By September, the new season is in full swing and Football and Rugby pitches should be looking at their best. The generally warm temperatures will have encouraged grass growth but, in areas where there has been a lot of rain, the roots may not be to depth as they have not had to go in search for water. Try taking a soil sample to see what your roots are doing and respond accordingly to your findings accordingly.
Air temperatures should continue to be high during September, so it is important during these periods to keep on top of growth to ensure a decent playing surface. Continue with regular mowing of the sward which will help promote tillering, mowing the grass at least twice a week; or more if you can. A cylinder mower should provide the best results and cutting in a different direction each time.
Here are the main tips for September
Continue brushing to keep the air circulating around the base of the plant
Mowing regularly ensuring a good sward density
Verticutting to clean out horizontal growth and aid air circulation
Spiking when the conditions are right - alternating between surface and deep with occasional slitting
Aerating and spiking high wear areas ‘now’ will help them later in the season
Linemarking; “measure twice: mark once”
Also, while temperatures remain fairly high in September, you can take the opportunity to apply an autumn fertiliser. The application of a good balanced feed, with a seaweed tonic, may help to fill your grass out. However, don't be tempted to apply too much nitrogen, as you may find yourself struggling to keep up with a spurt of grass growth. Also, do not apply fertiliser during drought periods, unless you have the means to water it in, otherwise you may scorch the grass.
In addition, try to avoid the use of fertilisers with a high salt content, as this can draw moisture from the plant. Most liquid fertilisers are less likely to scorch grass, but they may still need to be watered in.
Top tip - if you are unable to provide irrigation to the whole pitch, try and ensure adequate watering of the goalmouth and centre circle areas to prevent these areas from wear.
September is the best time of the year to do over seeding; it is the natural time of the year that the grass plant is dropping its seed with plenty of available warmth, and moisture, leading to good germination and successful establishment.
Be sure to have good soil contact and appropriate planting depth and avoid rolling seed into the surface too much, as it is better to allow rainfall to firm the soil around the seed.
If you have the appropriate machinery and equipment is available to the end user, disc seeding is a great method of increasing germination rates, as precise planting depth can be accurately controlled into the slots which then close up nicely behind to provide good firm soil contact.
Agronomically be on the lookout for disease pressure, the key times for infection being when warmth and moisture coincide. Gentle brushing and switching are a key method of cultural control.
September also provides the perfect opportunity for weed control, due to plenty of available moisture and warmth leading to good growth.
Selecting a fertiliser with a lower nitrogen and higher potassium content seems to be the way to go. Whether it is the establishment of new seed or a quality autumn/winter feed .