Key Tasks for July
Other General Work
As the hot and dry conditions prevail into July the quality of turf areas as dictated by the health and vitality of grass plants will more than likely sit within one of the following:
- Healthy – Adequate, evenly distributed soil water.
- Stressed – Inadequate, unevenly distributed soil water.
- Dormant – Parched areas with critically low soil water levels.
Whether or not each of those conditions is tolerable on any given area, of course depends on the value of the area and the scope of available turf management resources.
Let’s look at each of these areas in more detail.
Healthy – Adequate, evenly distributed soil water levels.
Most likely high value areas such as golf greens, golf tees, well maintained bowling greens, cricket wickets high level winter sports.
- Well calibrated irrigation systems, monitoring of soil moisture levels, monitoring of evapotranspiration levels, targeted irrigation volumes designed to replace water losses.
- Good soil structure, low compaction, adequate aeration.
- Adequate nutrition, use of biostimulants.
- Preventative wetting agent programmes which started in early spring.
Where soil water levels are adequate then plants will be making the most of the high light intensity, high soil temperatures and adequate moisture and performing well.
Maintain adequate soil water levels by continuing quality targeted irrigation comprising night time programmes, syringing with short bursts through the heat of the day to cool leaf and soil surfaces, hand watering of areas known to be vulnerable to drying out such as high spots on greens.
The biggest concern will be heat stress during the warmest parts of the day due to prolonged periods of intense sunshine, use of Cold Pressed Seaweed will prime plant defences to better respond and conserve water. Adopting a little and often approach by perhaps taking a 20L a month target application of seaweed and splitting that into weekly applications of 5L accompanied by some sugar carbon for system energy and a small amount of foliar nitrogen and potassium for plant vigour and water loss regulation should help to maintain a positive status quo. Amino acids will also assist plant health and contribute positively towards maintaining the status quo.
Maintain wetting agent applications designed to aid water penetration and conserve soil water levels in the profile.
Stressed – Inadequate, unevenly distributed soil water.
Most likely a broad range of turf surfaces with some available irrigation.
- Manual irrigation, areas without automatic systems, poorly calibrated sprinklers, estimated evapotranspiration losses, lack of measurable monitoring of soil moisture levels, via moisture meters.
- Compacted soils, minimal aeration, high thatch levels.
- Low potassium levels and low to zero us of biostimulants.
- Inadequate or misdirected use of wetting agents.
Apply curative granules to persistent dry patches and hand water with a wetting agent pellet gun. Increase intensity of irrigation where possible and seek advice in terms of monitoring evapotranspiration losses, then aim to replace lost water through watering.
Where thatch levels are high water in the morning when the sun is up but before temperatures increase. This is because water applied in the evening will act as a thermal blanket within the organic matter preventing overnight cooling.
Penetrant wetting agents will aid water percolation, preventing run off and thereby maximising the water which is applied.
Little and often applications of potassium, and cold pressed seaweed, will help the plant to withstand the stress, carbon energy and amino acids should also be considered.
Periods of hot dry weather activate anthracnose disease which will be lying in wait to pounce on susceptible stressed turf. Doing whatever you can to maintain plant and system health will be vital in fending off a severe attack as July and August develop. Where cultural strategies cannot be employed then consider well timed preventative fungicide applications.
Longer term strategies would include engaging with irrigation experts to correctly calibrate systems, invest in soil moisture meters, monitor evapotranspiration levels, reduce thatch, alleviate compaction and instigate preventative wetting agent programmes.
Dormant – Parched areas with critically low soil water levels.
Most likely golf tees without irrigation, fairways, surrounds and roughs, community sports pitches and cricket out fields.
- The biggest contributing factor with regards to the drying out and dormancy of these areas is most likely scale, both of area and budgetary resources.
Where possible areas that have had previous cultural maintenance practices such as compaction relief or, scarification to keep thatch levels healthy, will be able to withstand the stress for longer.
Any areas which had an application of wide area penetrant and block-copolymer wetting agent should have lasted longer and will recover faster once rain does arrive.
The biggest concern will be monitoring areas for signs of progression from plant dormancy into plant death. Grass plants are extortionately resilient to low soil moisture and go brown as a protection method. However, should conditions prevail plants may die, signs of this are a breakdown of the roots and shoots at and just below the soil surface.
Beware; moss and Poa annua will be lying in wait as they are the species evolved to respond and establish the fastest in these exact conditions. Therefore, begin to plan now for overseeing with amenity species and cultivars, the most likely window for doing this will be the end of august or early September when soil moisture levels and soil temperature will be optimal for seedling germination and establishment, just as nature intended.
One point of note to consider moving forward is that climate changes models for the British Isles predict an increasing frequency and extended periods of extremes, whether than be wet, dry or cold.
The question turf managers at every level should be constantly asking is; what plans do we have in place to ensure that when the extremes do come, there are the resources at hand to produce a surface which facilitates play?
At this time of the year, it is important that all machinery is in good condition and well maintained. Machinery downtime, due to lack of maintenance or poor set-up, can be costly. As the weather continues to improve, you will be all-out to keep your course in tip top condition.
Courses with their own workshop and mechanics will be at an advantage. Those without such luxuries need to be ahead of the game - all machinery should have been serviced and back in action by now.
Having a good wash down facility is an essentail tool for keeping equipment clean; it is a wise investment.
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 other 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
Ponds, lakes and streams - Inspect all water features on course, cleaning out any unwanted debris and litter. Some clubs arrange for their ponds to be dredged to clean them out while at the same time recovering any stray golf balls.
Tee boxes, tee markers and competition markers should be inspected daily, cleaned and moved to new tee positions as required.
Regularly empty litter bins/tee boxes.
Mark out trolley areas, out of bound site areas, ground under repair (GUR) and range markings.
Estimate and order seed, loams and fertilisers, fuels and other consumables.