Key Tasks for February
During February the following activities are usually undertaken, when conditions allow:
- Dragbrushing when dew is present
- Clean out the ditches and repair surrounds
- Tip the grass with the mower if it grows above 12mm (1/2 inch)
- Aerate, if and when possible, and only if conditions are right (not on frozen or waterlogged greens)
Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation. Grass growth will be influenced by soil and air temperatures. Once we begin to see temperatures rising consistently above 8 degrees centigrade, grass growth will be stimulated and mowing will be required to maintain sward at between 8-12mm.
Fertilising. Soil temperatures should and will begin to rise towards the end of February/early March, enabling the grass plant to make use of any fertilisers being applied. The grass plant's transpiration/respiration rates need to be active to initiate movement of soluble solutions from the soil into and through the plant's tissue. To ensure you are applying the correct amount and balance of fertilisers for your turf, it would be useful to have a soil analysis undertaken, which will give you a full nutrient analysis of your soil's requirements. Based on these results, an appropriate fertiliser programme can be initiated for your facility.
Aeration. Over the winter months, and weather conditions permitting, you should be spiking the green 2-3 times per month, using 1/2" solid tines to a depth of 4".
As the last month of the norther hemisphere winter season, February heralds lighter evenings and brighter mornings, and as we head towards the end of the month the well-worn seasonal phrase - ‘it’s warm behind glass’.
From an agronomic perspective, February also represents the last opportunity for turf managers to sit and contemplate how they are going to maintain their surfaces during the growing season ahead.
This contemplation can result in one of three main outcomes;
Continuation – defined as the continuation of an habitual or time proven approach.
Alteration – defined as the refinement of established practices or the addition of new process into an established system.
Revolutionary – defined as a through change in direction and approach.
All of the above are equally valid depending on circumstance and, to some degree, turf managers will be preparing to embark upon various iterations of each of these outcomes to a greater or lesser degree across all practices within their remit.
There are no correct across the board answers with respect to how or why these outcomes are chosen to be implemented as each facility and each category of maintenance requirement is distinct to its own set of unique circumstances. Circumstances such as climate, soil type, construction type, previous maintenance, financial resources, labour resources, sport type and fixture pressure.
The current climate within the industry is one of change. Solutions which were previously effective are either being removed or superseded by enhanced understanding and refinement of existing methods.
Actively engaging with education via the attendance at seminars, talks and training is an incredibly valuable thing for each and every one of us to make the time to commit to at some point in the coming year.
In respects to the current climate and how that effects turf managers actions over the coming month, this overriding advice could be summed up as follows.
Make the most of windows.
If the weather conditions are favourable due to increasing warmth, sunlight and low humidity driving growth, introduce a small quantity of fertiliser on areas which are showing signs of sclerosis (yellowing); nitrogen in the form of nitrate or ammonium will be taken up by the plant the fastest. Be careful not to apply too much nitrogen and force lush growth, as cold winds will desiccate soft leaves, and fungal pathogens, fuelled by low temperatures and high humidity, will quickly take advantage.
Maintain applications of calcium to harden cell wall structure and provide a line of defence to both these challenges.
Moss is likely to be prevalent on surfaces at this time of the year. This is due to climatological conditions which favour it over grass. The end of February into early March is a good time to apply sulphate of iron to tackle moss, however try to time an application once the general trend in the weather is leaning towards the grass rather than the moss.
Soil sampling - now is the perfect time to undertake a broad spectrum soil analysis from which to make informed and cost effective decisions for the fertiliser programme ahead.
Speaking of programmes, surfactant, disease management and insect pest management plans and protocols are all necessities of sports turf management at all levels in 2019. Put together, they work towards an integrated approach with all the benefits that infers.
It’s important to maintain aeration when ground conditions allow. Helping the soil to expel carbon dioxide and drain water is absolutely vital when it comes to maintaining a healthy plant and soil. In water logged areas, be wary of anoxia which is when the plant starts to yellow due to a lack of oxygen around the roots.
Speaking of water, what is your soil reserve like? Dig a hole to check if the soil is dry more than 100-200 mm beneath the surface. If it is, then aeration combined with a penetrant wetting agent is critical to maximise rainfall ahead of the summer. If soil water reserves are low, then we won’t need a summer anywhere near as dry as 2018 to severely effect the quality of surfaces this coming year.
It is important to maintain machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.
Remember to check the condition of your machinery, and plan to get it repaired/serviced during the winter months.
- Service and sharpen mowers ready for the new season; it is well worth the money investing in a winter service.
- Keep machines overhauled and clean.
- Inspect and repair any watering or irrigation systems; many bowling clubs now have pop-up irrigation systems, so ensure they have been drained down for winter. Organise an inspection, re-commissioning and calibration of the system in late February.
Our Lantra Accredited Bowls Green Maintenance Course is now available as an online course.
You can learn about maintaining a bowls green in the comfort of your own home and in your own time. This newly developed course consists of a number of videos with assessment questions, and an accompanying hard copy Course Manual. The Online Course is Lantra accredited and provides you with all the basic knowledge required to maintain a green over a 12 month period.
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Bowls Greens. More information
We can also arrange Lantra accredited training on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Carol Smith for information.
The Course Manual at just £30 is available for purchase separately.
- Check and service floodlighting systems; ensuring they are ready for the new playing season.
- It also important to replace any worn tines on your aeration equipment.
- Most bowling green facilities are enclosed by fences or hedges and now is a good time to tidy these up.
- Carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates and other building features.
- If the frosty weather persists over a number of days, it could lead to a number of problems within your irrigation systems, hose pipes and outside taps. Ideally, any water carrying pipe work should be lagged or protected from frost damage, as this will lead to burst pipes and joints; make sure you keep an eye open for these leaks.
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