Key Tasks for June
In the current climate, and with the gradual return to playing, you need to follow the advice of your Governing Body. Otherwise, it is back to the routine of general maintenance.
Irrigation. It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes. Irrigation is required for court preparation and repairs. Ensure that the water gets down into the rootzone, a minimum of 150mm, to encourage deep rooting. Check with a probe. Evapotranspiration rates should begin to rise in the coming month. Irrigate uniformly and ensure the right amount is applied. Watering in high, daytime temperatures will be less effective and could encourage shallow rooting as the water fails to get deep enough to stimulate the plant roots.
Rolling will still be a key maintenance regime in June, using a 1-1.5 tonne roller to periodically roll the courts, both down and across the line of play when conditions allow. Try to achieve between 6-10 hours of rolling in any one given week prior to matches.
The rolling, and the fact that soil profiles are now drying out, will produce firmer, faster courts. This month sees the continuation of regular maintenance tasks; grass cutting, grooming, brushing, aerating, feeding and watering. Other regular tasks include:
- Ideally, you should be brushing on a daily basis to remove early morning dew.
- It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes.
- Keep an eye open for any fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat the infected areas.
- You may need to stop verticutting operations if the courts become too dry.
Mowing regimes will be dictated by the amount of play, the weather and what tournaments you may have. As a general rule of thumb, most courts should be cut a minimum of three times a week at a height of around 7-8mm, however some clubs do like to mow daily to maintain presentation and improve the quality of the sward.
Marking is important. Lines need to be clean, straight and accurate; ensure your marking machine is cleaned and serviced, checking that all the components are working properly. There is northing worse than using a marker that drips and produces poor line quality. It will reflect on your workmanship. Remember to use string lines for accuracy. Also invest in a good quality paint products, there are plenty to choose from that will suit your requirements and budget.
- Ensure drainage outfalls, channels and ditches are clear
- Inspect stored posts, nets, seating and notice/score boards
- Inspect and remove debris from playing surface
- Regular sweeping and brushing
- Repair any hollows or damaged areas
- Repaint lines
As parts of the country begin to open back up for sporting activity, there is no let-up in recent pressures for many across the industry. With effects of the Covid-19 crisis ongoing, there will be a lot of variance in what is achievable for individual facilities but, as late spring gives way to early summer, let’s look at how we can focus on providing the grass plant with some helpful assistance where circumstances allow.
Consistently warm soil temperatures in June create ideal conditions for fertilisers with an organic component, whether that be straight organic fertilisers or organo-mineral. Organic sources of nutrition help to support the soil food web and manage the soil-plant system in an holistic fashion. Spring inputs of nitrogen aiming to get things going can be reduced and grass growth will naturally start to drop back as temperatures rise. In the wild, the plant would have now gone through its leafy growth spurt and be diverting energy into setting flower.
Calcium is a key driver of growth for roots and shoots, as it is responsible for the construction of cell walls. Calcium availability can become limited in dry soils, so ensuring soil levels are adequate and supplementing with foliar calcium helps to maintain good health. Calcium, along with potassium, are essential for regulating stomatal function, helping the plant to better react to the onset of heat and water stress. Cold pressed liquid seaweeds contain plant hormones which also help to regulate against water stress and are a significant resource to be employed. Seaweed also contains hormones which promote germination and establishment.
The use of wetting agents, where it was feasible this spring, will start to pay dividends during June if hot weather occurs. Ideally, these should have started with the application of a block co-polymer in March at the latest, to give the soil a chance for the chemistry to accumulate in the soil. Where that wasn’t able to take place, or where planned applications were interrupted, penetrants surfactants will facilitate increase of water from the surface, although the holding capacity in the soil will be reduced.
Regular sarrel tine aeration is a key cultural means of maintaining soil moisture levels as the shallow but tightly spaced tines puncture a large percentage of the surface area, allowing gas to escape from the soil and better aiding the percolation of water from the surface.
Growth regulators such a trinexapac-ethyl and prohexadione-calcium applied during periods of good growth in anticipation of hot dry weather to come will help the plant to conserve energy and manage water stress, again mitigating drought pressure.
With respect to irrigation, applying water at the end of a hot day creates a nice thermal blanket, trapping a greater percentage of the day’s heat in the soil.
Little and often watering is appropriate for germinating seed and very young plants, but it is advantageous to thoroughly wet the profile and then let the soil dry down to just above wilting point if you can. This encourages the roots to penetrate and allows carbon dioxide to leave the soil and life-giving oxygen to enter.
Little and often watering also maintains surface humidity and will encourage algae, mould and fungi such a botrytis and Rhizoctonia spp. to attack swards.
Disease such as dollar spot and anthracnose may become a concern as the month progresses. Ensuring adequate fertility and soil moisture levels are cultural means to lessen the impact of these fungal pathogens by mitigating plant stress. Closely monitor weather forecasts, your historical site records and disease predictors to keep an eye out for major outbreaks. Resorting to a systemic fungicide if required.
Chafer grub traps deployed in May should have shown up garden chafers on sites where that species is present. Regular monitoring and recoding of other areas for adult beetles of the other species will facilitate the prediction of accurate intervention points for treatments such as entomopathogenic nematodes and Acelepryn later in the summer, should you be managing a site authorised for application of this insecticide. Acelepryn has been awarded an emergency authorisation again in 2020 but this time it is split into two windows, one each for Chafer grubs and leatherjackets respectively. As with 2018 and 2019 applications of Acelepryn are governed by a stewardship process and all releases of stock must be validated by a BASIS qualified advisor.
Senior Technical Manager – Amenity | MBPR
You should have had your mower serviced and sharpened ready for the new season.
- Inspect machinery and equipment
- Clean after use
- Remember to check air filters
- Inspect and reset mowing blades on cylinder mowers to ensure they remain sharp