Questions and Answers

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Q: I have been asked by my cricket clubs grounds man (who’s not PC literate) to access information on removal of moss from cricket pitches. At Bronze Cricket Club in the West Midlands we have gradually had moss cover our entire square. Our pitch is similar in size and drop of Lords, and the moss infestation started at the highest part of the square, and has moved down over the years. Our grounds man has used various moss killers with basically no success. The areas have gone black, but even with vigorous scarification it doesn’t seem to move it. So do you have a preferred treatment for moss removal, and is it a coincidence that the moss seemed to take root when we dropped in an artificial wicket at the top of the square? I hope you can help because we have historically supplied quick pitches that take turn from July onwards, but the moss is making it slow and low all year round. Regards Tony Forrester Secretary Bronze CC

A: Dear Tony,

Many sympathies towards the moss problem your club and groundsman are encountering on the square especially in light of the stated quick pitches previously enjoyed.

Before tackling eradication one must understand the nature of moss which is symptomatic of other underlying causes. They are symptoms of poor grass growth and not the cause.

Moss is a primitive non-flowering plant with no root system and is totally reliant on moisture being present to survive and proliferate. There are three main types of moss found in fine turf, cushion, trailing & upright. In the environment of consolidated, clay cricket pitches the cushion type is the most prevalent and is usually indicative of the following:-

Bare areas of soil with no competition from grass plants,
Mower scalping,
Poorly drained and compacted soil,
Nutrient deprived,
Shade,
Acidic soil conditions

As cricket squares are poorly drained and consolidated anyway, from experience the causes are usually associated with high organic content within the surface (thus holding the essential surface moisture for the moss to get a hold) thin grass cover and lack of nutrients. This often comes as a surprise to many clubs who insist that adequate autumn scarification has been undertaken only to find that a soil profile analysis (by a qualified expert) identifies the presence within the immediate surface. This in turn lends towards slower lower performing pitches.

The fact that you have a considerable slope should shed access rainfall especially during winter months. The NTP at the top of the square could harbour the spores that transfer down the table and the aforementioned conditions allow rapid infestation.

Traditionally Dichlorophen based products were the most effective moss killer but have been withdrawn through legislation. Sulphate of Iron is very effective at killing the adult plant and relatively cost effective. The resultant blackened dead moss needs to be scarified out and removed otherwise it will add to the organic content within the surface. There is a new weed / moss killer on the market using Carfentrazone-ethyl as the moss killer component.

Hope this information is of assistance and would underline correct cultural practices preventing the moss infestation in the first instance and recommend contacting your County Pitch Advisor for a profile reading to identify the cause.

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