The Groundsman

December 2012

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MAINTENANCE CALENDAR 45 the Groundsman December 2012 JANUARY OPERATIONS Cricket square • Continue to check for disease activity and, if identified, spray with a propriety fungicide. Continue to brush as regularly as possible to allow sward to remain upright and to remove excess moisture/dew, and if any earthworm activity is noticed try not to smear the casts. If possible aerate using solid tines to a depth of 125 mm. • If climatic and ground conditions allow, mow sward, by 'topping off'. Horse racecourses Continue to avoid the use of relatively heavy machinery over the winter months when ground conditions are generally unsuitable. • Aeration can be carried out during dry periods, assuming the soil moisture content is not high. • A light topping of the sward might be required by the end of the winter period. • Tennis Little work will typically be required except for the essential removal of dew and earthworm casts, and watching for signs of disease attack. • Aeration can be considered, if ground conditions permit and if the machinery is not being serviced. • Winter tips from ATT Cricket outfield • Continue to check for damage especially if used for winter sports. If climatic and ground conditions allow, mow sward by 'topping off'. If possible, aerate outfield to 125 mm. Bowling greens During this period of snow and cold weather, very little will be undertaken on the green. • Golf courses If the weather is very cold/snow, temporary (or winter) greens should be the order of the day to help protect the main greens. • Football Where undersoil heating is provided, games will still be played and the rootzone will no doubt provide a relatively soft surface. This will make divoting a priority after each game. The need for additional turfing in goalmouths and possibly the centre circle areas may also be required this month. • Rugby Union Most work this month will concentrate on pitch presentation, for example: - ensure line markings have good consistency -drag brush the pitch to produce a striping effect -divot as required - fork and sand worn / bare areas. • Rugby League Switching and dragbrushing to be completed when conditions allow. Dragbrushing can be used to create striping effect. • Aeration would be useful if pitch conditions allow to aid drainage. • On the amateur side, constant divoting is of the highest importance to repair the surface. Dragbrushing or chain-harrowing could be used to aid playability and presentation. • Couple the fact that climatic trends seem to blend our seasons into one, and that golf is increasingly being played yearround, and it is obvious that a club's maintenance regime is under pressure. Turf surfaces can only be manipulated effectively while decent growing conditions exist. Any activity that leads to plant stress requires rapid recovery, or sward thinning will result. Logically this means that remedial maintenance will be limited during the 'winter', when growth is less active. Greens need to be managed in the summer to minimise damage during slow growing periods and managed in the winter to give the greens the best possible chance of emerging from winter with full grass cover. Simple decisions can be made such as increasing the height of cut, rolling more often in place of cutting and shallow tining to aid gas diffusion. More complex routines in the form of nutrient balancing, use of PGRs and pesticide applications also play a vital role in making sure a high percentage of grass cover is maintained when growth is good. During those months when growth is slow, the greens still require cutting, albeit on a less regular basis. As the grass is less able to combat wear, it is therefore beneficial to look at ways of reducing stress while maintaining mowing style practices. The simplest way to do this is to increase the height of cut and to move over from triplex mowing to cylinder mowing. Any remedial maintenance, even rolling with a triplex, can result in lateral movement of the softer turf through the torque action of the tyres and so induce plant stress and nullify the benefits of the practice employed. Mowing with a pedestrian mower – such as the INFiNiCut - is overall much more discretionary as the operator can select areas of turf that are weaker and 'lift back' on the unit. The 'clean-up cut' is also far less stressful on the plant. Indeed, even during the normal growing season, there is a strong case for mowing the clean-up cut with a floating head walk-behind mower and slightly lifting the HOC to reduce stress. It is no coincidence that quite often the origin of disease affected greens begins on the clean-up cut where stress on the plant is much higher. The cost of moving over to a cylinder mower may be slightly more expensive than a triplex, but it can be a major cost saving initiative if the cost of chemicals are factored in. Rolling in the winter can also be viewed as a clever method of preparing surfaces so that they are acceptable for play and at the same time limit stress on the slow growing grass plant. Vibratory rolling is an excellent solution as there is less chance of compaction compared to a hefty roller. However, it is important to ensure that the rootzone is not too wet when rolling as the soil particles are more easily able to slide across one another and so compaction will ensue. It would also be much better if vibratory rolling could be employed. It is of no benefit rolling greens to save on the stress of cutting if the action of the triplex nullifies the advantage.Similarly, shallow tining to help with gas diffusion and limit anaerobic conditions is also very useful. Again, try to carry out this practice without the use of a triplex. www.advancedtt.com

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