Preparing for winter

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick September 9, 2021 09:48

Winter brings with it plenty of challenges for those working in greenkeeping. With fewer daylight hours and less favourable growing conditions, the focus shifts from presentation and playability to winter maintenance and the limitation of turf damage while still facilitating play.

Although the strategies considered to nurture your site through winter depend upon variables such as soil structure, soil texture, drainage and the species of turfgrasses being managed, many of the practices listed below are still good proactive measures to take in order to take turf through this period of fewer hours of sunlight combined with lower air and soil temperatures.

Evaluate turf sunlight exposure

Adequate sunlight exposure allows grass plants to achieve the desired rate of respiration, photosynthesis and plant growth. When exposure is compromised, grass plants become significantly weakened, resulting in a depleted root system and lower energy reserves. In turn, this less than optimal condition makes it more difficult for the plant to recover from both wear and winter injury. With shorter days during the winter months, sunlight is already limited. Consider thinning canopies or removing trees that are shading areas of your turf to correct unsuitable lighting conditions. Tree removal can also improve air movement, resulting in a lowered risk of disease on your turf.

Redox TurfRx OxyCal has been proven to increase photosynthetic efficiency and is therefore an excellent choice for low light situations.

Monitor effective height of cut versus bench set height of cut

Raising heights of cut is commonly seen as good practice during the winter months. Photosynthesis is compromised at this time of year so leaving slightly more leaf tissue in place will assist in utilising any available sunlight that does occur. It should also be noted that winter months inherently lead to softer surfaces which in turn lead to a greater variance between the effective height of cut when compared with the bench set height of cut. A prism gauge is a useful tool to consider using when checking the height of cut ‘out in the field’.

The opportunity to maintain surface speed while raising the height of cut is beneficial in certain sports turf situations and can be achieved with applications of Redox TurfRx Si.

Quality of cut

The maintenance of sharp mowing equipment is just as important during winter months as it is during the playing season. Regularity of mowing may lessen significantly but the cleanness of cut and its position in an integrated programme versus foliar fungal diseases is undisputed. Although top-dressing rarely occurs during the winter months there is often more debris laying on the surface that can affect the sharpness of both bottom blades and cylinder blades.

Improving cell wall strength can positively impact the quality of cut so is therefore especially important at times of high disease pressure. This can be achieved with the use of Redox TurfRx Ca.

Overseed in combination with a soil surfactant

Recent milder winters have seen overseeding being successfully carried out much later in the year than was previously the case. Where loss of grass cover during the main playing season has been caused by water repellency, a proven soil surfactant such as Aqueduct or Primer Select can ensure that applied water wets the soil and seed evenly for faster, more uniform turf germination and in turn increases the chances of establishment. For best results, soil surfactants should be applied two weeks before seeding in order to prepare the soil.

The use of Redox TurfRx Xpect metabolises any locked-up phosphate in the rootzone enabling it to become available and assist in both the germination and establishment processes.

Practice deep aeration and use a penetrant soil surfactant

Aeration is a good practice to relieve any compaction in the soil profile caused by season-round foot traffic and heavy equipment. It can also be beneficial where accumulations of excessive thatch exist over a more free-draining profile. Practicing deep aeration while soil conditions allow in the winter can still be beneficial.

Pairing this process with a penetrant soil surfactant application such as Dispatch Sprayable can help speed the infiltration and penetration of winter rainfall.

Don’t forget the benefits of good soil biology

The management of any rootzone should have the presence of good soil biology as a goal. Aspire to create those conditions within which good soil biology will flourish; have a considered approach to pesticide use, maintain a good air to water balance and keep thatch levels to a minimum.The use of Redox TurfRx C-85 can continue during winter months as a food source for microbes if the soil temperature remains above 10oC. The bio-chemistry in Attain both complements soil biology and addresses its shortcomings. Attain, powered by AquaVita Technology, can be considered as being a supplement that replenishes the soil with much needed secondary metabolites and can be applied at any time of year. This can be especially useful during winter when lower soil temperatures compromise biological activity in the rootzone.

Monitor soil moisture

It is important to continually monitor the soil moisture of your greens throughout the season to ensure a healthy return of your turf for the spring. Keeping a record of these levels can also help you compare with winter injury in the spring and allow you to start building a site history. Continue with regular applications of a proven water management product such as Dispatch Sprayable throughout the winter in order to reap the turf health benefits that this product provides; promoting a drier and firmer surface, keeping water moving through the profile, providing consistency, reducing surface runoff, plus increasing photosynthesis and other metabolic functions and assisting with the uptake of applied nutrients.

Ensure adequate turf nutrition

It is vitally important that your turf remains healthy and strong, giving it the best opportunity to withstand harsh weather conditions and combat wear and tear. The emphasis should be on turf health and not top growth with applications of a proven turf hardener, containing low amounts of nitrogen but adequate amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron, as supplied by the ‘Tough Turf Xcel’ combination from Aquatrols.

Redox TurfRx K+ Micro Crystal increases plant respiration plus antioxidant production and is also universally applied to harden off turf.

Although there is no way to control what the winter season has in store for your golf course, it is possible to take precautionary measures and be best prepared.

All of the above products can be found at eu.aquatrols.com

 

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick September 9, 2021 09:48
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