Expected weather for this month:

Dry and mild, rain expected later in the month.

Cleaning off pitch markings at Croke ParkCongratulations are in order for the Kilkenny hurlers and Dublin footballers, also the Kerry Minor Football and the Galway Minor Hurling champions. The finals should give us all the motivation in the world to produce the best pitch conditions we can.

The weather toward the end of September was great bonus, settled and quite pleasant. They say its impossible to predict the weather for a whole month but Met Eireann are giving it a go by promising more of the same for most of October. Dry month predicted right up to the 28th, underlying theme for October is cold mornings followed by mild days followed by cold nights.

There are some early indications that there could be an invasion later this month of the adult leather jackets. Unlike last year, in the south of the country the conditions have been favourable for the growth in populations. If you recall, last year soil profiles were so wet that the populations declined, and this may still be the case in the north and the west of the country where rainfall has been higher than average for this time of year.

Key Tasks for October
Maintenance Regimes

Spreading topsoil in Croke Park

Autumn/winter fertilisers can be applied that are low in nitrogen, which will suppress the production of soft sappy top growth susceptible to fungal diseases, and high in phosphate and potash to help the grass maintain a healthy root structure.

The choice of fertiliser will be largely based around your soil tests, but may be influenced by whether you choose to use a conventional type fertiliser or a slow release product that will release the nutrients over a period of time based on soil temperature and moisture.

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.

Worm activity is starting to become noticeable, and brushing the surface when dry will help to dissipate the casts, reducing the problem of smear.

Keep your machinery in tip top condition. Grease where you find a grease nipple, oil were you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water. If in doubth consult the manufacturer's manual. Clean it when you've finished. All this may seem mundane, but will keep your mower going when you need it and save you money in costly down time.

Continue cutting regularlyMowing, Verticutting and Dragmatting

Continue cutting regularly at 25 -35mm to ensure a good sward density. Check the action of your cylinder regularly to ensure that the units are cutting and not tearing the grass.

Many groundsmen are now using rotary mowers to help clean up pitches after games, the suction from the rotating blades helps stand the grass back up whilst, at the same time, collecting any debris from the surface of the pitch.

Dragmatting and brushing: 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. This will also help to reinforce the presentation of the pitch.

Verticutting: Will help to ensure that the sward is kept clear of lateral growth that may be appearing, and also help to ensure that good circulation of air around the base of the plant.

Machinery

  • Keep your machinery in tip top condition
  • Grease where you find a grease nipple, oil where you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water
  • Clean it when you've finished
Agronomy

Arundel SoilSamplePitchcare have recently launched a new independent Soil Anaylsis that enables you to get specific results for the soils you manage. Soil analysis is a means to discover what levels of nutrients are available to plants. There is an optimum for each plant nutrient and, when coupled with other properties such as soil structure and particle sizes, determine how vigorous your plants are. Different nutrients undertake different tasks within the plant.

Ideally, it is good practice to undertake at least an annual soil test to analyse the nutrient status of your soil. This will help ensure you only apply what is required and not waste money and time applying products you do not need.

The choice of materials and how well it works can be dependant on many factors, including soil type and the weather, with moisture and warmer air temperatures being the catalyst for growth.

Red thread and and Fairy rings can be a common sight on pitches. Click on the following links to view in depth articles about diseases :-

Identifying dieases

Red thread

Fairy rings

Keep an eye on fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.

Weeds, Pests & Diseases

A number of diseases may appear at this time of year. Favourable temperatures for incubation, overcast and moisture in the ground enables disease to spread quickly.

Treat as appropriate with a curative or eradicant fungicide, preferably with a systemic action, although this should be a last resort, as the costs of annual applications of fungicides to large areas are very high and may eventually lead to pathogen resistance.

Control should be a mixture of good sward management, good observation and use of cultural controls. Occasionally, the bottle (or box) needs to be reached for to keep your sanity and the sward alive.

Worms may also be active this month. Treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why worms are present. Ph level, organic matter and your cultural practices may need to be assessed. Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.

Machinery & Materials

Inspect and check your mowers regulary to insure you have set the correct Height of Cut (HOC) and the blades are sharp and cut cleanly.

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.

Other Key Tasks

Weekly checks:

  • Check goals for loose bolts and tighten as necessary
  • Check nets - make sure the net is properly supported at the back of the goal and isn't sagging
  • Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter
  • Repair and maintain fence lines
  • Sweep up/vacuum fallen leaves
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