Category Archives: Mark Hunt’s Weatherblog

December 10th


Hi All,

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

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

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

General Weather Situation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weather Outlook

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

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

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

Agronomic Notes

November Summary

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

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – U.K Locations

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

GDD & Rainfall Comparison – Irish Locations

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

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

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

Disease Pressure – Microdochium nivale

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

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

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

Looking ahead…

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

Let’s hope it keeps that way.

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

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

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

Revocation of Propiconazole / Propiconazole-containing products….

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

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

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

All the best.

Mark Hunt

December 3rd – Mini Blog

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Weather Situation

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

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

Weather Outlook

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

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

Agronomic Notes

GDD November – A quick look…

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

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

Warmest air temperature =14.5°C 

Coldest air temperature = -4.8°C 

Rainfall 30.7mm (Yep we remain so dry)

Average Humidity 97.3% !

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

Overseeding / Drought-damaged area recovery

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

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

Disease Activity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why ?

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

Interesting eh ?

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

All the best…

Mark Hunt

26th November

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Weather Situation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weather Outlook

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

Agronomic Notes

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

Disease pressure

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

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

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

Unisys projection for Thursday 6th December

Looking ahead…

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

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

Recovery window

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark Hunt




November 19th

Hi All,

As the thermometer hovers around 7°C and the sound of platform announcements from Market Harborough train station waft through the window, it is clear that an easterly wind has arrived (that’s how I know without looking out of the window 🙂 )

We may be cool but we are not yet cold, that begins tomorrow with the arrival of much colder air from the west of Russia. I had to double-take when I saw the snow icon alongside Wednesday mornings weather, that’s the first time this autumn / winter and an indication just how different it is going to feel later in the week. Last week I was hoping for a cold high to stabilise the weather but the actual picture looks a bit more unsettled.

My Hedgehogs are putting on the fat big time as they will need to do and I expect the adults to hibernate this week. I’ve noticed it is nearly always the third week of November for the adults but the October-brood youngsters will often feed right through to New Year as they strive to put on enough body fat to last the worst of the winter after Christmas. Key will be whether they have weaned or not, because if they haven’t they will die. This process usually takes 6 weeks so I’m hoping we are ok for the three youngsters now visiting my garden. I made some small 13cm x 13cm holes in various fences around my property (ahem) last winter and it is these that they are using to visit. I’ve had a few questions / comments on Twitter and this blog regarding  feeding mealworms  to my spiky ensemble with some publications warning against this. I don’t totally agree as long as it isn’t all you feed because they are insectivores by nature. I supplement their diet with proper Hedgehog food (Ark) so they have a mix and key is to put plenty of water out because eating is thirsty work. When you consider how dry we are in Leicestershire and the lack of ponds / wildlife areas in most gardens, access to water must be tricky for them and other wildlife. We will talk about water later in the blog but now it’s onto the weather for this week and beyond. Dullsville springs to mind.

General Weather Situation

So Monday sees a mainly dull and dry day with that easterly wind in attendance. As usual when we have easterlies, Ireland and the west of the U.K will have the best chance of seeing the sun and maybe a degree or two better temperature. That said as I type this I notice the clouds are breaking and the sunshine is tentatively peeping through. So reasonably dry, cool and with plenty of cloud about is the story for the U.K and Ireland on Monday. Some of this cloud may be thick enough for some light rain across eastern areas. Towards the evening we may see some light showers of rain push into the east / south-east of the U.K. Temperature-wise I’d say 8-9°C will be our maximum with the best reserved for Ireland, Wales and The South West.

Overnight into Tuesday and we see more of those showers across eastern coasts extending into The North East and eastern Scotland, with the latter possibly wintry in nature. The main rain front seems to be across the south-east of England and this will build and extend further inland as we progress through the morning. Away from these showers across south-east and eastern coasts we look dry until around dusk when some rain moves inland into The Midlands and also the Leinster coastline. With a colder air stream on Tuesday, the showers will become wintry in nature over higher ground during Tuesday night / Wednesday morning especially over The Black Mountains and The Pennines. Colder on Tuesday, a couple of degrees down on Monday, with a strong easterly wind in situ providing significant windchill.

