November weather is often unpredictable, seeing a wide range of weather fronts coming in, especially if the wind changes to an easterly, which then tends to bring much colder weather, including frosts and snow.
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. 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.
Key Tasks for November
End of season renovations should be complete (see October) therefore, during November, the following activities are usually undertaken:
- Maintain a winter height cut of 10-12mm
- Carry out inspection and maintenance of machinery and irrigation equipment
- Service equipment and replace any worn or damaged parts.
- Check for diseases and pests, seek advice if necessary
- Aerate when conditions allow
- Clean up any leaf debris
- Drag brush daily
- Spike, if and when possible, and only if conditions are right
- Tip grass is necessary
- Maintenance of fences and hedges
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 three tests to consider are:
Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and its 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, and a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
N:P:K: Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.
Earthworms may be a problem, so regular drag brushing / caning of the green will be necessary to keep the surface free of debris and worm casts. 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.
The combination of early morning dews, warm and wet weather and diminishing daylight hours increases the risk of fungal disease outbreaks. The right conditions to trigger these disease attacks are weakened or susceptible plants, a disease-producing organism (pathogen usually fungi) and weather conditions which favour the formation of fruiting bodies and spores (moist, mild wet conditions).
The typical types of diseases you may come across this time of year are:
- Fusarium Patch
- Red Thread
- Dollar Spot
Please note: More information on these and many others can be found here: https://www.pitchcare.com/useful/diseases.php
The majority of diseases that are occurring now have responded to the unusually warm, autumn weather conditions. Boundary layers around the leaves have stayed very moist and humid. Relative humidity is important for spore germination and penetration of leaf tissues, and constant wet conditions will allow the development and transportation of active fungi spores.
Most fungi grow well between 10°C - 40°C and function best at a pH range of 4-7pH. The current lack of cooler weather and sharp frosts has not helped in reducing these active pathogens.
The first step in turfgrass disease management is identifying the true nature of the problem. Diseases are only one cause of turf loss, and disease control measures will do nothing to alleviate damage from other causes such as management, wear or plant stress. It is therefore essential to determine whether the problem is disease, and if so, which disease.
The three disease factors: susceptible grass / host, pathogen, and environment, provide the evidence for disease diagnosis. Symptoms are the expression of the susceptible grass to the disease and can take on a variety of forms.
It is important to maintain machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.
As grass growth slows down, use the time to take some machines out of operation for an overhaul.
- Keep machines overhauled and clean
- Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replace worn and damaged parts as necessary.
- Keep an eye on your material stocks (seed, topdressing, petrol, oil), remembering to replenish as required.
- Service machinery and equipment - changing oil / air filters and greasing up moving parts and sharpening mower blades.
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Bowls Greens. It is a one day course designed to provide a basic knowledge of bowling green maintenance. The course enables the Groundsman to grasp the basic needs of a bowling green surface, either Flat or Crown, throughout a 12 month period.
Delegates attending the Bowling Green course and using the accompanying manual will be able to develop their own skills, working knowledge and expertise, by understanding the method of instruction and the maintenance principle it sets out.
Included in the Course Manual, there are working diaries showing the range of tasks needed to be accomplished each month. The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.
We are already planning our spring courses:
Friday 11 March 2016, West End Bowls Club, Merthyr Tydfil
£140.00 + VAT
In addition, we are able to arrange courses to be delivered on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Chris Johnson for information.