Planning your workload will help you meet objectives. Squares require scarifying, rolling, mowing and marking out; not to mention your outfield which needs aerating, harrowing and raking.
Ensure your machinery & equipment is serviced, good condition and ready for use.
You will want to begin pitch preparation 10-12 days prior to a match. Using the guidelines below will aid in achieving a good standard of pitch.
DAY 1 Test the pitch with a key or knife for moisture. String out pitch lines to ensure correct width, 10 ft; Mow out @ 8mm. Always double mow (up and down the same line), using an 8 bladed pedestrian cylinder mower for maintaining the square.
DAY 2 Brush / light rake, mow @ 8 mm, light roll to consolidate surface levels.
DAY 3 Scarify or Verti cut to remove lateral growth and surface thatch avoiding deep surface disturbance. Reduce HOC & mow @ 7 mm. continue medium light rolling 1000 kg 10-15 minutes.
DAY 4 Roll pitches increasing roller weight to consolidate the surface.
DAY 5 Scarify with hand rake to raise sword after rolling. Reduce HOC to 6mm
DAY 6 20-30 minute’s with heavy roller.
DAY 7 Light scarify by hand to raise sward, mow @ 6 mm, increase weight of roller to 1500- 1700 kg continue rolling 30 minutes reducing speed to consolidate surface.
DAY 8 Continue rolling for 30 minutes at slow speed to achieve consolidation. Cover pitch over night to encourage moisture to rise to surface.
DAY 9 Brush / rake lifting any lateral grasses, reduce HOC mow (with a shaver blade) to 4mm, try to avoid scalping. Roll using heavy roller slow speed (crawling) 30 minutes morning & again late afternoon where possible. Cover pitch over night.
DAY 10 Brush & mow pitch, roll morning and afternoon slow as possible (crawling).
DAY 11 Brush, mow & roll to polish surface, test bounce with an old ball along edge of pitch. Continue rolling to consolidate surface. Cover pitch over night.
DAY 12 Brush, mow & roll polish up pitch. Your pitch should effectively have take on a straw like coloration, a sign that the preparation has been achieved. String and mark out as in accordance to E.C.B guidelines. (TS4 booklet)
Mowing heights for the cricket square during the playing season should be:-
8-12mm April-September (playing season)
5-6mm Wicket preparation
3-4mm Final cut for match
As soil and air temperatures begin to rise the application of a spring and summer fertiliser should also increase sward growth and density. Having your soil sampled for oragnic matter content, pH and nutrients will help decide on the appropriate course of action regarding correct NPK balance for your site.
The use of wetting agents will be good for ensuring that any rain has a chance to soak deeper into the soil profile and not simply run off the playing surface. You should aim to apply this on a monthly basis.
April is an ideal time to have a soil analysis of the green done, ideally once a year, which will help measure for soil pH, nutrient levels and organic matter content.
Ideally, you have already ascertain the nutrient status of your green, this will aid in buying and applying the correct fertiliser products.
To get the grass moving during April most ground staff are applying a spring/summer NPK fertiliser, perhaps something like a 9:7:7. Towards the start of May, apply a slow release fertiliser which should see you through to June/July. How well this weeks and the feed you use can be dependent things such as soil type and weather.
Weeds, Pests & Diseases
Prevention is always better than a cure, so keep an eye open for turf disease symptoms. Moist soils and surface moisture on the leaf blade can make the plant susceptible to disease, with many turf grass diseases such as Fusarium and Red Thread.
Symptoms of Fusarium (Microdochium nival), the most common and damaging disease, are orange/brown patches 2.5-5cm across increasing in size under suitable conditions as the disease progresses. Active patches have a distinctive 'ginger' appearance when viewed early in the morning.
Red Thread is ill-defined bleached grass with Pink mycelium visible in early morning dew. Close inspection will reveal red needle like structures which are attached to the leaf blades. The needles become brittle upon death and are easily detached allowing fragments to spread the disease.
Fungicides such as Chlorothanlonil and Iprodione can be used to control any outbreaks. Fungicides are chosen with different courses of action, meaning the mixture will attack the disease on two or more fronts, which makes it more difficult for the pathogens to develop resistance to treatments.
Carvebdazim is the only active ingredient for controlling worms, which can be very active this time of year so treatments can be carried out. Make sure all personnel are suitably qualified in the application of chemicals.
Areas where worms are prevalent can attract moles, so they need to be treated as this can cause a lot of damage to the field.
Towards the end of April you may want to consider applying a selective weed killer to your outfield to control any broad leaf weeds.
Machinery & Materials
It’s important to keep your blades sharp at all times, as maintaining a cricket square requires regular mowing.
Studs and stones can cause significant damage to machinery so make sure to check your ground before beginning.