Essential winter natural cricket pitch maintenance tasks
28th January 2017
MD David Bates’ latest advice column for The Cricketer, looks at the essential winter natural cricket pitch maintenance tasks of worm control and disease prevention…
In midwinter, the amount of natural cricket pitch maintenance activity will depend on what the weather’s like – particularly how cold it is. Regular inspections of the table are advised to spot any signs of disease, especially Red Thread and Fusarium.
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. If no signs of disease are present and the grass plant is not frozen, it’s worth brushing the pitch in the morning to knock dew off the leaf blade – you can do this by walking over the pitch and physically brushing it, by using or using a long rod/swishing pole of the type commonly used on golf greens or, if two people available, you can pull rope across the surface of the grass sward. By knocking the dew off you help the grass plant to dry out, reducing the risk of diseases that thrive in damp conditions.
Once the ground temperature warms up you also need to look out for worm activity. Worms can help aeration and remove some organic matter – but any agronomic benefits are overshadowed by the problems of casting on the surface. In the cricket pitch, casts can get rolled in causing bare patches and unevenness, so spraying to control worms is vital. However, it’s worth noting that the active ingredient in many leading brand worm treatments, carbendazim is under legislative review and could be banned, so alternative methods will need to be sought. One of these can also act as a solution if you missed the boat at prevention; namely waiting until the pitch is dry and knocking casts to disperse them before rolling. Later in the season, over seeding the pitch with a dimple roller before the main rolling takes place can help alleviate the issues.
By now, Clubs should have worked through their equipment banks and had everything serviced, and should be planning ahead what will be used when and setting out how they will overcome any challenges presented on their square over the coming months.
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