January Maintenance

Winter Maintenance


At this early time of the year, it is best to stay off the playing surface as much as you can. However, a little mowing when you can and aeration is all you really need to do.

Here's a guide of how best to look after your green this month:

  • Maintain a height cut of 10-12mm
  • Inspect and maintain machinery and irrigation equipment
  • Service your equipment and make sure any worn or damaged parts are replaced
  • Keep an eye out for disease and pests, and take action where required.
  • Aerate, but only when you can
  • Clean up any leaf debris
  • Drag brush every day
  • Spike when you can but only when conditions allow
  • Tip grass if you need to
  • Maintain your fences and hedges

Agronomy

Your green may be sodden, even saturated, and the grass roots need some air. When the green is dry enough, try to aerate. The holes will close up well, and you might be surprised what a difference this makes to the plant's recovery.

Temperatures are higher than usual at the moment, so you would be advised to use a slow release nitrogen feed to nourish the hungry sward. Harden the plan with an iron (ferrous sulphate) feed.

Weeds, pests and diseases

Earthworms can be problematic, which is why regular brushing and caning of the green is needed to keep the surface free of debris and worm casts. If conditions allow, brush every day. Keeping a dry surface can restrict the effects of earthworm activity.

Early morning dews combined with warm and wet weather plus diminishing daylight hours means the risk of fungal disease outbreaks is increased. Disease is more likely if plants are weakened or susceptible, particularly in weather that favours the growth of fruiting bodies and spores - moist, mild conditions.

Fusarium Patch, Red Thread and Dollar Spot are three typical diseases you might come across at this time of year.

Most diseases occuring now are due to the unusually warm autumn weather. Boundary layers around leaves have stayed moist and humid. Relative humidity is an important factor in spore germination and penetration of leaf tissue so constant went weather allows the development and transportation of active fungi spores.

Most fungi grow well between 10 degrees and minus 40 degrees centigrade and flourish in a pH range of between four and seven. With little cool weather around, but cold frosts appearing, conditions are good for active pathogens to attack.

The first thing to do is to identify the true nature of the problem. Diseases are only one cause of turf loss, so disease control measures won't alleviate damage from other causes such as management, wear or plant stress. It is vital that you determine whether the problem is indeed the disease, and then what disease it is.

The three disease factors are susceptible grass/host, pathogen, and environment. These give you the evidence required for correct disease diagnosis. Symptoms are the expression of the susceptible grass to the disease and can take on a number of diferent forms.

Machinery

Maintain your machinery by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.

As grass growth is now slowing, use this time to take some machines out of operation for a short time.

Keep them overhauled and clean, maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replacing worn or damaged parts as necessary.

Keep an eye on your material stocks like seed, top dressing, oil and make sure they are replenished as required.

Service your machinery and equipment. Change the oil or air filters, grease or oil moving parts and sharpen mower blades.

 
 
Dennis Mowers