Key Tasks for June
June is generally a dry month, so be prepared. Irrigation is a key management tool so, when necessary, 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.
The recent 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.
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.
As I write this month’s diary, many people’s attention will be shifting towards getting ready for the bank holiday Jubilee. Whether that be getting grounds ready for matches and events or venues ready for festivities and celebrations. The forecast looks dry, so a good few days should be enjoyed. Before we look too far ahead, let’s take a brief look back at May. Although the year is flying by at a rapid pace, of all the months so far May seems to have gone the quickest. I think a combination of Bank holidays, half-term break and holidays have meant June is already here. May was a mixture of weather, which brought us some decent temperatures to finally encourage more consistent growth and some much needed rainfall, although many parts of the country are still very dry, which is now having an impact on growth and there are signs of localised dry patch in some areas.
The forecast for June looks favourable with consistently decent temperatures, with 21 days predicted to be 18° C or above and night- time temperatures around 10° C or above for most of the month. There is the occasional period of rainfall forecast which should maintain growth, without too much moisture where growth is above the desired amount. After a dry May for most areas, if rainfall in June in also minimal, this will mean that irrigation systems will need to be running to ensure enough moisture is in the profile to sustain a healthy plant and avoid any issues of areas drying too much and volumetric moisture content (VMC) dropping to low, which may lead to turf issues.
Following the increase in temperature and light intensity, growth has become much more consistent and therefore nutrient programmes should be in line with this growth pattern. Nutrition should be supplied only at a level required to give the desired amount of recovery from wear imparted on the surface. Liquid fertiliser can be an excellent source of nutrition. When applied little and often, this is complementary to an even and consistent growth pattern. Granular fertiliser can also be used, however there is more probability of peaks and troughs of growth. If using granular fertiliser, to avoid the aforementioned peaks and troughs, utilising a fertiliser which relies on microbial activity to release the nitrogen is a good option. Examples of these are organic, organo- mineral, methylene urea (MU) and crotonylidene diurea (CDU). These forms release nitrogen gradually over a period of time and can be classed as slow release. This release pattern complements the amount of growth at this time of year as the release is dependent on environmental and microbial activity. Growth can also be managed by the use of plant growth regulators. For those using this technology, applications will have already been made in previous months and these should continue in line with growth potential. Trials have shown the combination of active ingredients Proheaxadione-Calcium and Trinexapac- ethyl give excellent plant growth regulation results.
In dry periods, achieving consistency in moisture management throughout a rootzone is crucial to overall plant health and performance. The aim is to have even moisture distribution through the rootzone, within a determined ±% tolerance guideline set by the turf manager. Wetting agents and surfactants can be essential tools to help achieve this aim. If the rootzone dries down too much and the VMC % drops too low, conditions can become hydrophobic (water-repellent), curative action will need to be taken to allow the rootzone to be re-wettable. Therefore, avoiding this by following a water management programme can minimise the probability of issues.
Acelepryn has been awarded an emergency authorisation for chafer grub control again in 2022, covering golf courses (restricted areas), airfields, horse racecourses and gallops, and this year under exceptional circumstances, cricket outfields. It is important to note here that this only applies to elite venues where there is a risk of a major event being cancelled and does not apply to all cricket outfields (follow label instructions). As with previous years, applications of Acelepryn are governed by a stewardship process and all releases of stock must be validated by a BASIS qualified advisor.
Pheromone traps utilised in May should have shown up any activity of chafers on site. It is important to regularly monitor and record activity so that informed decisions can be made about the best way to manage the issue. Treatments such as the relevant entomopathogenic nematodes can be made on sites where the emergency approval is not granted. Apply 4-5 weeks after the peak adult flying time has been recorded ensuring that:
- The number of larvae in the soil has reached the action threshold
- The soil temperature is within the tolerance limits for the nematode
- The soil is moist and has been aerated
- Further rain is forecast or you can apply irrigation
There is no emergency authorisation for the control of leatherjackets currently. Therefore, those with issues will need to evaluate the potential use of entomopathogenic nematodes. Applications made early in the season need to be done with care, ensuring the correct species are used and realistic expectations are set in terms of achievable results.
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS
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.