A good deal of bright weather is likely in early August, but with showers affecting western and north-western parts. South-eastern areas will remain generally dry. Temperatures will be near or slightly below average, with some chilly nights, especially in the north. Later in the month it is expected to turn more unsettled generally, with a mixture of brighter but showery spells interspersed by cloudier conditions with outbreaks of rain. North-western parts will see the heaviest rain and strongest winds, whereas the south-east will get the best of the dry and bright weather. Temperatures should be around average, but sometimes cooler in the north-west.
The recent good run of warm weather, interspersed with rain showers, has helped pitches establish ahead of the new season.
Continue with regular mowing of the sward to help promote tillering, mowing the grass at least twice a week; or more if you have the resources. A cylinder mower will provide the best results, cutting in a different direction each time.
Air temperatures should continue to be high during August, so it is important during these periods of hot weather to keep the grass plant well-watered.
Many will be on final pitch preparations now, including setting out and initial marking of your pitches. Always double check your measurements before committing to a white line!
Check that your goal sockets are set in line with the base line and are upright. Correct this now to ensure a professional look, particularly with the newly painted goalposts and nets ready to be put into place.
Keep casual play out of goalmouth areas where possible.
Key Tasks for August
- Continue brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, removing early morning dew and controlling disease
- Mow regularly at your preferred cutting height to ensure a good sward density
- Verticut to clean out lateral growth and aid air circulation
- Continue spiking when the conditions are right - alternating between surface and deep with occasional slitting
- Linemarking; “measure twice: mark once” is a good tip to take on board when marking out new pitches
- Make sure you have enough linemarking material for the season
- Applying a summer N P K fertiliser - perhaps a 12:0:9 or 9:7:7 - to maintain grass colour and vigour. A slow release fertiliser could be applied to see you through August
- Do not apply fertiliser during drought periods, unless you have the means to water in
- Avoid the use of fertilisers with a high salt content, as this draws moisture from the plant. Use of liquid fertilisers are less likely to scorch grass, but may still need to be watered in
- Consider, as an alternative, applications of seaweed or amino bio stimulants which have proved beneficial in helping grass through stressful periods. Another option is calcium; an important ingredient for giving the plant rigidity and regulating root and shoot growth
- If you are unable to provide irrigation to the whole pitch, then at least you should try and ensure adequate watering of the goalmouth and centre circle areas
August is a good time for another organic fertiliser application; with a two month longevity, an application in August will take you through to October, which is the perfect time for an autumn winter feed. Maxwell Turf Food Myco2 4-6-12+4%MgO provides a nice kick of phosphorous, potassium and magnesium for plant resilience and colour but without too much nitrogen so as not to encourage excessive soft lush growth. The mycorrhizal fungi combined with the phosphorus content means it is also especially good as a fertiliser when sowing seed.
On winter sports pitches Lebanon Proscape 25-0-12 with 100% slow release nitrogen and 100% slow release potassium is a fantastic option on both sandy and loamy rootzones. Its three month controlled release action will spoon feed nutrition throughout the first part of the season without producing excessive growth. This will help to take surfaces through into the autumn in peak condition just in time for an application of Lebanon Proscape 12-6-24+4%MgO which will then take it through into the new year. Keeping the plant happy through the increasingly warmer and wetter winter months is a vital strategy at reducing wear and tear to help the surfaces through into the spring in better condition.
The risk of severe drought stress has largely passed and August tends to produce substantial rain fall. Moisture combined with warmth and humidity is going to place stress on the plant from a number of directions. Aeration is vital to keep the soil oxygen ratio balanced, 8mm needle or 12mm standard tines down to a depth of 200-300mm with a vertical aerator will be particularly beneficial in allowing the soil to breath. Combining this with a weekly pass from a Sarel or Star Tine aerator will provide a large volume of aeration into the sward and thatch layer to provide a rounded approach to aeration.
Continued use of polymer and penetrant wetting agents will also help to manage soil water percolation and retention more effectively by moving rain fall away from the surface but holding it further down in the profile where it will be readily available during any hotter and sunny spells.
