Expected weather for this month:

Generally decent month, with temperatures mid to high teens

In the early part of September, warmer temperatures are likely for southern parts of the UK as the jet stream settles into a more ‘normal’ pattern. This will, though, create a north/south divide, with cooler, more showery weather north of its travels. Some of these showers may be heavy and prolonged. Average temperatures for the time of year are expected later in the month and there’s also a chance of one final ‘heatwave’ before the month is out.

With the new season in full swing, pitches should be looking at their best at this time of year. The generally warm temperatures will have encouraged grass growth but, in areas where rain has been prevalent, roots might not be to depth as they have not had to go searching for water. Take a soil sample to see what your roots are doing and respond accordingly.

Continue with regular mowing of the sward to help promote tillering, mowing the grass at least twice a week; or more if you have the resources. A cylinder mower will provide the best results, cutting in a different direction each time.

Air temperatures will continue to be high during September, so it is important during these periods to keep on top of growth to ensure a decent playing surface..

Key Tasks for September

  • 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

It is always wise to use nature to one’s advantage, and over seeding into September is the best time of the year to undertake this operation; it is the natural time of the year that the grass plant would naturally be dropping its seed with plenty of available warmth and moisture leading to good germination and successful establishment. Good soil contact and appropriate planting depth are also key to success with seeding although one should be careful to avoid rolling seed into the surface too aggressively, much better to allow natures rainfall to gently caress and firm the soil around the seed. Where machinery and equipment is available to the end user, disc seeding is a very reliable method of increasing germination  rates, as the precise planting depth can be more accurately controlled into the slots which then close up nicely behind to provide firm soil contact.

Agronomically all turf managers should be on the lookout for disease pressure, the key times for infection being when warmth and moisture coincide, so periods of warm humid nights and damp days are periods everyone should pay attention to. Reducing the period of continual leaf blade wetness to below ten hours through gentle brushing and switching are a key method of cultural control. Chemically, it is warm enough to use a fungicide with a systemic action such as HeritageHeritage Maxx or Interface as a preventative in the lead up to any operations, especially if environmental factors are conducive to disease.

September provides a really good opportunity for weed control, due to plenty of available moisture and warmth leading to good growth. The choice here is Bayer’s Longbow, with its 4 active ingredients and application rate of 7.5 l/ha it will give excellent control of a large variety of turf weeds. Users need to  ensure it is applied a good three weeks before over-sowing, as newly germinated grass plants are sensitive to selective herbicides.

For anyone intending to use Merit Turf for the control of chafer grubs, then you have until 31st October 2016 to use or dispose of existing stocks following its withdrawal by CRD. Similarly for leather jackets, the use-up and disposal period for Cyren Chlopyrifos was 31st August 2015. This leaves us with biological control as the only approved option for the control of these turf pests. This is where we turn to native microscopic worms in the form of entomopathogenic nematodes. Nematodes are a proven control over many years but it is important to have an understanding and respecting the life cycles of the pest and control organism if you are to achieve the desired result. With this in mind, we have produced material to help educate both the professional and amateur alike. All the relevant information and advice can be found on the Nemasys product pages and this video sets out to explain the mind-set change you need to employ for success.

In terms of fertiliser regimes, then selecting a fertiliser with a lower nitrogen and higher potassium content is the way to go. Whether it is the establishment of new seed with the Lebanon ProScape 16-25-12 +25% MESA Pre-Seed Fertiliser or a quality autumn/winter feed such as Lebanon Country Club 8-4-24, the Lebanon range of controlled release fertilisers are a very cost effective choice on a cost per week calculation, which will give lasting and consistent results for clients for up to three months, something which is increasingly important with the onset of climate change and the consistently milder winters this seems to be regularly producing.

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.

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.