Get spring maintenance of turf right to ensure the best playing surface throughout the year

Turf managers should be reviewing and assessing weather data effectively, using the information to help them to make informed decisions about spring grass maintenance. This will ensure that playing surfaces are always kept at their best.

That’s the advice from the Bayer Technical Manager, Dr Colin Mumford, who’s urging managers to be prepared for increased threats from the relatively mild winter enjoyed in most areas. 

“With all the technical advances, we now have a greater awareness of the risk factors. This, combined with knowledge of the greens or pitches managed, and a planned fungicide approach, places managers in a strong position to drive effective and efficient disease control this spring.”

He’s keen to encourage staff to go out looking for early signs of disease with preventative, rather than curative, treatments vital to ensure the best playing surfaces throughout the year. 

“Where conditions are conducive to disease, leaving turf that shows symptoms of a disease or turf stress for as little as five days to ‘see how it goes’, can result in a rampant outbreak.

“Spraying turf prior to disease symptoms being evident, in other words, preventative treatment, should be based on the environmental conditions, historical disease threat and knowledge of the turf. Curative sprays should take place as soon as any symptoms are seen.

He notes that where there are budget constraints, preventative treatments are often avoided to avoid spending money where there is not yet a need. However, Colin says managers must plan their treatment programme based on a combination of weather information, visual assessments and knowledge of the turfs’ reaction to certain environmental conditions.

“If it’s left until the disease takes hold of the turf, an eradicative treatment will be necessary. This is more likely to lead to scarring which, during the winter and early spring months, will take longer to repair.”

The two key diseases to watch out for are Microdochium patch (commonly referred to as Fusarium) and Grey Snow Mould. Microdochium patch is first noticed when the turf manager sees small brown and yellow patches, and the turf looks greasy or watery, and feels slimey to the touch. These small patches enlarge rapidly, joining up, and large areas of grass die back. After snow cover it has a pink tinge and is referred to as Pink Snow Mould.

“Sward composition is important here, if you have predominantly annual meadow grass, the chances are you will be seeing more die back.  With a fescue or bent mix, there may not be quite the same issue.

“What’s important to remember is that members want 100 per cent grass cover that looks nice and plays well.  More importantly, any disease can cause a dip in the canopy due to the turf dying back, meaning a poorer putting surface on the green, which can affect the roll of the ball. The majority of golf courses, for example, are heavily dependent on green fees, so attracting and keeping players, who appreciate the good surface, is vital.”

Grey Snow Mould can be caused by a covering on the turf, of either snow or leaves, which create a cold and wet environment. Once the snow has thawed, or the area has been cleared, grey, circular patches will be visible on the turf.

“My advice is to keep an eye on the long-range weather forecast, as well as other sources of useful information, and act accordingly,” says Colin.  “Turf managers can’t afford not to pay these attention – the weather forecast dictates so many things and is an essential tool in any maintenance routine.”

Bayer’s Interface® is designed to be a turf manager’s core rotational product. “The beauty of this fungicide is that it can be used to address almost any eventuality. It has label recommendations for the control of six different turf diseases so its flexibility is tremendous, as the combination of the two active ingredients in Interface® - iprodione and trifloxystrobin - cover two different fungicide chemical classes and therefore offer control at any stage of the disease’s development.

To summarise:

  • Look at turf daily and be ready to take immediate action as soon as any disease threat is spotted;
  • Use the long range weather forecast as a key management tool;
  • Use prevention rather than cure when you plan your disease treatment programme;
  • Make sure greens and putting surfaces remain as dry as possible – especially during misty and foggy periods.

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INTERFACE® contains 256g/L iprodione and 16g/L trifloxystrobin. USE PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS SAFELY. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND PRODUCT INFORMATION BEFORE USE. PAY ATTENTION TO
THE RISK INDICATIONS AND FOLLOW THE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS ON THE LABEL. TRIPLE RINSE CONTAINERS AT THE TIME OF USE, PUNCTURE AND INVERT TO DRY (MAPP 16060) (PCS 04882)