Accidents The highest numbers of injuries in 2007-08 were associated with agricultural vehicles, falling from height, being struck by moving objects, electrocution and drowning. Keep your nursery a safe place to work. Statistics and information can be found on the Health & Safety Executive website at www.hse.gov.uk.
Heathers Ericas and callunas can suffer from Rhizoctonia in the winter, particularly on protected crops and young over-wintering plugs. Plants with no control programme are most at risk. Rovral WG or Basilex will give control, but check restrictions on the Basilex label.
Land preparations Know your land and its capabilities. Plough at the right time, cultivate to achieve ideal planting conditions and destroy perennial weeds before ploughing. Maintain humus levels by incorporating green manure crops or PAS 100 green compost. These will make a difference to the ease of planting, lifting and the growth of crops.
Whitefly Control any active adults on ornamentals with Hallmark WZT (SOLA 2008-2944), Toppel 100EC, Talstar 80 Flo, Decis, Majestik or SB Plant Invigorator on protected crops. Don't use pyrethrins on protected crops after January if you intend to use an integrated pest management (IPM) system in 2010. Outside, make sure that you avoid spraying just before a frost to prevent foliage damage.
Mites Two-spotted spider mite (TSM) can still be found on protected crops. Control the adults with Talstar 80 Flo before the end of January if you have an IPM system. TSM over-winter as an egg and these can be controlled by applications of Apollo 50 SC. It is a little late now but spray again in the early spring when the eggs start to lose colour.
Heaters At this time of year, growers phone me to report leaf scorch on heated crops under protection. If you are using a paraffin (28 sec) heater that is direct fired (where the flame goes straight into the structure and not through a chimney), make sure that you only use premium-grade paraffin with low sulphur content. This is particularly important if we have snow or the tunnels are shut up for extended periods. Open the doors at least once every day for a short time to change the air.
Spraying When spraying over protected crops, make sure that the leaves have dried off soon afterwards to try and ensure maximum effect. Don't spray plants that are frozen and consider using fogging machines to reduce water applications to pots.
John Adlam is the managing director of Dove Associates