October Maintenance

Key things to look out for in October will be night time temperatures, relative humidity and periods of leaf blade wetness, as this month can swing either way from dry spells to wetter days.

If you find night time temperatures are falling, growth rates of both grass and fungal pathogenic growth will start to drop off. This will also lead to heavier morning dews, prolong periods of leaf blade wetness and increased risk of attack from fungi.

Water stress can quickly creep in if you conditions tend to be at the drier end of the spectrum, especially on windy days when evapotranspiration rates are higher. This can be particularly risky for newly sown seed which may be in the initial stages of germination and establishment. 

Nutrition and Disease Management

Favouring products such as the methylene urea contained with the Lebanon range is both sensible and cost effective. Nitrogen applications will still be required and Ammonium sources should be applied with care so as not to force too much soft growth which is susceptible to disease.

However, readily available ammonium is useful in maximising establishment of sown areas ahead of the winter, but be sure to really keep on top of mowing and remove dews whenever possible so to avoid rapid spread of fungal diseases.

An application of a preventative systemic fungicide such as Bayer’s Interface® or Dedicate®  and Syngenta’s Instrata® will help to guard the plant against infection during times of high susceptibility.

Magnesium is the element at the centre of the chlorophyll molecule and applications of this secondary macro element as the days draw in will help the plant to maximise photosynthesis efficiency. Potassium is required in a higher proportion as we enter the autumn winter period.

Combining little and often applications of a soluble or liquid fertiliser with a straight liquid nutrient is a key tactic in marinating plant health, for anyone looking to be in fine control of nutrition. Different elements don’t always mix cleanly together, so it is worthwhile performing jug mixing tests and then alternating little and often applications either every two weeks or once per month depending on disease pressure arising from environmental factors. 

Phosphite is particularly useful at this time of the year when it comes to providing the plant with an easily accessible form of phosphorous which also helps to resist the spread of fungal diseases. Calcium and Chelated Iron are also vital nutrients when it comes to toughening up the plant and increasing cell wall thickness. 

Finally; a tonic of trace elements will help to sustain levels that may have reduced over the growing season and facilitate the plant with  abroad spectrum diet moving inot the winter period.

General Maintenance

  • The following activities are usually undertaken in October:
  • Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.
  • Monitor thatch levels and aerate to achieve desired levels of oxygen within the sward.
  • Tip the grass when necessary to prevent any excessive growth taking place
  • Apply further top-dressing if any holes or hollows require
  • Check for disease and pests, seek advice if necessary
  • Drag brush daily
  • Spike if conditions are right
  • End of Season Renovations

The success of the renovations will be down to the appropriate work undertaken including:

  • Scarification
  • Aeration
  • Topdressing
  • Overseeding
  • The objectives of end of season renovations are:

To remove thatch

To repair worn areas

To renovate surface levels

To remove unwanted debris

To re-establish sward densities (overseeding)

Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment

The following activities are usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow.

  • Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation: lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare green for renovation operations.
  • Scarification, removal of unwanted debris: collect and disposal of arisings. Depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions and to a depth of 4-15mm.
  • Aeration will usually be done with solid tines however, occasionally hollow tines will be used if a change of soil texture is required.
  • Topdressing. Spreading can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride-on, disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Best carried out in dry weather.
  • Overseeding. It is important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed; good seed to soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.
  • Fertilising. More phosphate and potash is applied during the autumn and winter period to encourage root growth.
  • Watering/Irrigation is essential after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.
  • Brushing/switching of the playing surface keeps the green clean and removes any dew or surface water. Keeping the surface dry will aid resistance to disease.

Agronomy

Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf.

There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main three tests to consider are:

Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and its particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.

Soil pH. It is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants, and a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.

N:P:K: Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant.

Weeds, Pests & Diseases

Weeds

As long as soil temperatures are warm then turf weeds will still be actively growing. As a result, the early part of the month represents the last opportunity to control weeds going into the winter; something which will not only improve presentation now but give facilities a head start with this issue next spring.

Pests

The increase in soil moisture will mean worms become more of a problem. Long term forms of discouragement include lowering of soil pH if it is on the high side or sand top dressings which serve to discourage the worms in the soil as well as help the castings to dry out faster and disperse more easily.

The only legally approved and properly researched control of worms is Carbendazim. Using a pH buffer can improve results if your water is compromising the efficiency of this active ingredient.

Diseases

Particularly fusarium, are often prevalent during the autumn, mainly due to the heavy dews that are present at this time of the year. Moisture on the leaf will allow diseases to move and spread easily.

The typical types of diseases you may come across are:

Fusarium Patch

Red Thread

Fairy Rings

Anthracnose

Please note: More information on these and many others can be found here: https://www.pitchcare.com/useful/diseases.php

Machinery 

It is important to maintain machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.

As grass growth slows down, use the time to take some machines out of operation for an overhaul.

Inspect and clean machinery after use.

Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replace worn and damaged parts as necessary.

Secure machinery nightly with good storage facilities and strong locks

Record makes and models and take pictures of your equipment as additional reference

 
 
Dennis Mowers