Perth Stadium Management Turf Services Manager, Nathan Saville, says for establishment, colour, longevity and disease resistance, Premier II ryegrass has continued to prove its value at Domain Stadium.
As with previous years, the forthcoming AFL season will present significant challenges for Perth Stadium
Management Turf Services Manager, Nathan Saville. Turf recovery and re-establishment at Domain Stadium (formerly Subiaco Oval) had to be swift after monster trucks - that travelled up to 160km/hr and generated 2000 horsepower - ripped up the venue in October. In late February, Guns and Roses rockers Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan will strut their stuff with their ‘Not In This Lifetime’ Tour at Domain.
This doesn’t present a big window of opportunity to prepare turf for the AFL NAB Challenge games before the AFL season itself starts in April. According to Nathan it will be ‘business as usual’ and his preparation will be largely the same as previous seasons. Domain Stadium is a sand based profile sporting field with excellent sub-surface drainage. Summer active Winter Green couch, is already well established and considered locally to be a good allrounder, being both hard wearing and drought resistant.
As the seasons change though, and the shadows from the stands fall over the ground, Winter Green’s love of full sun becomes evident. The grass starts to thin out and as the temperatures drop, growth slows to
almost nothing over winter. Nathan explains, “As a consequence, we over-sown in March with Heritage
Seeds Premier II ryegrass. We’ve been doing that since 2008. “I’ve dabbled with other ryegrasses, but in terms of establishment, colour, longevity and disease resistance, Premier II has continued to prove its value, so I’ve stuck with it.” Nathan said ryegrass has to be ‘up and active’ before round one of the AFL.
“Normally, we have two NAB Cup games so we put the ryegrass seed out a couple of days before the first NAB cup game. Generally, we get a double header weekend and it will be up the next week, which then usually gives it nine days to establish before the first AFL game.
“I’ll spray Primo before the ryegrass has germinated, which will slow the Winter Green growth down for three to five weeks depending on weather. That’s critical for ryegrass establishment. “Ideal temperatures for establishment are between 20 and 25˚C. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and the best time to sow would be round three or four when it’s a bit cooler. “Timing wise we just don’t get that opportunity. In Perth in March and even into April it’s not uncommon to get days over 30˚C, so managing the situation during ryegrass establishment is probably the toughest part.
“Primo is a big advantage because it decreases Winter Green competition with the ryegrass. Managing traffic is also a big one with West Coast Eagles training here four to five times a week.
“Managing soil moisture is also critical because we don’t want to overwater as it can lead to disease, especially for that time of year when it’s just establishing.
“We fertiliser a little and often, so we halve the fertiliser rate and put in on twice as often.
“We’re very happy with the Premier II. Our success in managing turf is probably measured largely on player injuries and there were no injuries that could be attributed to the turf surface in 2016.
“This winter was particularly wet and the Premier II plants held up, we didn’t have any issue with disease or the grass falling apart. It handles wear well!”
Heritage Seeds Portfolio Manager – Turf, Matt Merrick, said Premier II was an ideal turf grass for oversowing bermudagrass and an excellent choice for cricket wickets. “Premier II is a versatile grass with an excellent dark green colour and a fine leaf blade. We grow our certified Premier II in New Zealand where is has shown to have excellent cricket wicket performance, especially in term of disease resistance”
“It forms a very dense wear tolerant turf and displays great adaptability to a wide range of soil conditions.
Premier II consistently rates high in turf quality, wear tolerance, disease resistance, density, colour and low
mowing adaptability” Matt said.
One of the other exciting things about Premier II will be the introduction of it big brother, Premier III in 2018.