July Maintenance

Key maintenance tasks

Keep cutting on a regular basis as this ensures a good sward density. On newly established grass, consider lightly rolling the surface before cutting to prevent the mower's action pulling out the grass. Make sure that your mower is keenly set to cut without tearing. Let the clippings fly as this will help nutrient levels and keep water in the surface.

As it is now dry and sunny, the soil can dry out so check your irrigations systems and ensure they are working properly as once soils beome hydrophobic and dry patch sets in, it can be hard to get water back into the surface.

Wetting agents are an option to guarantee uniform wetting if your soil is prone to dry patch.

Keep brushing to make sure air circulates around the base of the plant - this is vital to remove early morning dew and controlling disease.

When conditions allow, continue to spike but be flexible with your regime.

A summer NPK fertiliser should be applied, perhaps a 12:0:9 or 9:7:7 which should maintain the colour and vigour of the grass. Liquid fertilisers and biostimulants are now more and more popular because they can be mixed and taken in by the plant readily. You could also apply a slow-release fertiliser which will see you through July and August. What you choose to use and how well they work will depend on factors such as soil type and the weather - air temperature and moisture are the catalysts for growth.

If there is a drought, don't apply fertiliser unless you are able to water in. Also avoid fertiliser with a high salt content because this can worsen stress factors in the grass as it takes moisture from the plant. Liquid fertilisers are unlikely to scorch the grass but they could need watering in.

One alternative is to apply seaweed or amino biostimulants which can help the grass through stressful periods. You could also use calcium which can help supply rigidity to the plant and regulate root and shoot growth.

Weeds, pests and disease

Turf diseases like Michrodochium nivale (fusarium), Fairy Rings and Red Thread are making an appearance at the moment and can be expected to stay for a while.

Therefore act now to prevent the onset by applying a systematic fungicide such as Heritage Maxx. Apply before the symptoms become visible but the threat is imminent - this is the key to success.

Symptoms of Fusarium (Michrodochium nival), the most common and damaging disease, are orange/brown patches which are 2.5-5cm in diameter which get bigger as the disease progresses. Active patches are distinguished by a 'ginger' appearance in the morning while creamy white mycelium that looks like cotton wool will be viewed in centre and towards the outside of the patch.

In the active patches, grass can be slimy and once the disease is under control, scars will remain until there is sufficient grass growth to fill it in. Brush regularly, switch or drag mat each morning to remove dew as this will reduce the chances of an outbreak.

Red Thread is ill-defined bleached grass with Pink mycelium on show in the morning. Look closely and you will determine red needle like structures attached to the leaf blades. These become brittle when they die and break off to allow fragments to spread the disease.

Systematic curatives and protective fungicides like Chlorothalonil and Iprodione, applied in liquid form with water as the carrier, are used to control any outbreaks. Mix two or more products together to prevent disease resistance developing as fungicides with different modes of action work together to attack the disease on two or more fronts, making it difficult for pathogens to develop resistance.

Worms may be active at this time of year so make sure to carry out treatment if required. Carbendazim is the only active ingredient for worm control and make sure that all personnel are suitably qualified to apply chemicals. If worms are active, moles could also be around and causing damage.

Other tasks

Make sure your posts meet health and safety standards. With little play, now is the best time to give them a thorough check over, whether you have stored them away or not. Report any defects to your management or committee and get things fixed before the start of the new season.

Clean out your linemarking kit. If the rain comes, then this is a good time to this mundane but important task that can make a huge difference.

Also check other areas like fences and dugouts and if you haven't done so already, get your machinery serviced.

Dennis Mowers