Heavy morning dews are often prevalent at this time of the year. It is important to remove the dew by brushing or switching the surface to displace the water droplets, thus allowing the surface to dry quickly. Keeping the sward dry is essential to prevent disease taking hold and spreading.
Some parts of the country have already had some heavy frosts. Refrain from walking on frosted or snow covered grass courts.
Mowing frequencies will be reduced, and any mowing undertaken will tend to be done with a rotary mower, which helps clean up any surface debris and stand the grass up. There may be a need to over sow recently repaired areas, especially if the seed has not germinated very well.
Rye grasses will still germinate in favourable temperatures in November. The use of germination sheets (covers) will help speed up the germination of newly sown seed.
Whilst soil and air temperatures remain favourable (5/6 degrees C), there is still an opportunity to apply a dose of autumn winter fertilisers to stimulate some growth and colour.
Begin your winter aeration work, regular spiking helps surface water drainage.
Take the opportunity to service machinery
Clean out ditches, hedge lines and carry out any necessary tree works.
Continue to remove leaf debris from playing surfaces on a regular basis
The mowing height on the courts should be raised and maintained at a winter height of between 12-18mm. Mowing frequency will be dependant on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff & machinery) but, generally, it may only need mowing on a weekly/fortnightly basis to keep tidy during the winter months.
Earthworm activity usually increases in November. Earthworms can survive in a wide range of conditions, but most activity is dependent on the quality of food available.
Worms like plenty of Organic Matter (OM), therefore courts with a high thatch problem tend to encourage worm activity. Soil pH also affects where earthworms are found. In strongly acid or alkaline soils, earthworms are rarely seen (pH less than 4.5 or greater than 8). The soil texture will also affect the number of earthworms found; they prefer clay soils and are less frequently found in sandy soils.
Worm activity inevitability leads to worm casts appearing on the playing surface. These worm casts can be very problematic, they tend to smear the surface, which in turn can affect surface water drainage capacity as well as providing a seed bed for weed germination.
Historically, earthworms have been controlled chemically, killing all earthworms in the turf. The most widely used chemical was chlordane, an organochloride, now banned due to its wide ranging toxic effects and persistence in the environment. Currently, there is only Carbendazim available for controlling worms, and only works as a suppressant.
Diseases / Daily / Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. During November there is the likelihood of heavy dews forming on grass surfaces which often promotes outbreaks of disease.
The recent mild and wet weather has certainly increased the incidence of disease attack; many members have posted on the message board asking for advice and asking how others are coping and what their strategy will be. Ideally, you should be implementing a good Integrated pest management strategy looking at using cultural methods to reduce the likelihood of disease attack and then, if all else fails, look to apply an approved fungicide product that fulfils your needs.
A number of diseases are usually very active at this time of the year, namely red thread, fairy ring and fusarium. Regular brushing or switching off the dew in the mornings will reduce the chance of fungal attack. The application of wetting agents will aid the performance of fungicides.
Useful Information for Pest & Disease
|Select the right fungicide for winter||Professional Fungicides|
Soil tests / Ideally once or twice a year, or as required. Soil sampling is an important part of Groundsmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:
Particle Size Distribution (PSD): this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.
Soil pH: it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.
Organic matter content: it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
Nutrient Levels: keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth. Once you have this information, you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.
Winter feeding regimes will centre around keeping the sward healthy and maintaining colour. Treatments of fertilisers and turf tonics can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results. Most facility managers will be looking to apply their autumn fertilisers in association with their end of season renovations.
There are a number of autumn and winter fertiliser products that will suit your needs, with many applying a simple granule NPK product, something like an Autumn & Winter 3+6+8+2MgO Mini 20kg
Low nitrogen and high potash analysis to promote good rooting, with added magnesium for long-lasting colour.
Useful Information for Soil testing / Fertilser
|The importance of Rootzone analysis||Top Dressing & Soils|
Do not neglect your hard surface courts, they are not maintenance free and do require regular maintenance especially during the winter months. Tree leaves will be an issue in the coming months, the autumn fall is well on its way; ensure you regularly remove leaf litter/ debris from playing surfaces. There are a number of brushes, blowers and vacuums available that make the job easier.
Artificial tennis surfaces also need attention. Regular brushing is essential to keep them clean and free from contaminations. Sand filled/dressed carpet systems also require regular brushing to keep them clean and to redistribute sand infill materials.
Algae can often be a problem at this time of the year on artificial playing surfaces. Regular brushing and fungicide treatments may be required to reduce and remove algae growth on the courts. You should use approved chemical products when treating algae problems
Useful Information for Artificial playing surfaces
|Brushing up on artificials||Tennis Accessories|
Inspect tennis structures / As required. Label and store away all tennis furniture (posts, nets, seating and notice/score boards).
Litter/debris / Daily / Inspect and remove debris from playing surface litter or any wind blown tree debris, litter, twigs and leaves.
Leaf debris can be a problem during November. It is important to sweep and clear the leaves off the courts as an accumulation of wet leaves will damage the grass surface.
Machinery, repairs & maintenance / weekly / Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.
Materials / Maintain material stocks and order any other consumables required.