At this time of the year, greens are in constant use and with long daylight hours and warmer temperatures; growth of the grass on the greens will be at a premium if there is also plenty of moisture around.
Many of your maintenance diaries and regimes would have affected by the unpredictable weather around the UK, however, continuing with routine maintenance tasks such as fertilising, watering, mowing and verti – cutting will keep the green in top condition for match play and practice.
The rate of grass growth will determine the amount and frequency of mowing, maybe daily or 3-4 times a week.
Fertilisers should only be applied if there is significant moisture in the green; fertilisers and feeds should not be applied whilst the greens are dry.
For future reference, try and note done what work you have undertaken and what results you have achieved; if you have a mobile phone, take some pictures of the green as well and note down any issues/problems you may be having with the green.
Also, take some soil core samples, this will allow you to see what is happening underground will enabling you to see thatch content, moisture levels and root depth of the grass.
Always ensure your mower blades are sharp and set at the correct height. The height of cut will vary from green to green and is influenced by several different factors – the condition of the green, the type of mower used, the sward composition and the level of the surfaces you are mowing. Generally, the height of cut will range from 3mm-8mm during the growing season, with most Bowls clubs cutting around 5mm.
For match days, some of you may reduce the mowing heights, perhaps down to 3mm, to help speed up the greens. However, successive mowing at these heights may lead to plant stress and another way is that instead of reducing the height, do a double cut mowing in different directions as this will speed up the greens without reducing the grass height. It is worth noting here that the speed of greens can be affected by other things – such as thatch or the fact that the greens have not had enough topdressings.
Irrigation is an important and integral part of the turf grass management industry, especially as the demand for better quality playing surfaces has increased as well as the demand formore frequent use.
Careful consideration and investment watering systems is key to managing fine turf surfaces. Most professional sports facilities have irrigation systems. Without them they would not be able to prepare and maintain quality playing surfaces.
Irrigation is essential for: plant survival and growth, soil formation, soil strength, chemical transport, managing playability and for presentation.
The main purpose of irrigation is to achieve a water balance within the soil profile ensuring that the grass plant is able to access available water from the soil.
Irrigation scheduling by the water balance approach is based on estimating the soil water content. In the field, daily evapotranspiration (ET) amounts are withdrawn from storage in the soil profile. Any rainfall or irrigation are added to storage. Should the water balance calculations project soil water to drop below some minimum level, irrigation is indicated. Weather forecasts enable prediction of ET rates and projection of soil water balance to indicate whether irrigation is needed in the near future.
Overwatering can be as equally damaging as under watering to your surface . Keeping the surface waterlogged reduces air porosity and declines plant growth; constant shallow watering will also increase Poa annua populations. You should apply a sufficient amount of water to flood up the green and then allow it to drain for two - three days. This allows the water to get deeper into the soil profile.
Applying a summer N P K fertiliser and trying to maintain a stable balanced grass growth during July will be the aim of most groundsmen, . The choice of material and how well it works will be dependent on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.
If you have access to water for the greens, fertiliser treatment and turf tonics 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.
Aeration is a key activity to ensure that there is a good air/gas exchange going on in the soil profile. Providing the green is adequately irrigated, the use of a sarrel roller (depth 5mm) helps keep the surface open without disturbing the playing surface. Deeper aeration should only be done with micro tines when conditions allow, as we do not want to risk disturbing the surface, especially during the playing season.
Topdressing is usually carried out in spring and autumn in conjunction with the renovation programmes. However, some bowling clubs have a policy of applying topdressing materials during the season. It is important that an appropriate material is sourced to ensure compatibility with the existing rootzone materials of your green. The last thing you want to encourage are rootbreaks in the green.
Playing in the same direction in the same position can cause uneven wear to a flat, level green. Ruts and depressions can occur, causing the bowl not to run true.
The rink set up should be moved laterally and directionally every 3 days or so, playing across and up and down the green.
For even spread across the green, all rinks should be used in rotation.
The turf industry has used Performance Quality Standards (PQS) to determine the standard of sport pitch maintenance.
It is important to survey and measure the performance of your facilities. These can include measuring sward height, composition of grass species, soil temperature, weed content, levels over a 3m level, hardness and infiltration rates (porosity) of the soil rootzone.
In recently the development of GPS mapping devices can assist with measuring chlorophyll, moisture content and deviation in levels. Soil tests will also help determine soil type, nutrient status of the soil, organic matter content, CEC capacity and soil pH.
Recording these parameters will give you have an understanding of what is going on within your playing surface and enable you to make better decisions on what maintenance inputs you will need to undertake to maintain surface playability.
Weeds, pests and disease
Sweeping and brushing to keep the surface clean should be undertaken on a regular basis. This will keep the surface open and dry.
Resistance to disease is assisted with a dry surface and it is important to try and spot any fungal disease attack and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.
Weedkiller will help control any broadleaf weeds and it is key to apply when the weed growth is vigorous.
Incidences of turf diseases such as Microdochium nivale (fusarium), Fairy Rings and Red Thread has occurred recently and with such incidences of disease activity there may be continued problems over the next few months; you can act and prevent this by applying a systemic fungicide such as Heritage Maxx.
Generally Fairy Rings are caused by fungi that are part of the basidiomycetes genus. When the disease first appears, it is important to correctly identify the symptoms, as there are three types of fairy rings to be found in amenity sports turf in this country:
TYPE I Marasmius oreades
TYPE II Scleroderma & Lycoperdon spp
TYPE III Hygrophorus & Psilocybe spp
The most important thing to do is to identify what type of fairy ring you have on your green, as type 3 fairy rings are mainly aesthetic, their ability to reduce the aesthetic quality of turf can be decreased by physical removal of mushrooms/toadstools. However, for type 1 and 2 fairy rings, there are many options available for effective control.
Keep your mower clean and well serviced, check the bottom blades and cylinders for sharpness and ensure you look after your equipment and store safe and secure. It is also a good idea to get into a habit of washing down and cleaning after use in readiness for the next cut.