Voice of a Greenkeeper: August 2019 Tips
What will August bring? After a few weeks of good conditions, we have now had torrential rain with severe flooding in some western areas.
During this period the conditions have been warm with some good moisture content; perfect conditions for growing grass, but also for disease pathogens to be very active. This has led to varying problems this summer, with increased fungal activity. We are now seeing more fungal dry patch, fairy ring, waitea patch/brown patch, and leaf spot.
As course managers we are all looking to use less fungicide. However, the fungicides we are using seem to be less effective – active ingredients have changed, and applications rates have reduced. If we don’t apply a fungicide on the fuzz that we see, or do not apply the preventative that we would have previously, then we will see more variations of disease activity as these applications would have also killed a lot of other fungi in the rootzone. We are now seeing changes to more biological control, as we and the industry start to understand the benefits of good healthy soil.
Aeration – sarel rolling, star slitting and some light grooming of the sward will help keeping surfaces open and oxygenated. Combine these aeration practices with good microbial activity. Creating healthy soil that promotes a healthy plant will help to reduce disease activity.
Nutrition – keep an eye out for anthracnose, and with this in mind some extra light liquid nutrition applications combined with a good seaweed, or an application of organic slow release granular, will help reduce stress levels (listen to what the grass has to say not the diary, as conditions are so extreme). Pencil tining with 6mm or 8mm tines will allow oxygen in, and allow moisture movement through the profile. Look to raise mowing heights, reduce the days you cut, roll if possible, keep blades sharp for a clean cut, and implement good moisture management with hand watering. Use of a good bio stimulant and seaweed will help.
Looking at renovation or repair work where you have a loss of grass coverage due to the conditions, make sure you get a quality seed. For best results it is important to apply in a way that gives you good seed/soil contact, such as the GreenTek Dyna-Seeder units which get the seed where it needs to be. Using a Mycorrhizal product will increase germination and grow-in by more than 30%, increasing the uptake of nutrition and moisture in the young seedlings, and giving a stronger healthier plant.
Two turf problems that have traditionally been treated by chemicals are worm casts and fungal diseas...