September Maintenance

General Maintenance

Heavy morning dews can mean your sward stays wet for longer periods, making it vulnerable to attack fro Fusarium. Brushing this regularly will help remove as much moisture from the plant, controlling the disease. Prevention is better than cure, so spray when possible.

Regular mowing of the square will need to be continued whilst preparing the pitches. After care of the wicket should also be maintained; as well as repairs and renovation, even with the season’s end just around the corner. 

Foot holes may require more intense work so make sure to pay attention to them; don’t neglect your outfield either though, as this is the largest area of maintenance which still needs to be carefully managed.

If you have completed your season, set the HOC between 4 and 5mm and give your square a final cut to remove as much vegetation as possible.

Irrigate the square copiously to allow moisture to get down into the soil profile to aid machinery, such as scarifiers, to do their work.

Grounds conditions will be able to sustain the weight of ground work without it causing too much damage so September is a good month to carry them out; particular drainage. It’s important to not under or over dress your pitches, 6-10 bags of loam are applied per wicket as a general rule of thumb.

Too many club pitches don’t perform well in terms of pace and bounce, so do not skimp on the amount of loam used, as wear and tear is magnified during use. Failing to remove enough thatch/debris during renovations and not applying enough loam results in slow and low pitches.

On the reverse, overdressing will not only waste precious loam material but you may smother your sward; this can lead to future problems such as thatch layering.

The aim of the renovation should be to restore surface levels and encourage new growth. Scarification will be important to remove unwanted build up, but also to produce a key for the new loam material to sit in.

By taking a core sample you can identify how much thatch layer you have generated and what level of scarification will be required.

Scarify in at least three different directions, finishing with the line of play, ensuring you clean off all the thatch debris after each pass. Follow this by sarrel rolling, in four directions to encourage as many seed holes as possible, before over seeding the square using a suitable grass seed mixture; do not be afraid to try out new cultivars. Use a quality seed; cheap seed is a false economy. 

Sowing rates now range between 35-50 gm per square metre. In essence, you are aiming to establish new grasses into your square. Some may wish to carry out deep aeration to de-compact their squares at this point by solid tining, if ground conditions warrant it.

It’s then about topdressing with loams to restore levels and integrate new materials into the soil, which will also build up the clay content in your square. Irrigate to wash in new loams and to help speed up germination. The use of germination sheets will encourage new growth by retaining moisture and keeping the soil warm.

The outfield doesn’t get much attention in the winter months so once you have completed your renovations on your square devote some time to your outfield. If there is no programme in place for the outfield then don’t expect it to performa as well as your square. When possible mow the outfield during the winter months, at 30-35mm every six weeks, which will help keep your levels and will prove beneficial next season.

On the square, however, you should look to maintain a cutting height between 12-30mm, and continue to brush off any early morning dew to keep the sward dry and disease free.

Soil compaction is often the main contributing factor to poor grass growth, making aeration a key operation to improve the condition of the soil following a season’s play; the lack of air in the soil profile inhibits many beneficial activities, such as retaining beneficial organisms, soil water movement and the washing in of fertilisers.

Solid tining, hollow coring and linear aerating are a number of methods now being used to de-compact the soil, re-introducing some porosity into the profile. These operations tend to be carried out on a frequency basis depending on the type and size of the tines being used.

De-compaction should be to a depth of around 200mm to promote deeper rooting where outfields are a concern. Some groundsmen prefer to carry out a programme of hollow coring, which again increases porosity but can also help redistribute/recycle soil around the outfield which, in turn, helps restore levels.

Resources such as money, time and machinery will dictate the frequency of aeration activities; you should aim to aerate throughout the autumn and winter period on a monthly basis, with soil conditions permitting.

Moist soils and surface moisture on the leaf blade can increase the chance of disease attack; which can be put down to the presence of early morning dew.

Many turf grass diseases can be active this time of year, most commonly fairy rings and red thread, so regular brushing in the mornings to remove the dew can reduce the likelihood of outbreaks.

Keep an eye on your square as worms can be active, treatments can be carried out if necessary; remember to ask yourself why they are present though. pH level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square may need to be assessed. Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.

Have your soil tested by an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results. Most ground managers will be looking to apply their autumn fertilisers in association with their end of season renovations.

Agronomy

As the end of the summer season approaches for fine turf and cricket surfaces, thoughts will be on renovations.

