June Bowls Diary 2012

Laurence Gale MScin Bowls

How quickly the weather can change! Just last month we were told of hose pipe bans after the wettest April on record for some parts of the country; we now have soaring temperatures and a mini heat wave.

Heat stress on grass can be very damaging, resulting in the plant wilting and becoming prone to disease. High day time and night time temperatures will result in high levels of evapotranpiration rates, with the loss of water from both the plant and the soil matrix.

During the growing season, transpiration accounts for most of the evapotranspiration (ET) losses from established turfgrass swards. Between 5-7 mm of water can be lost on any single day, so it is important to replace these losses by regular watering. Watering at night will be the best method to prevent further water losses. If temperatures get too hot during the day, some hand watering (syringing) will help cool the sward surfaces and aid plant recovery.

Also, you can raise the height of cut by 2mm to help the plant recover, or simply reduce the amount of cutting you are doing. Why cut the sward when the plant is not growing?

Als,o any feeds applied will only work if there enough moisture in the soil to enable the plant to function and take up the applied nutrients.

For clubs with no irrigation systems, it is always going to be a problem to keep the green adequately watered. Even with some sprinkler systems, quite often the water pressure is insufficient to power the sprinklers properly.

Greens, however, soon recover once adequate watering takes place. The recent heavy downpours will have certainly helped to restore some colour and vigour to the greens.

Early in the Month 1st - 15th June

All pre-season fertiliser applications will have 'kicked-in' with key playing surfaces becoming smoother and more consistent following spring topdressing work.

For the next eight weeks or so, UK growth reaches a peak, therefore the emphasis will be on mowing frequency, as long as there is sufficient moisture within the soil.

With daily mowing at around the summer norm of 4-5mm, there will be a need to supply the turf with a 'little and often' foliar feed, consisting of mainly Nitrogen, with other nutrients and ingredients, such as Potassium, added to the mix as required in order to meet the turf's needs.

Later in the Month 16th June - onwards

Seeding sparse or bare areas can be continued. Any rise in soil or air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process, but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases.

Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless. Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Key Tasks for June
Mowing and Aeration
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Greens should be mown at least three times a week, with some grooming/verticutting or brushing being undertaken on a weekly/twice weekly cycle to improve air movement and reduce thatch levels building up in the sward profile.

Regular brushing and sweeping are important tasks to keep the surface clean, open and dry. A dry surface will aid resistance to disease. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

The sward will be actively growing due to the increased soil temperatures, coupled with the stimulation of fertiliser applications. Regular mowing will be required to maintain sward height at around 4-5mm. Verticutting/grooming fortnightly can be carried out to help speed up the green and to help improve the health of your turf.

With the development of mowing technology, most fine turf mowers have cassette fitting attachments that offer additional maintenance operations, such as grooming and verticutting. These are both operations that effectively remove thatch and side shoot growth, enabling the promotion of an upright plant and denser turf growth.

Some clubs now use turf irons (rollers) to prepare surfaces for play; these are specially designed ride-on turf rollers that apply even pressure over the surface. However, rolling can have a detrimental affect on your turf if done at the wrong time or too often.

There will be a need to increase the frequency of aeration techniques to counter balance the practice of rolling. Aeration should be undertaken using a mix of micro, needle or star tines which give maximum effect and almost zero turf disturbance. Regular use of a sarrel roller will be beneficial, and the use of micro tines to aerate the green will help reduce soil compaction, 'vent' the root-zone and to allow water to move quickly from the surface and into the rootzone, thus encouraging the turf to root deeper.

Also, by increasing the air spaces in the soil profile allows the opportunity to ensure any applied fertilisers, wetting agents and tonics take affect more quickly.

Useful Information for Mowing and Aeration

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It will be important to check your watering systems, ensuring they work effectively and are watering the green uniformly. Many clubs lack efficient water resources i.e. automated pop up watering systems and, even if they have one, clubs often do not use it properly. Too many greens are either under or over watered, giving rise to further problems, such as dry patch, excessive thatch, shallow root growth, slow pace, inconsistent bowl roll, to name a few.

Watering is all about understanding the grass plant's needs and knowing your soil profile; sandy soils are more free draining than loamy/clay soils. Often, problems can be as a result of low water pressure or an incorrect sprinkler. Watering is all about uniformity. Ideally, you should soak your green (flood it up) and allow it to dry out over a few days. This will ensure you have watered to depth, however, this may not always possible, especially during a busy period of fixtures.

Also, during the day, water pressures may be low due to local consumption; it may be an advantage to water at night, this will also reduce water loss by evaporation. You should also test your water quality and find out its pH level, especially if you are using recycled water. Poor water quality will have a detrimental affect on your sward.

Useful Information for Irrigation

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Feeding regimes

Most Greenkeepers will be applying a summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 12:0:9, reducing the N and P inputs, trying to maintain a stable balanced growth during June. You could also look to use a slow release fertiliser that will see you through July and August. The choice of material and how well it works will be dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

It is essential to ensure there is enough soil moisture present to activate the fertiliser product used. Liquid feeds are more efficient in getting into the plant, especially when used as a foliar feed.

Applying a balanced fertiliser regime will help prevent the plant becoming stressed, especially during drought conditions. The aim is to keep the roots growing. The well-being of the grass plant is influenced by the state and condition of the roots. Most of the plant's nutrient requirements are taken in by the rooting structure.

In recent years we have seen a rise in the amount of turf tonics , compost teas and bio stimulants available on the market; these products need to be used in conjunction with a balanced N P K feeding programme.

Useful Information for Feeding regimes

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Seeding sparse or bare areas can be continued. The higher soil and air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process, but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

It is important that you use a compatible rootzone material for any repairs. These may come in different formulations, generally a 70/30 sand soil mix is the one used by most greenstaff, who usually mix their grass seed into this rootzone medium prior to spreading and integrating into the worn areas. Ensure you use new seed, as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Useful Information for Overseeding

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Topdressing is usually carried out in spring and autumn in conjunction with the renovation programmes. However, some bowling clubs have a policy of applying topdressing materials during the season. It is important that an appropriate material is sourced to ensure compatibility with the existing rootzone materials of your green. The last thing you want to encourage are rootbreaks in the green.

Spreading of the materials can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride-on disc or drop action topspreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. It is important to get an even spread of material, the aim is to put on a very light dressing, followed by brushing in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.

Useful Information for Topdressing

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Turf Management
Other Tasks for the Month
  • Monitor for disease or pests, prevention is better than cure.

  • Many bowling clubs have hedges surrounding their greens. June is a good time to trim and reshape these, thus reducing any potential shading or access problems.

  • Check and inspect ditches, floodlights, structures and any site furniture for damage; keep the site clean and maintain a tidy appearance throughout the facility.

  • Ensure you mowers are kept clean and set, nothing worse than a badly adjusted mower

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