Question and Answer : Pitches


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Q: I work at a school. We have a number of cricket squares, our end of season renovations took place in August. Since then I have applied to doses of a 6-5-10 fertiliser recomended after having a soil test. Each time the squares green up for about 2 weeks then start to turn yellow. At this moment the squares are looking stressed. I do not want to add more fertiliser as I'm not sure it's working. Can you can help. Thanks

A: Firstly, well done on securing a professional, nutritional analysis to determine the correct fertiliser applications for your facilities. – a very wise decision removing unnecessary guesswork.

Now there are a number of other points to consider outside of the information you have submitted. The pH values are important as is the make-up of the grass sward content of the squares. This information should have been included in your analysis.

Assuming that in common with the contemporary mode of practice you are using a predominately perennial ryegrass (Lolium Perenne) mixture for your squares, for optimum health they ideally require a pH value ranging from 6-7.

If there is a high percentage of Annual Meadow Grass (Poa Annua) encroachment within the sward it does have a tendency to yellow very quickly when under stress.

You state that you completed end of season renovations in August. Since then we have experienced unusually warm and prolonged climatic conditions where grass growth has remained fairly vigorous coupled the plant’s demand for nutrients (and in some areas of the country, irrigation!) may well have required a further application.

However the daylight hours are now shorter and the first frosts are setting in so it is essential that any necessary maintenance mowings are set at a height of 20-25mm with blades kept sharp as a ragged cut will expose the grass leaf to damage by disease, cold winds & frost also lending towards a yellowing appearance of the tips.

Assuming that the pH of the squares is not unduly low, I would advise at this stage of the year to apply iron (Ferrous Sulphate) or chelated iron. This would give a rapid enhanced green-up colour without forced grass growth and harden the sward making it less susceptible to disease. You can apply this throughout the winter when required (avoid applying during prolonged frosty or very dry/cold conditions). The added bonus is that it is relatively cheap to purchase.

You might also consider a bio-stimulant formulate that are on the market. They promote root development and overall plant health (including green-up) during the winter months.

Hope this helps.

Q: Can you answer this question for me: Groundsman uses U-boat's lubricants under surface - eight letters

A: sorry, cryptic crosswords not our speciality!

Q: Having taken over as groundsman of my local cricket club I am now in the process of ordering winter dressings. I would like to move onto Ongar loam from Mendip Loam, would this cause me any problems, or do I have to do it this winter as a 50/50 mix of both loams.

A: Moving top-dressing applications to Ongar Loam from Mendip would not cause an initial problem – in actual fact you may well perceive a harder surface in the first season of usage (dependent on the quality of the soil profile beneath.

However it is the long term that it would prove detrimental as the physical properties of Ongar (higher clay & shrinkage value, low organic content) are incompatible with Mendip Lower clay & shrinkage, higher organic) and over the seasons, successive build ups of top dressings would create a discontinuity or root break. This in turn would lend towards low, slow playing characteristics and a less healthy sward, especially re-growth after matches. This effect can become apparent when a depth of between 15-25mm has built up (around 6-10years).

Mixing 50/50 to begin with in theory sounds ok but the applications are thin (and should be – never over apply) and the same results would ensue. If you really wish to move to a another loam probably the best way would be to apply via a thatch free grooved surface and closely spaced hollow tine holes with dry loam thoroughly worked into the holes as much as possible by continual brush/drag matting. This would go some way towards ameliorating the new material within the profile and not just laying on the surface as a “skin”.

It is essential that this procedure is completed thoroughly and under dry weather conditions.

Good luck with your autumn renovations.

Q: We are a Finnish cricket club (Empire cc - Helsinki) and we are looking to develop the first grass ground in the country. Maybe the most northery in the world? My query is much the same as the last one where you referred the person to their local County Board - problem is we don't have one! We are looking for a very ballpark figure to bring a ploughed field surface to the point at which it can be sowed and what's needed in the early days to get it to point at which it is all of acceptable outfield quality (we play on flicx mats due to the climate which makes a grass pitch quite impossible (freeze/thaw effects etc)) The site we have access to is a basic agricultural field, roughly ploughed at present. The site does not have any significant earth moving needs as there is only a 100cm drop across the whole 20 acre site. We would ony take a square of 130m X 150m. What might basis preparation costs come to (e.g. in the UK) to prepare the ground and seed it. What further treatments and plant needs are there in the two years or so needed before it can be used? (Assuming no major preparation issues arising from a soil test to find out how the site (soils) would react and compact on being tilled to a fine surface (drainage issues, clay content) and how they would react to play and further compaction/olling, and further assuming we do not need to add any top dressings). Hope you can help. Feel free to edit my enquiry down to a smaller size and reply in person if you wish.

A: A very interesting question - very nice to hear from you. Think you do need specialist advice, and from someone who understands the particular conditions you're going to face up there in Helsinki. Think you should drop the ECC office a line and make contact with them and see what help they can give you. Good luck - and keep us posted!

Q: A friendly farmer has a field which he is considering turning into a cricket pitch and has asked for help. This field is relatively flat but it is a farm field and is very bumpy with loads of holes, etc - it had cows on recently! Where do I start? How do I get the outfield in a decent condition? How do I start a square? How many wickets do I need for a one day a weekend use? How do I measure it all out?

A: If you make contact with your local County Board they may be able to provide you with some local assistance, or a visit from a pitch specialist.

Q: Our local club is moving to a larger field and would like to be able to classed as a Minor Counties ground. Could you please tell me what regulation requirements would need to be met for this, ie. boundary width, parking, club house facilities, etc. As we are able to design/build the new ground and club house from scratch it is important to get it right. Many thanks.

A: For Minor Counties cricket specifically, you need to contact the Minor Counties Cricket Association

Q: I am on a committe looking to improve our cricket pavillion in North Yorks.and add a new car park, buy additional land etc. can you give ne some advice as to any funding which may be available. We have raised over £20k so far and the total project is estimated at £200k

A: Suggest you discuss this locally with your county board - see County Boards for contacts.

Q: We as a club are fortunate in having possibly the opportunity to buy a field adjacent to our existing ground for the purposes of another ground. It is a big field and can't buy it all - in fact it is not all available. What area do you suggest we try and purchase so w have sufficient to make a good club ground with room for changing facilities.

A: Very, very difficult to answer that without seeing the specific layout and topography of the area in question. Think it best you consult a local architect or similar to see what best use could be made of the land in question and what facilities could be best placed on a specific plot.

Q: We have two 220 metre 24mm diameter boundry ropes and at present these are stored on 2 old wooden spools. Do you know of any companies that sell rope trolleys that can store these on and make it easier to gather them in at the end of the game?

A: A quick search on the internet for rope trolleys did come up with various products and suppliers - but not sure exactly what kind of thing you're after; so best have a quick look on and see what you can find.

Q: We have a recurring problem with moss on our cricket square. Can you advise how we might get rid of this? kind regards

A: Best to get in touch with your local County Board to see if they can arrange some pitch advice or a vist to look at the problem.