June Maintenance

Key operations this month

The condition and performance of your bowling green will largely be determined by the amount of work put in by the groundsman or greenkeeper and that in turn is dependent on the resources available, chiefly products and services.

Many clubs unfortunately have limited resources and are using old machinery - perhaps using mowers and other equipment that is more than 20 years old. If they have been regularly serviced and are still working, this isn't necessarily a problem, particularly if the blades are sharp and able to cut to a height of around 4-5mm.

As grass growth reaches its peak in the UK this month, your emphasis will be on mowing frequency so long as the soil is moist enough.

Feed, aerate, water and groom the plant in a timely fashion as this is essential for its welfare. Power brush or verticut the sward to make sure any persistent straggly grass is stood up as well as allowing a fresher, cleaner cut.

Lightly scarify the surface every three or four weeks as this can increase the speed of the green. Where there is no dew present, check for any signs of dry patch.

The importance of watering correctly cannot be underestimated. Water to a consistent depth and don't let the sward get dry and hydrophobic.

Mowing is the most important activity, though, and you need to keep the greens mown at between 4-6mm as this will not unduly stress the grass.

Look at double cutting the green in a diamond formation for tournaments and finals. This way, you will remove more grass from the same area without having to reduce the cutting height.

Irrigation is also important so check your watering systems to make sure they are working properly and water the green uniformly. One of the key things about watering is about understanding what your grass plant needs and being aware of your soil profile. For example, sandy soils drain more freely than loamy or clay soils. Problems can arise from low water pressure or an incorrect sprinkler. Uniform watering is key. The ideal thing to do is to soak your green (flood it up) and allow a few days for it to dry out.

Most greenkeepers are probably now applying a summer NPK fertiliser, possibly something like a 12:0:9, cutting down the N and P inputs to maintain a stable balanced growth through June. Look at also using a slow release fertiliser to see you through July and August. Your choice of material and its effectiveness will depend on soil type and weather - moisture and air temperature are catalysts for growth.

Vital now is making sure the soil is moist enough so that it activates any fertiliser product. Liquid feeds are the most efficient at getting into the plant and even more so when used as a foliar feed.

Continue to seed sparse or bare areas and be aware that higher soil and air temperatures will help germination. Use germination sheets to help the process but remove them regularly to check for disease.

Usually, you will topdress in spring and autumn during renovation programmes, but some clubs have a policy of applying topdressing materials during the season. Make sure the appropriate material is sourced and that it is compatible with your existing rootzone materials of your green. The last thing you want are rootbreaks in the green.

Agronomy

Get ahead of dry patch now by using a wetting agent. Prevention is always better than trying cure when soil is baked and hydrophobic. Now the soil is moist so strike early.

You are likely to be in the middle of your feed programmes at this time but also regularly apply SeaAction seaweed and Biomass Sugar as these are vital for plant function, stress tolerance and soil biology. If you are using granular feeds as a base foundation, use liquids to supplement growth as and when it is specifically required, such as for competitions or between maintenance operations. This will give the turf professional fine control of the plant.

If you haven't checked your irrigation system to make sure it works and it is doing so accurately, now is a very sensible time to do it.

All of us should now be skilled in monitoring the performance of our playing surfaces and using modern technologies, tools and a camera there are many ways to do this.

Performance Quality Standards (PQS) have been promoted by the turf industry for many years to ascertain the standards of sport pitch maintenance.

Survey and measure how your facillities are performing using these modern technologies to make sure your green meets the right standards.

This can include measureing sward height, composition of grass species, soil temperature, weed content, levels over a 3m level, hardness and infiltration rates (porosity) of the soil rootzone.

Recently, GPS mapping devices have become available that can measure chlorophyll, moisture content and any deviation in levels. Soil tests will help determine soil type, nutrient status, organic matter content, CEC capacity and soil pH.

Keep a record of these parameters so you will have a better understanding of what is happening as this will lead you to making better decisions on how best to maintain your playing surface for the best possible results.

Weeds, pests and disease

Brush and sweep regularly as this will keep the surface open, clean and dry - a dry surface is a disease-resistant surface. Watch out for any signs of fungal disease attack and treat affected areas with approved fungicides. The prolific Fusarium may make an unwanted appearance and can severely scar surfaces. Again, use appropriate fungicides but as the grass growth continues, they won't take long to disappear.

Fairy rings are also often visible at the moment but a dose of feed or liquid iron will stimulate enough grass growth to mask the patches.

As soil temperatures get warmer, worm activity may also increase, especially if the soil is moist. You may need to apply an approved product to deal with this if it becomes a problem.

Use a selective weed killer to control any broadleaf weeds and the timing of application is vital - remember to apply when weed growth is vigorous.

Machinery & materials

By now your mower should have been serviced and sharpened ready for the new season. Keep your machines overhauled and clean, inspect and repair any watering or irrigation systems, continue checking your floodlighting and replace any worn tines on your aeration equipment.

 
 
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