Disease pressure has been unseasonably high throughout July and this is likely to continue into August. With both microdochium patch and anthracnose forecast to be problematic. Heritage Maxx fungicide is a strong contender for use as a preventative and early curative with its systemic action making it an sensible option during the growing season and especially as a preventative prior to turf renovations. Red thread will also thrive in humid conditions and reducing total time of continual leaf blade wetness through switching and brushing is the first line of defence when aiming to minimise disease activity.
Seaweed is a fantastic way of boosting soil flora, priming the pant to resist environmental stress and extending the longevity of fertilisers. However, it is a fantastic fungal food and stimulator so applications need to be timed carefully to boost good fungi and not pathogenic ones. Keeping a close eye on weather trends combined with fungicide treatments is important, or put simply; do not apply it when fungal disease is active, apply it about a week after a fungicide application, ideally with some Chelated Iron to strengthen plant cell walls.
Red Thread has swept spectacularly through a lot of outfield turf. With such a peak in disease activity in mid-summer we are expecting continued problems over the next few months; therefore acting preventatively by applying a systemic fungicide such as Heritage Maxx will be the most effective form of control. Application before symptoms are visible but the threat is imminent is the key to success when adopting a preventative approach. Red Thread is ill-defined bleached grass with Pink mycelium visible in early morning dew. Close inspection will reveal red needle like structures which are attached to the leaf blades. The needles become brittle upon death and are easily detached allowing fragments to spread the disease.
Systemic curatives and protective fungicides such as Chlorothalonil and Iprodione, applied in liquid form with water as a carrier, can be used to control any outbreaks. Mixing two or more products in the same tank can help reduce the potential for disease resistance developing. Fungicides are selected with different modes of action so that resulting mixture will attack the target disease on two or more fronts. This makes it more difficult for the pathogens to develop resistance to treatments.
Symptoms of Fusarium (Microdochium nival), the most common and damaging disease, are orange/brown patches 2.5-5cm across increasing in size under suitable conditions as the disease progresses. Active patches have a distinctive 'ginger' appearance when viewed early in the morning. Creamy white mycelium resembling cotton wool can be seen in the centre and towards the outer edge of the patch.
Grass in the active patches is often slimy; once the disease is controlled the scars will remain until there is sufficient grass growth to fill in. Regular brushing, switching or drag matting in the mornings to remove the dew from the playing surfaces will reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak.
Worms can be very active at this time of the year so treatments can be carried out, if needed; the use of Carbendazim is the only active ingredient for controlling worms. All personnel should be suitably qualified in the application of chemicals. Moles can be active where worms are prevalent and can cause a lot of damage to the surface.
Please note: More information on these and many others can be found here: www.pitchcare.com/useful/diseases.php
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Winter Sports Pitches. It is a one day course designed to provide a basic knowledge of rugby and football pitch maintenance. The course enables the Groundsman to grasp the basic needs of a winter sports surface throughout a 12 month period.
Delegates attending the Winter Sports Pitch Maintenance course and using the accompanying manual will be able to develop their own skills, working knowledge and expertise, by understanding the method of instruction and the maintenance principles it sets out.
Further details of our forthcoming autumn courses can be found on our website Grounds Training
Included in the Course Manual, there are working diaries showing the range of tasks needed to be accomplished each month. The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.
In addition, we are able to arrange courses to be delivered on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Chris Johnson for information.
During this month: Please ensure that all goalposts meet health and safety standards. Now is a good time to thoroughly check them over. If you have stored them away, give them a thorough once over to ensure that they will be fit for purpose for the new season. If you find any defects, these must be reported to your management/committee, with appropriate remedies being sought – ahead of the season!
It would be prudent to thoroughly clean out your linemarking kit. If the forecasted showers appear, what better time to do this mundane but important job? Regardless of the type of machine you use, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better your lines will look for the start of the season.
Other areas should also be checked over, such as fences and dugouts.
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