General Maintenance should continue in the same vein as January just with less water in the ground hopefully.
Brushing/switching greens and tees daily will help remove moisture from the grass surface, which stops the spread of disease.
Depending on growth of the grass and standards set by the course manager mowing frequencies will vary from daily to twice weekly. Local conditions, type of course, course expectations, sward type and mower type all effect which mowing height you will want to use - remember to remove more than 1/3 of total grass heigh in each cut, the less stress placed on the grass the better the results further into the season.
Greens - Mowing height should be kept at around 6-8mm.
Tees - Mowing height should be kept at around 10-15mm.
Banks - Mowing height should be kept at 22-30mm
Fairways - Mowing height should be kept at around 15-25mm.
Mow and tidy up rough grass areas, reduce build up of clippings by cutting little and often.
Greens are essential to keep aerated to maintain air and gas exchange and alleviate compaction.
Inspect, weed and rake bunkers, followed by repairing any damage from rabbits or other animals, maintain sand up the face of the bunkers to prevent erosion and sand loss. Repair works may be necessary if you experience flash floods during heavy rain, leaving your bunkers in a poor state (washing out sand from bunker faces).
You can find vandalism often increases during the winter months, so make sure to inspect greens, tees, flags and hole positions for damage.
Changing of holes should be carried out regularly, however frequency will be dependent on a number of factors, green size, green construction, tournaments, amount of play and condition of the green.
The hole will wear more quickly during wet periods, resulting in a crowing affect and surface wear. This wear is more apparent if the green has thatch problems. You may be looking to change the hole positions more than three times per week during wet periods.
In recent years we have seen products that can be applied during the winter months which aid recovery and help the plant resist disease.
Although most turf grasses are dormant some green-keepers may apply liquid iron to keep turf strong and healthy. USGA greens often require a top up feeding during winter to maintain nutrient status.
The mild temperature has been kind, however the Annual Meadow-grass is typically dragging it’s heels this time of year and there’s a large disparity between the perennial species, i.e. Bent and Fescue and the ephemeral opportunist which is Annual Meadow-grass.
High levels of moss can be attributed to moist surfaces and low light levels, mainly Bryum argenteum, Silver Thread-moss, a tufted acrocarpous moss which is equally at home on tarmac, however, with little opportunity to get on the greens with a machine this is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
Aerating when ground conditions are unsuitable will lead to smearing the sides of the hole; lateral compaction means that the water is unable to percolate away from the hole.
As increased levels anaerobic conditions continue to prevail, after increases of thatch and black layer, Toadrush becomes a problem.
Aerate as much as conditions allow, and importantly not before. Be vigilant for Microdochium Patch and treat at first symptoms. As conditions improve apply some good quality fertiliser to help the turf recover. Biostimulants such as SeaAction liquid Seaweed and BioMass Sugar throughout the early part of the year will help the soil food web recover.
You will find greens sodden, with grass roots desperate for air. Try aerating them once they’ve tried out sufficiently, you will be surprised how much difference it can make to the plant’s recovery.
During unusually high temperatures a slow release low nitrogen feed will be in order to nourish a very hungry sward.
Through out the winter periods aeration will be key to keeping the golf course open, especially on heavy soil courses. It’s most important on greens to maintain air and gas exchange in the soil profile, which improves drainage capabilities.
When conditions allow, aeration of tees should continue through out the winter.
Aerate fairways with solid tines to increase air and gas exchanges in the soil profile. Deeper rooted grasses are more likely to overcome stresses in the following year.
Weeds, Pests & Diseases
Keep an eye on the square and treat accordingly, as worm activity can be quite prevalent during the winter months. Worms treatments can be carried out but make sure you understand why worms are present. You may find pH levels, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed.
Foxes, moles and rabbits can become a problem, employing approved pest control services to remove them from the site may be a solution.
Warm and wet weather, early morning dew and diminishing daylight all are factors which increase the risk of fungal disease outbreaks.
The typical types of diseases you may come across this time of year are:
It is good Health & Safety practice to keep garages and working areas clean and tidy. It’s also a good time to have an early spring clean, conducting and thorough clean up of mess rooms, toilets and garages.
Servicing, repair and overhaul of mowing equipment should nearly be complete. Sharpening of reels and replacement of bottom blades are a key requirement, therefore it is important that all such replacement parts are in stock and readily available.