20 January - Check for mice and damping-off

Mice: Damage can be seen on protected crops during the winter months - mice are messy eaters, leaving slithers of uneaten stem at the base of the damaged area. I find that they tend not to feed on plants that have been treated with Ronstar 2G granules.

Damping-off: This disease can be an issue on seedling and liner material at this time of year. Control with Aliette 80WG, Basilex (not on heathers), Prestop, Previcur Energy (EoAs required) or Subdue. Filex or Proplant can be used as protectant sprays.

Asbestos: Check your nursery plans and update your register of buildings that contain asbestos. Make sure that you have an action plan if there is an accident or if any maintenance work is required on affected buildings.

Propagation: Rhizopon (see www.rhizopon.com) has a comprehensive rooting guide for a wide range of crops - consider making your own mixes as a replacement to Synergol.

Product revocation: Nemolt (MAPP 10226) has an end use and storage date of 31 January 2012.

Moles: Control adults before they breed and have young. Trapping is the common way of control but this requires skill and care to be effective and humane. Gas tablets work well too but staff need to be trained and qualified to apply them.

Cold stores: Temperature and humidity levels can fluctuate on changeable days. Spray stored material with Rovral WG or Serenade ASO (EoA 2009-0246) as protection against fungal growth. The mild autumn has meant that more old foliage has been left on stems - a breeding ground for fungi.

Rust: This disease can overwinter quite successfully on crops and weed hosts such as groundsel, ivy-leaved speedwell and white campion. Watch for purple spotting from rust infections on Mahonia 'Apollo' and Bellis and spray with Nimrod, Signum (EoA 2009-1842) or Systhane 20EW to control it. Do not spray if a frost is predicted that night or foliage damage can occur.

Hydrangeas: Check local overnight temperatures for the previous month before moving crops under protection - a good period of cold weather is required to simulate bud initiation for flowering this spring.

John Adlam, Managing Director, Dove Associates


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