Regular brushing is important to reduce disease and dry the plant, lifting the sward and keeping it upright.
Mowing the square to remove it’s winter growth should be one of the first tasks, when ground conditions and temperature allow. If necessary you may need to raise the height of cut, to just top off and not try and remove too much grass at once. A rotary mower, set at 25-30mm, would remove clippings at the same time which would be ideal for this purpose.
To open up your square you will want to Sarrel roll after your first cut and lightly iron out the surface. A low nitrogen, higher potassium feed (NPK 6:5:10 +6% Fe) will contribute to control any moss that may have accumulated during the winter months.
You will want to reduce the mowing height as the month progresses to around 15-20mm, subject to local weather conditions. A light verti-cut will remove any growth caused by the wet weather. Keep an eye out for worms and disease and spray accordingly, the less stress that is placed on the grass at this time the better.
Outfields need to be harrowed, aerated and a schedule of solid or slit tining to a depth of 150-200mm. This will assist in water movement and oxygenate within the soil, samples can still be taken. Don’t let grass growth get out of hand, as it can become a struggle.
A pH of 6.5 is optimum for a cricket square so get you soils sampled. Lower or higher would suggest the soil is too alkaline or acidic which in turn effects grass growth and recovery.
Begin to apply low nitrogen based fertilisers to kick start the grass into growing, which will help green up the grass and control any moss accumulated during the winter months. Only apply what fertiliser treatment and turf tonics your soil requires.
Weeds, Pests & Diseases
Fusarium, Anthracnose and Red Thread can all still occur in February during spells of mild weather. The use of brushes and switching canes can be used to remove heavy dew deposits, particularly in the morning. It is important to keep the sward brushed as it will remove surface water from the plant, allowing it to dry out which helps fend of diseases.
During periods of mild or wet weather worm activity can be quite prevalent so keep an eye on the square and treat accordingly. If worms are present you may need to asses pH levels, organic matter and your cultural practices.
Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.
There are a wide range of products on the market that have the active ingrediants chlorothalonil and iprodione, such as systemic curative and protective fungicides which aid in controlling diseases.
Having PA1 / PA6 certificates for hand held or PA2 certificate for tractor or vehicle spraying are essential for applying chemicals.
Employing approved pest control services may be needed to rid pests such as rabbits, foxes and moles.
When soil moisture levels increase, couple with the presence of dew, turfs disease can become quite prevalent. Regular brushing with a tractor mounted boom brush can help prevent any attack of disease.
Machinery & Materials
You still have time left in February to send any machinery away for servicing. Make sure you keep your cylinder mowers sharp as it’s vital to good groundsmanship, there is nothing worse than a mower breaking down.
Loam and seeds should be in good stock for repairs and maintenance. Never leave it late to order materials.