During one of the busiest times of the year

With last week’s summer solstice (21st June) as our longest day, we are now officially celebrating the start of our English summer. For many groundsmen and greenkeepers, this means one of the busiest times of the year.

Long daylight hours, coupled with warm air and soil temperatures often reaching well into double figures, means that grass growth will be vigorous and needs cutting regularly - often daily at some sporting venues. This workload is also compounded by the fact that we tend to have many summer sporting events. This year is exceptionally busy for the county cricket groundsmen, with the ECB currently hosting the Cricket World Cup, soon followed by the Ashes Tour and then a round of domestic county championship matches. We also have a plethora of tennis events up and down the country, proceeding this year’s Wimbledon Championships that get underway in July (1-14th). No doubt Neil Stubley and his team of groundstaff will be very busy during the championship fortnight, ensuring that the courts play as consistently as they have done for many years.

We also mustn’t forget the hundreds of greenkeepers who are busy preparing their courses for the onslaught of many golf tournaments, including this year’s British Open that is being held at Royal Portrush. Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland, 19-22 July 2019.

As for football, many club groundsmen have been busy completing their end of season renovations and working hard to prepare their pitches for the start of the new football season - which generally starts in earnest with pre-season matches at the back end of July.

However, one of the biggest talking points recently has been the weather. A few weeks ago I wrote about the optimisation of water resources, based on the fact that at the time we were facing another long spell of dry weather.

Not surprisingly our Great British weather soon decided to change this with a deluge of rain, meaning many parts of the country received unprecedented levels of rainfall in June - with over 75mm of rain recorded in many parts of the country.

Spare a thought for Tim Packwood at Worcester CCC, whose ground was flooded out, with flood water egressing onto his square.

It’s something he is quite used to in February and March time, but rarely has he ever had this problem in the midst of his playing season. I am sure he is now hoping for a spell of hot and dry weather to help dry his wickets out.

That band of wet weather has in fact been a god send for many farmers and turf professionals. A lot of natural grass areas were still trying to recover from last year’s drought conditions. Coupled with the fact that we had had such a dry winter, many water sources, lakes, rivers, pools and soils were deficient of water. In fact, we probably still need a lot more rain to top up our water deficiencies.

It has also been a very busy month for hundreds of Green Flag judges who volunteer their services every year to help complete the Annual Green Flag Awards. I myself have judged six sites and it has been very rewarding to see the commitment and dedication of many people who ensure our parks and public open spaces are fit for purpose, enabling many thousands of people to access these wonderful facilities.

Green Flag has been running for well over twenty years. The Green Flag Award scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.

I do find it rewarding to be able to give something back to the industry and where possible promote these priceless assets. This year I was honoured to judge Coventry University and Castle Ring two very distinct different sites. One being a University campus in the centre of Coventry that provided some excellent public realm open spaces filled with attractive green space and horticulture excellence. They even had an Edible garden right in the centre of the city next to the famous Coventry Cathedral. A well laid out garden full of edible vegetables and fruits that were being grown for the consumption of the students and general public, who can help themselves when harvested.

Equally the other site, Castle Ring, a large multivallate Iron Age Hill Fort around 2,500 years old, is one of seven large Multivallate Hill Forts in Staffordshire and is also the most complete, situated at the south eastern edge of Cannock Chase, in the West Midlands.

I have written an article about Castle Ring that can be read in today’s edition of the TurfPro Weekly Briefing. Both sites were very well maintained and a credit to those who are responsible for their upkeep and management.

As for machinery, we have an excellent dealership network here in the UK, who are always on hand to serve our industry and provide turf professionals the opportunity to try out new machines and equipment.

It goes without saying, we are now spoilt for choice in terms of the supply of mowers, renovation and maintenance equipment. Since I joined TurfPro as editor I have had the chance to meet many dealership owners.

Their remit is to source and sell the best quality machinery to their customers and more importantly offer a very good aftersales service – which is something that I see as important when buying expensive machinery and equipment. Having a good backup, parts and service in my opinion is essential for the longevity of the product. And more importantly it does not let you down and delivers the performance you require. Most dealers are very happy to demonstrate their products and ensure you get the right information and guidance when choosing and buying new equipment.

Our industry is constantly changing with plenty of challenges for us to face in an ever demanding landscape. So make the most of this summer weather and as the old saying goes, make hay while the sun shines.

Laurence Gale, TurfPro editor

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