Overnight into Wednesday the front of rain and wintry showers has pushed inland across The Midlands and particularly northern England which looks to start wet for midweek. Scotland and the east of Ireland looks similar with a risk of rain along the south coast of England as well, so a very unsettled picture for the start of Wednesday. The bulk of the rain / wintry showers mix will be along the eastern side of the U.K and Ireland extending inland into Central Scotland, northern England, The Midlands and South Wales I reckon. By association, the west will be drier initially. As we progress through the morning the rain / wintry shower mix will move northwards clearing most of the south-east / eastern corner of the U.K and by lunchtime, The Midlands. Scotland will get the flip side to this coin as the rain will intensify, falling as wintry showers across The Highlands. Ireland will see a mainly dry day away from the showers across the east coast of Leinster, but these will push west and north through the morning and afternoon so some western areas may catch a late shower towards dusk. The wind will swing round to the south-east through the course of Wednesday but it won’t do anything for the temperatures as they sit firmly rooted in mid-single figures across all of the U.K and Ireland.

Onto Thursday and a much brighter picture than earlier in the week with a cold but sunny start for many across the U.K and Ireland. There will be some exceptions to this with rain across the south-east of Munster / Leinster and eastern / Central Scotland. As we progress through to Thursday afternoon, the rain across Ireland sinks south and east into Kerry and we see a clear east – west divide across the U.K with the east sitting under a thick pall of cloud extending up from The Wash right to the north-east tip of Scotland. Away from this layer of cloud, it’ll be bright but cold despite the south-easterly / easterly wind abating a tad. As we approach dusk we will stay in that pattern with thick cloud across The North East and Scotland and clear skies across the south. That rain over the south-west of Ireland will persist and may intensify as we go into Friday. Similar temperatures to Wednesday, i.e mid-single figures with the windchill making it feel closer to freezing.

Friday sees us start pretty much as we left off with rain across the south / south west of Ireland and across central and north-east Scotland. That layer of thick cloud remains along the north-eastern coastline of the U.K for the entire day. That rain across Scotland is set to become isolated to a band stretching westwards from Fife but is likely to stay into the evening as will that Irish rain front across the south / south west. Away from the thick cloud we will see a dry day with some periods of winter sunshine particularly across the south and south-east of England. That easterly wind picks up again on Friday and this explains the dull outlook for eastern counties as we end the week. Mid-single figures again I am afraid.

Bearing in mind the weather pattern for the preceding week it probably comes as no great shakes that the weekend looks, cool, dull and reasonably dry. I say reasonably because there’s a risk of some rain lingering across the south coast of Ireland and this may extend into The South West. This rain may push along the south coast into the south east of England through the course of Saturday as a Bay of Biscay low pressure makes its presence felt. At this stage it isn’t projected to extend further northwards but this could change. Overnight this will clear north and east into The North Sea to leave a cool, dry and dull day for just about everywhere on Sunday with a strengthening north-westerly wind keeping temperatures pinned down in yes you guessed it, mid-single figures. (yawn)

Weather Outlook

The above GIF taken from the Unisys projected outlook for Wednesday next week shows what I term a ‘sandwich’ scenario. As you can see we have an Atlantic low to our left, a high pressure in-between and a cold low to its right. So we are sandwiched between two competing weather systems and when this happens we tend to pick up either a southerly or northerly air stream, depending on the location of the high and low weather systems. So next week starts off unsettled in the south, with another Bay of Biscay low pushing along the south coast for Monday / Tuesday. Away from this we should be pretty calm and dry for Monday and Tuesday. As we approach mid-week, the winds strengthen and turn round to the south west for Ireland and the west of the U.K, but stay south-easterly for the eastern side of the U.K. All in all it is likely to be pretty chilly in my books.  Later in the week that southerly air stream looks to push more eastwards affecting all the country. There’s a risk of some rain for the west coast of Ireland later next week but at present the high pressure looks like keeping us reasonably dry till the end of the week.

It won’t last though because one pressure system will dominate in the end and my money is on the Atlantic low pressure pushing in at the end of next week / weekend to bring windy and wet conditions to all areas but at least it will feel a little milder.

Agronomic Notes

Disease Pressure

Last Monday I posted that we had a projected disease peak due  from mid-week onwards with significant humidity associated with mild overnight temperatures for the latter part of the week in particular.

As you can see from the image above taken from my own Netatmo weather station, the grass temperature fell below the dewpoint temperature so we saw some pretty heavy dews as a consequence. (this is early Friday morning)

As we all know by now, having a wet leaf and mild temperatures in the autumn is a perfect recipe for Microdochium nivale, so I felt quite happy in a way to see that the projected peak in disease pressure actually occurred when we expected.

‘Quite happy’ probably isn’t the description that you may have used when seeing activity on your surfaces but take it in the context it is meant please 🙂

Now my feedback is that most clubs saw re-activity around existing scars rather than lots of new infection sites across a surface. As usual I’d like to know if that’s what you experienced please ?

