You are likely to find you may have accumulated some surface debris on the square on your return from Christmas break. The sward will not be able to survive due to lack of light and could die, so it’s important to remove them. Many clubs often put up temporary fences around their squares to protect them.
You could spend some time on the outfield if you’re unable to work on the square. After it’s been snowing a regular brushing will help remove dew, lift the sward and reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak. Aeration is another key activity that should be carried out in January, as well as maintenance to sight screens and other structures around the ground.
Allowing the grass to grow too long will encourage weak sward, so don’t neglect your square, it may be necessary to mow during the winter. Mowing frequencies during this time are dependent on condition of the facility and you should aim to maintain outfield to around 25-35mm, the square between 12-20mm using a rotary pedestrian mower, as a cylinder could tear or rip out fragile growth.
The outfield should be treated through the winter the same as any other natural grass surface - Aeration, Fertilising and mowing should not be neglected.
As a rule of thumb, many do not aerate after January. The outfield can be aerated though, using solid or slit tines when conditions allow. Sarrel rolling will also be beneficial to the square, keeping the surface free draining.
The grass roots are desperate for some air and you will find the square will be sodden, if not saturated. Try and do some aerating, some sarrel rolling or selected forking when it dries out sufficiently.
A slow release low nitrogen feed will be in order to nourish the sward, as temperatures are unusually high.
Weeds, Pests & Diseases
During spells of mild weather it is still possible diseases occur in January. Knocking off the dew helps remove surface water from the sward, allowing it to dry out and prevent disease, so it’s important to keep the sward brushed in the mornings.
There are a wide range of fungicides in the market that contain Chlorothanlonil and Iprodione which can be used to control diseases. All personnel should be suitably qualified in the application of chemicals.
During periods of mild or wet weather worm activity can be quite prevalent so keep an eye on the square and treat accordingly. If worms are present you may need to asses pH levels, organic matter and your cultural practices.
Foxes, moles and rabbits can become a problem, employing approved pest control services to remove them from the site may be a solution.
You will find an increase in the risk of fungal disease outbreaks down to morning dew, warm or wet weather and diminishing daylight.
The right conditions to trigger these disease attacks are weakened or susceptible plants, a disease-producing organism (pathogen usually fungi) and weather conditions which favour the formation of fruiting bodies and spores (moist, mild wet conditions).
The typical types of diseases you may come across this time of year are:
Machinery & Materials
You have time left now to send any machinery away for repairs, make sure your equipment is sharpened and serviced.
Jan/Feb is an ideal time to contact sales reps and find out what products are available for spring. Never leave it late, and make sure you have a good supply of materials.