The bowling season may now be over, with Club Championships won and lost, but for greens' managers it's the work over the coming months on which their success will be truly judged.
Activities and attention now will dictate how turf looks and plays next summer, according to Syngenta Technical Manager, Simon Barnaby. Speaking at a series of Sisis seminars for bowling green managers last week (29 September - 2 October), he highlighted that improving aeration in the autumn will pay huge dividends in reduced stress on turf for the following season.
"With the wet summer and soft ground conditions this season there has been a serious risk of compaction, especially along rink edges and corners," he said. "Slit tine or verti-drain treatments may be required to relieve deep compaction. Additional spiking will help to enhance air penetration to the rootzone areas and further encourage root growth."
The wet conditions, reducing beneficial aerobic bacteria activity, could have led to an increase in thatch levels this year. "Deep scarification will prove even more important to reduce the thatch keep the sward healthy," he advised. "But scarifiers must ideally be set to achieve the required level of thatch removal in just two passes, with one in the direction of play and a second at an angle."
Following scarification there is the chance to over seed and repair any bare patches created during the season. "The sooner you can get on the rink the better; it's crucial to give seed the longest opportunity to establish before the onset of winter."
Mr Barnaby advised the success of autumn over seeding could be significantly enhanced if competition from the existing turf is suppressed with an application of Primo MAXX growth regulator. "With bowling greens often in sheltered warm urban areas and with typically milder autumn conditions, turf may still be actively growing through to late October. STRI trials have shown keeping the established turf in check with an application of Primo MAXX five days before sowing can significantly help new seedlings to safely establish," he added.
All the autumn activity could add physical stress and damage to turf, increasing its susceptibility to disease attack, warned Mr Barnaby. An application of autumn top dressing creates conditions especially favourable for disease, for example. "If there is a risk of disease attack, an application of systemic Banner MAXX about five days before work starts will get effective protection into the plant to counter the prevalent threat of Fusarium, as well as reducing levels of troublesome Anthracnose and Dollar Spot inoculum from over the summer."
If the threat of Fusarium persists over the late autumn and early winter, turf managers should switch to Daconil Weather Stik, he added. Bowling green managers can sign up for a free trial of the web-based GreenCast disease forecasting service, giving valuable five-day early warning of localised disease risk and further advice for turf management at www.greencast.co.uk