Key Tasks for October
During October the following activities are usually undertaken:
- Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the moisture from the leaf is an important maintenance regime to deter an attack of disease.
- Monitor thatch levels and aerate to achieve desired levels of oxygen within the sward.
- Tip the grass when necessary to prevent any excessive growth taking place
- Apply further top-dressing if any holes or hollows require
- Check for disease and pests, seek advice if necessary
- Drag brush daily
- Spike if conditions are right
End of Season Renovations - if not already undertaken
The success of the renovations will be down to the appropriate work undertaken including:
The objectives of end of season renovations are:
- To remove thatch
- To repair worn areas
- To renovate surface levels
- To remove unwanted debris
- To re-establish sward densities (overseeding)
- Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment
The following activities are usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow.
Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation: lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare green for renovation operations.
Scarification, removal of unwanted debris: collect and disposal of arisings. Depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions and to a depth of 4-15mm.
Aeration will usually be done with solid tines however, occasionally hollow tines will be used if a change of soil texture is required.
Overseeding. It is important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed; good seed to soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.
Watering/Irrigation is essential after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.
Brushing/switching of the playing surface keeps the green clean and removes any dew or surface water. Keeping the surface dry will aid resistance to disease.
As we come to the end of September and start looking ahead towards October, it appears from the forecast that it will be an unsettled start to the month. This could be an unwanted disruption for those who still have renovation work to carry out. The average rainfall for September was 70mm (region depending), with highs of 20oC or above. This allowed many to make the most of the good ground temperatures and moisture available, with only a steep drop in temperatures towards the end of the month causing some challenges.
The middle of the coming month looks to be more settled and it will be important to monitor the local environmental conditions with a view of the site’s previous history and patterns in disease outbreaks. As conditions become more conducive for disease development, checking historic information against current conditions and also factoring in what is expected ahead is key to increasing the probability of successful turf grass pathogen management in autumn 2020. Principles and actions which collectively form part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.
At this juncture in the calendar year, Microdochium nivale (microdochium patch) control is key for many turf managers. Predicting the likelihood of disease expression can seem about as easy as predicting the winning lottery numbers, however, knowing what has happened, what is happening now and what could be about to happen is essential when attempting to determine the likelihood of disease expression. Understanding these elements then allows better informed decisions when selecting and timing any inputs aimed at counteracting any outbreaks of disease, whether they be fungicidal, nutritional or plant response applications. As we adapt to the newer chemistry and modes of action available, the more information gathered to make accurate well-versed decisions on what, when and how to apply, the increased likelihood of success there will be. Success will look different for each turf manager, with varying budgets, resources and club expectations. For some, it will be blemish free surfaces, for others it will better control than the previous year and different again for others. There is no fixed target, however, having a target and planning around it increases the chances of success.
As temperatures and available sunlight changes, so must the approach to the applications of nutrition, mainly nitrogen. The aim being to promote steady, hardy shoot and leaf growth, with any lush, flushes of growth being more susceptible to attack by fungal pathogens. Fertilisers with a slow release nitrogen source, such as methylene urea or polymer coated urea, perhaps used in combination with straight urea, will give longevity through the autumn and into winter. If slow release fertilisers are not suitable for a specific site, when using a conventional fertiliser (to avoid the aforementioned flushes of growth), ensure the ammonium value is not above 4 or 5 percent.
Nitrogen is not the only important nutrient to be applied this month; micronutrients and biostimulants are a good idea to ensure the plant has a full suite of essential nutrition available.
Iron, calcium and magnesium – the traditional go to options for hardening the plant and providing colour through the winter. A fully chelated iron with a pH more towards neutral will be far less antagonistic towards cell wall integrity and beneficial leaf dwelling microorganisms than Sulphate of Iron. Required Magnesium and Calcium can be applied as part of a nutritional application when factored into a well-balanced fertiliser programme.
Biostimulants applied at the right time will be beneficial to the plant and soil over winter. As the rate of photosynthesis changes in line with the seasons, applications of carbon energy in the form of sugar can assist the plant in being more resilient and well-developed in the early spring.
Applications of seaweed will elicit important beneficial defensive and stress responses in the plant and associated microorganisms when applied ahead of disease activity, before conditions favour the development of disease.
Consideration should also be given to amino acids and humates, with the former playing an important role in abiotic stress tolerance, helping plants to prepare for and cope with autumnal and winter stress events, such as varying changes in temperature and volumetric water content. Humates assist in maximising nutrient availability as well as stimulating and providing habitable zones for beneficial bacteria.
- Use a programmed approach to maximise plant health, through balanced nutrition of all plant essential elements not just NPK as part of an IPM plan.
- Raise cutting heights to minimise stress with a reduction in stress invoking practices such as top dressing which weaken and damage leaf blades.
- Ensure cutting units are sharp to provide a clean cut to minimise weakened points for pathogen attack.
- Well timed aeration to maintain movement of water away from the surface and down through the profile.
- Reduce periods of leaf blade wetness by removing dews or utilising dew dispersant technology (apply only to a dry leaf)
- Monitor disease forecasts via resources such as Syngenta’s Greencast
- Use biostimulants and plant response promoters to maximise plant health.
- Take advice on and construct a preventative fungicide application plan, using historic data, live weather forecasts and site-specific conditions, for applications ahead of when conditions favour the development of disease.
Don’t forget the emergency authorisation for applicatons of Acelepryn for the control of leatherjackets ends this month, with the last day of application being 31st of October.
The last couple of weeks has seen an increase in activity, with Twitter feeds and other social media full of reported sightings. Applications of the product should be made when peak activity of the adult crane fly on the wing are observed. Adult flies commence egg laying almost immediately, with hatching and larvae emergence about two weeks later. Acelepryn is most active on the 1st and 2nd instar larval stages, however, the optimum time of application for best results is before the start of egg-hatch since the product needs time to move through the thatch layer to the zone where the larvae reside. As with an integrated approach to disease management, monitoring, record keeping and understanding of the pests organisms life cycle are key factors for success.
Worms have been a focus for turf managers throughout the last month with the increase in soil moisture levels. There are no legal controls for earthworms and any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally.
Cultural management continues to be the only route currently available. This can include a combination of practices such as, localised surface acidification, removal of grass clippings to reduce their food source and sanding of surfaces to assist in the drying out and dispersal of casts. The above does not completely eradicate the problem, but it will lead to less negative lasting impressions on the surface from the casts. Sulphate of iron is often used as a surface acidifying agent but it is worth considering that over application may lead to an accumulation in the soil causing long term imbalances and negative effects to plant health throughout the rest of the year.
B.Sc (Hons) BASIS FACTS
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.
- Inspect and clean machinery after use.
- Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replace worn and damaged parts as necessary.
- Secure machinery nightly with good storage facilities and strong locks
- Record makes and models and take pictures of your equipment as additional reference