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 play is in full swing. The warmer weather and 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.
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 continued dry 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.
Moisture management could also potentially be a key feature of the month. Now is the time to get ahead of dry patch prevention with a wetting agent – by applying them whilst the soil is still moist is much better than cure on baked-hard, massively hydrophobic soils. 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.
- 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.
As I write this month’s diary, many people’s attention will be shifting towards getting ready for the bank holiday Jubilee. Whether that be getting grounds ready for matches and events or venues ready for festivities and celebrations. The forecast looks dry, so a good few days should be enjoyed. Before we look too far ahead, let’s take a brief look back at May. Although the year is flying by at a rapid pace, of all the months so far May seems to have gone the quickest. I think a combination of Bank holidays, half-term break and holidays have meant June is already here. May was a mixture of weather, which brought us some decent temperatures to finally encourage more consistent growth and some much needed rainfall, although many parts of the country are still very dry, which is now having an impact on growth and there are signs of localised dry patch in some areas.
The forecast for June looks favourable with consistently decent temperatures, with 21 days predicted to be 18° C or above and night- time temperatures around 10° C or above for most of the month. There is the occasional period of rainfall forecast which should maintain growth, without too much moisture where growth is above the desired amount. After a dry May for most areas, if rainfall in June in also minimal, this will mean that irrigation systems will need to be running to ensure enough moisture is in the profile to sustain a healthy plant and avoid any issues of areas drying too much and volumetric moisture content (VMC) dropping to low, which may lead to turf issues.
Following the increase in temperature and light intensity, growth has become much more consistent and therefore nutrient programmes should be in line with this growth pattern. Nutrition should be supplied only at a level required to give the desired amount of recovery from wear imparted on the surface. Liquid fertiliser can be an excellent source of nutrition. When applied little and often, this is complementary to an even and consistent growth pattern. Granular fertiliser can also be used, however there is more probability of peaks and troughs of growth. If using granular fertiliser, to avoid the aforementioned peaks and troughs, utilising a fertiliser which relies on microbial activity to release the nitrogen is a good option. Examples of these are organic, organo- mineral, methylene urea (MU) and crotonylidene diurea (CDU). These forms release nitrogen gradually over a period of time and can be classed as slow release. This release pattern complements the amount of growth at this time of year as the release is dependent on environmental and microbial activity. Growth can also be managed by the use of plant growth regulators. For those using this technology, applications will have already been made in previous months and these should continue in line with growth potential. Trials have shown the combination of active ingredients Proheaxadione-Calcium and Trinexapac- ethyl give excellent plant growth regulation results.
In dry periods, achieving consistency in moisture management throughout a rootzone is crucial to overall plant health and performance. The aim is to have even moisture distribution through the rootzone, within a determined ±% tolerance guideline set by the turf manager. Wetting agents and surfactants can be essential tools to help achieve this aim. If the rootzone dries down too much and the VMC % drops too low, conditions can become hydrophobic (water-repellent), curative action will need to be taken to allow the rootzone to be re-wettable. Therefore, avoiding this by following a water management programme can minimise the probability of issues.
Acelepryn has been awarded an emergency authorisation for chafer grub control again in 2022, covering golf courses (restricted areas), airfields, horse racecourses and gallops, and this year under exceptional circumstances, cricket outfields. It is important to note here that this only applies to elite venues where there is a risk of a major event being cancelled and does not apply to all cricket outfields (follow label instructions). As with previous years, applications of Acelepryn are governed by a stewardship process and all releases of stock must be validated by a BASIS qualified advisor.
Pheromone traps utilised in May should have shown up any activity of chafers on site. It is important to regularly monitor and record activity so that informed decisions can be made about the best way to manage the issue. Treatments such as the relevant entomopathogenic nematodes can be made on sites where the emergency approval is not granted. Apply 4-5 weeks after the peak adult flying time has been recorded ensuring that:
- The number of larvae in the soil has reached the action threshold
- The soil temperature is within the tolerance limits for the nematode
- The soil is moist and has been aerated
- Further rain is forecast or you can apply irrigation
There is no emergency authorisation for the control of leatherjackets currently. Therefore, those with issues will need to evaluate the potential use of entomopathogenic nematodes. Applications made early in the season need to be done with care, ensuring the correct species are used and realistic expectations are set in terms of achievable results.
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.