Pitch Perfect - Blog 7!
Hello once again to the grassroots Groundsmen across Kent!
Recent weeks have seen some beautiful weather with temperatures rising to a record high for the Month of February.
Me and my team have made the most of these fantastic weather conditions carrying out our mowing, brushing, slitting, feeding, divot repairs and general maintenance programme across our 6 grass pitches at K Sports.
Earlier in February we applied our cold start boost -R granular feed across two of our senior pitches rewarding us with some brilliant results particularly with a boost in colour. Due to budget reasons we don’t full dose with fertiliser applications sometimes using as little as 8 bags per pitch. We have also reduced the majority of our liquid treatments which enables me and my team to dictate our spraying programme throughout the Year.
Below are some pictures 10 days after our cold start boost -R application from Rigby Taylor:
Despite a rise in temperature we have also seen some heavy rain fall in recent days which only highlights the need for decompaction. We used these conditions to our advantage slitting our pitches followed by a light over seed. Usually temperatures this time of Year aren’t suitable for over seeding but we took a chance in high wear areas and we will be hoping for minor improvements to see us through to the end of the season.
As we head into the final parts of the season and arguably the most challenging, it’s important we give the pitches every chance we can. Ensuring the appropriate fertilisers are used is vital to provide our pitches with the required nutrients. Protecting what grass coverage we have remaining and prolonging the surface through to the end of the season is the number one priority.
Granular fertilisers come in different forms depending on what chemicals you wish to apply at the appropriate time of the Year. On the front of each bag you will see numbers like 12-4-8 or 6-3-9, these numbers are referred to as NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus & potassium). Below is what each provides:
- Nitrogen - Will enhance the colour and photosynthesis of your pitches whilst increasing the thickness and improve the overall grass coverage. Nitrogen is the primary element in most fertilisers.
- Phosphorus – This stimulates plant growth and is highly beneficial when a plant is first establishing. Phosphorus will also help to maintain the thickness of your pitches.
- Potassium – Helps to maintain the overall health of the plant whilst trying to prevent weeds and diseases. Potassium is highly important for the growth and reproduction of plants.
As stated above fertilisers should be applied all Year round to help to improve the overall health of your pitches. Here at K Sports I concentrate heavily on root development throughout the winter months. As we head into Spring we will use a 12-4-8 or similar application which provides us with positive results.
Recently we’ve been light cutting or brushing around twice a week ensuring we mow our pitches in different directions. Generally we cut/brush in widths & lengths (horizontal & vertical) to avoid creating nap conditions. During the winter months general wear and tear becomes visible to most of our playing surfaces, maintaining a 30mm mowing height whilst cutting in two directions helps to preserve the quality of the pitches.
Our pitches are wearing extremely thin now and options are limited at this time of Year. We carry out tests to our pitches to ensure cutting heights, profile (compaction), weeds & diseases are kept to a minimum. This is a simple but effective way of helping me to manage our pitches here at K Sports.
Pictured below is our grass prism measuring our cutting heights & areas which require deep forking after heavy rainfall:
Measuring the cutting heights with the prism can indicate your cylinder or rotary mowers are not cutting cleanly which suggest they need servicing. As mentioned in the previous blog, get your machinery in for a service to help ensure your machines are performing to their maximum. Ensuring cylinder mowers are maintained and adjusted correctly is vitally important to avoid serious damage to the machine.
As we head into March we will be hoping for more warm weather with some light rainfall for continued steady growth. Our cutting programme may increase depending on temperatures and we will be working hard to maintain the playability of our pitches. If you do have some seed knocking around it’s well worth repairing any high wear areas and making the most of the current temperatures.
Pictured below is all four of our senior pitches at K Sports looking very thin in late February:
As the pictures above show general wear and tear is visible and we are hoping our slitting, light over seed and fertiliser application will provide us with some improvements for the final part of this season.
Best of luck to you all for the Month ahead!
Scott Byers Head Groundsman at K Sports Cobdown.