Key Tasks for July
Mowing frequencies should remain high, with mowers set at their summer heights. As levels of competitions and societies increase, there will be an emphasis on ensuring the quality of the playing surface remains high, with many trying to attain good green speeds and consistency of roll as a priority. Dropping the height to reach these speeds is an obvious temptation, but should not generally be used as a tool to achieve this. Instead, look at utilising rollers within your current maintenance programme to ensure good speeds without placing undue stress on your sward.
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 - Mow and tidy up these areas.
Horizontal growth should be controlled through the use of regular brushing and verti-cutting, with the latter occurring between two to four weeks, depending on your own situation. This should help keep on top of thatch accumulation as we move through the growing season. Grooming and brushing the greens to stand horizontal growth up before mowing will encourage a denser and more attractive sward.
Hole changing should be done once or twice a week depending on golf traffic, wear or competition requirements. The first and most important is good judgment in deciding what will give fair results. Study the design of the hole as the architect intended it to be played. Know the length of the shot to the green and how it may be affected by the probable conditions for the day - that is, wind and other weather elements, conditions of the turf from which the shot will be played, and holding quality of the green.
There must be enough putting green surface between the hole and the front and the sides of the green to accommodate the required shot. For example, if the hole requires a long iron or wood shot to the green, the hole should be located deeper in the green and further from its sides than should be the case if the hole requires a short pitch shot. In any case, it is recommended that generally the hole be located at least four paces from any edge of the green. If a bunker is close to the edge, or if the ground slopes away from the edge, the distance should be greater, especially if the shot is more than a pitch. Consideration should be given to fair opportunity for recovery after a reasonably good shot that just misses the green.
As we move deeper into the month, soil temperatures will reach very high levels in places, and the propensity for surfaces to dry out will increase under a warm sunny sky (doubly so if it is windy). Watering the greens will become a major consideration, but do not become reliant on this practice to reduce drought stress. Where possible, hand watering should be employed, especially on high spots, to help reduce the chance of dry spot.
Carry this out in a manner as close to nature as possible, soaking the surface at irregular intervals, rather than using a little and often approach as with topdressing etc. The use of modern wetting agent technology will allow soils to hold water at depth, thereby reducing irrigation costs and requirements whilst encouraging deeper rooting.
Water management will be key this month. Most courses will be looking to utilise wetting agents where possible, especially in well draining situations in the south, to save money and a valuable resource. Making the correct decision with regards to which product to purchase will be key. As with everything else, try not to rely solely on price, unless you are severely restricted in your budget.
Where possible, try to find one that suits your own situation, aims and application ability. Monitoring the effect they have on your own course’s soil will provide you with a great idea of when the next application would be prudent, and how long the product lasts in your situation. This can be done with a moisture probe. There are a number of products to be browsed in the PItchcare shop at pitchcare.com/shop. Upon application, remember to water the products in well to avoid scorch.
Top dressing and aeration
Utilising the little and often approach with topdressing and aeration practices should help ensure a smooth putting surface, whilst increasing the general health of the root system. Try not to apply more than 0.5 tonnes per green of top dressing and, where possible, try to use pencil tines or similar when aerating. Deep aeration should not be required during this month, due to the dry soil conditions, but regular spiking will allow more oxygen into the rootzone, aid root development and drainage potential during periods of heavy rainfall.
Other General Work
- Bunkers / Daily:- Inspect, weed and rake bunkers.
- Course Inspection / Daily:- Inspect greens, tees, flags and hole positions for damage or vandalism.
- Ponds, lakes and streams /Weekly:- Inspect all water features on course, cleaning out any unwanted debris and litter.
- Seed bare and worn areas / When conditions allow:- Greens, Tees and Fairways. Over seeding of sparse or bare areas can be continued, the rise in temperature will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless. Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates. Remember, bents and fescue grasses require higher soil temperatures for successful germination.
- Tee boxes, pegs / As required:- All tee boxes, tee pegs and competition markers should be inspected daily, cleaned and moved to new positions as required.
- Wetting agents / As required:- If wetting agents are being used, they are generally applied monthly throughout the season.
- Woodland and conservation areas / As required:- High and strong winds can damage trees on golf courses. Inspect and repair or remove damaged trees. It is important to inspect trees regularly (heath & safety) to reduce the likelihood of a golfer being struck by tree debris.
