Continue cutting regularly to ensure a good sward density. It may sometimes be helpful on newly established grass to lightly roll the surface before cutting to ensure that the grass does not get pulled out by the action of the mower. Also, ensure that any mowing equipment used is keenly set to cut without tearing. Let the clippings fly to assist nutrient levels and retain water in the surface.
The soil can dry out quickly in any periods of sunny conditions, so make sure that your irrigation systems are functioning correctly as, once soils become hydrophobic and dry patch sets in, it becomes very difficult to get water back into the surface.
You may choose to use wetting agents to ensure uniform wetting, particularly on soils prone to dry patch.
Continue the work of brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, particularly important for removing early morning dew and controlling disease.
Spike when the conditions allow, but keep your regime flexible.
Do not apply fertiliser during periods of drought, unless you have the means to water in.
As we approach the halfway point of the year, we can hopefully afford ourselves a brief moment to look back at the past six months and reflect on the accomplishments and challenges we have overcome. Although June has provided some excellent warm weather, which has meant we have been able to enjoy being outdoors, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it has been good for managing turf. Evenings and mornings were cold right up to the end of May, which has affected growth.
Looking ahead to July, there is little sign of what will now be, for many, much needed rainfall. Where rain is forecast, it doesn’t appear it will be anything substantial enough to make a significant impact. Of course, where irrigation systems are in place, these can be deployed to reinstate the moisture that has been lost through the day, but where these are not available, managing drought conditions may become a major priority. Where irrigation is available, managing the resource effectively to adhere to extraction licenses etc. will continue to be important. Daily temperatures look set to be around average for July, with 29 days at 18°C or above. Notably, there aren’t many days forecast above 24°C, which may be important for those who are regularly managing anthracnose disease outbreaks.
July temperatures look set to continue to be decent, with most days around 19°C or above. Rainfall is forecast to be sporadic which should help prevent surfaces drying down too much. With warmer temperatures comes the possibility of an increase in humidity. When temperature is higher, the air can hold more water vapour, meaning that when climate conditions are warmer the humidity level can be higher. As an example, at 28°C a densely saturated amount of air may contain 28 grams of water per cubic metre, but only 8 grams of water per cubic metre of air at just 8°C. Higher humidity can increase the likelihood of the development and growth of fungal pathogens.
Water management is a key tool for maximising overall plant health, even more so in periods of prolonged dry weather as those we are currently experiencing. It is important to ensure there is enough moisture to support nutrient uptake and growth whilst trying not to over apply to areas of turf where more is not required. Moisture meters are an excellent tool, particularly in these situations, as they provide factual data as opposed to a visual interpretation which is variable from person to person. Guidelines can be set for optimal readings and selective or hand watering can be implemented to only irrigate those areas where there is a requirement, thereby reducing over-watering the plant and reducing overall water usage. Wetting agents are useful for managing water and ensuring it enters to soil profile, where it is needed. Regular aeration, using a variety of tine depths, also helps to maintain pathways for water to enter the rootzone and pass through it.
Applications of seaweed will elicit important beneficial defensive and stress responses in the plant and associated micro-organisms when applied at times of turf stress. Ascophyllum nodosum is a good seaweed source as it has to deal with tidal stresses. Half its life is spent under water and half its life out of water. 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 volumetric water content. They are also excellent at ensuring nutrients get into the plant, therefore, through dry periods where every part counts, they can be a useful addition to tank mixes to ensure efficient uptake of products. Calcium and Potassium are both key nutrients when considering biotic and abiotic stress due to their role in cell walls and water regulation. Therefore, look out for these when selecting your fertiliser.
For Anthracnose (Colletotrichum cereale), warm, humid weather and increased light intensity are the primary environmental factors controlling the development of conidia. Laboratory studies indicate that Colletotrichum cereale produces conidia at temperatures between 24‑32°C, with increased maturity of conidia observed at 28°C compared with lower temperatures. Once conidia have been excreted from the acervuli in a water‑soluble matrix, they can be spread by wind, water or human activity, but need continued leaf surface moisture to establish. Little and often applications of nitrogen have been shown to mitigate the development of the disease and helps to minimise any stress on the plant. Applied preventatively fungicides are available as a method of control, although some will find the above measures sufficient when dealing with this disease.
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Most clubs will be continuing with their closed season renovations, and assessing what resources will be needed – manpower, materials and machinery.
With reference to 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. 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.