October Tennis Diary 2022

General Maintenance

Grass courts

  • Grass growth will have slowed down, but certainly not stopped altogether
  • Cut weekly, ensuring that you take no more than a third off in any one cut
  • Depending on the weather a cylinder mower may still be used, but it is more likely that a rotary mower will serve you just as well
  • Box clippings to avoid the spread of disease
  • Remove leaves and other debris as soon as possible

Artificial courts

  • Keep surface clean with regular sweeping and brushing
  • Remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer’s recommendations on sand levels and pile heights
  • American Fast Dry courts – keep surface clean, rolling to consolidate surface, levelling and brushing of fast dry materials, brushing to clean lines
  • Clay courts – regular sweeping and brushing to restore playing levels using SISIS Trulute or similar equipment. Topdress any hollows or damaged areas
  • Tarmacadam – regular sweeping and brushing. Repair any hollows or damaged areas

Before you start, take a core sample from each of your grass court to ascertain their current state. A visual inspection of the core will allow you to see the level of thatch/organic matter (OM) you have and to what depth.

Target OM levels:

0-20mm 6-8%

20-40mm 4-6%

40-60mm 2-4%

60-80mm 2-4%

An excess of OM will lead to poor hydraulic conductivity, soft putting surfaces, increased disease problems, loss of green speeds and poor all year round playability.

Appropriate renovation work will help reduce and control thatch / OM levels in your swards.

With air temperatures still averaging around 10-12°C in most parts of the country, seeding is still a viable option.

The recent spell of dry weather may have prompted disease attacks, with red thread, fusarium, leaf spot and fairy rings being common. Use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

Prior to mowing, remove moisture from the grass surface. This will help to stop the spread of disease and improve the quality of cut.

Agronomy

October sees autumnal conditions set in, and thoughts of summer have all but disappeared. Most renovations will have taken place whilst conditions were favourable, whilst those who have not yet been able to carry out such work will be holding out for temperatures not to drop off too quickly to ensure there is some recovery before winter when growth potential drops to ‘low’.

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Mornings and nights continue to become noticeably darker and importantly for turf managers, leaf wetness (dew) on the grass plant becomes a management priority.

Nutritional inputs will start to reduce inline with the reduction in growth potential. Applying a fertiliser with a nitrogen source suitable for the time of year is key to minimise any disease outbreaks. Following the base nitrogen figures outlines above, applications if around 2kg of nitrogen per hectare will be sufficient. Which is the equivalent of 6.0.12 conventional release granule (4-6 week longevity) applied at 20gm2. Choosing a fertiliser that is going to release nutrients as the temperatures decrease is also needed. Some slow-release technology will release extremely slowly in cooler conditions which may not provide an adequate supply of nutrition to maintain a healthy plant able to withstand pathogen attack. Therefore, it is as important to not under apply at this time of year as it is to not over apply.

Monitoring disease pressure is a main priority for October as cooler, damp conditions are experienced over longer periods during the day. Conditions in October can be ideal for Microdochium nivale outbreaks and predicting when these outbreaks may occur is challenging. Gaining an understanding of what contributes to disease pressure reaching tipping point on your own site allows better informed decisions when selecting and timing any of the applications aimed at counteracting disease pressure These may be, fungicidal, nutritional or plant response applications.

Fungicide technology is only one part of an IPM approach and increasingly it will be the other applications which will become more in focus as tools in which to reduce disease outbreaks and severity. Morning dews can lead to an increase in leaf wetness in October and this additional moisture on the surface can be the perfect vehicle for pathogens. Therefore, utilising dew dispersant technology can be a useful tool.

Expectations need to be set to a realistic level in relation to longevity of the products compared to when using them in cool months when growth potential is low. When frequent mowing is still taking place, the longevity is going to be relatively short, however this can still be long enough to reduce the level of leaf wetness long enough to get through a high disease pressure period.

Key actions:

  • Use a programmed approach to maximise plant health, through balanced nutrition of all plant essential elements not just NPK as part of an IPM plan.
  • Raise cutting heights to minimise stress with a reduction in stress invoking practices such as top dressing which weaken and damage leaf blades.
  • Ensure cutting units are sharp to provide a clean cut to minimise weakened points for pathogen attack.
  • Well timed aeration to maintain movement of water away from the surface and down through the profile. (Caution when tining around Leatherjacket hatch periods)
  • Reduce periods of leaf blade wetness by removing dews or utilising dew dispersant technology (apply only to a dry leaf)
  • Monitor disease forecasts via resources such as Syngenta’s Greencast
  • Use biostimulants and plant response promoters to maximise plant health.
  • Take advice on and construct a preventative fungicide application plan, using historic data, live weather forecasts and site-specific conditions, for applications ahead of when conditions favour the development of disease.

Pests

You can check reported sightings of crane fly species on the Pest Tracker (https://www.greencast.co.uk/turf-pest-tracker) on the GreenCast website. To aid effective timing of treatment, follow Syngenta guidelines (7 point plan) for application one month after peak flight is observed. Where chemical control is not authorised, entomopahogenic nematodes can be applied with warm soil temperatures and available moisture being ideal conditions to get the best out of an application. The entomopahogenic nematodes swim in the water film on soil particles in their bid to search out a larval host, useful information can be found on this link.

With the increased soil moisture content worm activity has increased. There are still no legal controls for earthworms and any product which is applied to directly affect them is done so illegally. Cultural management continues to be the only route currently available which can include a combination of practices such as localised surface acidification, removal of grass clippings to reduce their food source and sanding of surfaces to assist in the drying out and dispersal of casts, leading to less negative lasting impression on the surface from the cast.

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

Machinery

With some machines not currently being used, take the time to carry out an overhaul or send them away for a service.

  • Inspect and clean machinery before putting away for the winter
  • Replace worn and damaged parts as necessary
  • Empty fuel tanks as petrol will go stale over winter
  • Maintain a stock of consumables for your machinery
  • Secure machinery nightly with good storage facilities and strong locks
  • Record makes and models and take pictures of your equipment as additional reference
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute when servicing dealers will be very busy

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