Tuesday, 1 December 2015

November 2015

A short winter ahead it seems!
With the days growing shorter we are usually slowing up with our mowing operations and undertaking our winter chores, but this November that has certainly not been the case. With growth still strong on the course we have been able to remain on grass tees until the second week of November.

These mild and often wet conditions have brought with them an attack of Fusarium patch (Microdochium Nivale). This is a fungal disease that attacks and kills the grass plant. It survives in thatch or soil and is generally dormant in temperatures above 20oC or in dry conditions. In Autumn, under cooler, wetter conditions spores may germinate and mycelium may grow from thatch or soil and infect leaves, turning them orange and then brown, causing the patches which you see on the greens. The spores may be carried by surface water and wind to healthy leaves, infecting large areas of turf. They are rarely transmitted by foot traffic.
In our case the timing of our renovations did not do us any favours, fixtures forced us to carry out our works late in the season. With the top dressing that we applied holding moisture on the leaves of the plant and with the mild and wet weather, conditions were perfect for the disease to strike.
There are expensive chemicals on the market to treat this disease both preventatively and curatively but although prevention is better than a cure, you never know if you are going to suffer fusarium so it is a costly and often unnecessary practice. Whatever action we take now will not change the condition of the greens until the spring and it is encouraging to see new growth in the middle of the disease patches.

We have however already planned our renovation works for next year and they will be carried out in August, so that the timing should not clash with conditions suitable for disease outbreak, and if there is a disease outbreak then we will have adequate time and growth for recovery before the onset of winter. Events will be planned round the work rather than the other way round.

We have had a few people ask about our renovations, and a question that keeps coming up is ‘why haven’t you filled the holes up to the surface?’
We carry out our hollow coring for two main reasons:
  • ·        Thatch removal
  • ·        Soil Exchange

We hollow core down to a depth of around 6 inches, this is so that we remove thatch from near the surface and also the soil beneath. In most areas we have a reasonable depth of rootzone, but in some areas it is very shallow and clay is removed with the cores. We then topdress and mat as much of the dressing into the holes as possible, we do not intend on filling them right to the top as this is not necessarily required. We aim to replace any clay that is removed with the sandy topdressing, increasing the depth of rootzone and so improving drainage.
Leaving the holes open improves air content in the upper soil profile, encouraging the activity of soil biology to degrade thatch whilst also ensuring that the soil dries out as quickly as possible, I’m sure we’d all prefer to play on an ever so slightly bobbly surface than to not play at all due to the course being closed.
The 6th drainage project is starting to drag on now, purely due to ground conditions but we are nearly finished. A couple of dry days would be nice, so that we can get the turf down and finish the job neatly. We would like to thank you for your patience during this project, it has taken a while, but we must do the job properly rather than rush it in wet conditions and make a mess of the course.
We have recently ordered 2 new greens mowers. These are due to arrive in the spring. Our current greens mowers which are 6 years old will be ‘demoted’ to tees and aprons mowers to replace our current mower that is now around 15 years old.

Plans for the coming month (weather depending) include:
  • ·        Finishing the 6th drainage project
  • ·        Clearing leaves
  • ·        Replacing steps
  • ·        Aeration of walkways, greens etc.

And finally to finish on a bright note, our apprentice Lewis Arscott has now passed his level 2 qualification!
Lewis joined Honiton Golf Club in September 2014 and has completed his course ahead of schedule, we are very proud of his achievement and hope that his progress continues, well done Lewis!

The View from behind the 17th green.