Cricket Groundsman Diaries- Sussex Academy
This is a Cricket Groundsman Diaries blog, is not to encourage Groundsmen to go out and breach lockdown recommendation, my position differs from most as this is my employment and l can’t work from home.
This time we are only looking at a short lockdown, so if you are not going down to the ground for another three weeks there is nothing that can’t be caught up with or done in spring i.e. overseeding.
This blog is just my movements and plans for my ground.
Sussex Academy ground, my first week brought about flexi furlough and l fully understand my employer having to do this and support their decision fully.
The club have been good enough to provide me with some hours to keep the site going, so a regime of cutting once a week or so in the aim of thickening the sward is the aim.
Germination has been great but it hasn’t really thickened that much this year, in comparison to other years. So, a regular autumn and winter cutting, feeding and aeration programme will help with this.
I got the first cut in on 2/3 squares in early November, luckily just found a gap in the weather and topped off with the rotary at around 30mm. The plan after one more rotary cut is to get the cylinder on and start bringing the squares down to around 20mm for the rest of the winter.
Cutting at 20mm will encourage a denser and thicker grass cover, but also keep it short enough to allow air to get in and around the base of the plant, helping prevent disease.
Once the squares have thickened up a bit l am hoping to get in an overseed, it will be late i.e. mid/late November. But for the sake of a couple of bags across the site l will take my chances, l am really keen to create a rye dominated grass square. I am trying to create a sward that’s outcompetes weed grasses and other turf disorders such as moss and weeds.
December and January, if it’s not a scene out of the ice road truckers l will look to get on a granular fertiliser to help keep the plant healthy and keep red thread at bay. Red thread is a disease that is an indication of low soil fertility levels, specifically nitrogen.
If it goes cold, l may opt for liquid fertiliser instead as this can be sprayed directly on the leaf and it takes less effort for the plant to uptake, especially when the plant is slow in growth.
If in winter, avoiding young seed and frosts l shall be using a fertiliser with an element of iron (Fe) in it. Fe(iron) will keep the plant strong and help knock any moss formation.
Groundsman Diaries- Continued
The squares at the moment are a bit thin, but after a few cuts and some thickening l think l will be able to get on and get some solid tine aeration done.
I ll be looking to get in 2-3 inches on the first spike and then going 3-4 on the next, whatever depths you do alternate the depth to prevent root breaks forming.
Aeration is of great benefit in getting some oxygen into the soil along with creating some drainage holes and also some channels for roots to migrate down.
Overseeding outfield -early November
We overseeded the outfield in my first week at the Academy, always a bit of a gamble overseeding with the potential of frosts about and being so late in the growing season.
This year temperatures are above average and the forecast is looking to stay the same, so l am confident we made the right call.
l am really keen to create a grass farm of my choice prior to spring, before the onset of weed grass seeding, blowing their weed seeds onto the outfield from surrounding areas.
Soil analysis testing
January or February, once we get a cold snap l shall be looking at getting the soil tested in terms of phosphorus and potassium and other macro/micro nutrients. The results of these tests l ll then work with my fertiliser representative and put together a feeding plan for the rest of 2021, based on what the plant actually needs.
Rest of the winter outfield wise, will see regular once a month aeration and cutting, maintaining it at 20mm and probably 25/30 mm on the junior football pitches.
I hope you enjoyed my Groundsman Diaries, if you would like to do your own dairies fresh for 2021, get in touch.I am sure our community would love to hear what you got up to or plan to get up to on your surfaces.
Stay safe above all.
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