The unsettled conditions experienced in the latter part of June look likely to continue well into July. Northern regions of the UK will experience below average temperatures, blustery conditions and a good deal of rain in the form of showers. Some of these will be heavy with potential risk of flooding. Further south, whilst remaining blustery, temperatures will be more like the seasonal average, with the south and south east expected to be above average towards the end of the month.
With just a few weeks to go to the start of the season, grass growth should now be very strong; helped by the warmer temperatures and regular rainfall across much of the country.
In the drier areas of the country ensure that your surface is open to maximise the benefit of any rain. Surface spiking in a dry spell will help what rain you receive, or water you put on, to move quickly down through the profile to reach the new roots.
Key Tasks for July
Continue cutting regularly to ensure a good sward density. It may sometimes be helpful on newly established grass to lightly roll the surface before cutting to ensure that the does not get pulled out by the action of the mower. Also, ensure that any mowing equipment used is keenly set to cut without tearing. Let the clippings fly to assist nutrient levels and retain water in the surface.
The soil can dry out quickly in any periods of sunny conditions, so make sure that your irrigation systems are functioning correctly as, once soils become hydrophobic and dry patch sets in, it becomes very difficult to get water back into the surface.
You may choose to use wetting agents to ensure uniform wetting, particularly on soils prone to dry patch.
Continue the work of brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, particularly important for removing early morning dew and controlling disease.
Spike when the conditions allow, but keep your regime flexible.
Apply a summer NPK fertiliser, something like a 12:0:9 or 9:7:7, to maintain grass colour and vigour. Liquid fertilisers and biostimulants have become popular, primarily due the fact they can be often mixed and taken in by the plant more readily. A slow release fertiliser could be applied to see you through July and August. The choice of materials and how well they work will depend on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.
Do not apply fertiliser during periods of drought, unless you have the means to water in.
Avoid the use of fertilisers with a high salt content, as this will exacerbate the stress factors in the grass as it draws moisture from the plant. Use of liquid fertilisers are less likely to scorch grass, but may still need to be watered in.
Consider, as an alternative, applications of seaweed or amino biostimulants to help your grass through stressful periods. Another consideration is the use of calcium, an important ingredient for giving the plant rigidity and regulating root and shoot growth.
Recently, we have seen incidences of turf diseases such as Microdochium nivale (fusarium) on greens. Fairy Rings are in evidence and Red Thread has swept spectacularly through a lot of outfield turf. With such a peak in disease activity in mid-summer we are expecting continued problems over the next few months; therefore acting preventatively by applying a systemic fungicide such as Heritage Maxx will be the most effective form of control. Application before symptoms are visible but the threat is imminent is the key to success when adopting a preventative approach.
Symptoms of Fusarium (Microdochium nival), the most common and damaging disease, are orange/brown patches 2.5-5cm across increasing in size under suitable conditions as the disease progresses. Active patches have a distinctive 'ginger' appearance when viewed early in the morning. Creamy white mycelium resembling cotton wool can be seen in the centre and towards the outer edge of the patch.
Grass in the active patches is often slimy; once the disease is controlled the scars will remain until there is sufficient grass growth to fill in. Regular brushing, switching or drag matting in the mornings to remove the dew from the playing surfaces will reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak.
Red Thread is ill-defined bleached grass with Pink mycelium visible in early morning dew. Close inspection will reveal red needle like structures which are attached to the leaf blades. The needles become brittle upon death and are easily detached allowing fragments to spread the disease.
Systemic curatives and protective fungicides such as Chlorothalonil and Iprodione, applied in liquid form with water as a carrier, can be used to control any outbreaks. Mixing two or more products in the same tank can help reduce the potential for disease resistance developing. Fungicides are selected with different modes of action so that resulting mixture will attack the target disease on two or more fronts. This makes it more difficult for the pathogens to develop resistance to treatments.
Worm can be very active at this time of the year so treatments can be carried out, if needed; the use of Carbendazim is the only active ingredient for controlling worms. All personnel should be suitably qualified in the application of chemicals. Moles can be active where worms are prevalent and can cause a lot of damage to the surface.
Please note: More information on these and many others can be found here: www.pitchcare.com/useful/diseases.php
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of Winter Sports Pitches. It is a one day course designed to provide a basic knowledge of rugby and football pitch maintenance. The course enables the Groundsman to grasp the basic needs of a winter sports surface throughout a 12 month period.
Delegates attending the Winter Sports Pitch Maintenance course and using the accompanying manual will be able to develop their own skills, working knowledge and expertise, by understanding the method of instruction and the maintenance principles it sets out.
Our next course is:
LILLESHALL NATIONAL SPORTS CENTRE, Shropshire - Tuesday 26 July
Further details of our forthcoming autumn courses can be found on our website Groundsman Training
Included in the Course Manual, there are working diaries showing the range of tasks needed to be accomplished each month. The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.
In addition, we are able to arrange courses to be delivered on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Chris Johnson for information.
During this month: Please ensure that all goalposts meet health and safety standards. Now is a good time to thoroughly check them over. If you have stored them away, give them a thorough once over to ensure that they will be fit for purpose for the new season. If you find any defects, these must be reported to your management/committee, with appropriate remedies being sought – ahead of the season!
It would be prudent to thoroughly clean out your linemarking kit. If the forecasted showers appear, what better time to do this mundane but important job? Regardless of the type of machine you use, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better your lines will look for the start of the season.
Other areas should also be checked over, such as fences and dugouts.
If you have not already done so, get your machinery serviced.
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