As summer time ends and winter begins, renovation programmes on cricket squares should by now have been completed. With the north of England and Scotland suffering from high winds and low pressure systems, the Midlands and Southern parts are basking in warm day time temperatures, which, continuing into October has certainly helped in getting germination on the square.
Although, where there may be a few bare areas where seed germination may have been slow to respond, the use of germination sheets should help encourage recovery as the temperature falls. Turf disease can also become quite prevalent this time of the year, when soil moisture levels increase, coupled with the presence of early morning dews.
The combination of moist soils and surface moisture on the leaf blade can increase the likelihood of disease attack. Aeration of the square is vitally important, but often delayed until November, allowing the chance for the square to retain more moisture.
Key Tasks for November: -Regular brushing of the square; Continue outfield mowing and aeration; Sarrel rolling the square; Spraying - Worm and Moss treatments; Machinery service; Pruning and leaf collecting, One of the difficulties with the spraying chemicals at this time of the year is getting an accurate forecast to know when there is a dry window of opportunity. The last thing you need is to spray a chemical for it to be rendered ineffective by weather patterns.
These products are expensive enough to buy in the first place. Check your local weather with the Pitchcare weather link to your area.
Diary Compiled by Robert Stretton
Massey Ferguson Sports Club
Early in the Month 1st - 15th November
Be careful with the use of covers as there maybe a risk of encouraging disease. Removing the covers during the day will minimise the risk; spray with a fungicide if disease is spotted.
Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the dew from the playing surfaces will reduce this risk. Diseases commonly active at this time of the year are fairy rings and red thread.
Continue mowing the outfield whilst growth is present.
Later in the Month 16th November - onwards
Where there's moisture, moss will lurk. Moss spores could develop on the square as the weather closes in and air temperatures drop.
The use of an approved moss killer will check any growth quickly.
Worm activity can also be prevalent in November; keep an eye on the square and treat accordingly.
Sarrel roll your square to keep surface moisture to a minimum. Leaf collecting from areas of the outfield needs to be monitored.
Topdress any areas that may have sunk after renovation, such as foot holes, to retain levels following germination.
Have your machinery booked in for an overhaul and service.
Key Tasks for November
Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why worms are present. Ph level is usually the main factor, but organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed. Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.
Mowing frequencies during the winter months are dependent on the need and condition of the ground. It is important to maintain a constant height of cut, on both the square and outfield. The square should be maintained between 12-20mm with the outfield maintained at between 25-35mm.
Remember; the outfield too has a major effect on a game if unattended. The outfield should be treated through the winter the same as any other natural grass surface - aeration, fertilising and mowing should not be neglected.
Useful Information for Worm treatments
Return of the worm ...Worm Control
Aeration of the square is often delayed until November. Aerating when the square is too dry can lead to problems of root break. Ideally, you need moist conditions of around 75 -100 mm to enable good penetration with the aid of solid tines. Sarrel roll your square to keep surface moisture to a minimum.
Useful Information for Aeration
Machinery Spares, Blades, Cylinders & Tines
Outfields - Too many clubs tend to neglect their outfields, it is important to undertake some work on the cricket outfields as they are an important part of the game, they need to be firm, flat and free from weeds. Some cricket outfields are often maintained as winter pitches, and the amount of work carried out may be determined by whether the outfield is being used for other sports (football/rugby).
Ideally, on the outfields, aeration penetration should be down to a depth around 150 - 200mm to promote deeper rooting. This can be achieved by deep slitting or solid tining. Some groundsmen like to carry out a programme of hollow coring, which again increases porosity and can also help to redistribute/recycle topsoil which, in turn, helps restore levels.
The frequency of aeration activities will often depend on the resources - money, machinery and time - available. In the main you should be looking to aerate throughout the winter period on a monthly basis, weather and soil conditions permitting.
Some cricket grounds may have a number of mature deciduous trees nearby, which will inevitably lead to some amounts of leaf debris lying on the square and outfield. It is essential to remove leaves from the square.
If left to accumulate, these leaves will become wet, that, in turn, will restrict light and air being available to the grass plant, thus putting the grass under stress and resulting in it turning yellow and then decaying. Vacuum, sweep or rake up leaves on a regular basis.
Useful Information for Outfields
Cricket Outfields Maintenance
Cricket Outfield Grass Seed
Pest & Diseases
Turf disease can be quite prevalent in November when soil moisture levels increase, coupled with the presence of early morning dews.
The combination of moist soils and surface moisture on the leaf blade can increase the susceptibility of disease attack. Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the dew from the playing surfaces will reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak. Many turf grass diseases can be active at this time of the year - fairy rings, red thread and Fusarium are the most commonly seen.
Pests:- Worms can also be active this month. Keep an eye the square and treat accordingly. Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why worms are present. Ph level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square may need to be assessed. Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.
Useful Information for Pest & Diseases
Facts about red thread
Treatments of fertilisers and turf tonics can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results. Most facility managers will be looking to apply their autumn fertilisers in association with their end of season renovations.
Useful Information for Fertiliser
The future of fertilisers
Autumn Winter Fertilisers
Other Tasks for the Month
If you haven't already done so it is good practice to erect some sort of protective fencing around the square, which not only protects it from pests, (dog walkers, rabbits, deer, foxes), vehicles and vandals, but deters people from trampling all over it disturbing the end of season renovations.
Finally, If you can afford it!!! Have yourself a well earned holiday;