It looks likely that generally settled conditions will continue through the first half of June. Therefore, we can expect a good deal of dry and bright weather for most, but with a few wetter intervals mixed in, these potentially thundery. The temperature will most likely be a tad warmer than the June average on the whole, especially in the west and south. Then, as we head towards the latter part of June, there are currently no strong signals for any weather out of the ordinary, although there remains a small chance of more unsettled conditions becoming established.
It should allow greens staff to get back up to speed with their daily maintenance regimes; greens, tees, fairways and bunker hazards should be at their best, both in a visual and performance perspective.
As we move into the summer months and temperatures continue to rise, we will need to ensure consistency across our putting surfaces. Reducing the cutting height and ensuring the cutting units are sharp should be a priority.
Remember; do not bring the cutting heights down to more than a third of the total height of the plant at any one time. Height of cut will have a major influence on the performance of your green, however, care should be taken not to stress the grass plant out by going too low.
As the cutting units are to become used more regularly, the sharpness of the blade is of paramount importance to reduce the incidence of pressure from disease. If disease does occur, a judgement call will need to be made as to whether it will ‘grow out’ with good growing conditions, or the situation is not likely to improve.
Also be mindful that playing surfaces will easily dry our during periods of hot weather, therefore ensure your watering systems are working and you are applying the correct amount of water to replace what is lost by evaportranspiration.
Key Tasks for June
As cutting frequencies increase, alter cutting directions and patterns to reduce the amount of stress from turning circles and the problem of grass ‘napping’. Remember to make large turning circles where possible, or to make three-point turns.
Tees, fairways and surrounds will require heavy divoting as volumes of play start to increase. The warmer weather and sporadic showers should allow for quicker germination and establishment. Similarly, any bare areas should also be renovated to try and reduce potential levels of weed/poa invasion as we move through the growing season.
The increased temperatures and sunshine hours will bring with it increased volumes of play. Whilst pressures to produce the highest levels of playing surface will be high, with many competitions and social events occurring, remember the importance of little and often aeration and topdressing. During warmer, drier periods, do not use tines that will leave large holes (e.g. slit tines) as the ability of the hole to fully recover will be lessened in these conditions.
With expected drier weather, irrigation systems will begin to be used more often. Ensure that all pop-ups and central systems are in good working order. Cleaning the system and ensuring the sprinkler arcs are in the correct positions should be major objectives. Trimming around the pop-ups and valve boxes will aid presentation and increase the speed of work during busy morning periods. Try to use the pop-ups when the surfaces need moisture, as this is better practice than applying water at set intervals or when there are few signs of stress. Also, check your water quality, what pH is it? Is it suitable for your green? Check filters on recycled water systems. Poor water quality will affect plant growth and sustainability.
Mowing frequencies can vary from daily to twice weekly operations dependent on the growth of the grass and the standards set by the course manager. Mowing heights may vary depending on local conditions, type of course, course expectations, sward type and mower type. The mowing heights are a guide, and will be subject to local weather conditions, but remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut. The less stress that is placed on the grass at this vital time, the better the results further on into the season.
• Greens - Mowing height should be maintained at around 3.5-6mm.
• Tees - Mowing height should be maintained at around 10-15mm.
• Fairways - Mowing height should be maintained at around 15-20mm.
• Rough and Semi rough grass areas - Mow and tidy up these areas.
Changing of hole positions should be carried out regularly, however frequency will be dependant on a number of factors; green size, greens construction, tournaments, amount of play and condition of the green. During wet periods, it is likely the hole will wear more quickly, resulting in a crowning affect and surface wear. This wear is more apparent if the green has thatch problems. The hole will tend to wear quickly and form a depression caused by the placement of golfers' feet. Most golf courses are changing their hole positions at least three times a week.
Light topdressings of sand/rootzones are essential for maintaining surface levels preparation and again, 'little and often' being the ideal practice. Aeration should also continue, using a mix of micro, needle or star tines which give maximum effect and almost zero turf disturbance. Sarel rollers are another alternative; the main objectives being to 'vent' the rootzone and to allow water to move quickly from the surface and into the rootzone, thus encouraging the turf to root deeper.
Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.
