With the winter weather kicking in so early, with heavy falls of snow and a long term forecast of cold weather in many parts of the country, many greens will be covered in frost and snow, preventing any real tangible maintenance work being undertaken.
It will be a case of keeping off the greens and spend time doing other jobs. Some that spring to mind are winter overhaul of equipment and machinery, a good time to take stock of what you have in your shed and what condition it is in. Take the opportunity to repair and get any equipment serviced.
You will also need to check your watering systems, it is important that you close the system down (drain down) to prevent any potential frost damage to pipes, tanks and pumps.
Even your hand held sprayers should be checked over. Remember to protect your sprayer's spray lines, pump and pressure regulator by leaving anti-freeze in it over winter. This saves split junctions and writing off pump or pressure regulator housings, and nozzle holders damaged by expanding ice.
|Early in the Month||1st - 15th December|
With temperatures falling and early morning frosts perhaps becoming more regular, grass growth will have slowed down dramatically. It is essential to keep the surface free of debris and aerated, as conditions allow.
The use of a sarrel roller will be sufficient to keep the surface open and free draining. The need to cut the grass on a regular basis is not so necessary.
|Later in the Month||16th December - onwards|
You should use this spare time to carry out some other works in and around the greens, clearing out ditches, pruning and cutting hedges to keep them tidy and manageable.
Continue to clean up any leaf debris; leaves, when wet, can be a slip hazard, keep walkways and paths clean and tidy.
Keep your ditches free of unwanted debris; ditch infill materials need regular cleaning and levelling. Clubs use an array of ditch infill materials ranging from sand, bark, corks, rubber mats and rubber crumb. Moss, algae and weed material can soon build up in poorly maintained ditches.
Many greens are surrounded by fences or hedges, these will need some maintenance, natural hedges may need a prune/cut to keep them tidy and manageable.
What happens to turf in frost conditions?
Frost on the grass leaf blades tells us that the water inside the leaves is frozen. Remember that 80+% of plant tissue is made up of water, the primary component of plant tissue. When this water is frozen, foot traffic on the turf causes the ice crystals in the cells to puncture through the plant's cell walls, thus killing plant tissue.
When they are frozen the leaves of the turf get easily bruised by players' feet. After thawing, the affected turf turns black or brown and becomes sparse. The turf can often remain thin for long periods if damage occurs early in the winter. The fine turf on greens becomes more susceptible to disease and the putting surface becomes very uneven.
More long-term damage can be caused when play takes place as the turf is thawing after a prolonged freeze. Under these conditions the top surface of the turf may be soft, but the underlying soil can still be frozen. Root damage occurs easily from a shearing action as player's feet move the soft top surface against the frozen sub soil.
The process of damage to the turf normally occurs in the following pattern:
* Bruising and damage to the leaf.
* Loss of turf colour.
* Severing of grass roots.
* Compaction of the soil.
* Thinning of the swards.
Remember to keep off your bowling greens during frosty conditions.
The need to cut the grass on a regular basis will have diminished. However, it is still a good idea, when weather conditions prevail, to keep the sward topped at between 10-12mm (winter height of cut).
Many greens may well be still recovering from the season's wear and tear. It will be essential to get some life back into the green, improving the gaseous exchange in the soil profile whilst, at the same time, increasing the capacity of the green to drain more efficiently during the winter months.
This will be achieved by some frequent surface and deep soil aeration. However, care should be taken when choosing the type and size of tines to be used. Remember, you do not want to be aerating at the same depth all the time, as this will eventually cause a pan layer to form which, in turn, will cause you more problems. Ideally, you should be using a range of tines at different depths within the range of your soil profile.
Again, this is if conditions allow.
Earthworms may be a problem, particularly with the recent heavy rains, so regular drag brushing will be necessary. Brushing can be daily when conditions are right. Regular aeration to keep the surface open will aid drying. A drier surface may help towards reducing the effects of the earthworm activity near the surface.
Diseases have been widely reported, particularly Fusarium. These outbreaks have been mainly due to the heavy dews and changing climatic air temperatures we have recently experienced. 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 Pest & Disease
|Disease Analysis||Dedicate Turf Disease Control|
Machinery checks:- Remember to check the condition of your machinery and plan to get it repaired/serviced during the winter months. Check all moving parts and ensure they are properly greased and topped up with the right recommended lubricants.