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.
We end September with what seems like more rainfall in the last few days of the month than we have seen over both August and September combined. Although looking back, there have been a few days of significant rainfall in these months, however this rain at the end of September feels much needed as there has been very little over the past weeks and most places are looking significantly dry, certainly for the time of year. Looking ahead at the forecasts, the unsettled end of the month carries on into the start of October. Although further into October appears more settled, those with renovations planned in early October may have to consider the option of drier but cooler conditions slightly later, or wetter but warmer soil temperatures slightly earlier.
As weather conditions change, October can be a high disease pressure month. Cooler temperatures, with increased leaf and soil wetness, mean that it’s important to constantly monitor the local environmental conditions with a view of the site’s previous history and patterns in disease outbreaks; knowing which areas are key indicators can help massively to stay ahead of damaging disease outbreaks. As conditions become more conducive for disease development, being aware of historic turf responses to certain weather conditions form a central part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach.
For many, the focus this month is Microdochium nivale (microdochium patch) control. There may still be some signs of the increasingly present Anthracnose, but as maintenance practices alter, raising heights of cut, reduced mowing etc… many of the stresses that contribute to this disease are eased slightly. Conditions in October can be ideal for Microdochium nivale outbreaks, and predicting when these outbreaks may occur is challenging. Gaining an understanding of what contributes to disease pressure reaching tipping point on your own site allows better informed decisions when selecting and timing any of the applications aimed at counteracting disease pressure. These may be fungicidal, nutritional or plant response applications.
As it becomes more difficult to rotate active ingredients, due to the decrease of new chemistry in the amenity market, the more information there is available then the easier it is to make accurate decisions on what, when and how to apply. Fungicide technology is only one part of an IPM approach, and increasingly it will be the other applications which will become more in focus as tools with which to reduce disease outbreaks and severity. Morning dews can lead to an increase in leaf wetness in October and this additional moisture on the surface can be the perfect vehicle for pathogens. Therefore, utilising dew dispersant technology can be a useful tool. Expectations need to be set to a realistic level in relation to longevity of the products compared to when using them in cool months when growth potential is low. When frequent mowing is still taking place, the longevity is going to be relatively short, however this can still be long enough to reduce the level of leaf wetness to get through a high disease pressure period.
With changes in temperatures and available sunlight, a shift in approach to nutrition should follow. The aim being to promote steady, hardy shoot and leaf growth, avoiding any flushes of growth that would be more susceptible to attack by fungal pathogens. Fertilisers with a slow release nitrogen source, such as IBDU or CDU 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 ensure the ammonium value is not above 4 or 5 percent (to avoid the aforementioned flushes of growth) or use a suitable application rate.
Biostimulants applied at the right time will be beneficial to the plant and soil over winter. Applications of carbon energy in the form of sugar can assist the plant in being more resilient and well-developed in the early spring. Therefore, a well-planned autumn application can have benefits on the start of the following season.
Seaweed has been shown to elicit important beneficial defence and stress responses in plants and associated microorganisms. Amino acids play an important role in abiotic stress tolerance, helping plants to prepare for and to cope with autumnal and winter stress events, such as varying changes in temperature and volumetric water content.
Don’t forget the emergency authorisation for applicatons of Acelepryn for the control of leatherjackets is still available with an end date for sale and application being 29th November. A month later than previous years.
There has been plenty of activity recently reported, with some noting a particularly long hatch period. Applications of the product should continue to be made when peak activity of the adult crane fly on the wing are observed, if this has given satisfactory results previously. If satisfactory control is not been achieved, new research indicates applications can be made up to one month after peak flight. 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. As with an integrated approach to disease management, monitoring, record keeping and understanding of the pests organisms life cycle are key factors for success.
With the relatively dry August and September, worm activity has been minimal for most, however as moisture levels continue to rise, these may become a major issue to contend with. 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. There are many options available, but the result should be measured against the amount of input required to get those results and then whether it is justifiable to carry the practices out. 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. This 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 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.
- 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