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Groundsman's diary: A frosty February

Wimbledon's Centre Court in February
by William Brierley
Wednesday 27 February 2013

AELTC groundsman Will writes regular blogs about the development of the courts throughout the year at Wimbledon. Here's his February update...

We're at the end of February now and, apart from a few frosts, hopefully we've managed to leave the worst of the winter weather behind us. This month has been one of frustration weather wise with more constant rain and snow to go with the frosts. It was difficult getting onto the courts at the end of January and early this month but in the last week and a half the weather has improved. We have managed to get on and do some mowing, spraying, seeding as well as tidying up the courts by edging them and cutting around the sprinkler heads and post sockets. 

After the heavy snowfall in January, which came right at the end of our six-week limit of the pre-Christmas fungicide spray, we had a small amount of fusarium on some courts and in order to make sure that it didn't progress, the courts were sprayed to cure the disease. Unfortunately just over a week later another heavy fall of snow was forecast and to protect the courts further we sprayed again. As luck would have it the snow that came settled on the courts but was melted by the end of the day so we didn't have any new disease form. The disease has left visible dead patches of grass but it will grow out and be mown off and before you know it the courts will be all healthy green again. 

So looking forward to next couple of months it'll be back into the harder graft of getting the courts ready for the opening of the grass courts for members in May as well as The Championships in June. We have started a process which we call 'Sarrell Rolling' on the courts. This uses a drum with small spikes, which help with a little surface aeration and drainage in order for us to be able to get on with our spring preparations in March and start scarifying courts, over seeding and lowering the height of cut. T

his will help us get the courts to the best possible standard for the playing season. While the grass court season isn't the longest, the wear on the plant can be very hard so making sure the sward has a good density and is in a healthy state will mean that it holds up better and gives a longer lasting coverage.

We have our first outdoor tournament this weekend, a four-curt match on clay, so we have been spending time replacing wires for the windbreak, rolling, brushing and clearing up around in the hope that the weather will allow the matches to go ahead outdoors. The fixture list for the year is a very busy one on both hard courts and grass to make up for matches that couldn't be played last year due to the Olympics so this is a nice break in for the season.

We’re all hoping for a March like last year so we’ll be able to get all our preparations on the grass courts done, so feel free to join us in a non-rain dancing session and at the end of March I’ll be able to tell you all about the improvement of the courts getting closer to Wimbledon 2013.

To see what Will and the rest of the groundstaff are up to on a daily basis, follow @WimboGroundsman for updates and pictures.


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