- Marking out / Weekly:- Mark out trolley areas, out of bound site areas and range markings.
- Materials/ Monthly:- Estimate and order seed, loams and fertilisers, fuels and other consumables.
As we approach the halfway point of the year, we can hopefully afford ourselves a brief moment to look back at the past six months and reflect on the accomplishments and challenges we have overcome. Although June has provided some excellent warm weather, which has meant we have been able to enjoy being outdoors, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it has been good for managing turf. Needless to say, when you look back and review the role the weather has played in managing turf so far this year, it hasn’t been easy. Evenings and mornings were cold right up to the end of May, which has affected growth, alongside the lack of rainfall we have experienced. The typical UK average rainfall for June is 77.2mm; up to writing this report, the current UK average was 34mm. Coming out of that low growth period in May, coupled with the reduced rainfall, has led to challenging conditions for turf managers. Looking back at last year’s report, it was a similar story; when we reached the 25th June, the monthly average only just went above 10mm!
Looking ahead to July, there is little sign of what will now be, for many, much needed rainfall. Where rain is forecast, it doesn’t appear it will be anything substantial enough to make a significant impact. Of course, where irrigation systems are in place, these can be deployed to reinstate the moisture that has been lost through the day, but where these are not available, managing drought conditions may become a major priority. Where irrigation is available, managing the resource effectively to adhere to extraction licenses etc. will continue to be important. Daily temperatures look set to be around average for July, with 29 days at 18°C or above. Notably, there aren’t many days forecast above 24°C, which may be important for those who are regularly managing anthracnose disease outbreaks.
Water management is a key tool for maximising overall plant health, even more so in periods of prolonged dry weather as those we are currently experiencing. It is important to ensure there is enough moisture to support nutrient uptake and growth whilst trying not to over apply to areas of turf where more is not required. Moisture meters are an excellent tool, particularly in these situations, as they provide factual data as opposed to a visual interpretation which is variable from person to person. Guidelines can be set for optimal readings and selective or hand watering can be implemented to only irrigate those areas where there is a requirement, thereby reducing over-watering the plant and reducing overall water usage. Wetting agents are useful for managing water and ensuring it enters to soil profile, where it is needed. Regular aeration, using a variety of tine depths, also helps to maintain pathways for water to enter the rootzone and pass through it.
Applications of seaweed will elicit important beneficial defensive and stress responses in the plant and associated micro-organisms when applied at times of turf stress. Ascophyllum nodosum is a good seaweed source as it has to deal with tidal stresses. Half its life is spent under water and half its life out of water. Amino acids also play an important role in abiotic stress tolerance, helping plants to prepare for and cope with additional stresses such as varying changes in temperature and volumetric water content. They are also excellent at ensuring nutrients get into the plant, therefore, through dry periods where every part counts, they can be a useful addition to tank mixes to ensure efficient uptake of products. Calcium and Potassium are both key nutrients when considering biotic and abiotic stress due to their role in cell walls and water regulation. Therefore, look out for these when selecting your fertiliser.
For Anthracnose (Colletotrichum cereale), warm, humid weather and increased light intensity are the primary environmental factors controlling the development of conidia. Laboratory studies indicate that Colletotrichum cereale produces conidia at temperatures between 24‑32°C, with increased maturity of conidia observed at 28°C compared with lower temperatures. Once conidia have been excreted from the acervuli in a water‑soluble matrix, they can be spread by wind, water or human activity, but need continued leaf surface moisture to establish. Little and often applications of nitrogen have been shown to mitigate the development of the disease and helps to minimise any stress on the plant. Applied preventatively fungicides are available as a method of control, although some will find the above measures sufficient when dealing with this disease.
Emergency authorisation for Acelepryn has been issued for the treatment of chafer grubs only. The purchase window for chafer grubs expires on 28th August and the storage and application window ends on the 28th September 2022.
A separate authorisation is awaiting approval for Leatherjackets, but this is yet to be approved. As with previous years, all applications must be approved by a BASIS qualified advisor, who has had the relevant product training.
For anyone not able to apply Acelepryn, cultural and biological controls, in the form of Entomopathogenic nematodes, are the only legally authorised controls available. For best results, ensure you follow applications guidelines.
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS
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.