With the clocks now gone back to winter time, the majority of cricket squares should have completed their renovation programme. Although, where 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; 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 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.
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. Once the moss has turned and it becomes dry enough, scarify the affected areas to remove the dying vegetation by use of a spring back rake, as this will effectively do less damage to the surface.
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.
Worm activity can also be prevalent in November; keep an eye on 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 are 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. The outfield should now be 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.
Aeration of the square is often delayed until November, allowing the chance for the square to retain more moisture. Aerating when the square is dry can lead to problems of root break. Ideally, you need moist conditions to enable good penetration with the aid of solid tines. Sarrel roll your square to keep surface moisture to a minimum.
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).
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 and resulting in it turning yellow and then decaying. Vacuum 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, if not already done so. All structures can be stored away for the winter.
Massey Ferguson Sports Club