective systemic fungicides on the market and I’m pretty sure over the next 18 months we will see some more revocations regardless of Brexit.  France and Holland I think has stated an intention to be pesticide-free on managed-amenity turf from 2020, that’s less than two years away. Now I’m sure there’s some caveats in there with that statement or at least there better be because how would you hold one of the greatest sporting events that is The Ryder Cup if you were truly pesticide-free ?

Consider the time of year, it’s the end of September and as we all know disease management is in the fore-front of our minds. What would be the situation if the cameras turned up to watch this event with the greens badly affected by Microdochium nivale or Dollar Spot or Anthracnose, or all three ?

The eyes of the world would look at it, tut disapprovingly and probably the greenkeeping team would end up taking the blame for not managing the turf properly. Now I am all for managing turf with the least applications of effective pesticides, to me that is a clear goal for our industry but it also equally clear to me that they are absolutely necessary within our current turf management framework. It isn’t just about major events, some of you guys will I know be facing questions about worm casts, pecking damage, Microdochium outbreaks over the coming weeks and your responses could easily fall upon deaf ears.

The problem is everyone assumes that we have a solution for everything nowadays, well in turf management, sometimes we don’t.

So we need less of the politics and more realism if we are to move ahead in a positive manner. “Bon Chance !” to you over The Channel come 2020 and a hearty “Bon Chance !” to all at the greenkeeping team for The Ryder Cup this coming week, it’s a fantastic experience and a great advert for golf. Long may it remain so.

Ok I’ll step down off my little Soapbox and come back to earth to finish the blog off…

Microdochium nivale outlook

Bearing in mind we have a clear north-south divide in weather terms across the U.K and also the same to a lesser extent for Ireland then it is probably no surprise that we see two different scenarios for Microdochium nivale activity. In the north and across Ireland we have more in the way of moisture about and with some milder air coming in mid-week, I think that’s the time when the Microdochium pressure will be the greatest. Again we look for a combination of moisture and therefore humidity with high overnight temperatures. One saving grace as we saw last week was the effect of high wind strength on this scenario and it may come into play again for Ireland, the north and Scotland as they experience higher wind speeds than the south of the U.K. Further south with less risk of moisture we will see lower humidity levels and that will be the driver to less disease. Again the highest risk will be from mid-week however I think the wind strength will keep the humidity lower than required and that should also minimise dew formation. My take is low disease risk this coming week for south and central areas with the highest risk I think on Thursday night.

Shade Management

At the beginning of this blog I talked about the changing arc of the sun and the fact that with shorter days and a lower sun position on the horizon, turf management will become harder. This is particularly true for shade-affected areas as we begin to notice the impact of shorter day length, less direct sunlight and increasing humidity (less drying). If you are managing this type of area, I would suggest raising the cutting height slightly, reducing the impact of linear aeration (verticutting, grooming, etc) and on golf greens, skipping the clean up strip where practical.

Shade-affected turf will always need an extra hand and this point in the year marks the start of that process.

Ok, that’s it for this week, enjoy the sunshine if you get it 🙂

All the best

Mark Hunt



September 17th

Hi All,

The news is full of weather events at the moment, Hurricane Florence, Typhoon Mangkhut and last week, Hurricane Helene. My oldest Stepson is currently teaching in Shenzhen, China and this weekend they got the full force of Mangkhut to such an extent it was pushing water through the window frame into the house !

In our little world sometimes we seem a million miles away from these storms but their influence stretches far and wide and already our weather is being affected by Helene. We are due to get the downgraded Tropical Storm Helene in the early part of this week so expect a very windy start to the week for some areas and a very windy end as well courtesy of another storm system.

Image courtesy of Metman James and NOAA

Now I mentioned that Helene is already affecting our weather and that comment related to temperature and humidity and not wind because what we are already seeing is very warm air pushing up from Helene across the U.K.

Image courtesy of Unisys Weather

You’ll have noticed how warm it was last night maybe ?

Here we didn’t drop below 16.8°C overnight and we saw the humidity rise to 97% as warm, humid air associated with Helene pushed into the southern half of the U.K and Ireland. Later this week we will see another low pressure come into effect bringing very windy and potentially very wet weather for the end of the week / weekend, so the autumn storm season has started in the U.K.

