Pest monitoring: With changeable weather, install sticky traps now to start monitoring for pest activity on protected crops. Put a date or week number on each one, check them regularly and replace every three-to-four weeks as appropriate. Yellow traps help to monitor whitefly, aphid (winged), sciarid flies, leafhoppers and flea beetles. On dull days, these traps can also catch thrips. Install traps 20cm above foliage.
Choisya: Order liner plants now for early potting to ensure better crop establishment and a reduced risk of root rot attack. Prevent snail damage on established plants using approved slug pellets. Check out www.getpelletwise.co.uk for details and advice.
Heaps: To comply with nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ) regulations for storing solid manure in fields, a field heap must not be built or kept within 30m of surface water (including ditches) if the land slopes steeply. It must also occupy as small a surface area as possible to still support the heap while preventing collapse.
Hydrangeas: Mild weather can lead to weak flower initiation. Make sure that hydrangea crops are exposed to frosts to kick-start flower development.
Root death: Carry out random checks on the root condition of early crops that are about to be despatched.
Plant growth: Protect any early growth in times of very cold weather. Strong winds on exposed, frozen crops can be particularly damaging. Check that fleece or Cosytex is still secure around vulnerable crops.
Pruning: Clear and burn prunings to prevent early, unnecessary fungal infections on vulnerable crops. Use the relevant agricultural waste exemptions - D7, T6, U10 or U12. More information is available online at www.gov.uk/manage-waste-on-land-guidance-for-land-managers# waste-use-treatment-recovery-and-disposal.
Scale insects: Check camellia, citrus, euonymus, Hedera and Taxus. Apply Pyrethrum 5EC, Savona or SB Plant Invigorator.
Rust: Check Mahonia 'Apollo' and Bellis, and spray Nimrod, Signum (EAMU 2012-2141) or Systhane 20EW if seen. Do not spray if a frost is predicted that night, or foliage damage can occur.
Bacterial infections: Prevent early infections by applying a tank mix of Cuprokylt (EAMU 2015-1176) and Serenade ASO (EAMUs required) onto bare stems of vulnerable crops when weather permits.
Cuprokylt: New end-use dates for ornamentals and forest nursery EAMUs are 31 December 2021 and 12 July 2019 respectively.
John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates