Infield topdressings are always a great point of discussion. Topdressing is the top 1/4 - 1/2 inch of the infield surface for baseball and softball infields. Topdressing acts as the “mulch” of the infield. Infield topdressings fall into major three categories:
1. Calcined Clay
2. Vitrified Clay
3. Crushed Aggregates
Calcined clay is a clay baked between 1200 to 1400 degrees in rotary kilns. The common trade names for calcined clays include: Diamond Pro Professional Calcined Clay, Soilmaster Red, and Turface MVP. Calcined clays are extremely absorbent and slowly release moisture back to the soil. Typically, calcined clays are reddish-tan in color.
Calcined clay drying agents are the smallest sized calcined clay products. Since the products are smaller, they cover more surface area, thus this products dries wet areas quicker than a calcined clay topdressing.
Vitrified clay is a clay that is baked at over 2000 degrees in rotary kilns. The common trade name for this product is Diamond Pro Infield Conditioner. Vitrified clays have low moisture absorption capabilities and dry quickly after wetting.
Crushed aggregates are typically a decomposed granite, or in other areas of the Midwest, brick dust. Crushed aggregates will break down quicker than calcined or vitrified clays. The most common issue I see is raising elevation too much with crushed aggregates. Furthermore, brick dust is very abrasive and will stain uniforms.
The bottom line is: any topdressing used at a depth in excess of 1/2 in will produce a surface that will be too loose when dry. If your infield is more than 1/2 inch low, additional infield mix will need to be brought in and blended with the existing material. (There will be a post on that topic shortly)
Which topdressing is best for your field? Do you have topdressing questions? Feel free to leave a comment, or give me a call/email. I will be happy to assist you in any topdressing question.