- 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
July was particularly challenging, with very little rainfall and an increased reliance on irrigation systems or hand watering to just keep the grass plant alive. Added to this has been the extreme temperatures we have experienced, which are uncommon for our location for such a prolonged period. This resulted in additional heat and light stress that has required careful management.
These multiple stresses on the plant, plus the daily stresses from maintenance practices, can be the tipping point for pathogen populations to increase and disease incidence to occur. The conditions have been conducive for anthracnose development, and recent rainfall has meant Microdochium incidence has increased.
Looking ahead to the August forecast, temperatures are in line with the typical average (16°C- 20°C) for the month, with most of the days on or above 18°C. Rainfall is forecast for consecutive days at the beginning of the month and then remains settled throughout August until more rain on consecutive days again at the end of the month. Average sun hours reduce from 170 in July to 150 in August. It is essential, for those who are striving for recovery of drought stressed areas, that any areas of hydrophobicity are treated first. This will allow these areas to be re-wettable, which will aid the recovery process.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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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.