Most groundstaff would have applied a spring fertiliser dressing back in March and, depending on weather conditions and type of greens, will have already applied or considered applying another dressing of fertiliser to balance growth. Cut back on the (N) nitrogen input and (P) phosphate elements, and apply something like a 9+7+7 NPK fertiliser. Many greenkeepers are also using a programme of base feeds topped up with liquid fertilisers. Generally, USGA sand based greens tend to be more hungry for fertilisers compared to the pushed up soil greens. There is the option to use straight compound fertilisers that act instantly to the conditions, rather than use slow release products that can initiate or stimulate growth when you don't want it.
You can colour up the greens with an application of iron and seaweed products prior to competitions and tournaments.
We have also seen, in recent years, some greenkeepers going down the route of applying compost tea formulations with a top up of tonics and seaweed extracts. However, whichever route you take, the key is to apply a balanced feeding programme to maintain plant health.
The choice of materials and how well they work can be dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and and air temperatures being the catalyst for growth.
As we head into June, the levels of grass growth should be at a peak for the year. This means a lot of mowing for greenkeepers, but more importantly a greater requirement for essential nutrients. Playing surfaces should be monitored closely for signs of nutrient stress, and, allied with soil sample results taken in the spring, fertiliser choices can be made to suit the conditions and type of grass/soil present. The increased growth rate will lead to accelerated thatch accumulation. Utilising the various ways of reducing this is of paramount importance to reduce the occurrence of disease and other problems further down the line.
Feed-wise, should be in the middle of your programmes now, but regular applications of SeaAction seaweed and Biomass Sugar are paramount to help plant function, stress tolerance and soil biology. Where granular feeds are ticking along as a base foundation then liquids can be used to supplement growth at specific times, such as for competitions or in-between maintenance operations to give the turf professional fine control of the plant.
Disease-wise there might have been a bit of red thread around, but best to just feed that out with a little bit of nitrogen rather than apply a fungicide as red thread is a superficial disease on the leaf and does not affect the crown, killing the whole plant like for example microdochium patch.
Moisture management could also potentially be a key feature of the month. Many greenkeepers have invested in weather stations to inform of potential evapotranspiration rates within their sward. Remember not to let the soil dry out too much, but keep irrigation practices as natural as possible. Soaking the playing surface every few days is better than religiously watering at set schedules. Moisture meters are available to help you have a greater understanding of the situation beneath your putting surfaces.
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.
Lastly, keep tabs on playing qualities (PQS) as well as aesthetic qualities within the sward. A whole host of factors could conspire to reduce either within the putting/playing surfaces. Monitoring them closely, and on a regular basis, will provide you with a better understanding of your course. Recording findings gives an ability to compare results from previous years. Checking practical elements such as consistency and height of cut using macroscopes and prisms will also provide insight during a busy period.
Weed growth is very active during June, requiring the use of selective herbicides. These are more effective when the plant is actively promoting growth. Always follow manufacturers' guidelines.
Moles and rabbit damage repairs can be undertaken as and when required.
Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Scarring of the playing surface is normally reduced as grass growth is usually dominant and vigorous in June, reducing the need to use fungicide treatments. However, there may be a need to apply a preventative fungicide treatment in the lead up to important competitions or matches.
As previously mentioned, there might have been a bit of red thread around, but best to just feed that out with a little bit of nitrogen.
In some areas, chafer grubs and leather jackets have been a problem and you may need to think about biological control, such as nematodes, at the right time of the year. Timing of the applications are critical. Now is not the optimum time, but we will be publishing an article on the website in July about how to effectively deal with the problem.
Please note: More information on these and many others can be found here: https://www.pitchcare.com/useful/diseases.php
Machinery (Repairs & Maintenance)/ Daily:- Inspect and clean machinery after use, service and repair damaged machinery.
Materials/ Monthly:- Estimate and order seed, loams and fertilisers, fuels and other consumables.
These newly introduced courses have recently been give LANTRA accreditation:
Other new courses available:
Pitchcare provide a range of courses suitable for golf courses. In most cases, the courses can be held on site using the club's own equipment and machinery.
Some of the courses available are:
Chainsaws - CS30 and CS31
H&S Refresher Training on Combined Turf Care Equipment; Tractors and Trailers; All Mowers (Ride-on and Pedestrian)
Machinery Courses on ATVs; Tractors: Brushcutters/Strimmers; Mowers (ride-on and Pedestrian)
Pesticide Application (PA courses)
Stem Injection of Invasive Species (Japanese Knotweed etc.)
Basic Trees Survey and Inspection