Amenity | Agriculture | Green Velvet Landscaping
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Discover the best grass seed for cricket squares and outfields

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Grasses growing in cricket squares are subject to the most brutal growing conditions. From cold, heavy soils at the start of the playing season and the requirement for very close mowing, often without sufficient incremental height reductions, to heavy rolling and little chance of optimum establishment in deteriorating weather conditions following end of season renovation; such conditions take their toll.

However, help is at hand. Our breeding and applied research programme is producing innovative new cultivars that provide real benefits when it comes to improved playing performance, maintenance and renovation for cricket squares.

Improvements in perennial ryegrass breeding over the last couple of decades have seen this species become the default choice for wicket maintenance in the UK and for good reason. Fast establishment, growth and recovery with little thatch production are all key elements in producing a consistent and lively surface. 

But with well over 100 amenity cultivars in the BSPB Turfgrass Seed list alone, making an informed choice is a difficult process. 

Trusting in a company with an international breeding and research programme to make that choice for you is therefore a good start point. At Barenbrug, we rigorously test our varieties, and know in detail which cultivars and in which combination offer the best chance of performing well in this extreme environment.

Here are some of the key characteristics we identify when formulating our BAR EXTREME blend for cricket squares:

  • Fast establishment in cool soil temperature conditions to help with renovation, both post- and pre-season
  • High shoot density to prevent weed ingress
  • High root density to minimise breaking and cracking
  • Tolerance of close mowing to cope with significant height reduction
  • Cleanness of cut and no crowning, which is essential for safe and consistent play
  • Fast recovery after stress to save time and energy during the season

Discover the full product range

Cricket outfields represent a different set of circumstances, and may require different grasses, depending on what is trying to be achieved by an overseeding programme.

If the outfield in question doubles up as a winter sports facility, perennial ryegrass is again the correct species.  Depending on the height of cut during the cricket season, and which sport is seen as a priority, it may be prudent to choose a blend designed for winter sports, with extremely high wear tolerance but perhaps less tolerance to mowing below 15mm or so. 

If cricket is the only sport played and the outfield is not subject to intensive wear, incorporating a mixture with red fescue may be beneficial to improve drought tolerance and pace across the surface.

For many though, the combination of good wear tolerance, high shoot density and tolerance to close mowing will see BAR EXTREME being used across all areas.  It is, after all, a product that is trusted by top sports facilities in the world of golf and tennis also.

This year sees the inclusion of our best variety yet - Barolympic, featured in detail in the guide.

Considered one of the best cricket groundsmen in the country, Stuart Kerrison has been with Essex County Cricket Club for 31 years.  Appointed Head Groundsman at just 23, he was the youngest on the county scene. Today, Stuart still relishes the challenge of producing good pitches at Chelmsford, Southend and Billericay, and it shows; with a trophy shelf groaning with accolades.

We caught up with Stuart to pick up some tips and learnt that when it comes to running a first-class county club, it's not just about the products you use...

"About nine years ago, we were using a good grass seed and perfectly happy with its performance. But one day, while chatting to a colleague, I discovered to my horror we were paying £20 more per bag, for exactly the same seed.  Having a dubious pricing strategy isn't an impressive way for a supplier to lay the groundwork for a good relationship. After all, you just don't just buy from them, you turn to them for advice and support. There's a certain degree of trust involved."

Good relationships with suppliers, key

Avoncrop Amenity Products representative suggested Stuart give BAR EXTREME a try.

He continues:

"If it wasn't for what happened, we wouldn't have switched.  But I was impressed with how Barenbrug's products added up in the STRI trials, so gave it a go for a season. I haven't looked back.

"Today we use BAR EXTREME at our Chelmsford headquarters, and our Southend and Billericay grounds.  We also play the odd first class game at Colchester, so I go and prepare the pitch for that too.

"Our Southend ground is our satellite ground. We've got the same situation at Billericay with two squares and two outfields, maintained by (fantastic) staff who work under me. We try and do the same thing as we do here in Chelmsford, but with a slightly smaller budget."