Key Tasks for May
As normal for this time of the year, squares will require a lot of time management, scarifying, mowing, rolling and marking out; then there is your outfield, which will require mowing, aeration, raking or harrowing to raise the sward.
It is not necessarily about how much Pre-Season Rolling you carry out, it is ensuring that the rolling is undertaken during optimum conditions by having enough moisture in the soil profile to allow for good consolidation.
Ensure your machinery and equipment is serviced, in good condition and ready for use.
Pitch preparation should start 10-12 days prior to the match. Following the guidelines below will help you achieve a good standard of pitch. Most groundsmen will have there own interpretation of these activities. Marking out the crease should be done with care, using frames or string to help achieve clear, straight lines. DAY 1 String out pitch lines to ensure correct width, 10 ft; Mow out @ 8mm. Always double mow (up and down the same line), using an 8 bladed pedestrian cylinder mower for maintaining the square. Test the pitch with a key or knife for moisture
DAY 2 Brush / light rake, mow @ 8 mm, light roll to consolidate surface levels.
DAY 3 Scarify or Verti cut to remove lateral growth and surface thatch avoiding deep surface disturbance. Reduce HOC & mow @ 7 mm. continue medium light rolling 1000 kg 10-15 minutes.
DAY 4 Roll pitches increasing roller weight to consolidate the surface.
DAY 5 Scarify with hand rake to raise sword after rolling. Reduce HOC to 6mm
DAY 6 20-30 minute’s with heavy roller.
DAY 7 Light scarify by hand to raise sward, mow @ 6 mm, increase weight of roller to 1500- 1700 kg continue rolling 30 minutes reducing speed to consolidate surface.
DAY 8 Continue rolling for 30 minutes at slow speed to achieve consolidation. Cover pitch over night to encourage moisture to rise to surface.
DAY 9 Brush / rake lifting any lateral grasses, reduce HOC mow (with a shaver blade) to 4mm, try to avoid scalping. Roll using heavy roller slow speed (crawling) 30 minutes morning & again late afternoon where possible. Cover pitch over night.
DAY 10 Brush & mow pitch, roll morning and afternoon slow as possible (crawling).
DAY 11 Brush, mow & roll to polish surface, test bounce with an old ball along edge of pitch. Continue rolling to consolidate surface. Cover pitch over night.
DAY 12 Brush, mow & roll polish up pitch. Your pitch should effectively have take on a straw like coloration, a sign that the preparation has been achieved. String and mark out as in accordance to E.C.B guidelines. (TS4 booklet)
Mowing heights for the cricket square during the playing season should be:-
8-12mm April-September (playing season)
5-6mm Wicket preparation
3-4mm Final cut for match
Soil and air temperatures should begin to rise substantially as we move into April. The application of a spring and summer fertiliser will also increase the vigor, sward growth and density. Ideally, get your soils sampled for nutrients, organic matter content and soil pH where possible. This information will help decide on the appropriate course of action with regard to applying the correct NPK balance for your site. Liquid fertilisers are becoming popular again.
Granular products have to rely on the granule breaking down, becoming mobile in the soil and then taken into the plant via the root system. Today’s products have been refined to act more efficiently, their mode of action allows the active nutrient ingredients to get into the plant tissue more quickly, and thus you tend to see a faster response to plant growth Wetting agents can now be applied; this is usually done on a monthly basis. The use of wetting agents will be a good tool for ensuring that any rain has the chance to soak deeper into the soil profile and not simply run off the playing surface.
Advice on the Pitchcare Forum 12 months ago, relating to pre-season rolling and fertiliser treatments.
Other useful current Forum threads:
It has been a challenging spring for everyone in the turf industry. With weather patterns causing prolonged periods of cold temperatures which have restricted growth. Unseasonably warm period at the end of April encouraged much needed winter recovery growth across the country which helped with the start of summer sporting seasons, some of which had been delayed a week or two.
The long range forecast for May is rather more typical with indications of temperatures around average for the time of year and projections of warmer and drier spells towards the end of the month. However the old English proverb of 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out' should be kept in mind as colder and wetter spells with low nighttime temperatures are likely to crop up.
As a result it is likely we will experience peaks and troughs in growth and consideration towards the timing of inputs for maximum uptake and effect when soil temperatures and moisture are suitable will produce the best results.
Growth will generate plant demand for nutrition. Nitrate and ammonia have been good nitrogen sources in the colder temperatures. Out of the two ammonia remains a constant favorite throughout the spring and summer but as soil temperatures consistently warm into double figures urea and the controlled release source methylene urea will come into play.
As a foliar application Urea is very effectively absorbed into leaf tissue over a period of 48 hours where it is then metabolized into free nitrogen by the plant very effectively. As a soil source of nitrogen urea first needs to be broken apart by the enzyme urease before then being converted into the plant available form of nitrogen ammonium and nitrate. This process is dependent on the presence and activity of soil microorganisms. Consequently urea makes nitrogen less available to the plant in colder soils with its availability increasing as soil temperatures rise. The full concersion process in good growing conditions can take between 7-10 days.
A similar process is at work with organic fertilisers as microbiology goes to work on degrading and mineralizing the nutritional contents of the organic matter. So an application of organics during the month is a good option for steady sustained results.
It seems like every month is a good month for biostimulants and in many respects this is true. The three key components are summarized below.
Seaweed – contains hormones (Gibberellic acids) which accelerate germination of seed and seedling maturity. Also acts as a chelate and growth
promotor and elicitor of plant protection mechanisms in response to heat, drough and cold (abiotic) stress
Humates – Chelation and enhanced root absorption of nutrients, improved nutrient retention in soils and bacterial habitat as well as stable carbon source.
Sugar - Provide carbon energy which is the base foundation of energy processing in all plants an soil life. Consequently supports greater soil biodiversity and efficiency of fertiliser use.
By understanding the numerous benefits of the key biostulants turf mangers can utilize them to support specific desired responses from other work.
For example: Overseeding?
Apply liquid seaweed over the seed to enhance germination before adding humates and carbon into the mix at the first feed 5 days post germination with the aim of driving and accelerate growth thanks to better response from fertilisers driven by increased availability and energy in the system.
As winter sport seasons reach their conclusion the pitch renovation season begins.
When over seeding opting for the best cultivars you can afford is a wise investment in the base foundation of your surface.
Taking a broad spectrum soil analysis prior to renovation allows the identification of deficient secondary macronutrients and micronutrients. All nutrients share equal importance and by identifying the weakest link in the chain you can maximise health and performance throughout a growing in period and beyond.
One trap which can occur is to apply vast quantities of phosphorous to drive establishment regardless of the soil sample result. This is questionable wisdom because a soil sample result details plant available nutrient. Where phosphorous is high it will inhibit the availability of copper, calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc and adding more P in to the system will not encourage the plant to uptake a greater quantity. The plant will take what it needs and no more, something which is true of all nutrients.
The same can be said of nitrogen, young seedlings cannot absorb large quantities of nitrogen, a base foundation of granular fertiliser is essential as a reserve once roots develop but, wherever possible little and often foliar applications accompanied by biostimulants will support their needs much more responsibly.
As a master variable water is the key ingredient to the successful health and performance of any turf surface. Residual polymer wetting agent programs hopefully started in March to give the chemistry time to build up in the soil ahead of likely drier periods and heat stress from the end of May into June.
Monitoring of literal hotspots and considered application of water onto these areas helps to keep consistency. Where irrigation is installed ensure you are aware of the liter per minute rates for your sprinklers (speak to manufacturers and installers if unsure) and monitor weather forecasts for local information on evapotranspiration rates. When irrigating during hot periods aim to replace 50% of daily ET loss in the form of millimeters of water applied rather than minutes of water applied. There are many resources to assist with this approach which is much more beneficial and accurate towards the plants needs rather than an arbitrary amount of sprinkler time.
Weeds, Pests and Diseases
Disease pressure is likely to be low throughout May with the plant being able to outgrow any pathogen attacks which do occur. Be mindful of any longer spells of cold damp weather which do occur but only apply fungicides if deemed absolutely necessary.
Active growth is the perfect time to apply herbicides, whether it be total weed killers to paths and paving or selective herbicides to turf areas. In the case of the latter consult label recommendations with regards to timing this around any seeding operations.
May would usually be a little late to treat mature leather jackets with Entomopathogenic nematodes however, with such a delayed spring applications may still be successful. Be aware that Steinernema feltiae is the preferential spring species being more active at colder temperatures of 10°C and upwards. That being said the primary window for control is August through to October. Spring applications require a double dose rate of nematodes and even then control is likely to be reduced from what would be expected later in the year.
There is no effective spring control for chafer grubs however chafer grub pheromone traps will collect adult males on the wing and form the basis of an integrated management plan of monitoring and recording the pest life cycle so you can better time nematode applications later in the year.
Maintaining a cricket square requires regular mowing, so it is important to keep your blades sharp at all times. Backlapping will help prolong their lives, but they should be sent for re-grinding, with your bottom blade replaced at the same time, especially a shaver blade.
Check your ground for foreign objects, such as studs or stones which can cause considerable damage to machinery and pitch.
We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Grounds Training website, together with our new suite of online courses
There are two courses - Spring & Summer Maintenance and Autumn & Winter Renovations. New dates are currently being planned – Email Carol Smith using the below link to register your interest.
Each of the courses is also available in an ONLINE format. The Lantra accredited course in Cricket Pitch Maintenance is a series of training videos, each followed by multi-choice questions and answers. In addition to the videos, the accompanying comprehensive Course Manual is also included. There is a choice of courses - Spring & Summer and Autumn & Winter - more information.
Our Lantra Accredited Spring & Summer Cricket Pitch Maintenance Course is now available as an online course.
Now you can learn about how to maintain a cricket pitch in the comfort of your own home and in your own time. This newly developed course covers Spring & Summer Maintenance and consists of a number of videos with assessment questions, and an accompanying hard copy Course Manual. The Online Course is Lantra accredited and provides you with all the basic knowledge required to maintain a cricket pitch over the period stated. There is also the option of attending a one day practical course.
Pitchcare is the only provider of LANTRA accredited training courses in the maintenance of a Cricket Pitch.
We will also be running our regular one and two day courses at various venues during the year.
Our spring courses are now available. Up to date information can be found on our new Grounds Training website.
Delegates attending the courses and using the accompanying manuals will be able to develop their own skills, working knowledge and expertise, by understanding the method of instruction and the maintenance principles they set out. Included in the Course Manuals are working diaries showing the range of tasks needed to be accomplished each month.
The Course Manual is available for purchase separately.
We can also arrange Lantra accredited training on site to groups of 6 – 10 people. Email Carol Smith for information.
Structures: Check and repair fences, scoreboards, covers and sightscreens. Finish off any painting that may have been delayed due to bad weather.
Artificial Pitches: Keep all surfaces clean, by regular sweeping and brushing to remove any algae and moss from surface. Sand filled systems also require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations for sand levels and pile heights.
Other work to consider:-
- Mark out boundary line or ensure rope is in place.
- Scoreboards are ready for use
- Erect security netting around buildings to deter balls from damaging properties.
- Ensure stumps and bails are correct size, yardage disks are available.
- Check sightscreens, covers and machinery as breakdowns could be time costly.
- Artificial netting facilities should be checked, cleaned and marked out ready for use.