October Cricket Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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Ground staff should have ideally completed there end of season renovations by now, making good use of the favorable weather conditions we had in September. However, some times delays may have held you up, usually these are primarily driven by poor organization or being let down by contractors or suppliers.

The longer you leave your renovations the less likely you will obtain favorable germination rates, Air temperatures tend to drop and fluctuate in October thus slowing down grass growth. The use of germination sheets will help aid germination. Once you have put your square to bed it is time to devote some time to the outfield an area often neglected.

Once the grass has established on the square you should look to maintain a cutting height between 15-30mm and continue to brush the dew off in the mornings to keep the sward in a dry condition.

Aeration is a key operation to help improve the condition of the soil after a season of play. Soil compaction is often the main contributing factor to poor grass growth, the lack of air in the soil profile inhibits many beneficial activities in regard to soil water movement and retaining beneficial organisms. A programme of de-compacting the soil is essential to re-introduce some porosity into the soil profile.

Solid tine, hollow coring and linear aerating are a number of methods now being used to aerate soil profiles. These operations tend to be carried on a frquency basis depending on the type of method and size of the tines being used.st-annes-cricket-025.jpg

Ideally on the outfields we should be penetrating down to a depth around 200mm to promoting deeper rooting. Some groundsmen like to carry out a programme of hollow coring which again increases porosity put also can help redistribute/ recycle soil around the outfield. Which in turn helps restore levels.

The frequency of aeration activities will often depend on the resources, money, machinery, time available. In the main you should be looking to aerate throughout the winter period on a monthly basis, weather and soil conditions permitting.

However, there are a number of Groundsmen who never aerate their cricket squares, they believe that the aeration holes formed can cause a weakness / stress line in the clay profile that could eventually break causing problems with the wickets.

They believe that the clays ability to shrink and swell provides the necessary voids to promote root growth. It would be interesting to find out what proportion of Groundsmen follow this train of thought?

Mowing of the outfield should be undertaken on a regular basis to maintain height of cut. The outfield should now be maintained at between 20-35mm.

October is usually a good month to carry out any additional ground works particularly drainage, especially when using heavy pipe laying machinery. Ground conditions are able to sustain the weight and action of these machine's without causing much damage to the turf surfaces.

Turf disease can become quite prevalent in October 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.

Worm activity can be quite prevalent in October, 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.

Rigby Taylor's Mascot Systemic (Maff 08776.contains 500g per litre carbendazim). 1 litre will cover 2,500m2.

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Fertiliser treatment and turf tonics can be continued in accordance with your annual programme, once it is safe to get back on the square. 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.

Many Groundsmen fence off the cricket square at the end of the season to protect the square from pests, (Soccer players, rabbits, deer, foxes), vehicles and vandals.

Other tasks will involve inspecting and putting and away, score boards, practice nets and covers.