Hopefully you should have completed all your end of season renovations by now making good use of the decent weather we had in mid October.
The recent sharp decline in the weather front will certainly have a bearing on the management of your greens. The significant drop in air and ground temperatures, and with some parts of the country receiving up to 75 mm of snow, will certainly have affected many greens.
Ground frosts will be prevalent in most parts of the country. Refrain from walking on or carrying out any work on greens that are frosted.
The recent spell of poor weather, particularly the high winds, will have intensified autumn leaf fall. This leaf debris can be problematic, especially when it is 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).
The moist soil conditions have stimulated a lot of worm activity in recent weeks. Earthworms can survive in a wide range of conditions, but most activity is dependent on the quality of food available. Worms like plenty of Organic Matter (OM), therefore greens with a high thatch problem tend to encourage worm activity. Soil pH also affects where earthworms are found. In strongly acid or alkaline soils earthworms are rarely seen (pH less than 4.5 or greater than 8). The soil texture will also affect the number of earthworms found; they prefer clay soils and are less frequently found in sandy soils.
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 its wide ranging toxic effects and persistence in the environment. There is currently only one active ingredient left to control worms. Carbenazim is a worm suppressant that, when applied in the right conditions (when soils are moist), will help reduce worm activity.
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.
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.
All bowling green autumn renovations should have now been completed. The weather during November is not usually conducive to renovations as the soil and air temperatures are beginning to drop, resulting in the slowing down of seed germination rates which, in turn, reduces the opportunity of increasing new grass populations into the green.
Aeration should be continued throughout the autumn when conditions allow, the use of a sarrell roller will be beneficial in keeping the surface open.
Brushing/switching / Daily 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.
Litter pick / Weekly Inspect and clear away litter or debris.
Machinery / 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.
Perimeter fences and hedges / As required / 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.
Structural Repairs / 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.