The recent rainfall has been most welcome for many groundsmen, especially those who lack adequate watering facilities. The combination of moisture, warmth and plenty of sunshine will stimulate some much needed re-growth, particularly for those who carried out end of season renovation work.
Regular mowing of the pitch will help the grass plant tiller and increase density of the sward. Ideally, you should be mowing the pitch two to three times a week or, at the worst on a weekly basis, to help the sward tiller.
A dose of fertiliser will also encourage the sward to respond more quickly.
Whilst air and soil temperatures remain high, there will still be a lot of water loss through evaportranspiration. No surprise really that, at this time of year, you would be looking to replace an evaporation rate of 5mm per day, which represents quite a loss of moisture in the ground.
Replacing this moisture can be quite a task if you are lugging around hose pipes or, worse still, have nothing at all in place to supplement any rain you are fortunate to receive.
If you are faced with having no resources to water, you may need to develop a strategy to reduce plant stress. This can be achieved by reducing the frequency of cutting (chances are your grass will be slipping into dormancy, in any case), secondly by letting your grass grow a little higher (raise the height of cut on you mower).
If you normally cut with a box on, you could try letting the clippings fly to help reduce evaporation from the soil surface.
If you have had to oversow any thin areas, it is critical that you do not allow seedlings to dry out. Keep your seeded areas watered. If possible and if you have them to hand, make use of your germination sheets to encourage the rapid establishment of your seeded areas. If using germination sheets, check underneath them regularly for disease.
Make sure your goal posts are painted and ready for deployment. Also, ensure your nets are checked for repairs or replacements are on hand if you haven't already done so.
Check you have enough line marking material to hand and enough to get you through your season. This is probably a good time to inspect your marker and ensure that it is in good working order for when you need it.
Cutting: Continue cutting regularly at 25-37mm to ensure a good sward density. It may, sometimes, be helpful with newly sown grasses to lightly roll the surface before cutting to ensure that the weakly held grasses in the surface do not get pulled out. Also, ensure that any equipment used is keenly set to cut without tearing.
Useful Information for Mowing
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Continue spiking when the conditions allow, alleviating built up compaction. Keep your spiking regime flexible. Surface spiking at this time of year and heading into a dry spell will help what rain you receive to move quickly down into the surface where it will be of benefit to your grass plants.
Useful Information for Aeration
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If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured), 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.
Most groundstaff will be applying a summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 12:0:9 or 9:7:7 to maintain grass colour and vigour. A slow release fertiliser could be applied to see you through July and August. The choice of materials and how well they work will depend on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.
Do not apply fertiliser during drought periods, unless you have the means to water in.
An application of fertiliser can be applied late in the month to take the grass through the rest of July and into August. Avoid the use of fertilisers with a high salt content, as this will exacerbate the stress factors in the grass as it draws moisture from the plant. Use of liquid fertilisers are less likely to scorch grass, but may still need to be watered in.
Consider, as an alternative, applications of seaweed or amino bio stimulants which have proved beneficial in helping grass through stressful periods. Another consideration is the use of calcium, an important ingredient for giving the plant rigidity and regulating root and shoot growth.
There are a couple of products out there in the market that combine all these, specifically for incorporating into stress relieving programmes.
If you are unable to provide irrigation to the whole pitch, then at least you should try and ensure adequate watering of the goalmouth and centre circle areas. If you follow a programme of using wetting agents to ensure a uniform wetting, this will help. Such a programme will need to have been initiated from April onwards and will usually follow a monthly application. This is particularly useful on soils prone to dry patch.
Useful Information for Fertilising
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Applications of tonics can also be applied in accordance with your annual programme to help harden your turf against damage and the ingress of turf diseases.
Keep an eye out for disease and treat at the early signs.
Red thread is an extremely common turfgrass disease that can develop at any time of the year during cool, wet weather, but frequently appears most severely during late spring and autumn.
It can develop on most turfgrasses but ryegrasses, meadowgrasses and fescues appear to be more commonly affected. This disease is often referred to as an indicator of low fertility and symptoms will often develop more severely if nitrogen or potassium is limited.
Many of the fungicides that are currently available for use on managed amenity turf have shown efficacy against this turf disease and, where necessary, can be used as part of an integrated programme to manage red thread. In most cases, a dose of fertiliser will help reduce the incidence of this disease in amenity turf.
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 on watered areas.
Useful Information for Pest and disease
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Make sure that goal posts are cleaned and painted. There's nothing worse than rushing at the beginning of a season to get this job done, when you have a thousand and one other things to do before your first game.
Check for replacement nets and spare parts; order them in, so they are on hand when needed.
Ensure you have checked your line markers and that they are fit for purpose, especially the spray jet markers, you may need to replace the nozzles and check the battery and water pump.
Also, remember to order your paint for your marker.