Here are the recommended Greenkeeping tasks for July maintenance work for the Performance Greens Program.
As if by magic we’ve zoomed past the longest day already, but, the nights won’t be drawing in, as my Mother used to say any time soon, so still plenty of nice light evenings to get out on the green.
Last month I talked about being vigilant for the common early summer disease problems like anthracnose and red-thread. It seems that was prudent as many clubs contacted me to say they had problems.
With the recent swoop southwards of the Jet Stream, the UK has experienced quite a wet finish to June and these summer diseases could still show up now so keep your eyes open and apply sufficient Nitrogen to keep these at bay, especially after very heavy rainy spells.
I’ll repeat the identification help for these at the end of this month’s greenkeeping advice.
Localised Dry Patch and Fairy Ring
Repeating this for July as the very dry spring has resulted in a lot of greens suffering from severe LDP now.
If your green is susceptible to Localised Dry Patch, then it will undoubtedly have shown its ugly face on your green by now. The exceptionally dry weather in early spring has caused a lot of greens to dry out early on this season and where there is Hydrophobic soil due to excess sand, then it can be difficult to recover the situation mid season.
This is something that needs to be tackled head on now, as it can be quite devastating to green performance if allowed to run on unchecked. If this is something your green is suffering from, there’s more detailed information about its causes and cures here.
Similarly, Fairy Ring problems are closely related in terms of soil conditions. More on dealing with Fairy Ring here.
Water losses to evapo-transpiration will be at least 25mm in a dry week, possibly much more in a very hot spell.
The average (one sprinkler per side) bowling green irrigation system gives out 1mm of water for every 2 minutes of run time.
This means that in a rainless week, you will need to aim to run your sprinklers for at least 50 minutes.
In reality, many systems are inadequate and applying 50 minutes of irrigation accurately in a week is pretty difficult due to storage capacity, sprinkler coverage etc.
Some allowance for hand watering of dry areas will be required.
More on accurate irrigation management in Performance Bowling Greens
Mowing frequency should be up to summer level of 3 cuts or more per week by now. During very dry spells you should alter your mowing regime to take account of the needs of the grass plants. I laid out some ideas for that in last month’s program here.
The critical advice with mowing as always is keeping the blades sharp and keeping settings free and accurate.
Mowing height can be raised slightly in very dry weather to allow the plants to retain more green tissue. This will aid water retention and allow more efficient photosynthesis and respiration
Micro nutrients or trace elements are particularly important when grass is under stress so I recommend continued use of Super Concentrated Seaweed Liquid with its plethora of trace elements and natural plant inoculants. Trace elements like Copper and Zinc are known to help grass plants fend off attacks from fusarium and other fungal pathogens and its bio-stimulant properties helps to keep the microbe population growing and active. You can quite happily apply this all year round as a bio-stimulant.
Scarifying/Verti-cutting-skip the dry bits!
On recovering greens (still thatchy and in the Circle of Decline) I would normally recommend continued verti-cutting through the summer, but again very dry conditions should be the exception to this as it does have a drying out effect on the turf.
It is important that there is sufficient growth to support the recovery, so hold off on this if you aren’t seeing that yet either.
When conditions are suitable a light verti-cut twice a month can really help with keeping thatch build up under control.
For this operation the blades should barely be touching the soil as the main purpose is to slice through stolons (encouraging vegetative reproduction) and teasing up lateral growth.
Some clubs are seeing a variation in growth pattern across the green due to dry patch, so, a bit like the watering situation, you might have to be selective with this too. Verti-cutting the green bits and missing the brown.
Adding and Boosting Soil Microbes for under £5 a time
Here’s the Intensive Compost Tea regime I recommend for greens that are struggling
Brewing and Re-Brewing Compost Tea
- Split the Compost, Nutrients pack and Activator pack 4 ways (8 ways for the 24 brew pack) and store carefully.
- Add 1 batch of each of these to the Tea Bag
- Add 50g of the Fungal additive (this is enough for soil Organic Matter of 6.0 and above, but add more (75-100g) if your green is very sandy) to the tea bag
- Continue as per instructions in manual.
Plants and microbes both need carbon, nitrate, phosphate, carbohydrate and sugars; some bio-stimulants provide all or some of these elements, whilst others provide a substrate on which plant and soil microbes survive to make these elements available to enhance the growth of the plant.
There are two main reasons for using bio-stimulants to improve the growth and health in bowling green turf.
First of these is simply to feed the soil microbiology because the organic substrate (humus) needed by soil microbes has been designed out of the rootzone specification. Our modern love for very sandy rootzones, means that many greens have too little humus and too much thatch.
Secondly, many bio-stimulants have a direct effect on the health of the plant. In perfect growing conditions, bio-stimulants will do little for plant health, but sports turf, especially bowls and golf greens and modern pitches are some of the most artificial environments created for plant growth and the grass plant benefits from the addition of the stimulants that it cannot produce in sufficient quantities itself.
Nutrition and Fertiliser
Greenkeeping tasks for June include managing nutrient supply well, as this is vital to creating a performance green surface that is consistent throughout the season. Peaks and troughs of growth are the enemy of green speed and smoothness.
This is why it’s best to use Bio Liquids as the regular and light applications help to provide the required Nitrogen as it’s needed instead of encouraging flushes of growth all at once.
Bio Liquids also provide a boost of carbohydrate to the soil microbial population to help keep them growing and multiplying. Over time, this alone can reduce the need for fertiliser applications, as when your soil is firing on all cylinders the microbial activity within it can easily produce more than half of the green’s annual Nitrogen requirement on its own.
Sarrel rolling continues to be the method of choice even when the soil is dry. It is also a very useful operation for letting irrigation into a crusted surface.
It keeps air movement going just sub-surface where the microbes roam too. You can do this as regularly as you want and it is a really useful pre-compost tea application job and a very useful way to get water and wetting agents through the crust of thatch build up.
Anthracnose and Red Thread
Repeating this advice for July
A few readers have experienced disease problems and it is certainly something to look out for when summer gets going and your green has a high percentage of annual meadow grass, although the finer grasses can be affected too.
Anthracnose or Basal Rot
This will appear as irregular yellow or rust coloured patches of diseased turf. Symptoms on individual plants first appear as yellow or red injuries on outer leaves, then progress to new leaves and shoots.
Affected areas have a red or pink colouration, progressing to straw colour in later stages. Usually restricted to the leaves and stems, but can progress to kill the plant. In wet and humid conditions you might see pink slime on leaves.
Grass disease photos: courtesy of Penn State University
These are both quite common diseases of early summer and can largely be negated by making sure Nitrogen levels are sufficient to maintain recovery from mowing, pressure from play and to sustain steady growth.
If growth is still too slow for recovery purposes, make sure you are adding enough Nitrogen to make up for the losses to clippings and leaching by heavy rains.
Looking forward to Performance Greens
With the new season half way through already, many clubs are coming round to the fact that they’ve been chasing symptoms for years and not tackling the underlying causes of poor green performance. Why not use the latter half of the season to commit fully to achieving a Performance Bowling Green? The ebook that’s caused all the fuss is well under the price of a bag of fertiliser!…more here.
Soil Analysis with done for you greenkeeping schedule.
In addition to absorbing the message in Performance Bowling Greens, why not let me do a soil analysis for you. I’ll send you a kit to take the samples and also ask you some questions about the physical condition of your green, photos etc. More details of this unique service here.
Of course as always, if you have any questions comments or problems, please feel free to drop me a line.
Performance Greens Materials
All of the materials you need are available in the shop now. Have a browse and feel free to come back to me with any questions you have about applying the Performance Greens Program.