Many sports facilities in the north of England, north Wales, the Borders and Scotland will have been affected by flooding. If you are one of these unfortunate souls then flood advice can be found here - https://www.pitchcare.com/magazine/flood-advice.html
The met office are reporting that the unsettled conditions are set to continue throughout January, with strong or severe gales causing additional disruption on top of the expected heavy rainfall.
Temperatures will generally remain above average, with any snowfall likely to be confined to high ground in the north of the UK. Later in the month there are weak signals the wind will turn more north-westerly, allowing temperatures to return to near normal, but the chance of a prolonged cold spell remains low.
At this time of year, the best advice is to keep off the green if there is any waterlogging or frost. By walking on the surface in theses conditions, you will be doing more harm than good.
Key Tasks for January
As mentioned previously, usually at this time of year, it best to keep off the surface as much as possible. A little bit of mowing, when conditions allow, and some aeration is usually sufficient:
- 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
Most greens will be sodden, if not saturated, with the grass roots desperate for some air. When the green dries out sufficiently, try and do some aerating; the holes will close up nicely and you'll be surprised at how much difference it makes to the plant's recovery.
Temperatures are also unusually high, so a slow release low nitrogen feed will be in order to nourish a very hungry sward. Also, to harden the plan, an iron (ferrous sulphate) feed won't go amiss.
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.