November Cricket Diary
By Laurence Gale MSc
All cricket squares should now have been put to bed, however there may be a few areas on the square where seed germination may have been slow to respond. The use of germination sheets should help encourage the grass to grow, but be careful with the use of covers as there is a risk of disease. Remove the covers during the day to minimise the risk, and spray with a fungicide if disease is spotted.
Turf disease can become 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 likelihood of disease attack. 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.
As the weather closes in there is a risk that moss could now develop on the square. Again the use of an approved moss killer will check any growth quickly. Once the moss has turned and it becomes dry enough, scarify the affected areas to remove the dying vegetation. One of the difficulties with spraying chemicals at this time of year is getting an accurate forecast to know that there is a dry window of opportunity. The last thing you need is to spray a chemical for it to be rendered ineffective by rain, apart from the fact that these products are expensive to buy in the first place.
Worm activity can also be prevalent in November; 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 need to be assessed. Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.
Mowing frequencies during the winter months are dependant 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 outfield should now be maintained at between 25-35mm. The square should be maintained between 12-20mm. Remember not to neglect the outfield; it too has a major effect on a game if unattended. The outfield should be treated the same as any other natural grass pitch (aeration and mowing).
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).
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 a wet mass that, in turn, will restrict light and air being available to the grass plant, thus putting the grass under stress resulting in it turning yellow and then decaying. Sweep/rake up leaves on a regular basis.
It is good practice to erect some sort of protective fencing around the square, which not only protects it from animals but deters people from trampling all over it and disturbing the end of season renovations.
Check and repair fences, scoreboards, covers and sightscreens. All structures can be stored away for the winter after use.