February Maintenance

General Maintenance

We've had a lot of rain this winter, so if your pitch is waterlogged, stay off it as you will likely do more harm than good. You must judge whethr your pitch is playable, and if it is fit for play, make sure heavy wear areas are well spiked - best to use a hand fork rather than machinery for this.

Mild temperatures and wet weather will create perfect conditions for fungal disease so use approved fungicides to treat any infected areas.

Leaf spot can be damaging, and especially in stadium environments so keep the leaf blade as dry as you can through regular brushing and apply an approved fungicide to stop further outbreaks.

During cool, wet weather, red thread can develop without warning, on most turfgrasses although ryegrasses, meadow grasses and fescue are the most commonly affected.

The disease is often referred to as an indicator of low fertility and if nitrogen or potassium is limited, it can develop severely - but a dose of fertiliser can control it.

Before applying any plant protection product, always make sure the disease is correctly identified.

Maintain a cut of between 24 and 30mm at this time.

For rugby, continue to divot following matches.

If you - or your pitch - should be unlucky enough to be snowed on, training will likely be held either indoors or on the main pitch. In the case of the latter, make sure that drills - particularly goalkeeping drills and small-sided games - are rotated around the pitch to avoid excessive wear.

  • Keep cutting to encourage good density of sward, but don't overcut and thin out the sward
  • Make sure any cutting equipment is keenly set to cut
  • Brush regularly to keep air circulation around the base of the plant
  • Deep spike for alleviation of compaction - when you can
  • Be flexible with your spiking regime, alternate between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting
  • Hand fork the goalmouth, in-goal  and centre circle areas if you can't get onto the pitch with machinery
  • Overhaul and service machinery if you have any downtime

Try to keep the top 100mm free draining which you can achieve by regular spiking with solid or slit tines to a depth of 150mm or more.

Marking out: Keep your linemarker clean, keep string lines taut and ensure that right angles are correctly formed, using the 3:4:5 triangle method. The bigger the triangle to begin with, the more accurate the pitch will be.

Agronomy

If your renovation late last year was successful, the mild temperatures will be in your favour, and the grass will have grown well. The annual meadow-grass will be growing at a slower pace and there is a large difference between how perennial species such as Bent and Fescue grow compared to this.

Thanks to the moist surface and low light levels, levels of moss are high and with little opportunity to get onto the pitch with machinery, your options are limited. Aerating before the ground is ready would see you smearing the sides of the hole and lateral compaction means water cannot get away from the hole.

Toadrush can be a problem as well as increased thatch levels and black layer due to prevailing anaerobic conditions.

Aerate as much as you can as soon as conditions are suitable BUT NOT BEFORE. In the meantime, be wary of Microdochium Patch and treat as soon as you see any symptoms. When conditions get better, add some good quality fertiliser to help turf recover.

Then, use biostimulants like SeaAction liquid Seaweed and BioMass Sugar to help soil food web recover.

Weeds, Pests & Diseases

As mentioned above, fungal disease thrives in mild temperature and wet weather so use approved fungicides to treat any areas that are infected.

Leaf spot can damage the pitch, so keep the leaf blade dry by brushing regularly and apply an approved fungicide to prevent regular outbreaks.

Red thread may appear at any time during cool, wet weather. All turfgrasses are susceptible, but particularly ryegrasses, meadow grasses and fescues.

The appearance of red thread can indicate low fertility and symptoms will develop more severely if nitrogen or potassium is lacking. A dose of fertiliser can deal with it sufficiently.

Always correctly identify a disease before applying any treatment.

Machinery

Keep your machinery in prime condition, grease all grease nipples, oil all metallic moving parts, check oil and water and clean when you have finished.

 
 
Dennis Mowers