Maintaining your cricket square and outfield during a drought.
By Cornwall Pitch Advisor Simon Johnson
Unbelievably it wasn’t that long ago where we were discussing the snow and how many football matches had been cancelled and we have now gone completely the other way. Temperatures up in the 30’s and no rain for weeks.
I have travelled the South West the last couple of weeks and groundsmen all over the area are struggling to know what to do during this period. Especially the shared facilities that have either football or rugby sharing with cricket. These grounds at the end of the winter season correctly did some aeration to relieve the compaction in their pitches after a very wet winter but have had to put up with no spring season, going straight from winter into a very dry summer. This has caused severe problems with outfields opening up due to the linear aeration operations that were performed. Those that were vertidrained haven’t had such a problem. Linear aeration leaves a slit the length of the field to a depth of approx. 10” and vibrates at the bottom to shatter the subsoil. These slits have opened up and created a surface that is not safe to play on.
Having seen these problems that groundsmen are having I thought I would together some ideas that may be helpful during this awkward period.
For those of you with the time and equipment to irrigate then I suggest you try to maximise the efficiency of your watering sessions. Apply water in larger amounts on fewer occasions rather than applying the same amount of water little and often. This is to get the water deeper into the soil – this limits loss due to evapotranspiration and encourages deeper rooting. Apply during the evening or overnight. Never irrigate during the heat of the day.
If your club has covers, try to utilise them even when it isn’t raining. If they are parked up on the side of the ground have a look under them, you will be surprised how much growth there is. This will be the same if you put them onto the pitch.
If you only flat sheets you will not get the same results. Air cannot circulate under sheets as it can under roll-ons and this may cause disease problems in the turf.
Increase your mowing height on the square and outfield – this helps to reduce water consumption and encourages deeper rooting by the plant.
Reduce your mowing frequency – this helps to reduce stress on the plant and helps to reduce compaction.
Do not box the clippings on the outfield – this returns both nutrients and water to the turf and also provides a bit of a mulch to reduce soil evaporation.
Avoid applications of fertiliser as these could scorch or stress the turf.