General Weather Situation

As we start the week we already have a pulse of heavy rain pushing across the west of Ireland affecting Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal on Monday. This band of heavy rain stretches across into north-west Scotland as well and through the morning it’ll move east across Ireland lessening as it does so and into the west coast of the U.K. Away from this active rain band it’ll be a cloudy, humid and dull start to the day with warm overnight temperatures carrying over. As we progress through the afternoon, this rain band will clear all but the far north-west of Ireland and sunshine will break through over central and southern areas of the U.K pushing up the temperature. Scotland will see that rain push into central areas from the west, light at first but becoming heavier into the evening / night. Warm temperatures of up to 24°C across the south and central areas of the U.K, 20°C across Ireland (courtesy of Helene) and cooler across Scotland. The wind will strengthen across all areas as we progress through the afternoon, blowing mainly from the south and becoming very strong over Scotland later. It’ll be another very warm night.

Tuesday sees that a heavy rain front push across the south-west of Ireland overnight but by dawn it’ll have cleared most of the country and is due to affect The South West, Wales and the west coast of England and Scotland. It is projected to be pretty heavy over south-west Scotland. By the morning rush hour it’ll have moved east pushing cloud ahead of it with the rain now into northern England and South Wales. Through the afternoon the rain front sort of fizzles out though may persist across northern England. Ireland after that wet overnight rain will see a new rain front push into Kerry late morning but it’ll clear north and east quickly with warm sunshine following. By late afternoon we have a mix of sunshine and showers (mainly in the west) and again some pretty warm temperatures in the low twenties across the south of England, mid to high teens across Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The wind will be very strong across all areas and from the south-west, a courtesy call from Helene 🙂 The strongest of the winds may not reach Scotland till later on Tuesday night.

With Helene now upon us it’s no surprise we see a heavy rain front start off Wednesday for Ireland pushing across in time for the Sligo morning rush hour and heading across Ireland during the morning. This rain front will also affect the west coast of Scotland with some heavy bursts late morning for The Western Isles. The main rain front from Helene is projected to move across the west of Ireland and into Scotland so that means south of this it’ll be clear, warm and dry with plenty of sunshine for England and Wales. Later in the afternoon we will see thicker cloud and rain push down into North Wales and northern England. This rain front will lessen but push further south bringing a cloudy end to the day down south. The clear feature of Wednesday will be the very strong winds associated with the storm system with the west of Ireland and Scotland in line for the worst I think. Temperature-wise I think similar to Tuesday with mid-teens across the windier and rain-affected areas and high teens to low twenties across the south of England. Another very mild and humid night.

Thursday sees one storm centre pass but another one appear out in The Atlantic. Overnight this will push rain, some of it heavy, across the south of Ireland and into Wales and the north-west of England. By the morning rush hour this rain band will extend across from Ireland through Wales and up to The North East.  North and south of this will see a cloudy and dull start for Scotland and central England. As we progress through till the afternoon the rain will become potentially heavier across Ireland, the very tip of North Wales and northern England and it’ll slowly edge north as it does so. By the evening the rain is projected to be across The South West, Wales, Ireland and Scotland intensifying as we progress through the night.

Weather forecasting caveat – Now I expect the direction of that rain to change over the coming few days so it may move south or north depending on path of the storm centre, be warned your rainfall totals will I’m sure change for Thursday.

The rain will also move eastwards overnight to affect all areas pushed along by some very strong winds to boot. With a low moving across the U.K and another huge depression above Scotland, expect much cooler weather moving down from the north from Thursday, you’ll see why from the Unisys graphic below ;

I just had to double take then because that low will drop temperatures so significantly through Thursday into Friday that across the high ground of Scotland you may just see some wintry showers. What a crazy, crazy (expletive deleted for the sake of decency)  weather week this is to forecast !

So Friday starts off very windy, pretty cool and very wet across Scotland with the rain extending down into northern England. South of this rain front it’ll be bright and sunny across Ireland, Wales and England though it’ll be much cooler as that cold front sinks south. During the morning they’ll be a rain front pushing across The South West / Wales and this may skirt the south coast of England but elsewhere aside from persistent rain across the north-west of England, it looks a better 2nd half of the day with that heavy rain clearing Scotland. It’ll feel a good bit cooler everywhere now with low to mid-teens more the norm and thankfully the night temperatures will follow this trend (more on this later). A pretty windy day again, especially at the start of the day with strong westerlies likely throughout the day.

