"Who hasn't got a problem with leader control?" he recently asked more than 100 growers, who had gathered at Hole Park Estate in Kent to judge the Christmas tree of the year competition.
In 2014, warm weather led to long leaders, which means untreated trees are "gappy" and not of top grade. Palmer said trials showed only a drastic cut of the leader to leave 1cm of growth works, with 85 per cent success. Other cutting methods fail and he said Tipoff is unlikely to be re-registered, leaving no effective product on the market.
Current season needle necrosis remains untreatable but is little in evidence this year, he added. He said Decis is best for silver fir woolly aphid but should not be used if you want to keep beneficial insects. He pointed out that glyphosate absorbs within 10 minutes and cheaper brands are as good as expensive ones.