September Football Diary 2022

General Maintenance

The new season is due to start in September, so most groundsmen will be well on the way with their pitch preparations. As we all know, presentation is important. If it looks well presented, with bands, stripes and a consistent surface, it makes the game more enjoyable for the players.

Most facilities will maintain a height of cut between 24-30mm.

Essential tasks in preparing pitches for play involve, mowing, marking out, divoting, brushing and carrying out aeration.

Training areas will be prone to damage from specific training regimes, such as goalkeeping drills and small sided games. Where possible, rotate the areas where these drills take place.

  • Continue cutting to encourage good sward density
  • Ensure that any equipment used is keenly set to cut
  • Regular brushing will keep the air circulating around the base of the plant
  • Deep spike to alleviate compaction as and when required
  • Continue spiking when the conditions are right (this should only be carried out if the soil is suitably moist) to compliment your deep spiking
  • Keep your spiking regime flexible, alternating between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting
  • Hand fork goalmouth and centre circle areas, if difficult to get onto the pitch with machinery

Try to keep the top 100mm free draining; this can be achieved by regular spiking with solid or slit tines to a depth of 150mm or more.

Divoting is crucial, so start as you mean to go on. At this stage of the season, the addition of seed mixed with a little topsoil will help to repair any deep scars.

Overseed sparse or bare areas. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for disease. Remember that, without good seed to soil contact, the operation is useless. Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Marking out

  • Keep your linemarker clean
  • Keep string lines taut
  • Ensure that right angles are correctly formed. Use the 3:4:5 triangle method. The bigger the triangle at the start, the more accurate the pitch will be.

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

Pre and post match routines

Before the match

  • Check that the pitch is fit and safe for play
  • Check for debris (glass, stones etc.)
  • Ensure the surface is firm and not saturated, correctly marked out and flagged, and that the posts are safe and secure

Post match

  • Replace divots, even if it’s just the worst affected areas – it will make a difference!
  • Dragmat/brush/harrow to restore playing surfaces
  • Clean up the playing surface with a rotary mower

Agronomy

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.

Disease

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.

Pests

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.

Tom Wood
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS

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

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