Looking ahead…

Now to the good news…

As inferred in my blog last week I expected disease pressure to drop away significantly as the easterly winds and cooler air made its presence felt over the weekend and as you can see from the projected disease pressure graph below, the outlook for this week is for zero disease pressure.

So if you got over the various Microdochium nivale pressure peaks since early October, give yourself a tick in the box of an effective IPM program. Quite honestly I think we are learning the lessons of previous autumns and keeping applications tighter through strong growth / high disease pressure periods of early autumn. We also seem to be addressing the issue of surplus surface organic matter as well, now that it is accepted to be a major contributory factor and we have no Iprodione safety net.

Growth Outlook

Although our weather is constantly changing we always get to a point sometime in November when the soil temperature drops away significantly and rarely does it increase again for long before the following spring.

This week is I think such a point, sometimes it is early November, sometimes mid-November and this year we are just into the third week but I expect the soil temperature to drop to 5-6°C by the end of the week.

The above Meteoturf module illustrates this point clearly with an outlook for pretty much zero growth over the coming week. Not great news for everyone that is still hoping for some more recovery on their drought-affected areas from this summer but looking further ahead I think that we may see a milder air stream from late November along with some moisture and that will provide some continuing recovery potential. We still have a long way to go on the moisture front though…

Talking of moisture…

During the summer you may remember I ran a graph from our Oxfordshire location looking at the soil moisture status from June 1st. The graph tracked moisture lost by evapotranspiration vs. moisture from rainfall and then plotted the moisture deficit / surplus assuming we started at the 1st of June at zero.

A number of people have commented to me how dry the soil is on their outfield (golf or winter sport) once you get through the surface organic matter layer. Well of course getting through the organic matter layer in the surface is the first challenge for water because that layer is naturally hydrophobic (water repellent) and so naturally resists water ingression.

The next is having sufficient water to wet up the soil below and that is wholly dependent on rainfall patterns. Bearing in mind we have had some rain during October I was curious to see how much difference it had made to the above dynamic.

If you look to the far right of the graph you can see we are heading back towards a positive moisture status but it is going to be a slow process.

At the end of September we were at -311.8mm so that means 311.8mm of rain is needed to bring us back to zero status. At the end of October the figure is -294.6mm which means the difference between moisture lost by evapotranspiration and moisture from rainfall during October was +17.2mm. So that is why our soils remain dry despite the fact that we are supposedly in a wetter part of the year. If we don’t get a wetter-than-normal winter, it is very likely that in some areas of the country we will have water restrictions in 2019.

OK, that’s it for this week, wrap up well from that chilly wind.

All the best.

Mark Hunt

November 12th

Hi All,

You get some beautiful skies this time of year don’t you ?

I snapped this shot looking across the Welland Valley in Leicestershire, absolutely cracking. A perfect tonic to unscramble my head, keep the dark dog at bay and set me up for the week ahead.

Well the mild spell continues into November and now we are approaching mid-month and only 5 weeks to the shortest day but save for some late October frosts we are untouched by winters cold grasp.

According to my weather station, we are at 18mm of rainfall for the month to date and out walking yesterday on a beautiful afternoon it was noticeable how many ditches and ponds were still dry. Now I know the west of Ireland, the U.K and Scotland have had their fair share of rainfall and The South East of late, but I fear for next year already in terms of water restrictions.

Last week I quoted lyrics from a track by The Smiths in this blog and this week it’s the title of a track by another of my ’80’s favs’ – The Housemartins that comes to mind, ‘I Smell Winter’. The song always rattles around my head when I see Unisys flagging up what I consider to be the start of winter and sitting here today a cold blast is firmly on the weather radar.

General Weather Situation

As we start the week we still have low pressure influencing our weather so that means a sunshine and showers type of Monday is on the cards for some. It’s always tricky to suggest where the showers will occur on a blog like this but looking at the V7 radar on Netweather already shows bands moving along the east and west coast of Ireland, along the A3 across the south-east of England, stretching right up into East Anglia and then a heavier rain band heading towards The Lakes. There’s also currently some heavy rain across The Borders and this will move north and east into central and north-eastern Scotland through the course of the day. Some areas may miss the showers completely but your best bet is to boot up the radar, have a look where the rain is, where it’s tracking and tackle up from there. Pleasant enough temperatures in the sunshine despite a moderate to strong south-westerly wind with 12-13°C across Wales and England, and a degree or two lower for Ireland, Scotland and The Lakes where you see more cloud cover and rain.

