Key Tasks for June
With the long daylight hours and warm temperatures expected in June, grass growth will be quite prolific. Continue to carry out routine maintenance tasks, mowing, verticutting, fertilising, watering to keep the green in a playable condition. Grass growth will dictate mowing frequencies, in most cases clubs are cutting daily or on a three to four times a week regime. Only apply fertilisers if you have significant moisture in the green; clubs that are struggling to water should refrain from applying feeds whilst the greens are dry.
Get into the habit of taking a number of soil core samples to monitor what's happening underground; a visual look at a soil profile will enable you to monitor thatch content, moisture levels and root depth.
Mowing. With regard to mowing, ensure your mower is kept sharp and set at the correct height. No two greens are the same; Height of cut (HOC) will vary from green to green, with HOC influenced by several factors, type of mower used, condition of the green, sward composition and surface levels. In general, HOC will range between 3mm-8mm during the growing season, with most clubs cutting at around 5mm.
Some clubs will reduce their mowing heights, perhaps down to 3mm, to help speed up the greens for club competitions. Prolonged mowing at these heights will lead to plant stress. As an alternative, instead of reducing the height, do a double cut (in different directions), this will speed up the greens without reducing the grass height. The speed of greens can be affected by other factors - too much thatch is the main cause of slow greens, or the fact that the greens have not had enough topdressings to maintain levels.
Irrigation. Nowadays, irrigation is an important and integral part of the turf grass management industry, especially as the demand for better quality playing surfaces has increased. Therefore, careful consideration and investment in a decent watering system is a key requirement to managing fine turf surfaces. Irrigation is essential for a number of reasons:
- for plant survival and growth
- for soil formation
- for soil strength
- for chemical transport
- for managing playability
- for presentation
Water is influential in all chemical, physiological and biological processes of plant growth. The soil/plant water relationships is critical to the sustainability of any grass plant. Having an understanding of these relationships is critical.
All grass plants are a continuum of water movement. Over 90% of the plant's water requirements are transported through the plant from the soil profile, via the roots and stem tissues into the leaves and out into the atmosphere. Knowledge of these relationships is important when designing and operating irrigation systems. The main aim is to achieve a water balance within the soil profile ensuring that the grass plant is able to access available water from the soil.
Irrigation scheduling by the water balance approach is based on estimating the soil water content. In the field, daily evapotranspiration (ET) amounts are withdrawn from storage in the soil profile. Any rainfall or irrigation are added to storage. Should the water balance calculations project soil water to drop below some minimum level, irrigation is indicated. Weather forecasts enable prediction of ET rates and projection of soil water balance to indicate whether irrigation is needed in the near future.
It is also important to state that overwatering can equally be damaging to your surface. Keeping the surface waterlogged will reduce air porosity and decline plant growth; constant shallow watering will also increase Poa annua populations. Ideally, you should apply a sufficient amount of water to flood up the green and then allow to drain for two - three days. This allows the water to get deeper into the soil profile.
Rink Ends - Flat Greens
This is often a contentious point between groundsmen and players. Many players and committees insist on keeping the ends in the same position and direction, usually for obscure reasons such as "it's my lucky rink". Playing in the same direction with the rink ends in the same position will cause uneven wear on what should be a flat, level green. Ruts and depressions will occur, causing the bowl not to roll true. The rink settings should be moved laterally and directionally every 3 days or so, playing across and up and down the green.
On the same basis, all rinks should be used in rotation so that wear is evenly spread across the green. Just using the centre links will quickly affect the level of the green.
As I write this month’s diary, many people’s attention will be shifting towards getting ready for the bank holiday Jubilee. Whether that be getting grounds ready for matches and events or venues ready for festivities and celebrations. The forecast looks dry, so a good few days should be enjoyed. Before we look too far ahead, let’s take a brief look back at May. Although the year is flying by at a rapid pace, of all the months so far May seems to have gone the quickest. I think a combination of Bank holidays, half-term break and holidays have meant June is already here. May was a mixture of weather, which brought us some decent temperatures to finally encourage more consistent growth and some much needed rainfall, although many parts of the country are still very dry, which is now having an impact on growth and there are signs of localised dry patch in some areas.
The forecast for June looks favourable with consistently decent temperatures, with 21 days predicted to be 18° C or above and night- time temperatures around 10° C or above for most of the month. There is the occasional period of rainfall forecast which should maintain growth, without too much moisture where growth is above the desired amount. After a dry May for most areas, if rainfall in June in also minimal, this will mean that irrigation systems will need to be running to ensure enough moisture is in the profile to sustain a healthy plant and avoid any issues of areas drying too much and volumetric moisture content (VMC) dropping to low, which may lead to turf issues.
Following the increase in temperature and light intensity, growth has become much more consistent and therefore nutrient programmes should be in line with this growth pattern. Nutrition should be supplied only at a level required to give the desired amount of recovery from wear imparted on the surface. Liquid fertiliser can be an excellent source of nutrition. When applied little and often, this is complementary to an even and consistent growth pattern. Granular fertiliser can also be used, however there is more probability of peaks and troughs of growth. If using granular fertiliser, to avoid the aforementioned peaks and troughs, utilising a fertiliser which relies on microbial activity to release the nitrogen is a good option. Examples of these are organic, organo- mineral, methylene urea (MU) and crotonylidene diurea (CDU). These forms release nitrogen gradually over a period of time and can be classed as slow release. This release pattern complements the amount of growth at this time of year as the release is dependent on environmental and microbial activity. Growth can also be managed by the use of plant growth regulators. For those using this technology, applications will have already been made in previous months and these should continue in line with growth potential. Trials have shown the combination of active ingredients Proheaxadione-Calcium and Trinexapac- ethyl give excellent plant growth regulation results.
In dry periods, achieving consistency in moisture management throughout a rootzone is crucial to overall plant health and performance. The aim is to have even moisture distribution through the rootzone, within a determined ±% tolerance guideline set by the turf manager. Wetting agents and surfactants can be essential tools to help achieve this aim. If the rootzone dries down too much and the VMC % drops too low, conditions can become hydrophobic (water-repellent), curative action will need to be taken to allow the rootzone to be re-wettable. Therefore, avoiding this by following a water management programme can minimise the probability of issues.
Acelepryn has been awarded an emergency authorisation for chafer grub control again in 2022, covering golf courses (restricted areas), airfields, horse racecourses and gallops, and this year under exceptional circumstances, cricket outfields. It is important to note here that this only applies to elite venues where there is a risk of a major event being cancelled and does not apply to all cricket outfields (follow label instructions). As with previous years, applications of Acelepryn are governed by a stewardship process and all releases of stock must be validated by a BASIS qualified advisor.
Pheromone traps utilised in May should have shown up any activity of chafers on site. It is important to regularly monitor and record activity so that informed decisions can be made about the best way to manage the issue. Treatments such as the relevant entomopathogenic nematodes can be made on sites where the emergency approval is not granted. Apply 4-5 weeks after the peak adult flying time has been recorded ensuring that:
- The number of larvae in the soil has reached the action threshold
- The soil temperature is within the tolerance limits for the nematode
- The soil is moist and has been aerated
- Further rain is forecast or you can apply irrigation
There is no emergency authorisation for the control of leatherjackets currently. Therefore, those with issues will need to evaluate the potential use of entomopathogenic nematodes. Applications made early in the season need to be done with care, ensuring the correct species are used and realistic expectations are set in terms of achievable results.
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS
- Keep machines overhauled and clean.
- Inspect and repair any watering or irrigation systems.
- Continue to check and service your floodlighting systems.
- Replace any worn tines on your aeration equipment.