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Harrogate Starts off the Year

BTME HarrogateBTME at Harrogate in the third week of January always sets the start for the new turf year, usually with a fall of snow thrown in. True to form, Wednesday morning saw Harrogate white over, cars struggling to exceed 10 mph and greenkeepers pirouetting on icy pavements in their approach to the conference centre.
Inside, throngs of people united in their interest in sports turf management, were ready for the challenge of a New Year, exuding an unmistakable air of optimism having cast off the recession with the feeling that the economy was truly on the upturn. That is not to say that there was not an air of nervousness about the impending election hoping that it would not throw a recovering financial recovery off course.

The same familiar faces were there, some working for different companies, selling similar machines and products but in different liveries. The buzz about new projects, the big new JCB course being top of the list. Best of all, the friendly faces of greenkeepers who come back year after year with tales of greens and tees recently renovated and performing well, and “What’s new this year?”

“Have you got any greens turf?” was another regular question emphasising the point that none of the major growers have any surplus at the moment, all waiting for last year’s seeding to mature a bit more. This is a situation we debate long and hard in Lindum – how much of each grade do we seed each time, even trickier when you grow about 8 grades as we do. Greens turf grown to a high standard is an expensive product to produce. Every greenkeeper wants it at just the right level of maturity – strong enough to lay but not thatchy. If we grow too much we have a product going past its sell by date with no real market. There is no financial sense in that, so we try as best we can to estimate how much we will sell to our existing customer base and a bit more. Gone are the days when we could supply 18 greens for a new course out of the blue – we could, but we would leave a lot of disappointed customers fuming. And so, my message to them at Harrogate was “Try and think ahead to next winter – how much greens turf are you likely to want and let us know. It helps our planning and it helps your peace of mind”.

Aren’t these modern ryegrasses fantastic? Fine, tough, pretty resistant to disease and capable of quite close mowing. In a mix with fescues, sometimes almost indistinguishable, they have an ever expanding use on golf courses. Straightforward to maintain, quick to bounce back from heavy wear, they can transform tees, surrounds and fairways.

And so to the environment. Nobody should be immune to the plight of pollinators, nature’s vital workers looking for food sources. Wildflowers are in vogue, and yet they can be challenging to grow. Done properly, and with patience the results are rewarding providing delight for bees and golfer alike. Where the skills or time don’t permit a wildflower turf is the quick solution to provide pockets of colour and interest. We have spent many years developing special mixtures of wildflowers, scented herbs and some extra perennials for prolonged colour. Even the mower shed can be transformed by one of our green roof mats.

The growing year is poised to start, and as we throw off the mantle of winter (hopefully soon) we can look forward to reaping the rewards of carefully nurtured turf.

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