It was a case of famine then feast with the rainfall just lately. After a very dry April and beginning of May, many areas had torrential downpours. Very welcome though these may have been, those newly renovated pitches will have been tested by the heavier rain, particularly those that had just been re-seeded. The forecast for June is more settled weather, which will provide better conditions for the new seed to germinate and, once they get to the two to three leaf stage, you can start mowing
It is critical that you do not allow seedlings to dry out. Keep your seeded areas watered and, if available, make use of germination sheets to encourage rapid establishment.
When ready, mow the pitch on a regular basis, at least once a week, but do not take off more than a third of the leaf at any one time. Most professional groundsmen will be mowing 2-3 times a week to encourage the grass to tiller, but at a set height of cut so as not to stress the plant.
Key Tasks for June
Continue cutting regularly to ensure a good sward density. It may sometimes be helpful on newly established grass to lightly roll the surface before cutting to ensure that the plant does not get pulled out by the action of the mower. Also, ensure that any mowing equipment used is keenly set to cut without tearing.
June is when soils can dry out quickly. Make sure that your irrigation systems are functioning correctly as, once soils become hydrophobic and dry patch sets in, it becomes very difficult to get water back into the surface.
You may choose to use wetting agents to ensure uniform wetting, particularly on soils prone to dry patch.
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. However, suspend this operation for a period to allow for the germination of the new seedlings to take place, particularly on oversown thin areas.
Spike when the conditions allow, but keep your regime flexible. Surface spiking in a dry spell will help what rain you receive, or water you put on, to move quickly down through the profile to reach the new roots.
Now is a good time to thoroughly check your goalposts. Don’t just take them down and store them away. Make sure they will be fit for purpose for the new season.
Other areas should also be checked over, such as fences and dugouts.
Now is the time to get ahead of dry patch with a wetting agent – prevention, by applying them whilst the soil is still moist, is much better than cure on baked hard massively hydrophobic soils.
Where areas have been seeded then little and often applications of foliar applied nitrogen combined with liquid humates, seaweed and sugar (carbon) will foster multiple metabolic functions enhancing establishment. Foliar phosphite should also be considered into the routine due to its powerful root stimulating effect. Where granular feeds are ticking along as a base foundation, then liquids can be used to supplement growth at specific time, such as for competitions or in-between maintenance operations to give you fine control of the plant.
An upturn in growing conditions due to rainfall benefits fungal pathogens just as much as grass plants.The key drivers of diseases, such as microdochium nivale, continue to be continual leaf blade wetness due to prolonged periods of rainfall, or humidity which coincide with relatively still air. If these factors are forecast to remain for 12-48 hours, then the fungal pathogen will be able to advance and infect.
For anyone who has not checked their irrigation system for accuracy and function – now would be a really good time to do it.
Fair Ring and Dry Patch
Increased activity in soils of certain fungal species may lead to regions of the profile exhibiting hydrophobic behaviour. This is to say water repellency, similar to the manner in which water beads on the surface of a freshly waxed car. This may lead to dry patch or class one fairy ring damage, whereby the inability of water to adhere to the soil particles in these regions results in drought stress, wilt and finally grass dormancy (browning off). If drought conditions within a region of soil persist, then dormancy will be over taken by plant death.
The treatment for both is very similar;
- Identify the depth of the area of repellency by dropping a small amount of water onto a cross profile.
- Poke into the areas of repellency with aeration.
- Soak the areas with water combined with a penetrant wetting agent
Variation on the above occurs with respect to dry patch and hydrophobic activity due to the activity of Basidiomycota spp. fairy rings. In the case of class two fairy rings i.e. dark green rings, a fungicide containing azoxystrobin such as Syngenta’s Heritage Turf Disease Control applied alongside the wetting agent can assist in control.
One word of caution: there are two species of fungi relating to ring like diseases.
- Rhizoctonia spp. – this fungus results in a disease commonly referred to as either Brown Ring or Waitea patch and favours low nitrogen high, thatch conditions in times of moisture and humidity. Generally, it occurs only in the thatch layer.
- Basidiomycota spp. – results in the classic class one, two and three type fairy rings, resulting in various combinations of; hydrophobic soils, flushes of green growth and sporocarps (mushrooms). Generally, it occurs in soil horizon.
The key point here is in relation to water because rings occurring due to Basidiomycota spp. require wetting to relieve symptoms whilst rings occurring due to Rhizoctonia spp. will be made worse by wetting. A case of mistaken identity with these two diseases and, in particular mistaking Rhizonctonia spp. for Basidiomycota spp. which then results in applications of water, will only serve to promote the disease further.
You may be interested in this article on Fairy Rings - https://www.pitchcare.com/news-media/fairy-rings-the-subject-of-superstition.html
If growth is good and areas are not under drought stress, then June represents a very good time of year for an application of selective herbicide. Ensuring sprayers are well calibrated and nozzles not worn increases efficiency significantly. It is also good practice both in terms of economics and environmental responsibility. An addition of an adjuvant to increase uptake will enhance efficacy and should be considered. As should the use of a pH buffer in areas where your water source exceeds pH 6.4. This is because a water pH above this value increases the vulnerability of pesticides and fertilisers to hydrolysis – the chemical breakdown of a compound due to a reaction with water – increasing the risk of pesticides and fertilisers degrading or precipitating out of solution. This results in poor performance of those products due to the reduced availability of the active ingredients.
Please note: more information on Weeds, Pests & Disease can be found on the Pitchcare iGuide
A regular check on your mower is the order of the day, making sure the blades are sharp and set at the right height, and ensuring that the machine isn't leaking any oil.
Ideally, you should have a spare mower to hand - there are some good quality second hand ones around - just in case your main mower has problems.
You are now able to obtain the basic knowledge of how to maintain a football pitch online:
Our LANTRA accredited Winter Sports Pitch Maintenance Course (Rugby & Football) is now available in an online format.
Like our one day course, it is 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. As an online version, it means you can learn at your own pace and at home. The Course Manual is included as part of the online course.
Delegates attending the one day course or using the online version, 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.
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.
If preferred, we are able to arrange courses to be delivered on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Chris Johnson for information.
Other training courses available include:
Safe Use of Pesticides (PA courses)
Pedestrian operated mowers