August - The big countdown and planning for winter

Time flies when you’re having fun - preparing cricket pitches and grounds is certainly that and Fridays are coming along at an alarming rate with the end of season already in sight.

And who’d have thought that The Ashes would have been won by England in four Tests in such emphatic style? My prediction of 2-1 or 3-1 to the Aussies was thankfully off target.

I retain some comfort in that it was made if the conditions nullified the swing of Anderson and Broad so my groundsman instinct can take a tiny amount of comfort in that Anderson and Broad and Stokes swung it round corners in the third and fourth Tests.

Sunshine and pitches in prep – the scene I’ll miss in the wet grey winter months

Let us hope that the energy around cricket created by this home Ashes victory inspires lots of people to play the game and get involved with their local clubs as it feels they certainly need it in this age of technology and multi faceted distractions especially for youngsters.

Last month I spoke about the need to plan and carry out good quality end of season renovations on your squares to ensure the pitches in 2016 are what you want.

This month I’m going to focus on planning your winter care for your square and ground as they are so important in ensuring your square is strong to endure the rigours of winter weather.

So your end of season renovations are complete and you have fenced off the square with chicken wire fence if necessary to keep rabbits etc from damaging the surface – what next?

Have you ordered in supplies of Autumn/Winter fertiliser, say a 5-5-10 +6 Fe to keep your sward healthy and moss prevented?

Have you got Caste Off worm suppressant in your Chem Store ready to apply through the winter to prevent worm casts making your surface uneven? Are you PA1/6 qualified to apply it?

Have you got a rotary mower with nicely sharpened blades ready to cut your square for the first few cuts after renovations?

Have you a Fusarium Patch treatment in your Chem Store in case of an attack in warm but moist conditions? If not have you someone who can come and apply one for you?

Have you a stock of seed and loam to carry out any overseeding if needed?

Do you have a drag brush for brushing off the square from dew and debris such as leaves?

Have you booked in your machinery for servicing?

Have you booked in your roll on covers canvasses for winter store/repair/cleaning?

Do you plan to do anything to your outfield such as Verti-drain?

What aeration do you plan to do on your square? In my opinion the best results I have had are from using the Deep Drill from Ecosol. The drill action is a very gentle one and they go down to 12-18 inches depending on your square and requirements.

The air space it creates gives fantastic drainage and also root growth and will also help enhance squares with layering or root breaks to help tie the profile together. The drill usually takes place around mid November when ground conditions are soft enough but the surface not too wet which could smear and damage your square.

A relatively new option is to have your square verti-drained again in November when ground conditions will allow a tractor and vertidrain onto the square without damaging the surface. It is imperative that it is done by a competent operator and with the correctly sized tines for the job as damage is easy to do if not carried out properly.

Deep Drill

If club budgets won’t stretch to the Deep Drill then other cheaper but shallower options include the Toro Procore aerator and also the Groundsman 345 Aerator.

Care should be taken not to use these shallower methods every year to the same depth as you can create a pan in your soil profile which can lead to root breaks and affect the performance of your pitches.

Groundsman 345 HD

Leatherjacket larvae

Many clubs have had birds pecking their outfields to bits this summer and have found leatherjackets to be the cause.

October/November is the time to carry out the annual treatment of spraying to prevent them returning next year so talk to a qualified Spray operator as recently the chemicals allowed to treat leatherjackets has changed and the two main products Cyren and Merit Turf have been withdrawn with dates set for stocks to be used up by.

There are other winter activities but I’ll cover those once we get there!

So make the most of the last month or so of hopefully warm sunshine, dry surfaces and cricket being played on your pitches before the serious work begins to prepare your surfaces for winter and then another busy season in 2016.

© Cricket World 2015