October Bowls Diary 2011

Laurence Gale MScin Bowls

Ideally, end of season renovations should have been completed by now, making good use of the favourable weather conditions. However, we still see a number of clubs playing late on to the end of September. For many clubs who do not have adequate watering facilities, the recent dry weather has had a detrimental effect on their greens in terms of them drying out.

Dry conditions will send the grass plant into a stressed state, reducing the vigour and colour of the plant. Once rootzones dry out, they can often be difficult to re wet, also the opportunity to apply fungicides, fertilisers and wetting agents becomes more difficult.

The longer you leave your renovations, the less likely you will obtain favourable germination rates. Air temperatures tend to drop in October, thus slowing down grass growth. Many greens will have been extensively over played, resulting in plenty of wear and compaction.

The aim of the renovations is to repair and rejuvenate the greens, repairing all worn areas, reducing thatch layers, restoring surface levels and re-introducing some finer grasses into the sward. Once the renovations have been completed, the greens usually remain closed until next spring.

Early in the Month 1st - 15th October

It is imperative to get on with your renovations as soon as possible, most bowling clubs often rely on volunteers to help with the work, so it is important you plan and co-ordinate and ensure all your volunteer workforce are briefed about the work expected of them.

Ensure you have got all the necessary equipment and materials to do the job. It does not need to be seen as hard work, if you get a good team of helpers together, it is surprising how quick you can get all the work completed.

Also ensure you buy / source the best quality products on offer, buying cheap seed or not doing a thorough renovation programme is false economy.

Later in the Month 16th October - onwards

Once the renovations have been completed, look to keep your team of volunteers working to help finish other necessary tasks down at the club - cleaning out the ditches, cutting hedges, painting/staining seating and fences.

Also look into getting your mowers serviced ready for next year, obtain a few quotes and get them booked in.

Key Tasks for October
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The success of the renovations will be down to effectiveness of the work undertaken - appropriate scarification, aeration, topdressing and overseeding.

It is inevitable that during the growing season you will get a build up of thatch. It is important you control the amount you have; rule of thumb is to keep it below 10mm (one fingers width). Generally, any more than 10 mm of thatch will lead to turf problems in the following year.

It is important to monitor this build up, the taking of regular core samples is a good way to keep an eye on what is happening in your soil profile. You will need to ensure the scarification blades are set to eradicate unwanted thatch material.

Effective scarification removes unwanted thatch debris that has built up over the growing season. Ideally, you need to scarify the green in three passes increasing the depth of penetration on each pass. The green should then be aerated to a depth of between 100-150 mm using solid tines.

The green is then oversown, ensuring the seed makes good seed to soil contact. The green is then topdressed with a 70/30 or 60/40 sand soil dressing, usually 2-4 tonnes per green.

The topdressing is then worked into the surface using drag mats/brushes/lutes.

Useful Information for Renovations

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Death by a thousand cuts?
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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. Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.

Useful Information for Disease

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Fusarium patch - switch hitting it!

With the season finished and the green closed down for the winter, mowing will only be required to maintain a winter height of cut at 8-12mm. Some clubs are now using rotary mowers to keep the greens mown through the winter months, this methods does two jobs in one, it keeps the grass topped and hoovers up any surface debris, such as twigs and leaves.

Useful Information for Mowing

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Facts about mowing
Bowling Green Grass Seed
Outfield Aeration

Aeration will be a key activity going into the winter months. The use of different tines will be more beneficial rather than continuing to use the same tine at the same depth. There are many different aeration techniques available for use. Sarrell rollers are widely used to open up the top 5-8mm, keeping the surface free draining and thus helping to reduce the incidence of disease.

Aeration techniques using solid micro tines and knife tines, between 75mm-150mm, can be used for deeper penetration. However, with the development of new technologies, we now have available a range of even deeper penetrating aerators that offer alternative methods of aerating the soil profile. These come in the form of linear aerators such as the Earthquake that produces narrow slits to a depth of 200mm at 200mm apart. Also, SISIS and Toro have manufactured a spiker that can inject air into the soil profile.

Whichever aeration method is used, it should be undertaken when the soil conditions allow clean, deep penetration without disturbing the playing surface; ideally, when there is sufficient moisture in the profile.

It will be important to know the depth of your soil profile. Many old greens have been laid on clinker ash bases. You do not really want to disturb these.

The frequency of aeration will also be dependent on weather conditions and the aeration method being used. It is not uncommon to keep aerating on a monthly basis throughout the winter.

Useful Information for Aeration

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Why Aeration?
Machinery Spares, Blades, Cylinders & Tines

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.

A Sweepfast Cleansweep/Greensweep is ideal for keeping the surfaces clean, it not only removes the dew but collects any surface debris at the same time.

Useful Information for Brushing

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Helping Hands at Woodford...
Drag Mats
Other Tasks for the Month
  • With autumn leaves beginning to fall, keep the playing surfaces clean and tidy. Remember to inspect and clean out drain outfalls and gullies.

  • Carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features.

  • Keep an eye on your material stocks, remember to replenish as required. On the machinery front, the winter period is an ideal time to book your mowers and other machines in for their annual service.

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