July Cricket Diary
By Laurence Gale MSc
Soil and air temperatures are increasing, so grass growth this month is likely to be prolific, especially when there is sufficient soil moisture and nutrients present. The long daylight hours increase the amount of photosynthesis taking place in the grass plant. The net result is more frequent mowing, feeding and watering to maintain a stress free sward.
Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic 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.
In July you would be looking to use a 12/0/9, or similar compound fertiliser blend, or apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through to August. The choice of material and how well it works will be dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and soil temperature being the catalyst for growth. The performance of slow release fertilisers can be influenced by the weather, often producing a flush of growth when you least expect it. Some grounds managers use straight compound granular or liquid fertilisers which activate when in contact with
Water is essential for wicket repairs. It is important to soak the wickets after matches, this gives you the opportunity to work on the damaged areas and carry out the required repairs.
Make good use of your covers and sheets to control moisture levels, you need optimal moisture levels in the soil profile for effective rolling and wicket preparations.
Sweep up all debris and mow wicket to clean up the surface, repair any footmarks, batsman scars and divots. Check for lost shoe studs that may damage mower blades. Repairing foot holes requires removing all loose debris; spike bottom of hole to prepare a key for the new soil material; water and then apply new material and seed. Leave proud and cover with grass clippings to prevent the repair drying out too quickly.
With regard to mowing machinery be sure to keep them clean and serviced. You cannot afford to have a breakdown during the peak growing period. Keep an eye on fluid levels and remember to check your height of cut and sharpness of cutting blades. Badly adjusted mowers will affect grass cutting operations, leading to problems of scalping, ribbing and tearing of the grass surface, which in turn leads to the grass plant suffering from stress and being vulnerable to disease.