Top ten maintenance practices to focus on in early spring in Ohio, based on grounds acreage & budget.
Produced by the OSU turfgrass team in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing recommendations.
- Use signage to ask field users politely to stay off. Communicate with coaches, leagues etc. so that everyone is aware of the reduced maintenance practices and how that may affect playability and aesthetics.
- Mowing – southern & central parts of the state have started mowing, particularly fields that had a winter growth blanket. Northern parts of Ohio currently have limited growth. Essential maintenance should focus on priority areas. Mowing heights should be raised to reduce stress on turf. Mow priority turf 2-3 x per week and general grounds ~ 1 x per week.
- Make sure fuel tanks & containers are full, so there’s adequate fuel for operations once restrictions are lifted.
- Fungicide applications should only be made if disease is active or has been active in the last two months with Microdochium nivale and leaf spot pathogens being the main focus and close monitoring of soil temperatures needed in regard to timing of soil based treatments. Preventative fungicide applications may be difficult to justify if there are budget freezes or purchasing challenges.
- Avoid quick -release sources of nitrogen that will increase growth & therefore mowing frequency. Apply fertilizers that are at least 30-50% slow release.
- Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) are useful as growth rates continue to increase, since crew numbers may be depleted or on a staggered rotation, reducing the capability to mow. If mowing has not commenced, then consider an application of PGR only.
- Skinned infields: If possible, remove conditioner /loose material and store. Lightly roll to firm dirt and prevent erosion into infield edges. Hand-pull stray weeds. Raking may be needed if weedy infestations occur.
- Keep facilities safe: Lock tools away, remove soccer goal posts, lock gates, remove bullpens, flags, bases
- Pre-emergent applications should be made based on GDD tracker recommendations for the specific pests.
- If there is adequate rain, shut the irrigation system off. This is particularly important if no one is on site to notice breaks/leaks etc.
Constant washing of hands.
Limit use of communal areas – lunch in the parking lot / bathrooms used sparingly.
Disinfect all surfaces & tools and wear appropriate PPE gear where needed, without excess.
Supply hand sanitizers where needed.
Distancing of crew – stagger start times, single person per vehicles. Wipe down tools after use.
Immediate isolation if symptoms appear.
Ensure that employees and their families are aware of potential risks and protect themselves accordingly.
For a PDF version of this, click here: Maintenance Practices
Refer to the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation COVID-19 Website for more pertinent documentation regarding benefits of turf, authorization to travel etc., for further information.
Thank you to Wes Ganobcik, Columbus Clippers, for his contribution.