18 January - Compost benefits

Green compost: Applying PAS 100 quality compost as a mulch or incorporating it into the soil has multiple benefits including disease suppression and the slow release of nutrients, especially potash and iron. Avoid applications to frozen or snow-covered land.

Grasses Grasses can show signs of powdery mildew. Spray with Switch, Systhane 20EW or Nimrod.

Mice This damage can be evident throughout the cold months on protected crops. Mice tend to leave slivers of uneaten stem at the base of the damaged area. Control with bait stations or traps. They tend not to feed on plants that have been treated with Ronstar 2G granules.

Damping-off Check seedling material and apply products as required such as Basilex, Cuprokylt FL, Filex, Prestop, Previcur Energy (EAMU 2011-1557), Proplant, Serenade ASO (EAMUs required), Subdue or T34 Biocontrol (EAMU 2012-1118). Some products may not have specific approval for this disease but they will provide additional control.

Spraying equipment Service all your spraying equipment. Carry out checks on all pipes, nozzles, connectors and filters, and calibrate pressure gauges. For National Sprayer Testing Scheme assessments, find your local company online at www.nsts.org.uk.

Pine aphid Dry, bright conditions can encourage aphid activity on Pinus spp., Juniperus 'Skyrocket', Picea abies and Picea pungens. Feeding can cause needle drop, which is not seen until later on during early summer. Check plants and spray with Aphox, Decis (non-IPM), Hallmark WZT (non-IPM, EAMU 2008-2944) or Pyrethrum 5EC, which only has a short-term effect on biological controls. Use a wetting agent - according to label and EAMU instructions - to get good penetration and coverage of these small brown aphids, which can be found hiding in branch axils. Frosty conditions will have an effect on the aphid population but should not be relied on as an effective control.

Winter wash There is still time to apply Certis Spraying Oil to green conifers, ornamental cherries and other trees. You should avoid soft growth as well as rain and frost for 24 hours after application.

Botrytis Keep ventilating protected structures this month, backed up with sprays of Octave, Rovral WG (EAMU 2011-3200) and Serenade ASO (EAMUs required).

John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates

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