In the concluding part, STRI consultant Michael Boyes, provides guidance on how to tackle silvery-thread moss on your golf course.
Management practices to reduce the impact of silvery-thread moss
- Maintain sensible heights of cut, all year round, which deliver the required putting surface performance without imparting unnecessary stresses on the grass plant, which can result in a loss of sward density. This is particularly important as growth conditions decline in the autumn so an increase in height of cut in graduation is highly advisable to preserve sward health.
- Promote a well-balanced nutritional programme to deliver the appropriate elements to sustain controlled growth and development of a healthy grass coverage in order to resist the ingress of moss. Nitrogen inputs are key and a slow release fertiliser late in the season can help maintain nutrient availability and support a stronger grass plant leading into the winter period.
- Control organic matter accumulation and undertake routine aeration to promote a friable soil profile and ensure surface and sub-surface drainage networks are sufficient to deal with prevailing weather conditions and moisture content.
- Carry out localised thinning and removal of woodland which negatively impacts the putting surfaces to optimise light penetration and air circulation in order to improve the general growing environment and support a healthy and dense grass sward.
… and if its already here?
In recent times turf managers have been known to take drastic action to try and eradicate problematic silvery-thread moss populations in their greens through the application of moss killer (quinoclamine) neat via a paintbrush, and similarly a straight iron-based product from a washing-up liquid bottle, directly onto the offending moss. Although neither course of action is advisable the visual results were emphatic, but the problem of subsequent removal remains.
So, what can we do?
- Good old-fashioned Lawn Sand, which contains sand, nitrogen (in the form of ammonium sulphate) and iron sulphate, employed when strong growing conditions prevail, can help desiccate moss. Appropriately timed applications of liquid iron-based fertilisers will also help to this end.
- Make provision for a scarification operation to follow, when the moss populations have been significantly impacted, to remove the offending plant material.
- Schedule appropriate delivery of sand top-dressing and quality seed to fill the resultant voids, restore levels and optimise sward recovery.
As Happ identified in 1998, the control of moss should be viewed as a long-term project as it takes time for colonies to develop visually and ultimately affect surface performance, so it is only reasonable to expect it will take time to reverse the undesirable condition.
With some initial success tackling inherent moss populations the adoption of the management practices outlined above will go a long way the overall goal of promoting healthy, vigorous turf.
After all is said and done, strong, healthy and dense turf is the only way to cure and prevent moss invasion.
Contact STRI for specialist advice on seasonal conditions at your sport facility on +44 (0) 1274 565131 or firstname.lastname@example.org