Key Tasks for July
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 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.
Artificial Pitch Maintenance
On the face of it, it seems a ridiculous proposition to water a synthetic field. After all, football turf does not grow. However, on certain occasions it can help the performance of the field.
Problems that occur during periods of warm or hot weather include surface becoming so warm, that it becomes noticeable to players. Another issue is friction burn, on a hot day, the combination of hot skin with a hot surface in addition to the friction generated when the player slides on the surface makes it almost inevitable that a skin burn will occur.
Watering your artificial surfaces will lubricate and cool the surface down.
June gives way to July and, as the astrological summer begins (June 21st), the meteorological summer has been in full swing since the 1st of June; a period of time which has been somewhat contrasting to the June of 2018. A wet month overall has seen consistent growth across turf surfaces and a welcome boost to soil water and reservoir levels across many areas of the country which really needed it.
From a turf management perspective then, in many respects wet weather and dry weather are two sides of the same coin. Extremes make for challenges and the overriding factor in both instances is that great master variable; water management. Rather like Goldilock’s porridge, a sweet spot of adequacy is the aim, and the challenge for turf managers is managing the soil environment and the response of the plant to the prevailing climatic conditions.
Facilitating water percolation rates, by surface organic matter management over the long term, helps water to penetrate into the surface rather than be held in the base of the plant where it reduces the ability of life-giving oxygen to enter the rootzone and waste gasses to escape. Less water in the surface of the soil profile reduces humidity in this area, which helps to mitigate the ability of fungal diseases to proliferate. Facilitating water percolation and reducing surface humidity breaks the causative disease triangle in two ways: it promotes the overall health of the plant and limits conditions suitable for pathogen development. Practically speaking, little and often aeration from a sarrel tine aerator, in combination with regular deep tine aeration through the year, works to assist waters passage down the profile, as well as helping maintain plant root health and organic matter decomposition via beneficial microbial action.
Aside from good aeration practices, useful tools in the product armoury, which will assist water management when weather conditions are wet, include penetrant wetting agents, which grab hold of water and pull it down through the soil profile faster and more effectively.
Plenty of excess moisture, combined with available warmth, are of course excellent conditions for germinating and establishing seed, so any areas requiring patching should infill quickly and easily.
The flipside of excess water is of course deficient water. Weather forecasts suggest that the trend for July is for the extremes of wet to be counteracted quickly by dry weather. With the sun high in the sky, long warm sunny days can very quickly push water levels in the opposite direction, as excessive moisture is replaced by moisture deficit. Keeping a close eye on weather forecasts and intervening with timely application of cold pressed liquid seaweeds, calcium and potassium silicate prior to challenging conditions are all inputs which assist the plant in preparing for and resisting the rigours of water deficit.
In advance of forecast hot and dry weather, ensuring irrigation systems are running optimally is sensible practice. Being able to objectively monitor the levels of water in the soil at different depths via a Thetaprobe water meter and cross referencing this against local evapotranspiration rates takes the guess work out of irrigation and facilitates applications which are appropriate for the plant, the environment and the budget. Investing in weather stations does not have to be an expensive course of action, and working with your irrigation supplier to understand the volume of water your system is supplying, in litres and millimetres, are core areas of knowledge for any sports turf manager at any level.
Allowing dry down periods in the soil following intensive irrigation is an important operation. This allows the soil to breath, encourages the grass plant to develop roots to chase water and minimises surface humidity which would otherwise lead to conditions favourable for fungal pathogens and other ailments such as cyanobacteria and algae which will colonise and clog the soil surface, impeding the passage of water and air.
Whilst conditions are wet and warm growth levels are likely to be strong, in such circumstances applications of the growth regulator trinexapac-ethyl can prove useful in checking growth, with the added benefit of increase tolerance to moisture deficit should conditions take a turn. Keep a close eye on nitrogen inputs and avoid applications if growth is strong, as promoting even softer growth will assist virulent fungal diseases to attack.
Warm and humid conditions will promote a number of diseases, but once temperatures exceed 28 degrees Celsius, anthracnose foliar blight will be become activated. Little and often applications of nitrogen have been shown to mitigate the spread of the disease as effectively as a fungicide. Understanding this management strategy is going to be even more important in years to come following the withdrawal of the active ingredient propiconazole, the authorisation for which expired as per the below:
This authorisation ends:
(a) 19 June 2019 for sale and distribution.
(b) 19 March 2020 for the disposal, storage and use of existing stocks.
For turf managers, cultural and biological controls in the form of Entomopathogenic nematodes are the only legally authorised controls available. As with the specific restrictions of application for Acelepryn, these are in line with best practice Integrated Pest Management.
Start thinking about your end of season renovations, and how you may be tackling the possibility of an extended season and the need to get onto the pitches to carry out the work. Start to build your strategy and get it down on paper. Look at what resources you will need - manpower, materials and machinery.
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.
- Check posts are secure
- Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter
- Repair and maintain fence lines