Key Tasks for August
Given the current situation, continuing your general maintenance routine is as much as you can do.
Maintain sward height at 30mm-75mm; the top height will cushion heavy falls on any hard ground.
Mowing will increase as soil and air temperatures continue to stimulate grass growth
Ensure that all areas are watered uniformly to promote healthy growth. Irrigation will be a priority, especially if maintaining newly sown or turfed areas. It is important to ensure that the water gets down into the rootzone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.
Linear aerators now offer alternative methods of aeration to the traditional solid tine spiker and hollow core spiker, which can install a continuous slit 10mm wide 200mm deep at 200mm centres. The machine has also been upgraded to infill with kiln dried sand
Brush to remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics
Pre-season training will be well underway, with club coaches demanding marked out areas for practices. Ensure you have enough marking materials and an efficient, quality line marker for carrying out these tasks
Check with your relevant governing body for any amendments to the laws and markings of the pitch
Care should be taken when initially marking out new lines, ensuring that they are true, straight and measured correctly, using the 3,4,5 method to achieve accurate angles
Entering August signals the start of late summer, and with it shorter days and cooler nights. After a very dry spring, June and July have been months where rain showers have prevailed. Coupled with the warmth these months naturally convey, it is hard to think of more useful period for plant growth. As it happens, the same conditions have been quite useful for pathogen growth too.
Strategic application of nutrition aimed at providing the grass plant with the means to maintain consistent health are as important as ever. Calcium is a key nutrient to regulate water use efficiency, as well as increase tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress via thickening of the plant cell wall.
Sufficient nitrogen is always a delicate balancing act and, with frequent showers utilising a granular form as a foundational base will help to provide a more stable supply that little and often feeds with liquids; however, they can still be utilised to top up granular feeds as growth and plant health dictates.
Towards the end of the month, dews will become heavier potentially providing suitable conditions for microdochium patch. At the start of the month, the risk of high temperatures combining with high humidity will promote disease such as rhizoctonia. High temperatures during July’s hot periods may have activated Anthracnose. Other diseases such as take-all patch and waitea patch and dollar spot may occur.
The key here is to understand the environmental and cultural triggers, and then employ nutritional and cultural strategies to counteract the risks. Increasingly, with the withdrawal of chemical fungicides the turf manager is responsible for seeking out the knowledge to understand the drivers of each disease and then employ multiple tactics to combat the risk. For example, take-all patch attacks the base of the plant and root system, acidification in the rhizosphere helps to combat this; something which can be achieved via the regular application of manganese through high risk periods. Anthracnose, it’s a saprophyte, which means once triggered by hot temperatures it lies in wait for senescent (dying) plant material to trigger its attack into full blow foliar blight. Avoiding the stress mitigates the pathogens ability to pounce. Therefore, adequate moisture, consistent appropriate nitrogen levels and the avoidance of other diseases (Anthracnose often occurs as a secondary infection) will help to keep it at bay.
Pests and Diseases
Effective integrated pest management necessitates monitoring of local target pest populations as a precursor for taking action. Chafer beetle lures set out in May will have given an indication of hot spots for adult activity. Lifting back turf in zones identified to be high risk for grubs allows turf managers to eyeball larvae and take action. The same can be said of leatherjackets; simply sheeting the surface with a 1m2 sheet of plastic overnight may encourage larvae to rise to the surface. Knowing what your high-risk areas are, and then identifying the level of pest incidence, allows for targeted treatment with Entomopathogenic nematodes. This biological control requires warmth and moisture in the soil to be most effective. Targeting this year’s larvae when they are small and susceptible gives your army of microscopic worms an increased chance of success. With chafer and crane fly larvae hatching out in August and September, these are the key months to gain preventative control and prevent problems in spring and early summer 2021.
Preparation for end of season renovations should be in full force; the prime aim being to manage organic matter accumulation and promote recovery of the grass plant in time for autumn and winter. Biostimulants, such as liquid seaweed and humic acids, will promote seed germination and establishment in combination with the usual fertilisers.
Senior Technical Manager – Amenity | MBPR
- Keep your machinery in tip top condition
- Grease where you find a grease nipple, oil where you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water
- Clean it when you've finished