0 Sports Turf Agronomy Advice - December 2022

With the World Cup in full flow and Christmas just around the corner, the festive season is upon us. At this time of year, it's brilliant to spend time with family and friends, old and new; however, this is not the experience everyone has. There is estimated to be at least half a million people who will be alone over the festive season; fortunately, there are many great organisations who work tirelessly to make it a more enjoyable time for those not fortunate to have family and friends around them.

Looking back on 2022, it has been a tough year with regards to the weather we have encountered. Going through the previous months notes you get a sense of the challenges grounds managers have faced each month to provide excellent playing surfaces. From a wet end of February to a cold and dry spring with minimal growth, into a summer drought that continued well into autumn and then recent heavy rainfall leaving the ground now heavily saturated. Not ideal conditions for maintaining surfaces to the ever-increasing expectation levels of those playing upon it.

Across the UK, November saw a 15% decrease in growth potential compared to the month of October, as well as 3kg/Nitrogen/ha less required by the plant for base growth. Growing Degree Days also dropped to 268 in November compared to 324 for the month of October. However, rainfall increased to 144.5mm on average across the UK for the month of November compared to 115mm in October. November also brought increased turf stress with more occurrences of high stress conditions. As we head towards December, expect conditions to be cooler, wetter and more stressful until we experience a good night's frost.

Click here if you want to review weather data in your region for November. To keep up to date with the weather throughout December, visit https://academy.agrovista.co.uk/category/weather

Monthly weather summary

Disease pressure has been extremely high throughout November, with particularly mild temperatures in addition to wet weather creating the ideal environment for disease development. Furthermore, the mild temperatures and favourable soil conditions have meant that fungicide applications have not provided the desired longevity. On the flipside, these conditions have meant there has been continued growth and recovery, plus high rates of seed establishment in weak areas following the summer drought. The colder weather predicted for December should mean that growth slows down considerably and there is an opportunity to get more from product applications through this month, such as fungicides and dew suppressants for example.

Any nitrogen applied at this time should only be to create enough growth for any recovery that is required, or slightly more if you have the ability to use growing lights to promote a favourable growth environment. Using the data above, providing around 1kg of Nitrogen per hectare would be sufficient for the requirement of the plant. These minimal applications can be particularly useful in maintaining plant health and sward strength, without over applying, which would promote new, soft growth that was more susceptible to disease. Biostimulants, seaweed, fulvic acid and amino acids, phosphites may still be used to elicit a beneficial defence and stress response from the grass plant, although when temperatures are low, soil applications should be evaluated for their effectiveness, and consideration for foliar application for more efficient uptake.

The heavy rain that has fallen in November has now created the increased worm activity which is typical for this time of year. Unfortunately, the mild temperatures and subsequent growth has meant that cutting is still required on a regular basis which can cause surface issues because of the sheer volume of worm casts. The current situation is there is still no authorised control for worms, therefore cultural practices remain the main method of trying to deal with this issue. A noticeable reduction in casts may not be achievable; however, if those casts can be predominantly sand, rather than silt and clay, these can be dispersed across the surface much more easily without leaving a mud smear on the surface.

There will be new challenges to face in 2023, some of which we are already aware of, such as the cost of living, product price increases, machinery costs etc… but there will also be some challenges ahead that we don't yet know about. This is a brilliant and innovative industry with an excellent community and network of grounds professionals within it, and therefore I am sure any challenges will be met head on and with the support of those around us.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable Christmas period and can take some time to themselves and reflect on the past year and look forward to the year ahead.

Tom Wood
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS

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Contact Kerry Haywood

07973 394037

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