From the nursery

Setting red berries - Achieving flower-set by getting the right male/female combinations makes all the difference to the sale of hollies. Spraying Berelex will "set" the flowers now emerging and allow maximum berry retention for this autumn. This works on Viburnum and Cotoneaster, too.

Apple scab - Apple scab, like shot-hole, is still active so keep up with the sprays. Make sure all harvest intervals for label and off-label approvals are completed prior to dispatch.

Leatherjackets - This pest is starting to establish now in both protected and outdoor sand beds. When you lift a pot, what appears at face value to be a worm in the sand is often a leatherjacket. While they are visible in the sand you have no problem, but they can migrate into the pots and cause similar damage to that of vine weevil larvae. Treat the sand with nematodes or consider an application of New Draza slug pellets, which will control both slugs and leatherjackets. Spannit granules are effective for sand-bed leatherjacket control.

Phygelius - The figwort weevil is a small, grey insect with a white head and two dark spots on the back that can damage foliage and flowers of Phygelius. Check for the pest on Buddleja, Verbascum, Digitalis, Penstemon and Mimulus. Control adults by spraying Gyro. The slug-like larvae usually feed on the topside of the leaf surface, creating a skeleton and at that stage can also be controlled with Toppel 10 or Decis Protech. If you use IPM, then Stalwart is most likely to be the safest product for either adult or larva. SB Plant Invigorator may have some activity on the larva.

Lupins - I have seen the seed-borne lupin anthracnose (Colletotrichum acutatum) on several crops over the past few weeks. Leaf spots, which can have orange-coloured spores on the surface of the spot and a distinctive spiralling of the stems, characterise this disease. Routine sprays of Scotts Octave, Signum or Switch will keep it under control.

Oedema - The top-most leaves of Eucalyptus can suffer from a mass of small bumps, which is a reaction of the plant to high humidity conditions and is called oedema. It will have no effect on the plant and growth will be quite normal. The black, gummy substance on the leaves of Buddleja is a similar reaction and is no cause for alarm.

Weather - Current damp periods are sustaining many of the common fungal diseases like downy mildew, Botrytis, scab and black spot.

John Adlam is the managing director of Dove Associates


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