Key Tasks for September
Now that games are taking place again, it's a case of keeping on top of the mowing and preparing pitches for matches:
- Continue brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, removing early morning dew and controlling disease
- Mow regularly at your preferred cutting height to ensure a good sward density
- Verticut to clean out lateral growth and aid air circulation
- Continue spiking when the conditions are right - alternating between surface and deep with occasional slitting
- Aerating and spiking high wear areas ‘now’ will help them later in the season
- Linemarking; “measure twice: mark once” is a good tip to take on board when marking out new pitches
- While temperatures remain fairly high, take the opportunity to apply an autumn fertiliser. The application of a good balanced feed, with perhaps a seaweed tonic, may help to fill your grass out, but bear in mind the need to apply it in line with your feeding programme
- Don't be tempted to apply too much nitrogen, as you may find yourself struggling to keep up with the flush of grass growth
- Do not apply fertiliser during drought periods, unless you have the means to water in
- Avoid the use of fertilisers with a high salt content, as this draws moisture from the plant. Use of liquid fertilisers are less likely to scorch grass, but may still need to be watered in
Another month has flown by and September is now upon us. This month traditionally sees a shift in weather conditions, which become more autumnal, with less extreme heat and cooler temperatures, and more frequent rainfall. Mornings and night become noticeably darker and, importantly for turf managers, dew on the grass plant becomes a more regular occurrence.
August’s weather has provided good conditions for those who have carried out any maintenance, with positive conditions to promote recovery. There has been a mixture of good temperatures with sunshine and showers which has maintained soil temperatures and provided plenty of moisture for germination after seeding.
September looks set to continue from August, with conditions still favourable for any renovation work planned. Therefore, those who couldn’t get this work done in August will still have a good opportunity for success this month. These conditions will also continue to provide strong growth and recovery from areas with high play. If overseeding work is being carried out, ensuring good contact with the soil will allow the seed to utilise the moisture in the ground. Plant growth regulators such as Prohexadione-calcium and trinexapac-ethyl can be used at this time to help in the development of new seed by holding back the competition from existing mature plants in the sward, creating a more favourable environment for establishment.
As moisture levels increase in the soil and on the leaf, this favours disease development, as the 3 parts of the disease triangle start to come together. For many this will play a major part in planning over the coming months, alongside carefully selecting the right nutrition. As we enter this period when conditions become far more conducive for disease development, with heavy dews, less sunlight, more shade etc…. management of these stress factors becomes essential. Moisture and water management are key in restricting disease development and utilising applications of dew suppressants, even if short-lived, can be just enough to tip the balance in your favour in the right conditions. Similarly, penetrant wetting agents can assist in allowing water to easily move through the profile. However, consideration should be given to the make-up of the soil profile and how effective these can be in certain situations. Once any renovation work is complete, ensuring the cutting units are sharpened and providing a clean cut will also help reduce any potential weak entry points that a pathogen looking for a host is likely to exploit.
Providing adequate nutrition to promote recovery from any maintenance work, or to keep growth consistent and strong to support producing quality surfaces, are factors to consider.
Once any new seed has run out of its own supply of nutrients, ensuring there is adequate supply will assist it getting better recovery. Including a suitable amount of phosphorous helps supply energy to synthesise ATP. A healthy amount of Calcium will not only strengthen the primary cell walls, fortifying defences against pathogenic fungal attack, but also encourage cellular generation at the growing tips of roots and within new leaves.
Applications of high levels of nitrogen can further encourage disease outbreak. Research shows that selecting a balanced autumn fertiliser can consequently result in better spring performance. As such, over applying at this point in the season is likely to lead to excessive soft leaf growth, which is more susceptible to disease attack. Choosing an appropriate nitrogen source that will provide a staged release of nutrients, as the conditions are suitable, will maintain turf health and strengthen against disease attack.
The Emergency Authorisation for Acelepryn for control of Leatherjackets has now been confirmed and this can be purchased now, once the stewardship form has been completed. This applies to golf courses, airfields and racecourses only. The latest time for application is 29th November. Remember - Acelepryn is most active on the 1st and 2nd instar stages and therefore timing is critical to maximise success.
Application of the product for control of adult Chafers has now passed and should have been completed by 31st August. Where chemical control is not authorised, entomopahogenic nematodes can be applied, with warm soil temperatures and available moisture being ideal conditions to get the best out of an application. The entomopahogenic nematodes swim in the water film on soil particles in their bid to search out a larval host.
The adult crane fly typically emerges in late July to September. The adult flies commence egg laying almost immediately, with hatching and larvae emergence about two weeks later. You can check reported sightings of crane fly species on the Pest Tracker on the GreenCast website. To aid effective timing of treatment, ensure the product is in the soil at the optimum time for egg hatch and initial larvae activity.
With the increased moisture content in August, worm activity has started and is already causing issues for turf managers. There are still no legal controls for earthworms and any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally. Cultural management continues to be the only route currently available, which can include a combination of practices such as localised surface acidification, removal of grass clippings to reduce their food source and sanding of surfaces to assist in the drying out and dispersal of casts, leading to less negative lasting impression on the surface from the cast.
- 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