Key Tasks for November
End of season renovations should be completed, therefore, during November, the following activities are usually undertaken, weather permitting:
- 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
- Maintenance of fences and hedges
November is late Autumn in the northern hemisphere and the time when our annual voyage around the sun determines that the shortening of the day length really starts to have noticeable impact. To illustrate this, November 1st graces us with a sunrise of 06:53 and a sunset of 16:34 with a day length of 9 hours 40 minutes. On the final day of the month, those numbers have altered to 07:41 sunrise, 15:55 sunset and a day length of 8 hours 13 minutes. So it is then that, over the course of the next few weeks, we will lose 1 hour and 27 minutes of day length. The consequences of this march towards winter for turf grass surfaces are:
- less available sunlight for photosynthesis
- less available warmth to promote growth
- less time for wet leaf blades to dry out during the day
All of these environmental factors drive environmental conditions away from favouring the grass plant and towards undesirable factors, the ones which benefit from a reduction in photosynthesis, temperature and day length, including:
- Mosses and algae
- Fungal diseases, in particular Microdochium nivale
Managing those undesirable factors requires an understanding of the conditions which promote them, for example excessive thatch, poor surface drainage and little and often deposits of nutrients onto a surface - all lead to a proliferation of moss and algae, which being simpler forms of life than grasses, are able to rapidly colonise in areas where the grass plant is on the back foot; for example, because light levels are low, soil temperatures are low and relative humidity is consistently elevated.
Disease incidence can be correlated with the factors in the disease triangle. All three factors are required to coincide for an outbreak of disease. The major pathogen on turf surfaces throughout November will be Microdochium nivale.
Consideration of the contributing factors
- Susceptible host – excess leaf growth and stress will lead to the grass plant (host) becoming more susceptible to fungal pathogens. The key factor here is appropriate nutrition. In practice this means the Goldilocks zone of nitrogen, just enough to keep the plant healthy but not too much to cause a flush of soft growth which allows the disease to attack more successfully.
Providing the plant with calcium, silicon and phosphite strengthens the cell walls and helps the plant to resist attack without resorting to chemicals. Applying plant beneficial biostimulants, such as seaweed and carbon energy when conditions favour the plant, primes its metabolic defence responses and assists beneficial microorganisms to help repel the disease.
- Virulent pathogen – Is the pathogen being provided with the resources it needs to thrive? In the case of fungal pathogens, this would be prolonged periods of leaf blade wetness and nutrition. Manage this situation by removing dews, reducing humidity within the thatch layer via aeration and the application of penetrant wetting agents. Also avoid applying biostimulants such as seaweed and carbon energy at times when the pathogenic activity is actively on the rise.
- Favourable Environment – prolonged humidity as a result of overcast days and nights, rainfall, cool temperatures which slow grass growth and low wind speeds which extend drying times are the factors which, when they align, drive the race between host and pathogen away from the grass plant and towards the disease. Monitoring forecasts and historic patterns facilitate prediction of high disease pressure, allowing turf managers to act appropriately.
Nutritional requirements will be aligned with growth; put simply, the more growth the more nutrition required. Typically, fertilisers applied during renovation operations should see the majority of surfaces through November and into December. As a result, NPK applications will be
Limited; however, targeted application of secondary macronutrients and micronutrients with calcium to elicit plant responses, such as those outlined above, will bring tangible benefits.
Maintaining appropriate water/air ratio is a key factor in reducing turf stress during periods of the year when rainfall increases and drying opportunities are reduced. Little and often aeration, via methods such as star tining and sarel rolling, facilitate diffusion of oxygen into the profile and carbon dioxide out. This allows the plant roots and beneficial soil microorganisms to breathe, which reduces plant stress and sustains their population numbers respectively.
Maintaining water percolation into deeper aeration channels and drainage systems, via the application of penetrant wetting agents, reduces the tendency of water to be held at the surface where it acts as a barrier to gas exchange and increases localised relative humidity; something which helps fungal diseases to grow and spread.
Regular applications of products containing sulphur will acidify the local soil surface environment and discourage worms from casting. Avoid regular products containing iron which is not in a liquid chelated form, as this will quickly oxidize and build up in the soil chemistry causing numerous problems such as reduced pH, iron panning, nutrient lock up and inhibition of microorganisms.
Senior Technical Manager
BASIS No. R/E/7542IFMAT
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.
Grounds Training was established in 2006 to provide a complete and unique service delivery training courses for the sports turf industry. We are now the go-to provider for on-site, bespoke training for groups. Alongside our renowned turf maintenance which now includes Lantra accredited Online courses. Grounds Training also works with the industry’s awarding bodies – Lantra and City & Guilds (NPTC).
Open courses for individuals to join are also offered at our Allscott (Telford) Training Centre, Most courses lead to Lantra Awards or NPTC qualifications; a small number of niche courses where the instructor is an experienced groundsman who is also Lantra Awards or NPTC registered, offer Pitchcare certification.
Whether your staff are involved with preparing and maintaining sports turf, operating ground care machinery and equipment or require a safe use of pesticides qualification, we have the course to suit them.
For more information on our online courses click here
The Course Manual at just £30 is available for purchase separately.
Here are our upcoming open courses:
PA1/ PA6A - Thursday 7/Friday 8 November , Allscott Telford TF6 5DY
At this time of the year, when the weather allows, a general tidy-up of areas around the green makes all the difference; this would include tasks such as hedge cutting, clearing ditches, painting club house, weeding paths and borders.
Check and inspect ditches, floodlights, structures and any site furniture for damage; keep the site clean and maintain a tidy appearance throughout the facility.
Have a look at the Pitchcare Forum for current discussions: