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
After mild October temperatures and a number of days filled with sunlight, which has been good for grass growth, we end October with a period of wet, dingy, cool weather, which sees us transition from the tail end of summer and autumn into the winter period. Looking ahead, November is forecast to be a month of mixed weather, with the usual rainfall for this time of year but also some clear days too. The temperatures are set to start the month in the low teens and then shift towards the back end of the month to high single figures. Any clear nights at this point potentially introducing some morning frosts with the low night-time temperatures.
As days become gloomier and nights become longer, the obvious result of this is a decrease in the amount of opportunity the grass plant has to photosynthesise. Less photosynthesis in conjunction with a decrease in temperature means less growth and recovery. The mild start to the month should mean a gradual decrease in soil temperatures rather than a sharp drop off, which will mean growth decreases steadily, meaning that mowing and other practices will still be required. Whilst this is happening, it gives the turf manager opportunity to apply products to promote any recovery needed and improve plant health. As shade and damp environments become more of the norm, it plays straight into the hands of mosses, algae and fungal diseases. One of the main fungal diseases through this period in the UK is still Microdochium nivale (Fusarium patch).
Predicting when these disease outbreaks may occur is challenging. Understanding what contributes to disease pressure and completes the disease triangle on your own site allows better informed decisions when selecting and timing applications aimed at counteracting disease pressure. These may be fungicides, nutrition or plant response applications. Previous applications may have already been made as part of a disease prevention strategy or an autumn IPM programme which is being followed. It is important to ensure, where possible, that active ingredients are being rotated to avoid any resistance establishing with the pathogen. It is also essential to follow label recommendations for application rates to minimise any risk of resistance. More information on fungicide groups can be found via the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee.
With the changes in weather outlined above, the mild temperatures in early November will continue to provide opportunities for growth and recovery. This is best visualised using growth potential (GP). GP is a concept to express the relative growth rate of turfgrass at a given temperature. GP should be matched with the appropriate amount of nutrition and a suitable nitrogen source. Essentially, there is going to be very little activity in a low growth potential period for slow release fertiliser or any fertiliser source that relies on microbial breakdown to release plant available nitrogen. Therefore, choosing the most suitable source is key when considering the results you are aiming to achieve.
Maintaining an 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. The use of penetrant wetting agents and dew dispersants are now commonplace in a bid to keep surfaces as dry as possible and restrict the occurrence of disease outbreaks. Using a penetrant wetting agent enhances the infiltration of water into the profile, ensuring the water has a route into the upper rootzone. It is important to note that this water needs somewhere to go, and therefore using such technology is most effective when there is an element of drainage within the profile, so the water can flow through the rootzone. If this is not in place, then essentially more water is just taken into the rootzone with no effective escape route, leading to more water being held in the profile. Something which is essential to getting effective use out of dew dispersant products is that it’s important growth should be minimal when they are applied, this will ensure the product is not removed from regular mowing. The plant should also be as dry as possible to ensure the product remains on the leaf surface.
A further reminder that the emergency authorisation for applications of Acelepryn for the control of leatherjackets is still available, with an end date for sale and application being 29th November. There are still reports of late hatching and Syngenta have released new research findings indicating applications can be made up to one month after peak flight. Acelepryn is most active on the 1st and 2nd instar larval stages. As with an integrated approach to disease management, monitoring, record keeping and understanding of the pests organisms life cycle are key factors for success.
The rise in moisture levels means that earthworm casts are now a serious issue again for many, with them being a major factor in the ‘damage’ to turf playing surfaces, which can affect playability and visual presentation greatly. There are no legal controls for earthworms and any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally. Cultural management is the only route currently available. Sulphate of iron is often used as a surface acidifying agent, but it is worth using with caution to avoid over application which may lead to negative effects to plant health throughout the rest of the year.
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.