Overnight into Tuesday we see more showers moving across Ireland and the west coast of the U.K, some of them tracking inland across northern England. By dawn the main showers and thicker cloud base will be across northern England and Scotland but most areas will start cloudy apart from the south of England. Ireland and Wales looks similar, dry but cloudy. Through the morning those showers will dissipate and we will have a pleasant November day with moderate to strong south-westerly / westerly winds in situ. As we approach late afternoon we see that low pressure push in another heavy rain front into south-west / west Ireland and this will give a very wet Tuesday evening, particularly for the west and south-west of Ireland with some heavy rain around. Similar temperatures to Monday depending on sunshine and cloud cover you’ll either see the nice side of 13°C or the dull, wetter side of 10°C.

Into Wednesday and that heavy rain will cover Ireland and have moved into the north and west of the U.K. At present I’d say if you drew a line from The beautiful Gower diagonally up to The dull Humber, then north of that it looks like being a wet start to Wednesday, south of that it looks drier in the main. Through Wednesday morning some of that rain may push more westwards into South and Mid-Wales but south and east of this you’ll have a bright and sunny day. North of this will see plenty of rain, particularly on north-western coasts but for Central Scotland I can see that rain hanging around all day. For Ireland the heaviest rain will move through quickly in the morning but it’ll leave a showery outlook along eastern and western coasts with a drier, dull interlude across the middle of the country. Similar winds and temperatures across Ireland and the U.K dependent on cloud cover. A mild night for most areas.

Into Thursday and still we have that low pressure refusing to give up its grip on the weather. So we start pretty dry really, just a few showers across western coasts but during the morning we will see another rain band push into western Ireland. East and north of this we look dry across the U.K, if a little dull with a thick cloud base covering Wales, England and most of Scotland, save the far north and north-east where you’ll see some sunshine. So a showery and dull day for Ireland but brightening up in the afternoon from the south west. Some of those showers will push into north-west Scotland later on Thursday afternoon. The wind will swing round to the south on Thursday and that’ll usher in warmer and more humid air (more on that later) so a warmer day is on the cards with temperatures in the mid-teens down across the south of England. That temperature rise will be felt up in Scotland as well where you’ll see temperatures in the low double figures and across Ireland despite the more showery outlook. We close out Thursday with a dry theme except for the north-west of Scotland where that rain will persist.

A mild night follows and we end the week on Friday with another really pleasant day which is good because I’m off. It will be on the dull side though with plenty of cloud about but as we approach the afternoon we will see some gaps in that cloud and some nice November sunshine. Those southerly winds are still with us so that means a continuation of the mild theme with mid teen temperatures likely across England, Wales and Ireland and a couple of degrees lower for Scotland.

So what of the weekend, do we continue mild or will winter have us reaching for our buffs and thermals ?

Well Saturday looks like continuing the mild theme but we will see a shift in wind direction from mild southerlies to slightly cooler south easterlies and that’ll knock the temperature down a subtle degree or two.  Dry everywhere though. Moving into Sunday and those winds continue their shift to easterlies so straight away you’ll feel that it’s cooler than Saturday especially across eastern parts. A similar picture to Saturday with morning cloud giving way to sunnier weather from the afternoon and a dry picture for all of the U.K and Ireland, but with cooler temperatures down into high single figures / low double figures.

Weather Outlook

A pretty easy outlook to forecast for next week sitting here behind my desk with a south-easterly air stream starting off the week and then gradually shifting to a cooler easterly by Tuesday. The isobars are pretty tight though so it’ll be windy, cold in that wind, but dry for the entire week with no sign of any moisture. I reckon 7-8°C will be your lot temperature-wise, but they’ll be significant windchill, particularly on eastern coasts. When we get a run of easterlies it’s always difficult to say about cloud cover but in general we tend to push in Haar from The North Sea so that means eastern and central areas tend to be dull with western areas / Ireland seeing more of the sunshine.

Mystic Megging it…

Looking longer-term in wouldn’t surprise me if we see out November with this blocking high pressure in place and if that is the case then to my mind there would be an increasing chance of more colder air funneling in during the latter part of November (3rd week onwards) to bring night frosts and possibly even snow flurries.

Agronomic Notes

Worm Casts

Plenty around of late with the milder air and rainfall and I reckon that’s the way it’ll continue through this week however once we get to the weekend we should see activity reduce and drier conditions make those casts easier to manage from a dispersal perspective.  Not a lot we can do within the letter of the law / legislation but just flagging up that this negative should drop off as we move into next week and thereafter….

