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.
This month traditionally sees a shift in weather conditions, which become more autumnal without extreme heat and long dry spells (location dependant) which can cause issues through the height of summer, and there is typically more moisture around which really helps drive seed germination, establishment and growth.
Mornings and nights become noticeably darker and, importantly for turf managers, dew on the grass plant becomes a more regular occurrence.
The forecast for September looks set to break from the typically dry weather we have been experiencing in most parts of the country. The start of the month looks unsettled with spells of rain forecast for most of the first two weeks. Towards the end of the month, it is forecast to settle down with less frequent showers. Temperatures start the month in the late-teens, but towards the end of September these are predicted to be lowering to the mid-teens.
The increased rainfall and conducive temperatures could mean those who are yet to carry out renovations still have a good opportunity for success this month, providing the rainfall is not too extreme. If overseeding work is being carried out, ensuring a good contact with the soil will allow the seed to utilise the moisture in the ground. Also, consider utilising plant growth regulators, such as Prohexadione-calcium and trinexapac-ethyl, to help in the development of new seed by holding back the competition from the existing mature plants in the sward, creating a more favourable environment for establishment.
Conditions can become more suitable for disease development in September with an increase in moisture levels in both the soil and on the leaf surface. The 3 constituents of the disease triangle combine and surfaces can become damaged. This month can be an appropriate time to put in place a preventive disease management plan. This will ideally be an integrated approach which includes carefully selected nutrition from an appropriate nitrogen source (one that isn’t going to contribute to disease development), fungicides, biostimulants and moisture management, including dew control. These can be utilised in a synergistic approach where each application complements the next in the effort to minimise disease outbreaks and maximise plant health.
Adult crane fly typically emerge in late July through to September. The adult flies commence egg laying almost immediately, with hatching and larvae emergence about two weeks later. To aid effective timing of treatment, ensure the product is in the soil at the optimum time for egg hatch and initial larvae activity. 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 Sportnem T Leatherjacket Killer.
With the increased soil moisture content in September, worm activity will increase and soon become a major issue for turf managers. 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.
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- 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