Key Tasks for August
Your maintenance regime will continue in much the same vein as last month's - grass cutting, grooming, brushing, aerating, feeding, watering and marking out for matches.
Prior to mowing, the surface should be thoroughly brushed. Continue to brush courts daily to remove moisture from the grass surface, stopping the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut on the dry grass.
Other important tasks:
- It is important to roll the courts to firm them up; rolling should be done during favourable weather conditions, ideally when the soil profile is malleable/moist enough to bind together.
- It is important to monitor the condition of the court and constantly repair any bare and uneven levels. Topdress with compatible loam soils and overseed with a good quality ryegrass at a rate of 35-40 grams per m2.
- It is also the players responsibility to ensure they are wearing appropriate footwear and using balls that are not damaged.
- This month sees the continuation of regular maintenance tasks - grass cutting, grooming, brushing, aerating, feeding and watering. Particular attention should be made to your irrigation regimes, ensuring that all turf surfaces receive adequate amounts of water to maintain growth.
- Groundstaff will also be trying to maintain the sward height at between 6-10mm depending on the level of play.
Mowing. The mowing height on the courts should be lowered to around 6-10mm for the playing season, subject to local weather conditions, but remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut.
Mowing frequency will be dependent on a number of factors, grass growth, sward type, level or standard of facility, resources (staff and machinery) but, generally, it may vary from daily, in the case of Wimbledon, to two to three days a week, or even weekly, depending on resources available.
Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side grass growth and reduce the amount of debris in the sward. These operations are carried out on a regular basis, often weekly or fortnightly, and providing you have sufficient watering facilities. These operations are completed in conjunction with your mowing regimes.
Aeration. A programme of aeration can be considered to alleviate any compaction from recent play. However, this needs to be done with an appropriate aerator, something like the Hydrajet, Dryject or SISIS Javelin Aeraid, which are able to penetrate the hard clay soil profiles without causing surface disruption, thus allowing some much needed air exchange to promote a second phase of grass growth.
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.
Fertiliser. Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic 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.
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 nothing 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.
It’s hard to believe that July is drawing to a close and we will soon be into August, with shorter days and cooler nights.
July has given us some very high temperatures, and for prolonged periods, which has brought with it challenges for turf managers, especially those without or with unreliable irrigation systems. When the rain has come, it has been well received. These extreme weather conditions put extra stress onto the plant at a time when stress is already exacerbated from the intensive management carried out to provide excellent playing surfaces. This in turn can be the tipping point for pathogen populations to increase and disease incidence to occur. Therefore, attention should be on stress management and alleviation where possible.
The forecast for August looks far more consistent with daily high temperatures typically being around 20°C. The rainfall looks scattered which means those that are desperate for some rain will get some respite and a good chance at some recovery. The key here is to ensure that those areas that need water the most will be receptive to it when it comes. Water will run off areas that have become hydrophobic; utilising a surfactant to break the surface tension and allow the water to penetrate into the profile can have a positive impact on recovery of drought stressed areas.
The increase in weather extremes is ultimately influencing how successful our nutritional plans are. Little and often nutrition provides a steady supply of the nutrients required, minimising peaks and troughs in growth and assisting in providing excellent surfaces. However, changes in the weather which brings heavy downpours impacts on the effectiveness of this method. It essential that plans are proactive and reactive to the day to day conditions and not simply what was drafted out at the start of the season. Granular fertiliser with a portion of high-quality slow release technology offers a base nutrition which can be topped by liquids as required. Calcium and Potassium are both key nutrients when considering biotic and abiotic stress, due to their role in cell walls and water regulation. Therefore, looking out for these when selecting your fertiliser is recommended.
This can be a key time of year for renovations, with weather conditions ideal for getting recovery and establishment of seed. Practices will vary across the different surfaces, however having objectives planned out will increase the probability of having a successful renovation. If over-seeding, consideration should be given to selecting the right cultivars for the intended usage. Organic matter removal can be a major component of renovation work, and ensuring that the maximum amount is removed with minimal disruption is recommended. Carefully selecting the most suitable method of removal to ensure the desired outcome is achieved efficiently is important.
Planning work out in advance, at this time in the season, allows for a full recovery of the plant and establishment of new seed in time for autumn and winter. Utilising biostimulants, such as liquid seaweed and humic acids, will further promote seed germination and establishment in combination with the usual renovation fertilisers.
Later in the month, the cooler nights will increase the probability of dew occurrence. The increase in leaf wetness will undoubtedly increase disease pressure. At a time when growth potential is still high and cutting is still regular, utilising dew dispersant technology to reduce leaf wetness is only going to be effective for short periods of time, due to the growth rate of the plant. This isn’t to say that this is not an effective management tool for reducing leaf wetness, as long as expectations on product performance in these conditions is taken into consideration. The amount of time that they do last can just be enough to see you through a high-pressure period, and thus can be invaluable.
The purchase window for chafer grubs control expires on 4th August and the storage and application window ends on the 31th August 2021. A separate authorisation is awaiting approval for Leatherjackets, but this is yet to be approved. As with previous years, all applications must be approved by a BASIS qualified advisor.
For anyone not able to apply Acelepryn, cultural and biological controls in the form of Entomopathogenic nematodes are the only legally authorised controls available. As with the specific restrictions of application for Acelepryn, these are in line with best practice Integrated Pest Management. This biological control method requires warmth and moisture in the soil to be most effective, and as such this time of year provides an ideal window. Targeting larvae when they are small and susceptible gives the nematodes the best chance of success.
- 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