Key Tasks for July
June gives way to July and, as the astrological summer begins (June 21st), the meteorological summer has been in full swing since the 1st of June; a period of time which has been somewhat contrasting to the June of 2018. A wet month overall has seen consistent growth across turf surfaces and a welcome boost to soil water and reservoir levels across many areas of the country which really needed it.
From a turf management perspective then, in many respects wet weather and dry weather are two sides of the same coin. Extremes make for challenges and the overriding factor in both instances is that great master variable; water management. Rather like Goldilock’s porridge, a sweet spot of adequacy is the aim, and the challenge for turf managers is managing the soil environment and the response of the plant to the prevailing climatic conditions.
Facilitating water percolation rates, by surface organic matter management over the long term, helps water to penetrate into the surface rather than be held in the base of the plant where it reduces the ability of life-giving oxygen to enter the rootzone and waste gasses to escape. Less water in the surface of the soil profile reduces humidity in this area, which helps to mitigate the ability of fungal diseases to proliferate. Facilitating water percolation and reducing surface humidity breaks the causative disease triangle in two ways: it promotes the overall health of the plant and limits conditions suitable for pathogen development. Practically speaking, little and often aeration from a sarrel tine aerator, in combination with regular deep tine aeration through the year, works to assist waters passage down the profile, as well as helping maintain plant root health and organic matter decomposition via beneficial microbial action.
Aside from good aeration practices, useful tools in the product armoury, which will assist water management when weather conditions are wet, include penetrant wetting agents, which grab hold of water and pull it down through the soil profile faster and more effectively.
Plenty of excess moisture, combined with available warmth, are of course excellent conditions for germinating and establishing seed, so any areas requiring patching should infill quickly and easily.
The flipside of excess water is of course deficient water. Weather forecasts suggest that the trend for July is for the extremes of wet to be counteracted quickly by dry weather. With the sun high in the sky, long warm sunny days can very quickly push water levels in the opposite direction, as excessive moisture is replaced by moisture deficit. Keeping a close eye on weather forecasts and intervening with timely application of cold pressed liquid seaweeds, calcium and potassium silicate prior to challenging conditions are all inputs which assist the plant in preparing for and resisting the rigours of water deficit.
In advance of forecast hot and dry weather, ensuring irrigation systems are running optimally is sensible practice. Being able to objectively monitor the levels of water in the soil at different depths via a Thetaprobe water meter and cross referencing this against local evapotranspiration rates takes the guess work out of irrigation and facilitates applications which are appropriate for the plant, the environment and the budget. Investing in weather stations does not have to be an expensive course of action, and working with your irrigation supplier to understand the volume of water your system is supplying, in litres and millimetres, are core areas of knowledge for any sports turf manager at any level.
Allowing dry down periods in the soil following intensive irrigation is an important operation. This allows the soil to breath, encourages the grass plant to develop roots to chase water and minimises surface humidity which would otherwise lead to conditions favourable for fungal pathogens and other ailments such as cyanobacteria and algae which will colonise and clog the soil surface, impeding the passage of water and air.
Whilst conditions are wet and warm growth levels are likely to be strong, in such circumstances applications of the growth regulator trinexapac-ethyl can prove useful in checking growth, with the added benefit of increase tolerance to moisture deficit should conditions take a turn. Keep a close eye on nitrogen inputs and avoid applications if growth is strong, as promoting even softer growth will assist virulent fungal diseases to attack.
Warm and humid conditions will promote a number of diseases, but once temperatures exceed 28 degrees Celsius, anthracnose foliar blight will be become activated. Little and often applications of nitrogen have been shown to mitigate the spread of the disease as effectively as a fungicide. Understanding this management strategy is going to be even more important in years to come following the withdrawal of the active ingredient propiconazole, the authorisation for which expired as per the below:
This authorisation ends:
(a) 19 June 2019 for sale and distribution.
(b) 19 March 2020 for the disposal, storage and use of existing stocks.
An emergency authorisation for Acelepryn was issued on the 16th May for the treatment of leatherjackets and chafer grubs on the following authorised crops:
Airfields | Horse racecourses and gallops | Golf tees and greens | Golf course fairways
The authorisation requires that each release of stock is assessed and approved by a BASIS qualified advisor and, in addition, the following Other Specific Restrictions apply:
Other specific restrictions:
(1) This product must only be applied in accordance with the terms of this emergency authorisation, the product label and/or leaflet and any additional guidance on emergency authorisations.
(2) Maximum treatment area for golf course use is 10% of total course area.
(3) Fairways use as a patch treatment to a maximum 10% total fairways area.
The Emergency Authorisation ends:
- 10 September 2019 for sale and distribution of stocks
- 30 September 2019 for use.
- 31 October 2019 for storage and disposal of un-used stocks prior to return to supplier
For turf managers of other surfaces, then cultural and biological controls in the form of Entomopathogenic nematodes are the only legally authorised controls available. As with the specific restrictions of application for Acelepryn, these are in line with best practice Integrated Pest Management.
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.
Grounds Training was established in 2006 to provide a complete and unique service delivery training courses for the sports turf industry. We are now the go-to provider for on-site, bespoke training for groups. Alongside our renowned turf maintenance which now includes Lantra accredited Online courses. Grounds Training also works with the industry’s awarding bodies – Lantra and City & Guilds (NPTC).
Open courses for individuals to join are also offered at our Allscott (Telford) Training Centre, Most courses lead to Lantra Awards or NPTC qualifications; a small number of niche courses where the instructor is an experienced groundsman who is also Lantra Awards or NPTC registered, offer Pitchcare certification.
Whether your staff are involved with preparing and maintaining sports turf, operating ground care machinery and equipment or require a safe use of pesticides qualification, we have the course to suit them.
For more information on our online courses click here
The Course Manual at just £30 is available for purchase separately.
Here are our upcoming open courses:
PA1/ PA6A- Monday 22nd/ Tuesday 23rd July, Allscott Telford TF6 5DY