Key Tasks for September
Now that clubs are back to full playing again, it is important that you carefully evaluate the needs of your courts; the work required will be determined by the condition of the courts with regard to wear (bare areas), weed infestation, levels of thatch content, nutrient status and overall surface levels.
A soil analysis will determine a number of factors to help you decide on the appropriate treatments and choice of materials required for your end of season renovations.
By taking a soil sample, you can also identify the amount of thatch present. This will help you decide on the level of scarification required. One of the biggest problems during renovations is the fact that many clubs do not remove enough thatch from their swards. This is often due to either not enough passes with the scarifier at the correct depths, or using a machine that is not robust enough or engineered to cope with the work required.
Other important tasks:
- Ensure all materials (seed, fertilisers, topdressings) and any hired machinery have arrived, and are secured and stored safely on site ready for use. Often, when ordering materials late, you may be faced with delays on delivery or not being able to get the products you want in time for your planned works.
- Continue with weekly or twice weekly mowing regimes to maintain sward height.
- Maintain turf vigour and colour with an application of an autumn fertiliser.
- Once the playing season is over, take down nets and posts and store away, replacing any broken or damaged equipment.
- Get organised for your end of season renovations, ensure you have ordered your materials to arrive on time. Check equipment, ensuring it is ready for the work entailed. Check all belts and drives on the scarifiers.
- If you are intending to use a contractor to do your work, confirm start dates and be clear they understand what level of work you want.
- Arrange to have your mowers serviced during the winter months.
Mowing. Mow the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation. Lower cutting height to about 3-4mm to clean and prepare courts.
Depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions. However, in most cases, if regular verticutting/grooming has taken place during the growing season, you would probably only be required to scarify in two directions. Do not scarify at right angles to the previous scarification line. Depth of scarification between 4-15mm depending on depth of thatch to remove.
In recent years, we have seen a number of clubs fraise mowing the courts to remove surface vegetation. This method is more thorough and helps restore levels, however it comes at a higher cost than traditional scarifying methods.
Blowers / vacuums / power brushes and mowers can be used to clean up the courts after scarifying has been completed.
Aeration. Aerate to relieve compaction and encourage root development. Aeration is the decompaction of soil, improving air and gas exchange in the soil profile. Depending on the turf's condition, you can choose to carry out hollow or solid tine spiking.
Hollow tines are generally used on a bi-annual basis or when you have a severe thatch problem. Depth of aeration will be determined by the depth of your soil profile and what problems you want to rectify. Hollow tining is best achieved to a depth of between 75-100mm. Solid or slit tines can be set to penetrate deeper, ideally between 100-200mm.
Topdressing restores levels and improves surface drainage. Ensure you use compatible topdressing materials, sands, sand/soil mixes. Spreading can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride on disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Best carried out in dry weather. It is important that the topdressings are spread uniformly.
Overseeding restores grass populations. It is important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed; good seed to soil contact is essential for germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days. Invest in good seed varieties, do not compromise the hard work by buying cheap grass seed, have a look at the current Turf Grass Seed Guide and see what varieties are recommended for Tennis.
Fertilising provides nutrients for grass growth. Apply a low N nitrogen fertiliser product something like an NPK 5:5:15 to help the sward through the autumn period.
Brush to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up. Brush in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.
It is essential to keep the sward watered after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.
Many artificial, sand filled courts are not cleaned regularly, mainly due to the fact that they were sold, mistakenly, as maintenance free facilities. However, these courts require regular brushing and cleaning to keep the pile upright and prevent contamination of the sand infill materials.
Artifcial courts. Spend time cleaning and maintaining your artificial playing surfaces, they are not maintenance free and require appropiate attention to keep them clean, safe and playable. We now have a lot of different playing surfaces to manage, so consult manufacturer's guidelines and regularly inpect and maintain these surfaces.
Inspect fencelines, net posts and netting. Also check floodlighting; you should have the lights inspected and certified for use annually.
Keep surfaces clean with regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations on sand levels and pile heights..
American Fast Dry courts. Keep surface clean, rolling to consolidate surface, levelling and brushing of fast dry materials, brushing to clean lines.
