Practical findings from Horticultural Development Council trial, plus summaries of academic research and scientific trials, compiled by Dr Ken Cockshull.
The drive to move horticulture away from peat-based growing media has presented a challenge for growers as they strive to produce quality plants in peat-reduced and peat-free materials.
CP 082 Discovery and development of new phylloplane biocontrol agents to control insect pests (AHDB Horticulture studentship)
Spider mites (Panonychus ulmi and Tetranychus urticae) are becoming increasingly difficult to control on protected cherry. AHDB Horticulture project TF 219, led by Michelle Fountain of East Malling Research, is investigating the use of the predatory mite Amblyseius andersoni both for preventive and curative control.
Trichoderma aggressivum, brown cap mushroom disease and fungal diseases have been major problems for the mushroom industry.
Soils are a high priority for AHDB Horticulture. The majority of soil research funded to date has centred on soil-borne disease control. However, given the importance of soils to the long-term sustainability of most horticultural crops, a comprehensive soils research programme was recently commissioned.
Blackberry leaf midge has become an increasing problem in protected raspberry and blackberry. The midge larvae feed in primocane shoot tips, causing leaf roll, which makes them difficult to target with sprays.
Cordyline yellow leaf spot syndrome and tipburn are major problems in cordyline and phormium crops. Production is commonly affected, but until AHDB Horticulture-funded project HNS 171a, growers had been unable to take preventive action because there had been no clearly defined cause.
In 2013, AHDB Horticulture (formerly HDC) project PC 302d developed a Macrolophus-based IPM strategy to control Tuta absoluta. It was successful when the predator established well, with Macrolophus pygmaeus population growth appearing to improve when Artemia eggs were provided as supplementary food.
The narcissus industry is facing increasing levels of basal rot in bulbs, but growers rely on just chlorothalonil and thiabendazole to improve hot-water treatments.
Prior to the use of neonicotinoids, lettuce root aphid was a significant problem, particularly near areas with poplar windbreaks because the pest overwinters in poplar trees.
Hand thinning has consistently been the most reliable way to thin flowers or fruits in orchards. But to save costs, tree-fruit growers are in desperate need of reliable alternatives.
"Growth distortion is an issue not only for pansies and violas but for a range of other important bedding plant crops including petunia and primrose, so it's important we gain an understanding about the causes of this condition," says Mike Smith of WD Smith & Son.
Western flower thrips (WFT) has been a causing serious financial loss in everbearer strawberry crops for more than 10 years and the HDC has funded three research projects to find practical solutions.
UK industry practice is to store carrots for winter and spring marketing in situ in the field, typically covered with a thick layer of straw. The aim is to provide insulation against frost damage during the winter and to prevent warming and regrowth in the spring.
Daffodil rust is a physiological disorder that results in loss of stem and leaf quality through rust-like lesions, making some cut flowers unmarketable. Industry surveys have indicated the extent of the problem and the most susceptible varieties.
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