SportsTurf

June 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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www.stma.org June 2017 | SportsTurf 19 Your skin is wet and soft and there's a game schedule for that evening or the next day. What do you do to make it playable? Presnell: When the skin is wet I'll try and let it sit as long as possible. If we need to speed up the process I like to take leaf rakes and loosen the top up, spread dry product with a push spreader and repeat this process until you're able to hand drag. If we have time we'll hand drag until it's dry enough to machine drag. Anderson: Soft fields take time to become firm enough to be playable. If the field is too soft you let the field dry and cancel the game. However, with tight league schedules that is not always possible. The biggest factor in drying a soft field is the weather. In the early spring when the weather is cool, or when days are overcast and cloudy soft fields dry more slowly. Wind can help, but even on cloudy and cool days wind can make little difference. The best weather factors for drying are a combination of wind and sun. Wait as long as possible to get the field ready. If you determine that the field is firm enough to play on (you can walk on it without your foot making a noticeable impression in the infield mix) do your best to make it playable. If the field is still too soft to drag properly, keep equipment off. Rake the areas such as the batters and pitching areas as best as can be done. This is why it is beneficial that the previous teams that played or practiced on the field rake these areas after their use, to keep those low spots from forming causing water to accumulate and making these areas especially soft. If the field is soft but firm enough for play, I like to use a liner with aerosol paint to line the batters box and baselines, instead of a liner that uses the traditional powdery chalk material. The aerosol liner is much lighter and will not make impressions like the heavier chalk liner will. Sometime after the game when it is determined that the field is firm enough to handle some equipment, lightly scarify and drag the field to level it out and make it more "game ready" for the next group to use it. Siegel: We work in vitrified conditioners throughout the season. If we get caught too wet, we will topdress a calcined conditioner then nail drag it in. After we screen drag, if it's still spongy, we will roll it with roller (if it wants to run that day) or the tires of a Workman. Barr: Starting immediately after the rain ends and working on the field will increase your chances of getting a game in. However my theory is, if it's too soft to walk on, you should not be on it. Then we wait. If you have standing water, you can use a puddle sponge, wet/dry vacuum, or a puddle pump to remove the water from the field. This is critical to giving the field a chance to dry. Do not push or pull it with the broom this will make it worse and spread the water creating a deeper hole. Next use a field rake to open the field. Just one pass over the soft wet areas, the idea here isn't to move the dirt or go back and forth, but to just slice open the field evenly. Now let the sun and wind to do their magic. A drying agent can be used on the really wet areas. However this will turn to a paste and eventually get very hard. Therefore at your earliest opportunity remove the material completely. As your field approaches its final drying stages lightly and evenly apply your infield conditioner. This will help maintain a smooth, cushioned, playable surface for superior traction and player safety and absorb excess moisture. Jonas: We will make a choice depending on how much time we have until the start of the game, to use ether coarse or fine calcined clay. If we have the time I prefer going with coarse calcined clay, it makes a better clay conditioning for the infield. We only use the fine particle product for when we need the field playable right away. I like to minimize using quick drying agents as much as possible. If we have adequate time before the next game, we will get a machine on to the field as soon as we can to open the clay up, which increases the surface area for the sun and wind, and start letting the clay dry out. This is where you have to know your field and how fast it can dry under different circumstances, such as the amount of rain you received, outside temperature and wind speed. Some of our fields perk water very well. Other fields I know will need a little bit of help with some calcined clay. Lehman: To prep a wet and soft skin area I would first manually remove any water that has puddled in the low areas. Digging a hole in the middle of the low spot and scooping into a 5 gallon bucket or if the area contains a large volume of water and an electrical outlet is in the area using a submersible pump is a possibility. Always refrain from any sweeping/brooming action or you will be creating a larger area for the next rain. After this it is important to open the mix with equipment or manually to expose more surface area to the sun and any air movement to help in the drying process. As mentioned earlier, try not to be too aggressive while opening the mix or there is a good chance you will be creating a bigger problem for the future. There are plenty of infield mix drying products available to assist but when time permits and the natural methods are available I feel it is best to let them take care of the process as much as possible. The basics from Joe Barr, Milton Hershey School We like to drag our fields before and after every game and practice. First remove the bases and any foreign matter on the infield. Hand- rake the area at the bases by pulling the dirt back toward the base and sliding area. Never rake toward the grass. Hand-rake the first base and third base lines, always going from the plate to base. Never ever rake side to side towards the grass. When I do have access to water I lightly moisten the dirt area in preparation for dragging. Then spike drag slowly, lightly scratching the dirt. Next I drag the field with a 6' x 6'metal drag mat using a spiral pattern from first to third; I then switch sides the next time as you never want start and stop at the same location every time. This process loosens the surface and levels low spots. Always keep the drag mat at least 6 inches from the grass edge to prevent lip build up.

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