Key Tasks for June
In the current climate, you will be guided by advice from your League and Governing Body regarding a return to play and/or training.
General maintenance should 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.
Other areas should also be checked over, such as fences and dugouts.
As parts of the country begin to open back up for sporting activity, there is no let-up in recent pressures for many across the industry. With effects of the Covid-19 crisis ongoing, there will be a lot of variance in what is achievable for individual facilities but, as late spring gives way to early summer, let’s look at how we can focus on providing the grass plant with some helpful assistance where circumstances allow.
Consistently warm soil temperatures in June create ideal conditions for fertilisers with an organic component, whether that be straight organic fertilisers or organo-mineral. Organic sources of nutrition help to support the soil food web and manage the soil-plant system in an holistic fashion. Spring inputs of nitrogen aiming to get things going can be reduced and grass growth will naturally start to drop back as temperatures rise. In the wild, the plant would have now gone through its leafy growth spurt and be diverting energy into setting flower.
Calcium is a key driver of growth for roots and shoots, as it is responsible for the construction of cell walls. Calcium availability can become limited in dry soils, so ensuring soil levels are adequate and supplementing with foliar calcium helps to maintain good health. Calcium, along with potassium, are essential for regulating stomatal function, helping the plant to better react to the onset of heat and water stress. Cold pressed liquid seaweeds contain plant hormones which also help to regulate against water stress and are a significant resource to be employed. Seaweed also contains hormones which promote germination and establishment.
The use of wetting agents, where it was feasible this spring, will start to pay dividends during June if hot weather occurs. Ideally, these should have started with the application of a block co-polymer in March at the latest, to give the soil a chance for the chemistry to accumulate in the soil. Where that wasn’t able to take place, or where planned applications were interrupted, penetrants surfactants will facilitate increase of water from the surface, although the holding capacity in the soil will be reduced.
Regular sarrel tine aeration is a key cultural means of maintaining soil moisture levels as the shallow but tightly spaced tines puncture a large percentage of the surface area, allowing gas to escape from the soil and better aiding the percolation of water from the surface.
Growth regulators such a trinexapac-ethyl and prohexadione-calcium applied during periods of good growth in anticipation of hot dry weather to come will help the plant to conserve energy and manage water stress, again mitigating drought pressure.
With respect to irrigation, applying water at the end of a hot day creates a nice thermal blanket, trapping a greater percentage of the day’s heat in the soil.
Little and often watering is appropriate for germinating seed and very young plants, but it is advantageous to thoroughly wet the profile and then let the soil dry down to just above wilting point if you can. This encourages the roots to penetrate and allows carbon dioxide to leave the soil and life-giving oxygen to enter.
Little and often watering also maintains surface humidity and will encourage algae, mould and fungi such a botrytis and Rhizoctonia spp. to attack swards.
Disease such as dollar spot and anthracnose may become a concern as the month progresses. Ensuring adequate fertility and soil moisture levels are cultural means to lessen the impact of these fungal pathogens by mitigating plant stress. Closely monitor weather forecasts, your historical site records and disease predictors to keep an eye out for major outbreaks. Resorting to a systemic fungicide if required.
Chafer grub traps deployed in May should have shown up garden chafers on sites where that species is present. Regular monitoring and recoding of other areas for adult beetles of the other species will facilitate the prediction of accurate intervention points for treatments such as entomopathogenic nematodes and Acelepryn later in the summer, should you be managing a site authorised for application of this insecticide. Acelepryn has been awarded an emergency authorisation again in 2020 but this time it is split into two windows, one each for Chafer grubs and leatherjackets respectively. As with 2018 and 2019 applications of Acelepryn are governed by a stewardship process and all releases of stock must be validated by a BASIS qualified advisor.
Senior Technical Manager – Amenity | MBPR