With the continued wet weather experienced up and down the country, coupled with some milder temperatures, the chances are that you will be experiencing some higher than average wear in the vulnerable places on your pitches. Frosty mornings are likely to re-appear this month, but they are a good time to catch up on some machinery maintenance while you wait for the frost to work its way out of the grass.
Check to ensure that the frost has fully lifted before venturing out with machinery to avoid stress and damage to the grass.
The wet spate of weather continues into this month, though most every one is experiencing the welcome dry days in between. Even so, casting worm activity may be prevalent, spoiling an otherwise perfect surface and the likelihood is that you may need to consider an application of a worm control product.
Where there is moisture in the ground and with cooler night time temperatures you will 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.
The important thing is to keep the air circulating around the grass plant with a combination of regular brushing, drag matting and spiking to a variety of depths.
By Malcolm Gardner
|Early in the Month||1st - 15th November|
Applications of autumn/winter fertilisers can be applied that are low in nitrogen that would suppress the production of soft sappy top growth susceptible to fungal diseases and, high in phosphate and potash can be applied 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 program 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
If worm activity is starting to become a problem, brushing the surface when dry will help to dissipate the casts, and reduce the problem of smearing.
In some circumstances the use of a casting worm suppressant may be required, in which case always follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding timing, PPE, dose and volume rates and, just as important, what adjuvants can be used in the mix.
Keep to the recommendations. For the record, an adjuvant can be defined as a substance other than water which is not in itself a pesticide that enhances or is intended to enhance the effectiveness of the pesticide with which it is used.
|Later in the Month||16th November - onwards|
Start thinking now about your machinery service requirements and put them into a 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 were you find a grease nipple, oil were you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water. If in doubt consult the owner'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.
Cutting:- 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.
Dragmatting 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.
Verticutting:- 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.
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 Wiedenmann 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 are not agging.
Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter