Expected weather for this month:

An unsettleld start to the month, but average temperatures throughout of 20°C

Key Tasks for June

Pitch preparations, mowing and marking will be in full swing. Following the 10-12 day guidelines, try to produce a consistent wicket with fast medium pace. Be sure to get your lines accurate and straight. When you get the opportunity, give the square a good irrigation of the square.

Make sure you follow any feedback from your soil analysis if applying liquid or granular fertilisers. As you move through the month, regular mowing of the square at 10-12mm will need to be continued whilst preparing pitches. The outfield should be boxed off or gang mowed at 15-18mm, avoiding scalping. Repairs and renovation to used pitches should be carried out as soon as they come out of use, paying particular attention to your foot holes as they may require more intensive work.

Fertilising of the square can be undertaken, if not already done so, remembering that granular feeds to be well watered in.

Do not neglect your outfield, as this the largest area of maintenance. It still needs to be carefully managed.

Irrigation is a key management tool, so it will be a case of watering little and often when you can, preferably at night so the water can reach the root system. Evapotranspiration rates should begin to rise in the coming month, initiating the need to begin regular syringing of the square. The combined water loss from both the plant and soil surfaces will be rising due to the warmer weather. Watering will be essential for wicket repairs and preparation. Irrigate uniformly and ensure the right amount is applied. Watering in high, daytime temperatures will be less effective and could encourage shallow rooting as the water fails to get deep enough to stimulate the plant roots. 

Cricket clubs without a supply of water are often left in the lap of the gods. The use of covers or groundsheets is one way to help protect pitches and retain moisture, providing they are not left on too long. Facilities that do not have or use pitch covers will also be more vulnerable to the changing climates and environment. Put an action plan together to get the best out of the weather conditions after a good shower or prolonged rainfall.

It is important to ensure that the water gets down deep into the rootzone to encourage deep rooting. Check with a probe. Allowing surfaces to remain dry for a period of time can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.

The use of covers (flat or raised) will be invaluable during the preparation of match wickets; take care when removing to ensure any surface water is prevented from running on to the protected pitch.

Keeping some additional grass cover will help retain some soil moisture, thus slowing down the soils capacity for drying out. You may want to consider raising the height of cut on the square by 1-2 mm to maintain some additional grass cover.

Any period of rain will have stimulated the Poa grass species in the square, thus increasing thatch and procumbent growth; regular verti-cutting will alleviate any thatch build up and stand up the sward prior to mowing.

With the drier weather now expected, the bounce and pace of the wickets should start improving. More and more Groundsmen are now taking the opportunity to measure and monitor the performance of their pitches. Having a better understanding of the condition of your square is paramount in deciding on what level of maintenance inputs are required.

The ECB have an excellent guideline booklet, TS4, which provides a wealth of information on construction, preparation and maintenance of cricket pitches.

Taking a number of soil samples on a regular basis helps monitor the condition of your soil profile, enabling you to see for yourself any problems that may be occurring, such as root breaks, poor root growth, soil layering and depth of thatch; all of which can be rectified by appropriate actions. With the advent of digital cameras, we now have an excellent tool for recording what we see.

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.

 

General Nutrition

Consistently warm soil temperatures in June create ideal conditions for fertilisers with an organic component, whether that be straight organic fertilisers or organo-mineral. Organic sources of nutrition help to support the soil food web and manage the soil-plant system in a holistic fashion. Spring inputs of nitrogen aiming to get things going can be reduced and grass growth will naturally start to drop back as temperatures rise. In the wild, the plant would have now gone through its leafy growth spurt and be diverting energy into setting flower.

Calcium is a key driver of growth for roots and shoots, as it is responsible for the construction of cell walls. Calcium can become limited in dry soil, so ensuring soil levels are adequate and supplementing with foliar calcium helps it to maintain good health. Calcium, along with potassium, are essential for regulating stomatal function, helping the plant to better react to the onset of heat and water stress. Cold pressed liquid seaweeds contain plant hormones which also help to regulate against water stress and are a significant resource to be employed. Seaweed also contains hormones which promote germination and establishment.

Any areas which have been seeded in May will benefit greatly from the addition of seaweed. Carbon sugar sources and liquid humates will also drive establishment, promote soil biology and maximise the uptake efficiency of nutrition.

Water management

The use of wetting agents as part of a managed plan will pay dividends during June if hot weather occurs. Ideally, these should have started with the application of a block co-polymer in March at the latest, to give the soil a chance for the chemistry to accumulate in the soil. 

Penetrant wetting agents will help applied irrigation and rainfall to enter the profile from the surface down.

Regular sarrel tine aeration is a key cultural means of maintaining soil moisture levels as the shallow but tightly spaced tines puncture a large percentage of the surface area, allowing gas to escape from the soil and better aiding the percolation of water from the surface.

Growth regulators applied during periods of good growth in anticipation of hot dry weather to come will help the plant to conserve energy and manage water stress, again mitigating drought pressure. 

With respect to irrigation, a thorough soaking just before dusk gives the soil the maximum time to expel heat over night. Applying water at the end of a hot day creates a nice thermal blanket, trapping heat in the soil.

Little and often watering is appropriate for germinating seed and very young plants, but it is advantageous to thoroughly wet the profile and then let the soil dry down to just above wilting point if you can. This encourages the roots to penetrate and allows carbon dioxide to leave the soil and life-giving oxygen to enter.

Little and often watering also maintains surface humidity and will encourage algae, mould and fungi such a botrytis and Rhizoctonia spp. to attack swards.

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. 

Grounds Training was established in 2006 to provide a complete and unique service delivery training courses for the sports turf industry. We are now the go-to provider for on-site, bespoke training for groups. Alongside our renowned turf maintenance which now includes Lantra accredited Online courses. Grounds Training also works with the industry’s awarding bodies – Lantra and City & Guilds (NPTC).

Open courses for individuals to join are also offered at our Allscott (Telford) Training Centre, Most courses lead to Lantra Awards or NPTC qualifications; a small number of niche courses where the instructor is an experienced groundsman who is also Lantra Awards or NPTC registered, offer Pitchcare certification.

Whether your staff are involved with preparing and maintaining sports turf, operating ground care machinery and equipment or require a safe use of pesticides qualification, we have the course to suit them.

For more information on our online courses click here 

The Course Manual at just £30 is available for purchase separately.

Here are our upcoming open courses:

PA1/ PA6A- Thursday 6th/ Friday 7th June, Allscott Telford TF6 5DY

For more information visit: Groundstraining.com or email info@groundstraining.com