Blackburn Rovers (12/04/02)
With the recent dry weather, we have had to spend a lot of our time keeping the ground moist. I have just fertilised Ewood Park, the training ground and the Academy ground pitches with a Spring/ summer fertiliser application of 12:6:6 at full rate of 300kg's per pitch.
We are now cutting the grass down to 20mm, at a gradual reduction from 25mm.
We have two Premier league games left to play at Ewood Park, with Newcastle and Fulham. On the 14th May we have arranged for the Koro machine to come into fraize mow all of our pitches. The fraize mowing is perhaps the most effective way of removing the thatch and the weaker Poa grasses, and I will employ the machine on all of our pitches at the three venues to clean out the sward. I have found that this brutality at the end of the season pays dividends for us with the re-growth of the stronger grasses and the establishment of new seed.
Games have been coming at us thick and fast, so myself and the rest of the team have been busy, repairing pitches by divotting and root zone/seed replacement, irrigating, mowing and marking.
To date we have had 37 games at Ewood Park and four training sessions, this is quite high for Ewood Park, but we had the great run in the Worthington Cup and of course were drawn at home in every round.
The Academy pitches are being used heavily now, with the various age groups using the pitches morning, noon and night. Last night some of the teams were still using the facility at half past eight in the evening.
I have to say that I am shocked with the amount of usage required for Academy training, it makes it difficult to get on to the pitches to do much in the way of remedial works. I would like to get the irrigation on, because the last two weeks have been so dry, but it is very difficult when the kids seem to be permanently on the surfaces.
At the end of the season, I'll get the goals and nets down and put away, so the kids can't play any more, and we can concentrate on some much needed first aid to the pitches.
Once the pitches have been 'fraize mowed' and the rubbish removed, we will hollow core to a depth of 100mm(4") using 16mm tines on a tight 50mm x 50 2"x2") pattern.
The pitches will have a light top dressing this year of between 20-30 tonnes per pitch.
One of the reasons for this is that I would like to spend some money on updating machinery, so I hope to cut down slightly on top dressings to free up some cash for a new ride on mower.
Once the pitches have been cored with the Toro multicore and dressed, we will over sow the pitches at 300kg's per pitch.
I will brush and loot the dressings and cores back into the surface as part of my soil exchange program, before fertilising and finally vertidraining each playing surface.
Depending on the weather, the irrigation, which is then vital, will be monitored daily, to make sure that the seed and existing grasses germinate and re-establish respectively.