What to do on a cricket square in February is a few basic recommendations, if conditions allow and you can work safely.
Conditions are key
If needs be stay off if soaked or frozen, as hard as it is resist the urge to get on in the wrong conditions. Next month’s temperature will start to rise and there will be more settled weather (I hope).
If you can get on and can do within covid rules and can stay safe doing so, here’s some jobs that can be done in February.
If you can get on the square maintain the square at somewhere between 18-22 mm, this is not too short to prevent deep rooting, but also not too long enough to encourage disease. Airflow around the base of the plant is key.
If then height is above the range above, don’t feel you need to hack it down to get to that recommendation, try not to remove more than a third of the leaf in any one cut.
If you can brush it a few time’s, either by a drag mat/brush or even a light brush with a brush cassette unit, if you have one. There’s always plenty of dead grass and organic matter on the surface to collect early season, such as rabbit droppings and leaf litter, so a collection system is the ideal.
Even if you only have a drag brush then brush grass leaf in a few directions over this month this will help keep an upright plant, with less chances of disease forming.
Added benefits of brushing
Worm cast control
Upright plant, meaning a more upright plant prior to cutting.
Cleaner surface (if collecting)
Blog on control of worms – https://turfcareblog.com/how-to-control-worms-on-sports-pitches/
Next month we start pre-season rolling, weather allowing so February is a good month for getting a feed on to encourage a strong plant pre-season rolling.
A low nitrogen fertiliser with around 4-8 % on nitrogen, is the ideal avoiding frosts around application periods. Read the label and you can’t go wrong.
A lot of low nitrogen feeds also have a small percentage of iron (fe) this will also help keep the plant strong, with the added benefit of keeping the moss in check.
A well fed square will also help prevent and control the formation of red thread (turf disease).
Red thread blog – https://turfcareblog.com/red-thread-turf-disease/
What to do on a cricket square- Continued.
It’s more than likely now this window as passed, if you haven’t spiked this winter due to the wet weather don’t worry it’s not the end of the world.
Heavy soils/loam have a memory and spiking in February could mean the spike holes reappearing early in the season, which you don’t want.
Some groundsmen like to sarol roll at this time of year, however this is not a replacement for spiking. There are a couple of benefits to it in allowing the surface to stay a bit drier and cant hurt getting in some air into the soil, even if at only a shallow depth.I would not go over board with it but one or two times , prior pre season rolling cant hurt.
Soil analysis testing
Take samples prior to fertiliser application (once every 1-2 years) and February is a good month to take soil profile and get them sent off for soil nutrient analysis testing. This is very easy and cheap to carry out and more vital than you think.
One company who can do this-https://www.cawoodscientific.uk.com/nrm/services/amenity/
Testing of the soil reserves of nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium (micro nutrients) and iron (micro,) will help you identify what ratio of fertilisers you will require for the season.
As part of the soil analysis, they will also check the pH level of the soil samples.
You will probably need a facts-based sales rep to help you put any soil analysis data into some kind of feeding plan, i.e the company who supplies your fertilisers.
Servicing of machinery
Get these done early is my recommendation, next month and before you’re going to start to use the machines don’t wait till early spring, when everyone else want theirs serviced.
Once you get to March/April mechanics are often busy on break downs and servicing lawn mowers and you could be at the back of the queue.
Non Turf Maintenance
Ordering of Materials
We often always want things at the same time, meaning we end of having to wait in line, get in early and possible save the wait.
As l say conditions are key, so avoid anything that caps, smears, seals the surface or buries the grass into the soil surface or brings up mud.
Top them with a cut, if you have the means to do so, but look to bring the height of cut down gradually over the next couple of months.
Prior to cutting, clear the outfield of surface debris such as leaves, twigs and branches.
If you have the equipment, brush, dragmatt, soft harrow the outfield to help manage worm casts and keep the plant upright.
What to do on a cricket square in February by Brian Sandalls
Remember like me know when to keep off and wait for another day (hard isn’t )..Tweet
I d also recommend a quick watch of of this short video by the ECBIf you would like to receive newsletters, please consider subscribing below.