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.
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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You should have had your mower serviced and sharpened ready for the new season.
- 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