Incredible isn't it, how the weather can change so dramatically? Where we were talking last month of how to help your grass get over the stress of a very dry summer, now most of you will be struggling to keep your pitches from being over played in some pretty wet conditions.

Of course, we are into the beginnings of the season and pitches up and down the country have a lot of matches scheduled for the season, so it is important that we ensure that when it is likely that a pitch will be adversely cut up, matches or training is postponed until conditions improve. It is Important that we also keep up with a programme of spiking to ensure that water continues to move down through to the drier areas of the soil profile.

The wet spate of weather is also encouraging casting worms into activity, which may be spoiling an otherwise perfect surface, and the likelihood is that you may need to bring forward your programmed application of a worm control.

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.

By Malcolm Gardner
Grounds Manager
BA Clubs

Early in the Month 1st - 15th October

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.

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 in the Month 16th October - onwards

Start thinking now about your machinery service requirements and put them into a program. 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.

Key Tasks for October
Mowing / Brushing/ Verticutting
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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.

Useful Information for Mowing / Brushing/ Verticutting

Articles Products
Facts about mowing
Mowing Equipment
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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.

Useful Information for Aeration

Articles Products
Why Aeration? Equipment
Marking out

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 if 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.

Useful Information for Marking out

Articles Products
I walk the line! Marking Paints
Other Tasks for the Month
  • Divoting:-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

  • Equipment Checks:-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 sagging).

  • Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter