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Reesink Turfcare

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Inside Spring Maintenance

Spring maintenance is so important, a large majority of clubs dedicate a whole week to it. Here Reesink Turfcare considers what makes an effective programme of activities and what machinery is needed to prepare and refurbish playing surfaces ready for the busiest time of the year.

As the grass begins to wake up after winter and the main growing season approaches, there are multiple things that can be done to ensure a good start to the season and that the desired standards are achieved. Dedicating a set period to maintenance is effective because a series of different operations need to be undertaken, in sequence and in a well-timed manner.

 

Firstly, the work a club will need to do will depend on several factors, with the state of the sward and soil profile, thatch and organic matter build up, and the resources available such as machinery, staff, water, materials and parts, determining the extent of the renovation works required. We’ll cover off here the main points of the programme.

 

Mowing

 

Preparing surfaces for renovation starts with mowing. This cleans and prepares the surface. Grass growth in spring can be uneven and varied due to different grass species and mowing to a uniform height is ideal to create an even surface for scarification and topdressing operations. The best mowers for the job are cylinder as long as they can collect the cuttings.

BEST MOWERS FOR THE JOB

 

Reesink recommends a classic diesel, hybrid and electric mower for this level of fine turf cutting – Toro’s Greensmaster 3250-D, Greenmaster TriFlex Hybrid 3420 and the electric Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370. All three prove that no matter the power source, a finish that exceeds expectation can be delivered.

 

 

Aerating

 

Aeration is an essential part of spring maintenance as it is with all-year-round. It is recognised as one of the most important tasks implemented on fine turf, for decompacting and improving air and gas exchange in the soil, there are many different options depending on what you are looking to achieve.

 

The increase in oxygen it provides is critical for root growth and ultimately grass growth, improves the rate water moves into the soil, improves drainage and relieves turf compaction and thatch build-up. This results in a better quality playing surface. However, getting oxygen into the soil is a disruptive process, so it’s important to correctly identify what you want to achieve and select the best process to achieve this.

 

Hollow tining is one of the ways of controlling organic matter and an effective way of soil exchange when used alongside topdressing. Solid tining both shallow and deep provides enhanced gas movement between the root zone and the atmosphere, Shallow (less than 150mm) is useful for aerating the upper level of the root zone and particularly good for sandy soil that doesn’t need much turf compaction relief. Deep tine is useful for decompacting the profile after the long winter and helping to promote drainage.

 

BEST MACHINES FOR THE JOB

 

When it comes to choosing the right machinery for the job, there are several innovative and efficient options from Toro. The newly designed Toro ProCore 648s has the same legendary efficiency for aerating, but now it can be done single-handedly thanks to having the primary controls on the new and improved handle, plus there’s a broader range of hole spacing and true tine depth, which is set up using the machine’s InfoCentre.

 

 And with tractor-mounted variants there’s the potential to cover larger areas. With Toro’s ProCore SR Series deep-tine aerators, penetration goes up to 16 inches below the surface. Models range from lightweight precision machines for smoother greens, to robust machines to break up soil on even the most compacted surfaces. The ProCore 1298 and ProCore 864 are up to 25 percent wider than other competitive units and cover more ground in less time for increased productivity. Width is key to enabling the machine to cover a lot of ground – up to 2.3 acres per hour is possible.

 

 

Topdressing

 

Top dressing restores surface levels, covers the seed to initiate germination, increases water holding capacity of the soil, improves soil structure, improves surface drainage and increases air filled porosity (air pores in the soil).

 

Top dressing post aeration – on a dry surface – will ensure the full, even filling of the holes. Apply a second application a few days post coring to top off the holes and maintain a smooth surface. Its success will be influenced by the amount applied and how well it has been worked into the surface. Applying too much dressing will have a detrimental effect, smothering the turf and increasing the likelihood of disease.

 

The amount of top dressing required will depend on the depth of material used and the surface area of the site. As a guide, in the spring golf courses may only be applying about 1-2mm of dressing per green (average size 500m2), which equates to about 1.5 tonnes of top dressing per green, whereas top dressing football pitches can amount to about around 90 tonnes to add to the surface and turn over into the rootzone to replace the fibrous layer that has been removed. With these kinds of quantities involved it's easy to see how mechanical aid will make the job easier! 

 

BEST MACHINES FOR THE JOB

 

Toro’s ProPass 200 broadcast-style top dresser delivers accurate spread patterns from ultra-light dustings to heavier aeration hole-filling applications without any guesswork. Available with a wireless remote controller, which makes it even easier to set and control the spread functions, this essential piece of kit is available in both utility vehicle-mounted and towed versions.

 

 

Overseeding

 

Overseeding re-establishes the grass cover on the playing surface. Sowing rate will be dependent on the type of seed, condition of turf, application and cost. Don't seed until the temperature gets up to 8°c and ensure a moist, well-aerated seedbed for the ultimate conditions for germination. 

 

BEST MACHINES FOR THE JOB

 

Machinery designed to sow grass seed include disc, direct drilling, oscillating and broadcasting mechanisms is required.

 

Irrigation

 

Water (and fertiliser) is required to stimulate turf recovery and help in the prevention of early season turf stress from cold dry eastly winds.  Going into the season with a healthy plant will reduce disease pressures from diseases like anthractose. Successful renovation needs adequate water from seeding through to completion of germination. It’s best to not let newly overseeded areas dry out. Maintain a constantly moist seedbed with frequent waterings of short duration. As newly germinated seedlings begin to grow, reduce the frequency and increase the duration to encourage deeper rooting. Efficient irrigation system can wash in fertiliser and wetting agents correctly, so the product is evenly distributed on the playing surfaces or the soil profile.

 

BEST KIT FOR THE JOB

 

Reesink Turfcare has irrigation solutions ranging from the simple two-wire controller from SRC, to the completely intuitive Lynx central control system from Toro – worth thinking about for spring 2024! For now, just be sure to irrigate until the soil is at least six inches moist.

 

 

 Machinery maintenance during maintenance week

 

 

Spring means hard graft for machines, especially the cutting units. It cannot be overstated that cylinder mowers (the most widely used this time of year) are precision tools, and it is essential that they be adjusted and operated with this in mind. Their performance depends on proper set–up and adjustment procedures: an error of .010 inch or .25 mm in height of cut, end–to–end, or from one cutting unit to another, can be visible as mismatch. Although there are design variations in cutting units, most require the same basic procedures. A surface plate, accurate height of cut tools and proper instruction are essential for setting up a cutting unit.

 

If a cylinder mower’s unique characteristics are not understood and responded to, the end result will be a poor quality of cut and expensive downtime and repairs. But when properly maintained and operated, cylinder mowers provide a superior – one could say the ultimate – quality of cut.

 

To maintain performance, check bedknife to cylinder adjustment (quality of cut), edge sharpness and height of cut daily; and roller condition, cylinder bearings, bedknife attitude, roller parallelism and general mechanical condition periodically.

 

There is very little point in going through all the hard and valuable work of maintenance week only to have the machinery let the side down. Spend time on planning your equipment needs before maintenance starts. Having the correct parts on hand will make the job easier.

 

BEST KIT FOR THE JOB

 

Go Genuine. Spending a little more on premium, genuine parts ensure the best performance. Cheaper aftermarket parts may save a few pounds upfront, but the chances are it means another will be needed far sooner than with a premium part. And there’s always the chance that a ‘will-fit’ part may damage other parts of the machine.

 

Toro Genuine parts fit Toro machines perfectly. They are indentical to those used in the original machine, giving a like-for-like off the product line fit. Plus, Reesink and Toro’s global parts network meets customer demand with the fastest delivery time possible and least amount of machinery downtime as possible.

 

 Conclusion

 

 While hard work in a short amount of time, spring maintenance weeks are well worth the effort and rightly so. When successfully implemented, the results should promote and produce a healthy turf sward capable of withstanding the onslaught of the playing season ahead, which is vital for happy members.