Clay courts. Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Topdress any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.
Tarmacadam. Keep surfaces clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas. Repaint lines.
Another month has flown by and September is now upon us. This month traditionally sees a shift in weather conditions, which become more autumnal, with less extreme heat and cooler temperatures, and more frequent rainfall. Mornings and night become noticeably darker and, importantly for turf managers, dew on the grass plant becomes a more regular occurrence.
August’s weather has provided good conditions for those who have carried out any maintenance, with positive conditions to promote recovery. There has been a mixture of good temperatures with sunshine and showers which has maintained soil temperatures and provided plenty of moisture for germination after seeding.
September looks set to continue from August, with conditions still favourable for any renovation work planned. Therefore, those who couldn’t get this work done in August will still have a good opportunity for success this month. These conditions will also continue to provide strong growth and recovery from areas with high play. If overseeding work is being carried out, ensuring good contact with the soil will allow the seed to utilise the moisture in the ground. Plant growth regulators such as Prohexadione-calcium and trinexapac-ethyl can be used at this time to help in the development of new seed by holding back the competition from existing mature plants in the sward, creating a more favourable environment for establishment.
As moisture levels increase in the soil and on the leaf, this favours disease development, as the 3 parts of the disease triangle start to come together. For many this will play a major part in planning over the coming months, alongside carefully selecting the right nutrition. As we enter this period when conditions become far more conducive for disease development, with heavy dews, less sunlight, more shade etc…. management of these stress factors becomes essential. Moisture and water management are key in restricting disease development and utilising applications of dew suppressants, even if short-lived, can be just enough to tip the balance in your favour in the right conditions. Similarly, penetrant wetting agents can assist in allowing water to easily move through the profile. However, consideration should be given to the make-up of the soil profile and how effective these can be in certain situations. Once any renovation work is complete, ensuring the cutting units are sharpened and providing a clean cut will also help reduce any potential weak entry points that a pathogen looking for a host is likely to exploit.
Providing adequate nutrition to promote recovery from any maintenance work, or to keep growth consistent and strong to support producing quality surfaces, are factors to consider.
Once any new seed has run out of its own supply of nutrients, ensuring there is adequate supply will assist it getting better recovery. Including a suitable amount of phosphorous helps supply energy to synthesise ATP. A healthy amount of Calcium will not only strengthen the primary cell walls, fortifying defences against pathogenic fungal attack, but also encourage cellular generation at the growing tips of roots and within new leaves.
Applications of high levels of nitrogen can further encourage disease outbreak. Research shows that selecting a balanced autumn fertiliser can consequently result in better spring performance. As such, over applying at this point in the season is likely to lead to excessive soft leaf growth, which is more susceptible to disease attack. Choosing an appropriate nitrogen source that will provide a staged release of nutrients, as the conditions are suitable, will maintain turf health and strengthen against disease attack.
The Emergency Authorisation for Acelepryn for control of Leatherjackets has now been confirmed and this can be purchased now, once the stewardship form has been completed. This applies to golf courses, airfields and racecourses only. The latest time for application is 29th November. Remember - Acelepryn is most active on the 1st and 2nd instar stages and therefore timing is critical to maximise success.
Application of the product for control of adult Chafers has now passed and should have been completed by 31st August. Where chemical control is not authorised, entomopahogenic nematodes can be applied, with warm soil temperatures and available moisture being ideal conditions to get the best out of an application. The entomopahogenic nematodes swim in the water film on soil particles in their bid to search out a larval host.
The adult crane fly typically emerges in late July to September. The adult flies commence egg laying almost immediately, with hatching and larvae emergence about two weeks later. You can check reported sightings of crane fly species on the Pest Tracker on the GreenCast website. To aid effective timing of treatment, ensure the product is in the soil at the optimum time for egg hatch and initial larvae activity.
With the increased moisture content in August, worm activity has started and is already causing issues for turf managers. There are still no legal controls for earthworms and any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally. Cultural management continues to be the only route currently available, which can include a combination of practices such as localised surface acidification, removal of grass clippings to reduce their food source and sanding of surfaces to assist in the drying out and dispersal of casts, leading to less negative lasting impression on the surface from the cast.
- 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