The first cut in the spring and the last cut in the fall should be low. In the spring this removes any winter fungus and in the fall prevents fungus from getting established during the winter.
As part of your pre-painting preparation, check the weather forecast. The perfect conditions for painting are a mild day with temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees, little or no wind, and low humidity. Avoid painting if rain or very high humidity is predicted within 24 hours. Stop painting early enough for the surface to dry before evening dew sets it.