January Bowls Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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Happy new year to you all. There are many jobs you can undertake during January, firstly its important to ensure you are carrying out your daily brushing to keep the surface clean and at the same time remove any early morning dews. Keeping the playing surface clean and dry helps prevent disease and contamination. There are a number of ways you can achieve this, using brushes and dragmats. See the Pitchcare shop for suitable products. Also, brushing of the green will help the sward stand upright allowing good air movement around the grass plant.Check-with-Macroscope.jpg

You should also be maintaining you winter height of cut at between 10-12mm. To help monitor the correct height of cut the use of a prism gauge is most useful. Another tool perhaps worth investing in is a Macroscope. Macroscopes offer turf managers the chance to get a detailed look at turf health including the ability to identify diseases, nutrient issues and other physiological observations. (Both available in Pitchcare shop).

To help keep the surface free draining and prevent water ponding on the playing surface you should be looking to carry out some aeration operations particularly making good use of your sarrel roller.

On your return after the festive holidays you are likely to find some accumulated surface debris (leaves, litter etc.) on the green and in the drainage ditches. It is important to clear it up.

January is a good time, whilst it is quiet, to plan and get yourself organised. What are your targets for this year? What do you want to achieve? Have you organised your spring renovation works? Have you ordered materials and machinery for the forthcoming season?

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aeration

When conditions allow

Aeration should be continued throughout the winter when conditions allow, the use of a sarrel roller will be beneficial in keeping the surface open.

Brushing/switching

Daily or as required

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.

Disease

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Daily

Diseases can still occur at this time of the year, particularly during milder periods. Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

Fertilising

When required

Generally, no fertiliser applications are made during the winter months, as plant growth has slowed down. However, some groundstaff may apply a dose of liquid iron to colour up and provide some strength to the grass plant during the winter months.

Litter pick

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Weekly or as required

Inspect and clear away litter or debris.

Machinery

Daily/Weekly

Keep machines overhauled and clean. Arrange the servicing of your machines ready for the new season.

Materials

Monthly

Keep an eye on your material stocks, (seed, top dressing, petrol, oil ) remembering to replenish as required.

Mowing

As required

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.

Perimeter fences and hedges

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As required

Most bowling green facilities are enclosed by fences or hedges.

You may even have some favourable weather in January when you may be able to wash/ paint/refurbish structures and features around your ground. (seats, green surrounds, footpaths and fences and building structures).

Pests

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As required

Increased soil moisture can often lead to an increase in worm activity. Regular switching of the greens will help disperse their casts. However, if the infestation is large, you may need to apply some Carbendazim to control the worm populations.

Some Groundsmen and Greenkeepers use brushes to remove casts but, in wet conditions, this can lead to smearing.

Repairs

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As required

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

Soil tests

Ideally once or twice a year, or as required.

Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:

  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.

  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.

  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.

  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.