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 - see Agronomy section.
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
Spring 2019 has thus far been more favourable for the turf manager than the spring of 2018. Disease pressure had been relatively low and, whilst April has seen the cool nights and warmer days which are typical of this month, there has been good growth windows to get surfaces moving and recovering across much of the British Isles. Concerningly for turf managers, water reserves both in reservoirs and within the soil profile remain low across much of the country. This provides potential for drought stress on grass plants much sooner than in the spring and summer of 2018.
The weather forecast for May currently suggests there may be some periods of rainfall. Taking opportunity of these precipitation events by maximising the penetration of water into the soil, via aeration events such as sarel tine and star tine rolling, combined with the use of penetrant wetting agents, will enhance the passage of water down into the soil profile. Such action applies to fairways, outfield areas and pitches as much as it does fine turf surfaces such as greens. The application of surfactants to larger areas of land is often perceived as being expensive, but modern product formulations mean wetting agents can be applied to larger areas of land cost effectively.
Combining the advantages of a penetrant with the water retention properties of a block co-polymer surfactant will help to hold water which has soaked into the ground and keep it available for roots.
Seaweed is well proven to mitigate plant stress response as well as promote post drought recovery; again, cost effective applications of a cold pressed seaweed to larger areas are sensible and achievable for many.
As winter sport seasons reach their conclusion, the pitch renovation season begins.
When overseeding, 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.
Biostimulants are vital ingredients for turf health and offer many benefits during renovation. Apply liquid seaweed over seed to enhance germination before adding humates and carbon into the mix at the first feed, 5 days post germination. The aim being to driving and accelerating growth thanks to better response from fertilisers driven by increased availability and energy in the system.
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, drought 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. Enhances germination and establishment.
Sugar: Provides carbon energy which is the base foundation of energy processing in all plants and soil life. Consequently, supports greater soil biodiversity and efficiency of fertiliser use.
With soil temperatures exceeding 10 degrees Celsius on a consistent basis through May, organic fertilisers can be applied with confidence; particularly moss suppression products, now that the warmer temperatures enable the bacteria within to degrade the moss.
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.
Following widespread die-off from last year’s drought. weeds have made the most of the opportunity and colonised areas of bare ground. Strong active growth in May is the perfect time to achieve maximum uptake of applied 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. 2019 may also be a good time to consider opting for rotation of Active Substances as part of an integrated weed management plan. Areas where substances such as 2,4-D, MCPA, mecoprop-P and dicamba have been used for a number of years would benefit from being rotated with alternative active substances, such as clopyralid, florasulam and fluroxypyr.
Also consider that not all active substances are equally effective against all weeds. 2,4-D for example is useless against yarrow (Achillea millefolium) because the plant is able to metabolise it. Similarly, weeds such as Slender speedwell (Veronica filliformis) or Field Woodrush (Luzula campestris) are best controlled with fluroxypyr. Consideration of such issues and accurate identification of weeds present represents responsible management, both from a financial, environmental and resistance perspective. If in doubt, contact a BASIS qualified advisor for advice on how to manage such considerations effectively.
There is no effective spring control for chafer grubs; however, chafer grub pheromone traps deployed in May 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.
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 9th/ Friday 10th May, Allscott Telford TF6 5DY