Warmer temperatures will normally begin now and kick the grass plant back into life, however you may find you had continued growth through winter.
You should aim to keep the height of your cut as near as possible to the high end of a winter cutting height, ensuring the grass has optimum leaf area for production of carbon through photosynthesis.
It will be particularly important to remove early morning dew and controlling any disease outbreaks, which can be done by continuing brushing work to keep air circulating.
After each match divoting should be completed with a border fork and a bucket of topdressing with a little seed mixed in, just a couple of hours will make a world of difference. If you aren’t able to commit to a full divoting programme then you could tackle the worst areas and clean the rest with a mower or pick up sweeper.
Keep spiking, when conditions allow, but make sure you keep your regime flexible and alternate between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting. Aim to hand fork important areas if difficult to get around with machinery.
Keep your lines looking bright by overmarking before each match, and string them when you start to see them wander.
If you have training pitches used on a daily basis, try and rotate where activities take place to reduce wear.
You might want to reduce you heigh of your grass over the next few weeks if you plan on carrying out your renovations earlier in April. It means you will not need to be on the grass with heavy machinery whilst it is trying to establish, also ensures your emergent grass sowing will not have to compete for light amongst taller grasses.
If you have irrigation reels or equipment, it is wise to look over them and check that they are working ok and complete any service requirements, if they are needed.
Try and ensure all matches are completed in time for your renovation window.
Particle Size Distribution (PSD). If you haven’t already, now is a great time to have a full PSD analysis done to tell you the actual make up of you soil. The PSD will identify the ratio of clay, slit and sand, giving you a better understanding of what soil you are dealing with.
Soil pH. This will also allow you to establish the amount of organic matter, as well as soil nutrient and soil pH. Using this information you will be able to identify the needs of your soil. Carrying out these test also allows you to check other physical conditions of the pitch, such as root depth, levels of compaction and aerobic state of the soil.
Applying wetting agents will help to improve and enhance soil performance, by reducing the surface tension of liquid, causing it to spread and penetrate the soil profile more easily.
You can keep a look out for visible signs of diseases such as Red Thread, which in most cases will disappear quickly after a dose of fertiliser.
Many pitches will be in need of a feed, with a low nitrogen input with some iron would be beneficial, allowing the grass plant a kick to get going, and the Iron (Fe) will help colour up the sward and kill off any moss spores. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.
There a number of turf treatments to choose from, and different ones will work well for different turfs. It can be difficult to assess the benefits of treatments, so if you’re unsure ask the supplier for a trial amount and test it for yourself.
Weeds, Pests & Diseases
Prevention is always better than a cure, so keep an eye open for turf disease, the combination of moist soil and surface moisture can make the plant susceptible to disease with many turf diseases such as Fusarium and Red Thread active.
Knowing the symptoms of the diseases can be important in preventing them. Fusarium (Microdochium nival) is the most common and damaging disease.
When viewed in the early morning active patches have a distinctive ginger appearance. White mycelium resembling cotton wool can be seen in the centre and towards the edge of the patch, and you will find the grass is often slimy. Scars will remain until there is sufficient grass growth to fill in - regularly brushing to remove dew will reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks.
Red Thread is ill defined bleached grass with Pink mycelium visible in early morning dew. Close inspection will reveal red needle like structures which are attached to the leaf blades. The needles become brittle upon death and are easily detached, allowing fragments to spread the disease.
Systemic curatives and protective fungicides such as Chlorothalonil and Iprodione, applied in liquid form with water as a carrier, can be used to control any outbreaks. Mixing two or more products in the same tank can help reduce the potential for disease resistance developing. Fungicides are selected with different modes of action so that resulting mixture will attack the target disease on two or more fronts. This makes it more difficult for the pathogens to develop resistance to treatments.
Worms can be very active at this time of the year so treatments can be carried out, if needed; the use of Carbendazim is the only active ingredient for controlling worms.
All personnel should be suitably qualified in the application of chemicals.
Machinery & Materials
You should begin to plan your end of season renovations, and how you may tackle the possibility of an extended season. Look at what resources you will need - manpower, materials and machinery, and get it down on paper.
Dust down and fire up your machinery to make sure it will work when you need it, also check you have the necessary inventory. Get materials ordered now so that they are on hand when you need them.