This is probably one of the most difficult months of the year in greenkeeping.
There was a lot of heavy rain through September for most areas. This added to the problems some have suffered since late August, with worm casts starting early whilst grass is still growing vigorously. Oh, and now all the leaves are starting to fall!
This month can go either way from dry spells with some wind to distinctly autumnal wetter days and saturated ground conditions. The forecast is for this to be the start of a wet and windy few weeks for the UK with the chance of wintery showers.
With these conditions, we must keep an eye on temperatures, relative humidity and periods of prolonged leaf blade wetness. Warmth and available moisture are key to both grass and fungal pathogenic growth.
It is imperative that we remove dew as much as we can, keep aerating when conditions allow and keep the plant strong with some turf hardener products through this time.
If temperatures fall through the night growth rates will start to slow as well as disease pressure, Lower night temperatures though will lead to heavier morning dews and prolonged periods of leaf blade wetness.
Dew dispersants or brushing the dew off will help keep surfaces dryer.
Looking at nutrition through this time is essential, as air and soil temperatures are staying higher for longer creating growth up till Christmas. Little and often applications of a low nitrogen fertiliser is a key tactic in marinating plant health, combined with the use of some seaweed and some chelated iron to help as a turf hardener through this period.
Out on the course we will be starting to raise heights of cut to winter heights, and we will be implementing winter work programs and putting wear management programs in place around the course.
October is a month for many clubs to do aeration. A wide range of aerators will be used, star slitting tines, solid tines, slit tines and hollow tines; the choice of machine or combination of tines will be dependent on the ground conditions and outcomes required. The main objective is to get aeration done, but only when ground conditions allow.
Aeration of tees will continue with solid, slit or hollow tines, in line with autumn maintenance, and should continue throughout the winter when weather conditions allow. The temperatures we have seen over the last few years would suggest that some scarification, seeding and topdressing work could be done, especially if you have winter tees you can use
When the ground conditions allow and before it gets too wet, aerate with solid tines or slit tine aeration as often as possible. If air and ground temperatures allow, seeding is still a viable option through October using seeds that germinate in lower temperatures.
Most of all through this difficult time of year, take each day as it comes – you cannot beat mother nature! Keep the staff warm, and try to get to the NEC Birmingham for Saltex at the end of the month.