August Maintenance

General Maintenance

  • Keep brushing this month so that air continues to circulate around the base of the plant. Brushing also removes early morning dew and controls disease.
  • Mow regularly at your preferred height which will ensure a good sward density
  • Clean out lateral growth by verticutting, which will also help get air circulating
  • Spike when conditions allow, alternating between surface and deep spiking and slit occasionally
  • When marking out new pitches, remember to "measure twice, mark once" and make sure you have enough linemarking material for the season
  • Apply a summer NPK fertiliser such as a 12:0:9 or 9:7:7 which will maintain the grass' vigour and colour. You could also apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through the rest of this month
  • However, do not apply fertiliser during periods of drought, unless you have the resources available to water in
  • Fertilisers with high salt content are to be avoided because these draw moisture from the plant. If you use liquid fertilisers they are less likely to scorch the grass but you may still need to water them in
  • One alternative is the application of seaweed or amino bio stimulants which can help grass during stressful periods. One more thing you could try is calcium. This is an important ingredient which gives the plant rigidity while also regulating root and shoot growth.
  • If it is not possible to irrigate the whole pitch then you need to try and make sure the goalmouth/in-goal areas and centre circles/centre field are adequately watered.
  • Pre-match, make sure to inspect pitch surface, marked lines and posts.

Agronomy

August is an excellent time to apply organic fertiliser and with a two-month longevity, applying now will take you through until October, when it will be time for an autumn feed. Maxwell Turf Food Myco2 4-6-12+4%MgO gives a nice burst of phosphorous, potassium and magnesium helping plant resilience and colour. This also has little nitrogen so won't encourage soft lush growth. The combination of mycorrhizal fungi and phosphorous content makes this an excellent fertiliser when sowing seed.

For winter pitches, Lebanon Proscape 25-0-12 with 100 per cent slow release nitrogen and 100 per cent slow release potassium is highly recommended and it will work well for both sandy and loamy rootzones. With a three month controlled release action will spoon feed nutrition early in the month and won't stimulate excessive growth. The upshot is that the surface will go through August in prime condition ready for an application of Lebanon Proscape 12-6-24+4%MgO to take you into next year. Keep the plant happy as the months get warmer and wetter this winter is a key strategy to reduce wear and tear so you help get the surface into spring in good condition.

There is now little risk of severe drought and we tend to see plenty of rainfall in August. Moisture added to warmth and humidity will place stress on the plant from different directions. Now it is key to aerate so the soil/oxygen ratio remains balanced. Use 8mm or 12mm standard tines to a depth of 200-300mm with a vertical aerator to allow the soil to breathe. Combine this with a weekly pass from a Sarel or Star Tine aerator to provide a large volume of aeration into the sward and thatch layer.

You can keep using polymer and penetrant wetting agents to assist soil water percolation and retention by moving rainfall away from the surface and holding it further down in the profile so it can be readily available when the weather gets hotter and more sunny.

During July, disease pressure has been unusually high and this can be expected to continue in August. Both microdochium patch and anthracnose are likely to be problematic. Consider Heritage Maxx fungicide as a preventative and early curative due to its systematic action. This makes it a good choice during the growing season and as a preventative before turf renovations are carried out. If it is humid, red thread will also thrive so brush and switch as this is your first line of defence in aiming to minimise disease activity by keeping the leaf blade as dry as possible.

Seaweed can work wonders for boosting soil flora and it will prime the plant so it resists environmental stress while also extending the longevity of fertilisers. Keep in mind that is also fantastic food and stimulation for fungi so if applying it, make sure you get your timing right. Use it when it will boost good fungi and not pathogenic ones. Keep an eye on weather trends and don't apply when fungal disease is active, rather apply a week after you have applied fungicide and add some Chelated Iron to strengthen plant cell walls.

Weeds, pests and disease

A lot of outfield turf has been hit by red thread and after the heavy disease activity this summer, expect it to continue this month and in the coming months too. Now is the time to act and take preventative measures by applying a systematic fungicide like Heritage Maxx which will be an effective method of control. Apply before symptoms are visible but while the threat is imminent.

Red thread is ill-defined bleached grass where pink mycelium will be visible in early morning dew. Red needle-like structures will be visible on closer inspection which are attached to the leaf blades. These become brittle upon death and are easily detached, thereby allowing fragments to spread the disease.

Chlorathalonil and Iprodione are systematic curatives and protective fungicides which can be used to control outbreaks, when applied in liquid form with water as the carrier. It is advisable to mix two more products in the same tank as this will reduce potential for disease resistance to develop. Selecting fungicides with different modes of action attacks the disease on two or more fronts, making it difficult for pathogens to develop resistance to treatments.

Fusarium (Michrodochium navel) is the most common and most dangerous disease. Symptoms are orange/brown patches with a diameter of between 2.5 and 5cm which increase in size when conditions allow the disease to develop. Active patches take on a distinctive ginger appearance when they are seen in the morning. In addition, creamy white mycelium which resembles cotton wool is visible towards the outer edge of the patch.

In the active patches, grass is often slimy and even once the disease is under control the scars will not disappear until there is sufficien grass growth to fill them in. Brushing and switching - or drag matting - regularly in the mornings to remove dew from playing surfaces will reduce the likelihod of the disease breaking out.

Worms can be very active this month so carry out treatments if required. Carbendazim is the only active ingredient for controlling them. Make sure that all personnel are suitably qualified before applying chemicals and if worms are active, then moles may be too. They can cause a large amount of damage to the surface.

Other tasks

  • Ensure all posts and crossbars meet health and safety standards and make sure they are fit for use as the season begins
  • Thoroughly clean out your linemarking kit
  • Check areas such as fences and dugouts
 
 
Dennis Mowers