Without doubt Coronavirus has thrown up one of the most challenging situations we are ever likely to encounter and whilst bowling may seem insignificant at present we all hope that we will soon be back out on the greens.
Sports Turf Services have put together this simple guide to help your greenkeeper and club get through this difficult time and hopefully ensure that when that opening day finally takes place your green will be in the best condition possible. A summary section at the end of this report will highlight only essential maintenance should your resources be limited. We will update this advisory, if required at the end of April 2020.
We are also offering a virtual advisory service where our advisors will be on hand to answer any questions or queries you may have regarding the maintenance of your green or mower.
Our Virtual Advisory Service
This guide will hopefully answer any questions you may have regarding maintenance on your green but if you have a particular concern or just require a bit of advice our advisors will be happy to help at any time. Text and photos of any particular problems can be emailed to help us determine what the issue is or perhaps a phone call will be all that is required.
Email and phone contacts will be listed at the end of this advisory.
STS hope that you will find this guide useful with our aim to ensure we all have greens to be proud of once the opening day finally arrives.
This basic task is extremely important in reducing disease and weed occurrence. Morning dew left of the surface increases the risk of disease. Many turf damaging fungi are spread through water so keeping the surface as dry as possible will reduce the threat of disease.
Switching worm casts off the surface will prevent invasion of weeds. A worm cast is an ideal seed bed for weeds. Daily switching should be carried out when required.
Mowing Your Green
The virus has struck at a time when spring grass growth is minimal and during the remainder of March and through April your green should require no more that 2 cuts per week.
The height of cut is not of paramount importance at present as there are no bowlers requiring pace. Your mower should ideally be set at a height of cut between 5mm and 7mm. If you are unsure what height your mower is set at please call one of our advisors.
Please ensure your mower is washed down after use and follow any manufacturers instruction on maintenance.
If we experience dry conditions through the spring period it is very likely to be cold overnight and for this reason we would advise irrigating during the afternoon if it is required. Remember that we have experienced one of the wettest winters on record and it is unlikely that your green will require watering however, stress caused by the turf pest leatherjackets can leave the green appearing to need a good soaking.
The best policy for watering in such conditions is ‘little and often’ with hand/hose watering being very beneficial on local dry areas.
Once again if your are in doubt give us a call or send a photo of the problem.
Turf disease in spring is not normally a major issue although some diseases can appear overnight and their early identification is essential.
There are a number of fungal diseases which can affect turf through the spring period with the main culprits being fusarium and anthracnose.
To help you identify early signs of disease there is a very useful website www.rowlawn.co.uk which provides images of a number of damaging diseases but remember if in doubt give us a call.
- Following a mild winter and the restrictions on the availability of chemical pesticides we predict that bowling green surfaces will be detrimentally affected by the leatherjacket turf pest this spring/summer.
- The leatherjacket is the larvae of the crane fly (daddy long legs) and will exist in significant numbers in the soil beneath your green. They feed on the roots of the grass plant resulting in stress of the plant particularly during dry cold periods in spring and early summer.
- Significant secondary damage can also occur as predators such as starlings, rooks, crows, jackdaws, magpies, foxes and badgers dig up the turf in search of tasty meal. Animal damage can be the first sign that leatherjackets are present but as mentioned earlier, there are no effective chemical control measures available to treat these pests.
- Turf stress from leatherjackets can become more prominent during dry weather so please ensure your green receives adequate irrigation if required.
- Equally treatments for earthworms are limited and daily switching should be carried out to remove casts. Always switch casts before mowing.
This guide has illustrated all that can be done during this difficult time. If your club find itself with limited resources of time and manpower the following minimal works will suffice through late March and early April. Obviously as grass growth increases, as we move into the late Spring period, this may change. If the coronavirus situation does not improve we will provide an update to this advisory at that time.
Minimal Works Required
- Mow green every 7days if possible maintaining a height of cut between 5mm7mm. This will ensure the sward retains its fine turf characteristics.
- Whilst mowing check for signs of disease, turf pests and stress and call us to discuss this.
And finally, please remember that the grass population on your bowling green is very resilient and, unlike us, will survive and recover without food and water for a very long period.