Key Tasks for September
Do not be afraid to take a couple of core samples from your green, enabling you to see what lies below the surface. On examination, you should be able to see how much thatch you have and the condition of the soil.
Grass growth will start to slow down once soil and air temperatures drop below double figures. Your main concern for September will be organising your end of season renovation work; the extent and nature of the work will be entirely down to the condition of the green and what work you can afford to carry out.
Unfortunately, one of the deciding factors that often reduces the effectiveness of these planned works is the amount of money budget the club has available. It can cost anything between £1200-£1500 for a contractor to come in and do all the work.
Savings can be made if the club undertake the work themselves; however, the effectiveness of the work carried out will be determined by the equipment they have at their disposal. Savings can also be made if clubs buy materials in bulk (several clubs group buying).
The best way to balance the health of the grass plant and to achieve good green speed is to promote and carry out effective cultural practices to maintain surface playability.
The following activities are generally implemented during autumn renovations and usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow. The sequence of operations and their intensity will vary from green to green according to the condition at the end of the season.
Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation: lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare green for renovation operations. The mower can then be used to clean up the green after scarifying has been completed. With the season finished and the green closed down for the winter, mowing will only be required to maintain a winter height of cut at 8-12mm. Some clubs are now using rotary mowers to keep the greens tidy through the winter months. This methods does two jobs in one, it keeps the grass topped and hoovers up any surface debris, such as twigs and leaves.
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. However, in most cases, if regular verticutting/grooming has taken place during the growing season, you would probably only be required to scarify in two directions. Do not scarify at right angles to the previous scarification line. Depth of scarification between 4-15mm, depending on depth of thatch to remove.
Aeration is the decompaction of soil, improving air and gas exchange in the soil profile. Depending on the turf's condition, you can choose to carry out hollow or solid tine spiking. Hollow tines are generally used on a bi-annual basis or when you have a severe thatch problem. Depth of aeration will be determined by the depth of your soil profile and what problems you want to rectify. Hollow tining is best achieved to a depth of between 75-100mm. Solid or slit tines can be set to penetrate deeper, ideally between 150-200mm.
Topdressing restores levels and improves surface drainage. Ensure you use compatible topdressing materials, sands, sand/soil mixes. Spreading can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride-on, disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Best carried out in dry weather. It is important that the topdressings are spread uniformly. Brush to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up. Brush in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.
Overseeding restores grass populations. 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.
Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth. Apply a low N nitrogen fertiliser product, something like an NPK 5:5:15 to help the sward through the autumn period.
Irrigation is essential after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.
September marks the beginning of autumn and, for the wild grass plant, a time for May’s flush of growth, June’s fluorescence of flowering and July’s efforts of ripening to bear fruit; as the seeds dropped onto the ground in August take maximum advantage of the available warmth and adequate moisture in the soil to germinate, develop and grow. This is a process nature has set in place to afford young seedlings of the next generation the opportunity to establish a foundation, such that they can overwinter and then spring forwards as temperatures return the following year.
It is now that the turf manager mimics nature’s perfect blueprint, as across many surfaces we set about renovating at the end of the growing season.
Seed sown with good contact to the soil will be able to draw up moisture and use the residual temperature to establish. Applications of growth regulators, shortly prior to the operation, can assist in holding back competition from the mature plants already in situ.
Adequate nutrition is as important as ever. An application of energy from phosphorous helps to synthesise ATP, the energy currency of all cells. Calcium will provide the raw ingredients to drive cellular generation at the growing tips of roots and within new leaves. Additionally, it will strengthen the primary cell wall, strengthening defences against pathogenic fungal attack, particularly as cooler nights coincide with warm days to produce heavy dews.
Avoid heavy applications of nitrogen on fine turf surfaces in particular. Avoid also inputs designed to stimulate biological activity.
A productive soil ecosystem is a core fundamental of a healthy rootzone and, in turn, grass plant. That said, a soil-plant ecosystem which is too productive during the autumn can lead to an excess of nitrate nitrogen, leading to soft growth more susceptible to fungal diseases.
The Emergency Authorisation for Acelepryn ends on the 30th of September. Application of the product when adult Chafers are monitored as being on the wing means that all those eligible to apply the substance should now have done so. Monitoring should however continue. Lift areas suspected of being infested and check for both the presence of live grubs as well and dead ones. Where chemical control is not authorized, Entomopahogenic nematodes can be applied throughout the month. Warm soil temperatures and available moisture are conditions which play nicely into the hands of Entomopahogenic nematodes who swim in the water film on soil particles in their bid to search out a larval host.
Worms will also take advantage of the morning dews with casting becoming a problem on many areas. There are no legal controls for earthworms and anything applied which directly affects or deters them is done so illegally.
The responsible course of action is cultural management via a combination of 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.
Compiled by James Grundy - Senior Technical Manager | BASIS No. R/E/7542IFMAT
- 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.
Grounds Training was established in 2006 to provide a complete and unique service delivery training courses for the sports turf industry. We are now the go-to provider for on-site, bespoke training for groups. Alongside our renowned turf maintenance which now includes Lantra accredited Online courses. Grounds Training also works with the industry’s awarding bodies – Lantra and City & Guilds (NPTC).
Open courses for individuals to join are also offered at our Allscott (Telford) Training Centre, Most courses lead to Lantra Awards or NPTC qualifications; a small number of niche courses where the instructor is an experienced groundsman who is also Lantra Awards or NPTC registered, offer Pitchcare certification.
Whether your staff are involved with preparing and maintaining sports turf, operating ground care machinery and equipment or require a safe use of pesticides qualification, we have the course to suit them.
For more information on our online courses click here
The Course Manual at just £30 is available for purchase separately.
Here are our upcoming open courses:
PA1/ PA6A - Thursday 5th/ Friday 6th September, Allscott Telford TF6 5DY