First and foremost, I cannot believe I am saying this but it is only grass and soil, so your health and well-being comes first and if that means ignoring this, then do so. I could just say this and make a very short blog, do what you did last year for season preparation on the square and that’s what you need to do now, just not the preparation of wickets.
After a very wet winter the square are probably not at their best, we have stalky, long, thin, hungry grass and plenty of weed grass (annual meadow grass) also doing its own thing and getting clumpy (picture below). We also have a cricket square that will need some consolidating, in the hope we do get some cricket in,let us remain hopeful.
Square/cricket table will probably need
-Pre-season rolling, if there was no play guaranteed maybe we don’t, but we don’t know that yet. If we delay this and get a call in May, asking us to get the square ready the soil will be to dry to be effective, so if we can l still believe it is worth pre-season rolling.
-Verticutting and or brushing of the square (removing clippings) to remove the dead grass that is in and around the plant. Verticutting will also encourage a dense, evenly grassed square. Verticutting ideally, should be done prior to pre-season rolling, to clean up the surface and then at regular intervals during Spring.
-Regular cutting, to encourage a dense, even grass canopy (1/2 a week at 12-15mm). If we just leave it to go longer, we will lose density of grass cover and we are more likely to get issues with weeds.
-Over seeding of bare ends or any other areas, we need to do our whole square, as we have an uneven, thin canopy of grass.
-The plant will still need feeding, once every 6/8 weeks, this will encourage growth and thickening.Worth considering using a low nitrogen based feed or us a spring/summer feed at half rate,preventing too much top growth and a need to cut too often.
-I have just heard from a leading county ,that they are going to probably stop granular feeding now,though they may consider using liquid feeds instead, but they are looking not to encourage too much top growth ,In case the site has to be closed for a period.
-If you haven’t already done, still get the square, squared up.
Things you don’t need to worry about, for now.
-Obviously pitch preparation and all the related mowing, raking, brushing, rolling of the wickets.
-We need to keep our corners and pitch position in though.
Outfields still will need to be cut or again your end up with a stalking, thin, moss ridden outfield, a sensible height of cut is around 15-20mm.
Lets stay positive and reach out
The hope is we all get a call mid-April saying the league will start in May, if that is the case, we need to be ready.
With the above said, this postponement may create major issues at your club finance wise, if so, you may have to discuss the above recommendations with the club. As hard as it is neglecting the square after a terrible winter is not the way to go. l am sure the years of investment of the club’s money and labour, continuing to protect that investment should be taken seriously.
Link up with your local county cricket board, for advice on the ins and outs of this situation. You can also have impartial advice from county pitch advisers, who operate out of county boards.
l want you to all continue to look after your squares , as l’am sure you do, just don’t do it at the expense of your own health, grass all said and told is very forgiving and the above is the ideal.
A few useful links –
https://turfcareblog.com/groundsmen-spring-maintenance-guide/ -more details on the above recommendations
https://turfcareblog.com/essential-guide-to-rolling-iain-james/ – pre-season rolling
https://www.ecb.co.uk/about-us/media-room#/ – ECB announcement regarding postponements of the season.
https://www.iog.org/ – Institute of Groundsmanship
No 1, keep safe and keep talking, we have a live chat function on our site and myself and the turfcareblog community are only a message away and the IOG have a hive community forum.
Brian and Team.
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