Voice of a GreenKeeper - April 2020

Date: 16/04/20

Well where do I start? Firstly I hope you are all well and managing to keep positive during this isolation period.

We are all in one of the most unprecedented and difficult situations any of us would have seen in our lives. Turffies all over the country, Europe and the World are coming to terms with Covid-19 a virus that has affected so many.

Everyone has views on this, and we must be mindful that we are all involved at different venues with different situations. We must all do what is best for your own situation: your staff, your employer and your site, whilst working to the guidelines and directives of the government and world health authorities. There are a few guidelines in place form our own industries, here are a few links to see the information they have made available to help.

The R&A

British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA)

Grounds Management Association (GMA)

March started off a bit dryer with some lower temperatures then progressed to see some good spring like days through the month. Now coming into April we have been treated to some lovely sunny days but with a few crisp mornings.

The current guidelines are for essential maintenance only on sports turf facilities; this will be interpreted by people in different ways. The main areas to look at is the security of the site then keeping the facility in a condition that it resembles its original state and can be made ready for use soon as restrictions are lifted.

Most courses will be looking at spring renovations during this period, but you will need to consider, is it essential work? It is certainly easier to do when then course is closed, and will minimise disturbance for players when play returns, but the guidelines may not class this as essential.

The clocks have sprung forward giving us an hour more at the end of the day, and temperatures should be getting a bit higher. We hope to see some more consistent and even growth as the plant starts to photosynthesize. With the current lockdown situation this is an excellent time to raise the hights of cut or keep on your winter hights. More leaf can uptake more energy through this process, which will give healthier plants with lower stress and disease pressures.

We must not try to push growth with applications of nitrogen that will encourage soft growth and disease pressure during this time of minimal working hours and maintenance.

As the temperatures increase it will be a good time to introduce some good microbial activity and a good bio-stimulant drenched into the soil after some aeration. This increases the microbial activity in the rootzone that will help the breakdown of organic matter, releasing natural nutrients and increasing disease resistance improving the plants immune system.

As we move forward through spring and may be able to do a little more on the course, you can continue with light aeration encouraging new root growth, and helping the movement of air and water whilst increasing oxygen levels in the rootzone.  Light topdressings will improve smoothness and firmness.

Machines should have all been serviced, sharpened and ready for the season, and it would be a good time to get you irrigation system primed up and ready to use if needed.

Please all try work together and help each other through this difficult time.

Stay safe and strong!

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