Key Tasks for September
At this time of the year, it's a case of keeping on top of the mowing and preparing pitches for matches:
- Continue brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant, removing early morning dew and controlling disease
- Mow regularly at your preferred cutting height to ensure a good sward density
- Verticut to clean out lateral growth and aid air circulation
- Continue spiking when the conditions are right - alternating between surface and deep with occasional slitting
- Aerating and spiking high wear areas ‘now’ will help them later in the season
- Linemarking; “measure twice: mark once” is a good tip to take on board when marking out new pitches
- While temperatures remain fairly high, take the opportunity to apply an autumn fertiliser. The application of a good balanced feed, with perhaps a seaweed tonic, may help to fill your grass out, but bear in mind the need to apply it in line with your feeding programme
- Don't be tempted to apply too much nitrogen, as you may find yourself struggling to keep up with the flush of grass growth
- Do not apply fertiliser during drought periods, unless you have the means to water in
- Avoid the use of fertilisers with a high salt content, as this draws moisture from the plant. Use of liquid fertilisers are less likely to scorch grass, but may still need to be watered in
For the rugby league teams, it's also time to plan for any end of season renovations.
September marks the beginning of autumn and, for the wild grass plant, a time for May’s flush of growth, June’s fluorescence of flowering and July’s efforts of ripening to bear fruit; as the seeds dropped onto the ground in August take maximum advantage of the available warmth and adequate moisture in the soil to germinate, develop and grow. This is a process nature has set in place to afford young seedlings of the next generation the opportunity to establish a foundation, such that they can overwinter and then spring forwards as temperatures return the following year.
It is now that the turf manager mimics nature’s perfect blueprint, as across many surfaces we set about renovating at the end of the growing season.
Seed sown with good contact to the soil will be able to draw up moisture and use the residual temperature to establish. Applications of growth regulators, shortly prior to the operation, can assist in holding back competition from the mature plants already in situ.
Adequate nutrition is as important as ever. An application of energy from phosphorous helps to synthesise ATP, the energy currency of all cells. Calcium will provide the raw ingredients to drive cellular generation at the growing tips of roots and within new leaves. Additionally, it will strengthen the primary cell wall, strengthening defences against pathogenic fungal attack, particularly as cooler nights coincide with warm days to produce heavy dews.
Avoid heavy applications of nitrogen on fine turf surfaces in particular. Avoid also inputs designed to stimulate biological activity.
A productive soil ecosystem is a core fundamental of a healthy rootzone and, in turn, grass plant. That said, a soil-plant ecosystem which is too productive during the autumn can lead to an excess of nitrate nitrogen, leading to soft growth more susceptible to fungal diseases.
For Chafer Grubs, Entomopahogenic nematodes can be applied throughout the month. Warm soil temperatures and available moisture are conditions which play nicely into the hands of Entomopahogenic nematodes who swim in the water film on soil particles in their bid to search out a larval host.
Worms will also take advantage of the morning dews with casting becoming a problem on many areas. There are no legal controls for earthworms and anything applied which directly affects or deters them is done so illegally.
The responsible course of action is cultural management via a combination of 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.
Compiled by James Grundy - Senior Technical Manager | BASIS No. R/E/7542IFMAT
- 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
- 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
- Sweep up/vacuum fallen leaves
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