August Football Diary 2023

General Maintenance

  • Continue brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, removing early morning dew and controlling disease
  • Mow regularly at your preferred cutting height to ensure a good sward density – 30 to 35mm; dropping it to around 25mm for matches
  • Verticut to clean out lateral growth and aid air circulation
  • Continue spiking when the conditions are right – alternating between surface and deep with occasional slitting
  • Linemarking; “measure twice: mark once” is a good tip to take on board when marking out new pitches. Make sure you have enough linemarking material for the season
  • Do not apply fertiliser during drought periods, unless you have the means to water in
  • If you are unable to provide irrigation to the whole pitch, then at least you should try and ensure adequate watering of the goalmouth and centre circle areas

Agronomy

As we wave goodbye to July, we must prepare for August, the starting point for shorter days and cooler nights.

July has been unforgivingly wet in some areas, which is a stark contrast to the drought conditions we were experiencing in June, where on average there was 42mm of rain compared to July, which in some areas has had on average 98mm of rainfall, with some seeing over 100mm! This has made July a tough month for turf managers, as we move from one stress (drought) to another stress (saturation point). Initially, following June, the rain was welcomed and much needed. However, it has felt like it hasn’t stopped in some parts. Anyone with annual meadow grass will have undoubtedly seen how this has struggled for most of the year to date, as it has rarely been out of stressful conditions and has definitely not been in that ‘happy place’. It has had to deal with wet, cold, drought, heat and now wet again.

When dealing with the weather, we now seem to face extremes more than anything else, flipping from one to another. These extreme weather conditions put extra stress onto the plant on top of the stress already present from the intensive management carried out to provide excellent playing surfaces. This can be the tipping point for pathogen populations to increase and disease incidence to occur. The sudden flip from dry to wet can also suit the development of turf diseases.

The start of August looks like a continuation of what we have had in July, rain! It is forecast for the first half of the month with improved weather to follow, although still a scattering of showers, temperatures will remain around 20°C for the majority of the month. The continued rainfall and environmental conditions will require careful management in relation to nutrition management to counteract any losses through the profile. Disease monitoring will also be required throughout this period.

Plant stress

Applications of biostimulants to support existing nutritional inputs will play a valuable role to mitigate the effects of stress. Seaweed will elicit important beneficial defensive and stress responses. Amino acids also play an important role in abiotic stress tolerance, helping plants to prepare for and cope with additional stresses such as varying changes in temperature and moisture. They are also excellent at ensuring nutrients get into the plant, therefore through dry periods where every part of the product counts, they can be a useful addition to tank mixes to ensure efficient uptake. Fulvic and Humic acids are a kind of plant growth regulator, which can promote growth and play an important role in fighting against drought, improve plant stress resistance and improve turf quality. Where possible, adjustments to maintenance practices, such as raising the height of cut and reducing cutting frequency can also play a major role in reducing stress and maintaining good overall plant health.

Renovations

August, for some sports, can be a key time for carrying out renovations or for planning upcoming renovation work. Weather conditions can be ideal, with good temperatures and soil moisture available for getting recovery and establishment of seed. Different sports will have varying maintenance practices, however having set objectives planned out will increase the probability of a successful renovation. Ensuring the right seed cultivars are selected for the intended usage will increase the probability for success. If removing organic matter to improve playing conditions and rootzone characteristics, carefully selecting the most suitable method of removal is important to ensure the desired outcome is achieved efficiently, whilst removing the maximum amount with minimal disruption to playing conditions.

Disease

As we gradually transition from summer into autumn, where conditions can be cooler with more surface moisture present, conditions become suitable for the development of turf diseases. At a time when growth is still strong, utilising products to aid in the reduction of disease outbreaks can be challenging, particularly in terms of getting longevity out of product applications. However, making applications at the right time, although potentially not long lasting, can make a big difference in reducing disease. Moisture management is key, and reducing leaf wetness, when morning dews start to appear, will have a significant impact on the potential development of disease. Key diseases to be mindful of at this time of year are Microdochium patch, Anthracnose and Leaf spot.

Pests

Worm activity may increase with soil moisture levels. There is still no legally registered product for the control of worms, therefore management practices must rely upon cultural methods.

Cultural and biological controls in the form of Entomopathogenic nematodes are the only legally authorised controls available. 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. Useful information can be found on this link Sportnem T Leatherjacket Killer (5000 m2)

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

Machinery

With reference to your machinery needs; if it’s part of your inventory, drag it out, dust it off and fire it up to make sure it will work for you when you need it. If you don’t have it in your inventory, but you know someone who has, a neighbouring club or school perhaps, particularly if you are on good terms with them; you may come to some arrangement to borrow it when they are not using it.

Alternatively, look at the option of hiring. There are a growing number of hire companies these days that are now specialising in the hire of sports ground equipment. With reference to your material needs, get them ordered now so that they are on hand when you need them.

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