Disease pressure

With a warm, southerly, humid air stream at the end of this week I think we may see an increase in Microdochium activity.

Mild overnight temperatures and a high risk of heavy dew / guttation following this weekend’s rainfall will further increase the potential severity of Microdochium.

Running the stats through the disease prediction model I am working on faithfully with Paul in I.T, here is how it looks at present for the coming week at a U.K and Irish location.

Now the model is still in development and this week is a fine line between wind strength and dew development overnight (which will of course vary across your site depending on specific locations) but I think the highest pressure will occur from Wednesday night through to Saturday morning. Thereafter that shift in wind direction to cooler easterlies dove-tailed in with less humid, drier air will drop the disease pressure down to pretty much non-existent and that’s the way I think it’ll stay next week as well with the easterly pattern set in.  (and possibly for the rest of November)

Disease Pressure, Growth Potential and Surface Organic Matter

Looking at the growth prognosis for this week using GDD and Growth Potential we can see that in this location, (Market Harborough) we have a good growth week (for November remember) and so should see a continuation of recovery on areas affected by the summer drought.

This process will however come to an abrupt stop as we go through the weekend into next week for reasons I’ve already mentioned. You can see the GDD / G.P drop away to practically nothing in the Meteoturf graphic above next week.

Now I’ve talked a lot about disease activity of late and the two sides of the mild autumn weather coin but I got sent a great picture this morning (cheers Rob) that really highlights both sides of that coin in one image.

This picture shows some disease scars from the early / mid-October activity peak that we experienced this autumn. You can see that the scars are already well on their way to recovering and I’ve calculated that this recovery process has taken approximately 86 cumulative GDD or 8.3 cumulative Growth Potential since the main damage occurred to the sward.

So first off there’s the two sides to the mild autumn coin, disease scarring but also recovery.

No great shakes you may say but there’s another factor a play here and that’s surface organic matter. The image above is taken from a golf green with low surface organic matter in the top 0-20 / 0-25mm and that is instrumental in my view to fast recovery.

Higher surface organic matter means deeper scar formation and also the potential for a higher latent disease population in terms of spore numbers / mycelium. So on greens with high surface organic matter (let’s say > 7.0% in the top 0-25mm to give you a benchmark) you not only get deeper scarring when you get a disease outbreak but you may also have a higher potential for reoccurring disease through the following autumn / winter / spring.

I’ve used the image below before but I think it tells a good story.

It highlights the life cycle of a disease scar from initiation in late October 2016 through to the following spring and this image comes from a green with high surface organic matter content.

Now of course as we go into winter proper we will face a scenario with new activity around pre-existing scars and with no Iprodione curative to fall back on there will be little we can do in these instances to halt the progress of the disease. So that’s why not only should we be working to minimise the level of disease through the autumn (and yes I fully appreciate it is a tricky process) but by reducing the surface organic matter content at the same time (by good aeration / cultural practices) we get a win-win result.

Are monocultures natural ?

I’ll finish off this blog still on the disease theme but broadening it out to look at grass species.

The image above was taken awhile back from a golf course originally sown down with Creeping Bentgrass but now colonised to a lesser / greater extent with Poa annua as well. So the greens are a mixture of Bent / Poa and the effect of having a mixture of grass species is clear to see. The disease in the image above is only apparent in the Poa part of the sward, the bentgrass is unaffected and by having a mixture of species present the sward has better resilience to disease.

The term sustainability is banded around a lot in our profession but I prefer to use the term ‘resilience’. Resilience in the face of two of our biggest challenges, climate and legislation.

It’s quite simple, having a mixture of grass species in a sward provides greater resilience to abiotic and biotic stress factors whereas trying to maintain / create a monosward sets your path firmly against nature.

Monoswards do not occur naturally and so to preserve / create a monosward you need to make greater inputs, be that nutrient, pesticide, sand, wetting agent, maintenance / cultural practices.Every grass species has ‘baggage’ and we have to weigh up the pros and cons of this baggage before we make a decision on the type of sward we want to try and create / influence.It is a connected system because in order to try and introduce a grass species into your sward you must have surface organic matter under control. Seed / soil contact is key to overseeding success so that’s another box ticked alongside reduced surface organic matter and its benefits. Looking objectively, I think our objective should be diversity of grass species within a sward to mitigate the effects of increased disease pressure.

Ok I’ll hop off my soapbox for this week.

All the best for the coming week, enjoy the milder temperatures (for some) because in a week or two you’ll be looking back at them with envy 🙂

Mark Hunt