Key Tasks for December
Leave the green alone if it is waterlogged or if there is frost in the ground - you will do more harm than good by going on it.
During December, weather permitting, the following activities can still be undertaken:
- Maintain a winter cut height of 10-12mm
- Inspection and maintenance of machinery and irrigation equipment
- Aeration should be continued throughout the winter when conditions allow; regular use of a sarrel roller will be beneficial in keeping the surface open
- Check for disease and pests, seek advice if necessary
- Frequent surface and deep soil aeration
- Clean up any leaf debris
There is no such thing as putting the green to bed and forgetting about it until the spring.
- Repair Structures: Bench seats, scoreboards and any other fittings around the green.
- Many greens are surrounded by fences or hedges; these will need some maintenance; natural hedges may need a prune/cut to keep them tidy and manageable.
As we head into the festive period, we can hopefully look forward to spending quality time with friends and family, resting and taking stock ahead of 2022. It has been a tough year for many as we continue to navigate through the pandemic and try to overcome the challenges we all face. Whether we ever return to ‘normal’ or what the new normal is, we will get there, wherever ‘there is’, in time.
Early December is forecast to remain cold, with daily temperature lows consistently below 4 degrees Celsius. This is amongst a mixture of clear days and forecasted rain, which could also lead to snow showers and overnight frosts as low temperatures drop around freezing, which is set to continue through to the end of the month. The decrease in temperatures has meant that growth potential has now decreased, and growth will be limited. Consequently, this will inform any decisions around what inputs to apply to the plant. The low temperatures should minimise the probability of disease outbreaks, notably Microdochium nivale (Fusarium patch). However, that shouldn’t mean that this turf disease is forgotten about. Also, as light becomes less available to the plant, a low sun trajectory means shade and damp environments become more of the norm, which is ideal for the development of mosses and algae, not only on turf surfaces but hard surfaces too, which can require careful management.
The rain which is forecast in the middle of the month may lead to surfaces becoming saturated, therefore it is essential to try and maintain an aerobic soil for as long as possible. This is best achieved by carrying out aeration practices at the appropriate time and in the most suitable ground conditions. Taking machinery over surfaces when conditions aren’t suitable will cause more damage than bringing benefits, and sometimes the hardest decision is to stay off the turf. Subsequently, poorly timed operations can lead to surfaces being wetter, through water being held in the soil profile rather than being allowed to drain away. Where fertilisers containing sulphur have previously been applied, ensuring aeration work has been carried out will avoid ground conditions sitting too wet for a period of time, which can lead to anaerobic conditions and the formation of black layer, which will have a negative impact on turf conditions and health.
With soil temperatures dropping lower, there may be a limited requirement for plant nutrition, unless in an environment where you can create more artificial growing conditions with extra light and soil temperatures. Nitrogen applied should only be to encourage recovery from wear, and should contain the correct nitrogen source, which will be plant available. Biostimulants, seaweed, fulvic acid and amino acids may still be used to elicit a beneficial defence and stress response from the grass plant, although when temperatures are low, soil applications should be evaluated for their effectiveness, and consideration for foliar application for more efficient uptake.
The recent increase in soil moisture, after a relatively dry November, means that worm casts continue to be one of the most damaging issues for turf managers. The mild weather has meant growth has continued, but areas have been uncut for concerns over creating what could only be described as a mud bath. Activity may slow as temperatures decrease which would provide some relief; however, with still no legal controls for earthworms this is hopeful thinking. Any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally. The advice continues to be, to carry on with cultural management where possible.
2021 has been a year of getting back on track, adjusting to new ways of working and pressing on. 2022 will throw more challenges at us, particularly with expected price increases across the board, not only in our industry but also in our lives, alongside continued supply and delivery constraints. But as we have seen it 2021, we will as an industry and individuals meet these challenges head on and continue to provide excellent playing surfaces for the sports industry.
Enjoy the Christmas period, and a well-deserved break where possible. Take time to reflect on moments from the last year and what’s ahead in 2022.
Have a great Christmas and New Year!
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS
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.
- Check all moving parts and ensure they are properly greased and topped up with the right recommended lubricants.
- Take stock of what you have in your shed and what condition it is in.
- Take the opportunity to repair and get any equipment serviced.
- Check over all hand held sprayers.