September Cricket Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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The season's play is coming to an end with many clubs having finished their league matches. General maintenance regimes will continue, brushing, mowing and watering as and when required especially while air temperatures remain warm and influencing grass growth.

September also brings heavy morning dews, it is important to brush and remove the dew from turf surfaces to prevent the likelihood of disease attack. Red thread can be quite prevalent at this time of the year especially in the outfield. See Link: Facts about Red Thread Disease.

Most clubs will have already begun sourcing and obtaining materials and services to fulfill their Autumn renovation programmes. It is very important to order your loam supplies early. It is better to have your loam on site before you start renovations. There were a number of occasions last year when some loam supplies did not turn up until late November, far too late for effective renovations.

The success of any renovation works is generally down to good preparation and timing, getting it done early on to make good use of the favourable weather conditions that usually prevail in September.

If you do decide to use external contractors to carry out your renovations, ensure you have checked their credentials and they have the relevant skills, experience and machinery to do the job. Obtain references.

The objectives of end of season renovations are:

  • To repair worn areas.

  • Prevent a build up of thatch layers (scarification).

  • Restore surface levels (top dressing).

  • Alleviate compaction (aeration).

  • Re-establish sward densities. (overseeding).

  • Application of pre seeding/autumn fertilisers to promote sward establishment.

Most clubs will begin their end of season renovations in mid September making good use of the warm soil temperatures to initiate good seed germination.

Autumn Renovations

First task is to clean up the square, mowing in several directions to collect any arisings/debris from the playing surface. Recent used wickets will still be very firm and will require some watering to help swell the clay soil allowing it to be worked and repaired.

The following activities are generally implemented during autumn renovations and usually carried out in the following order, when conditions allow. The sequence of operations and their intensity will vary from club to club according to the condition of the sward at the end of the playing season.

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Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation. Lower cutting height to between 2-4mm to clean and prepare square for renovation operations. The mower can then be used to clean up the square after scarifying has been completed.


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Scarification, removal of unwanted debris. Collect and disposal of arisings. Depending on the severity of the thatch, you may need to scarify several times in different directions. However, in most cases if regular verticutting / grooming has taken place during the growing season you would probably only be required to scarify in two directions. Do not scarify at right angles. Depth of scarification 4-10mm depending on thatch content.

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Aerate to relieve compaction and encourage root development if your soil is sufficiently moist. This operation is often carried out later in the year, mid November, when the soils have become wetter allowing the potential for deeper aeration (150-200mm depth) to be achieved.

Aeration is the decompaction of soil, improving air and gas exchange in the soil profile. Depending on the turf's condition, you can choose to carry out hollow or solid tine spiking, Hollow tines are generally used on a bi annual basis or when you have a severe thatch problem.

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Top dressing, restores levels and improves surface drainage. Ensure you use compatible top dressing materials. There are many clay loam suppliers who can offer advice on which products to use, preferably a loam with a 28-32% clay content. Spreading of the materials can be achieved by several methods, utilising pedestrian or ride on disc or drop action top spreaders, or by hand using a shovel and a barrow. Best carried out during dry weather.

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Brushing to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up. Brushing in with a lute or drag brush/mat to restore levels.

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Overseeding, restores grass populations. Important to ensure a good groove or hole is made to receive the seed, good seed soil contact is essential for seed germination. Good moisture and soil temperatures will see the seed germinate between 7-14 days.

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Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth. Apply a low N nitrogen fertiliser product something like a Autumn Fertiliser NPK 5:5:15 to help the sward through the autumn period.

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Watering/Irrigation. It is essential to keep the sward watered after renovations to ensure your seed germinates.


Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Renovation.

Remember not to neglect the outfield. Ideally you should be looking at completing the above tasks on your outfield as well, budgets permitting. However, in most cases this does not happen. The outfield would benefit from some aeration and harrowing during the winter months to keep it open and free draining.

Other Structures and net facilities.

All net facilities can be stripped down for the winter, storing away nets and posts. Remember to inspect them for damage and order new if required. Site screens can be stored away, make sure they are stable and secure.