Key Tasks for November
At this time of the year, most course managers and greenkeepers will be looking to increase mowing heights on greens and tees by 1-2mm.
Other tasks that complement this work involve the use of grooming and verticutting units to remove unwanted thatch and side shoot growth. The frequency of grooming is fortnightly and verticutting monthly.
Mowing frequencies will vary from daily to twice weekly operations, dependant 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 4-6mm.
- Tees- Mowing height should be maintained at around 10-15mm.
- Banks- Mowing height should be maintained at 22-30mm
- Fairways- Mowing height should be maintained at around 15-25mm.
- Rough, Semi rough grass areas- Mow and tidy up these areas. Reduce build up of clippings by cutting little and often with a rotary or flail. Mowing height will depend on type of course and the standard of play required. Mowing height of cut during the winter between 50-100mm.
Fertiliser programmes are not generally carried out after November due to the change in air and soil temperatures, as most turf grasses usually start to become dormant, slower growing.
Overseeding of sparse or bare areas can be continued in November, particularly when using rye grasses. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases.
Aeration is the key to keeping the golf course open throughout the winter periods, especially on heavy soil courses. Various aeration programmes will continue when conditions allow, using a whole range of tines, solid, slit and hollow tines. A wide range of solid or slit aerators are put to use on the greens. It is essential to keep the greens aerated to maintain air and gas exchange in the soil profile, thus improving the drainage capabilities of the greens.
Aeration of tees will continue throughout the winter when weather conditions allow.
When the ground conditions are favourable, aerate fairways with solid tines to increase air and gas exchanges in the soil profile. Encouraging deeper rooting of fairway grasses is important. Deeper rooted grasses are more likely to overcome stresses in the following year.
Inspect, weed and rake bunkers. Repair any damage from rabbits or other animals, maintain sand up the face of the bunkers to prevent erosion and sand loss. Bunker construction works may start in November to make use of the good ground conditions for transporting materials around.
Changing of holes should be carried out regularly. You may be looking to change the hole positions more than three time per week during wet periods.
The works are generally centred on drainage work, bunkers / tees refurbishments, ditch clearance, pathway construction and tree work.
After mild October temperatures and a number of days filled with sunlight, which has been good for grass growth, we end October with a period of wet, dingy, cool weather, which sees us transition from the tail end of summer and autumn into the winter period. Looking ahead, November is forecast to be a month of mixed weather, with the usual rainfall for this time of year but also some clear days too. The temperatures are set to start the month in the low teens and then shift towards the back end of the month to high single figures. Any clear nights at this point potentially introducing some morning frosts with the low night-time temperatures.
As days become gloomier and nights become longer, the obvious result of this is a decrease in the amount of opportunity the grass plant has to photosynthesise. Less photosynthesis in conjunction with a decrease in temperature means less growth and recovery. The mild start to the month should mean a gradual decrease in soil temperatures rather than a sharp drop off, which will mean growth decreases steadily, meaning that mowing and other practices will still be required. Whilst this is happening, it gives the turf manager opportunity to apply products to promote any recovery needed and improve plant health. As shade and damp environments become more of the norm, it plays straight into the hands of mosses, algae and fungal diseases. One of the main fungal diseases through this period in the UK is still Microdochium nivale (Fusarium patch).
Predicting when these disease outbreaks may occur is challenging. Understanding what contributes to disease pressure and completes the disease triangle on your own site allows better informed decisions when selecting and timing applications aimed at counteracting disease pressure. These may be fungicides, nutrition or plant response applications. Previous applications may have already been made as part of a disease prevention strategy or an autumn IPM programme which is being followed. It is important to ensure, where possible, that active ingredients are being rotated to avoid any resistance establishing with the pathogen. It is also essential to follow label recommendations for application rates to minimise any risk of resistance. More information on fungicide groups can be found via the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee.
With the changes in weather outlined above, the mild temperatures in early November will continue to provide opportunities for growth and recovery. This is best visualised using growth potential (GP). GP is a concept to express the relative growth rate of turfgrass at a given temperature. GP should be matched with the appropriate amount of nutrition and a suitable nitrogen source. Essentially, there is going to be very little activity in a low growth potential period for slow release fertiliser or any fertiliser source that relies on microbial breakdown to release plant available nitrogen. Therefore, choosing the most suitable source is key when considering the results you are aiming to achieve.
Maintaining an appropriate water/air ratio is a key factor in reducing turf stress during periods of the year when rainfall increases, and drying opportunities are reduced. The use of penetrant wetting agents and dew dispersants are now commonplace in a bid to keep surfaces as dry as possible and restrict the occurrence of disease outbreaks. Using a penetrant wetting agent enhances the infiltration of water into the profile, ensuring the water has a route into the upper rootzone. It is important to note that this water needs somewhere to go, and therefore using such technology is most effective when there is an element of drainage within the profile, so the water can flow through the rootzone. If this is not in place, then essentially more water is just taken into the rootzone with no effective escape route, leading to more water being held in the profile. Something which is essential to getting effective use out of dew dispersant products is that it’s important growth should be minimal when they are applied, this will ensure the product is not removed from regular mowing. The plant should also be as dry as possible to ensure the product remains on the leaf surface.
A further reminder that the emergency authorisation for applications of Acelepryn for the control of leatherjackets is still available, with an end date for sale and application being 29th November. There are still reports of late hatching and Syngenta have released new research findings indicating applications can be made up to one month after peak flight. Acelepryn is most active on the 1st and 2nd instar larval stages. As with an integrated approach to disease management, monitoring, record keeping and understanding of the pests organisms life cycle are key factors for success.
The rise in moisture levels means that earthworm casts are now a serious issue again for many, with them being a major factor in the ‘damage’ to turf playing surfaces, which can affect playability and visual presentation greatly. There are no legal controls for earthworms and any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally. Cultural management is the only route currently available. Sulphate of iron is often used as a surface acidifying agent, but it is worth using with caution to avoid over application which may lead to negative effects to plant health throughout the rest of the year.
It is important to maintain machines by carrying out regular servicing and repairs.
As grass growth slows down, use the time to take some machines out of operation for an overhaul.
- Inspect and clean machinery after use.
- Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery, replace worn and damaged parts as necessary.
- Secure machinery nightly with good storage facilities and strong locks
- Record makes and models and take pictures of your equipment as additional referencebetter still, take pictures of your equipment.