We enter into October with similar weather patterns to September (wet in the north and west, dry in the south east). This has caused some problems for some, be it problems trying to get on with work when there is little in the way of dry weather or having to deploy watering equipment where available.
There are some early indications that there could be an invasion later this month of the adult leather jackets. Unlike last year, in the south of the country the conditions have been favourable for the growth in populations. If you recall last year, soil profiles were so wet that the populations declined, and this may still be the case in the north and the west of the country where rainfall has been higher than average for this time of year.
Where there is moisture in the ground, and with the onset of cooler night time temperatures, you may already have experienced some mornings with heavy dew bringing with it the increased chance of fungal outbreaks. Though some outbreaks may need treatment with a fungicide, prevention is better than a cure, and this can be aided with some good cultural practices starting with dew removal during the early morning.
Early This Month
Applications of autumn/winter fertilisers can be applied that are low in nitrogen, which will suppress the production of soft sappy top growth susceptible to fungal diseases, and high in phosphate and potash to help the grass to maintain a healthy root structure.
The choice of fertiliser will be largely based around your soil tests, but may be influenced by whether you choose to use a conventional type fertiliser or a slow release product that will release the nutrients over a period of time based on soil temperature and moisture.
Applications of tonics can also be applied in accordance with your annual programme to help harden your turf against damage and the ingress of turf diseases.
Keep an eye out for disease and treat at the early signs
Worm activity is starting to become noticeable and brushing the surface when dry will help to dissipate the casts, reducing the problem of smear.
Later This Month
Start thinking now about your machinery service programme. Some forward planning at this stage of what service requirements are needed for which machine, and a time when you will be sending your mowers out for sharpening etc., will help you in the long run to avoid nuisance breakdowns, and to ensure that you have the machinery on hand when you need it.
Look at the overall condition and check for extra requirements needed to keep it compliant with current health and safety legislation (correctly functioning safety cut out switches, belt/chain guards in place etc.). Check also for things that may cause a problem in the future such as fatigue fractures on handle bars or on grass box carriers etc.
Keep your machinery in tip top condition. Grease where you find a grease nipple, oil were you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water. If in doubt consult the manufacturer's manual. Clean it when you've finished. All this may seem mundane but will keep your mower going when you need it, and save you money in costly down time.
Keep casual play out of goalmouth areas. This can be easily achieved if you have a set of portable goals that can be moved around to different parts of your field or pitch. However, if you have socket goals then your task may be a little more difficult, needing the deployment of polite notices and or rope and pins to keep people of the area.
Continue cutting regularly 25 -37mm to ensure a good sward density. Check the cutting action of your cylinder regularly to ensure that the units are cutting and not tearing the grass.
Drag matting and brushing
Continue the work of brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, particularly important for removing early morning dew and controlling disease. This will also help to reinforce the presentation of the pitch.
Will help to ensure that the sward is kept clean of lateral growth that may be appearing, and also help to ensure that good circulation of air around the base of the plant.
Unless you have been blessed with plenty of rain you are unlikely to be able to penetrate the ground successfully to any depth from the start. Start out with shallow spiking and, as the moisture works its way down the profile, you will be able to increase the depth you are able to spike at. Keep in mind that you need to regularly change the depth of spiking, as to carry out the operation to the same depth over a period of time can lead to a soil pan (a hard zone within the soil profile that both water and grass roots find difficult to break through). Keep your spiking regime flexible, alternating between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting.
Those with access to a vertidrain of weidermann spiker can use some heave in order to break through these conditions, but the soil still needs to be moist in order to achieve the optimum benefit from this type of spiking.
I have said this on many occasions but an accurate line that is bright and crisp can make such a difference to the finished presentation of a pitch. It is well to take your time to ensure that you walk a straight line (not very achievable is you are in a hurry) and, if the line you have to follow is not very straight, then don't be afraid to re-string it.
This is an obvious, but start as you mean to go on. At this part of the season a little addition of seed mixed with a little topsoil will soon germinate and help to repair any deep scars
Check weekly goals for loose bolts and tighten as necessary.
Check nets - make sure the net is properly supported at the back of the goal and isn't sagging.
Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter
By Malcolm Gardner