Nothing is normal this week and that forecast extends into the weekend with more heavy rain for the south west of Ireland on Saturday and this will push across Ireland through the day and into the west of the U.K through the 2nd half of the day. I then expect this rain to push eastwards overnight to all areas for the start of Sunday though again the exact path of that rain may change. After a quieter wind day on Saturday (not for Scotland but for Wales and England) I expect the wind to gain strength through the day and swing round from the west to the north during the day to bring a cooler feel to the weather as we close out Sunday. So windy and unsettled is the forecast for the weekend with the west and north getting it first and on Sunday I think the heaviest rain will be for Scotland and the north currently.

Weather Outlook

After such a turbulent week this week with low pressure systems assaulting the shores of the U.K and Ireland can we expect better for next week ?

Well the answer looks like a resounding yes to me at this stage with an Atlantic blocking high pressure system due to establish from Monday onwards, bringing dry and mild, warm conditions with light winds. So a bit of an Indian Summer next week and at this stage it looks to last the whole week and possibly into next weekend 🙂

Agronomic Notes

Ok, it’s going to be a short agronomic blog this week because I am under pressure work and time-wise. Looking at my emails and texts that pressure is coming because of the current weather trait that I referred to earlier, high overnight temperature and high overnight humidity.

I downloaded the data from my Netatmo weather station this morning and here’s how it looks for the last two days…

So for my location here at the centre of the universe that is Market Harborough, you can clearly see the effect of Helene pushing in humid and warm air overnight. Dove-tail that humidity in with an overnight temperature that didn’t drop below 16.8°C and that means in my books high Microdochium nivale pressure.

So I’d expect a lot of you to come into work today and notice copper blotches on the sward suggesting high disease pressure from this pathogen. Now life is anything if not interesting this week because not only does that combination cause high disease pressure, it also causes strong grass growth.

You’ll see this from the Meteoturf output for the same location and note the pattern as we progress from this warmer to cooler air later in the week…

So the suggestion is that grass growth will be optimum at the point where disease activity is also at optimum. How this pans out across your surfaces will depend largely on where you are nutritionally because if nutrient is available then it is quite possible that we will see Microdochium nivale grow out as fast as it occurs through this week before the cooler temperatures of later in the week lower the disease pressure. To further complicate the dynamic, any fungicide applied prior to this event will also have a much shorter longevity because it’ll be removed during this growth flush.

As more than one person commented to me recently, fungicide longevity is probably around the 14-day mark currently with a cumulative Growth Potential of around 10 for that period.

Now it’ll be longer in Ireland, but not by much because the projected G.P for this week for say a Shannon location is 4.4 (compared to 5.3 for Market Harborough). Other values to throw into the mix would be 4.0 for Central Scotland, 5.8 for South Wales and 6.0 for Southern England.

So all in all we have a pretty tricky dynamic this week, high disease pressure for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in particular vs. high growth rates.

So how do we proceed with that type of outlook ?

Well in the past we maybe would have applied Iprodione to knock populations back and clean up the sward particularly in the knowledge that this disease pressure is short-term and will decline by the end of the week and drop away fully next week with the arrival of high pressure.

Trouble is we can’t do that because Iprodione is no longer available is it 🙁

So this is our first taste of life without that active and it’ll be an interesting lesson for all of us and one we should learn from. Now I can’t make a call for all of your locations, with all of your variables sitting here typing this blog but here’s my thinking for what it is worth….

Firstly, use this period of weather to observe how your surfaces react and record this data somewhere because it’ll be useful in the future. I can’t see the point of applying a systemic fungicide right now because the disease pressure is already upon us and more likely with the growth flush, remove some of the A.I by cutting pretty much instantly.  With the wind strength and rainfall for some areas as well it’s going to make getting anything on tricky by the by.

If I could get a spray on, it would just be a hardening one to try and keep the plant healthy through this period and hopefully decrease the activity of the pathogen. I would hope that with the enhanced growth rate any scarring of the sward would be avoided because you’ll grow it out before it becomes an issue.

Now that’s just my opinion and you know what they say about opinions ;P

This week I’ll be up at the S.T.R.I Research Event (details above) along with some other rabble (:P) to chat through our latest research into Microdochium control and it’ll certainly be very relevant looking at the current weather conditions. I’ll look forward to hopefully seeing some of you up there but if not I’d really like to understand how your surfaces come through this week with the challenges I have outlined above.

All the best for the coming week.

Mark Hunt