The key things here will be:

Aeration especially deeper forms of solid tine such as verti-draining. It also presents a good time of the year to undertake rotary decompaction with something like an Imants shockwave. Hollow tine aeration is also commonly undertake at this time of the year.

Over seeding into September is the best time of year, and take full advantage of nature, this time of year the grass plant would naturally be dropping it’s seed with plenty of of available warmth and moisture leading to good germination and successful establishment. Good soil contact and appropriate planting depth are also key to success with seeding although one should be careful to avoid rolling seed into the surface too aggressively, much better to allow natures rainfall to gently caress and firm the soil around the seed. Where machinery and equipment is available to the end user, disc seeding is a very reliable method of increasing germination  rates, as the precise planting depth can be more accurately controlled into the slots which then close up nicely behind to provide firm soil contact.

September provides a really good opportunity for weed control, due to plenty of available moisture and warmth leading to good growth. The choice here is Bayer’s Longbow, with its 4 active ingredients and application rate of 7.5 l/ha it will give excellent control of a large variety of turf weeds. Users need to  ensure it is applied a good three weeks before over-sowing, as newly germinated grass plants are sensitive to selective herbicides.

Agronomically all turf managers should be on the lookout for disease pressure, the key times for infection being when warmth and moisture coincide, so periods of warm humid nights and damp days are periods everyone should pay attention to. Reducing the period of continual leaf blade wetness to below ten hours through gentle brushing and switching are a key method of cultural control. Chemically, it is warm enough to use a fungicide with a systemic action such as Heritage, Heritage Maxx or Interface as a preventative in the lead up to any operations, especially if environmental factors are conducive to disease.

Nematodes are a proven control over many years but it is important to have an understanding and respecting the life cycles of the pest and control organism if you are to achieve the desired result. With this in mind, we have produced material to help educate both the professional and amateur alike. All the relevant information and advice can be found on the Nemasys product pages and this video sets out to explain the mind-set change you need to employ for success.

For anyone overseeding bent and fescue species, then equipping them with the mycorrhizal fungi they need to thrive from the outset is a no brainer of a decision in this instance Maxwell Turf Food Myco 2 4-6-12 +4MgO providing the answer.

Weeds, Pests and Diseases

Prevention is always better than a cure, so keep an eye out for turf disease. Symptoms of Fusarium (Microdochium nival), the most common and damaging disease, are orange/brown patches 2.5-5cm across, increasing in size under suitable conditions as the disease progresses. Active patches have a distinctive 'ginger' appearance when viewed early in the morning. Creamy white mycelium, resembling cotton wool, can be seen in the centre and towards the outer edge of the patch.

Grass in the active patches is often slimy; once the disease is controlled, the scars will remain until there is sufficient grass growth to fill in. Regular brushing, switching or drag matting in the mornings to remove the dew from the playing surfaces will reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak. Fusarium article.

Red Thread is ill-defined bleached grass with pink mycelium visible in early morning dew. Close inspection will reveal red needle like structures which are attached to the leaf blades. The needles become brittle upon death and are easily detached allowing fragments to spread the disease. Red Thread article.

Systemic curatives and protective fungicides such as Chlorothalonil and Iprodione, applied in liquid form with water as a carrier, can be used to control any outbreaks. Mixing two or more products in the same tank can help reduce the potential for disease resistance developing. Fungicides are selected with different modes of action so that resulting mixture will attack the target disease on two or more fronts. This makes it more difficult for the pathogens to develop resistance to treatments.

Worms can also be very active at this time of the year, so treatments can be carried out, if needed; the use of Carbendazim is the only active ingredient for controlling worms. All personnel should be suitably qualified in the application of chemicals. Moles can be active where worms are prevalent and need to be treated as they can cause a lot of damage to the surface.

Soil tempratures in September may still be favourable for one final application of selective herbicide to control any broad leaf weeds in your outfield.

Machinery and Materials

Mowers, scarifiers, aerators, spreaders and dragbrushes/mats should all be to hand and in tip top condition in preparation for your end of season renovations.

Tips:

•    Spend time maintaining your equipment and machinery, regular servicing and cleaning will help prolong the life and performance of your equipment.

•    Keep mowing blades sharp and well adjusted, check heights of cut are correct and uniform.

•    Also spend time keeping your shed clean and tidy, not always easy, but good housekeeping is essential to help make your job safe and easy.

•    Always clean mowers and equipment after use.

•    Plan and organise your end of season material requirements (loam, seed, and fertilisers).

 
 
Dennis Mowers