November Bowls Diary
By Laurence Gale MSc
November sees the beginning of leaf fall from trees. This leaf debris can be problematic, especially when the they are left to accumulate on the playing surface for a period of time. Lack of air and light to the grass plant will invariably cause the grass to discolour (turn yellow) and even decay. This leaf matter could also initiate diseases onto the green. Regular, ideally daily brushing with a cane or brush will keep the surface clean and tidy and free from debris.
Greens should also be brushed daily to disperse early morning dews, thus keeping the surface dry which in turn helps prevent the onset of disease. Diseases, particularly fusarium can still be prevalent during November. Good cultural practices will help reduce the incidence of disease attack. Improving surface water drainage by regular inputs of spiking/ aerating should now be implemented on a fortnight/monthly basis. Ideally you should vary the depth of aeration to prevent a pan forming, using different types of aerating equipment(sarrel rollers, knife, solid or hollow tined spikers).
Worm activity inevitability leads to worm casts appearing on the playing surface. These worm casts can be very problematic, they tend to smear the surface, which in turn can affect surface water drainage capacity as well as providing a seed bed for weed germination.
Historically, earthworms have been controlled chemically, killing all earthworms in the turf. The most widely used chemical was chlordane, an organochloride, now banned due to it's wide ranging toxic effects and persistence in the environment. Other chemicals such as benomyl, carbendazium, thiabendazole and thiophanate-methyl (all of which are primarily fungicides) have an effect on earthworm populations. Research has shown that thiophanate-methyl is the most effective at reducing casting. All these fungicides are considerably less effective at earthworm control than chlordane.
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 10-12mm.
Most bowling green facilities are enclosed by fences or hedges. November is a good time to complete any tidying up of these features. Hedges can be pruned and cut to maintain their shape and form.
Other jobs for consideration are the inspection and maintenance of machinery and irrigation equipment. Now is a good time to arrange servicing of the equipment and replace any worn or damaged parts.
References: Worm information provided by Mark Bartlett, National Soil Resources Institute, Cranfield University 2005.