11 November - Frost and winter

Frost: Remember to get as many vulnerable crops under protection and for frost-tolerant outdoor crops use horticultural fleece or Cosytex.

Cropaid or Compo's Frost Protect sprayed onto vulnerable plants before frost is expected will help to protect buds from potential cold damage.

Winter-ready: Check that your irrigation drain-down plan is still relevant. If the air temperature is still warm enough, tunnel covers can still be replaced. Set down newly potted crops in their final winter positions to save on labour. Tender and valuable plants need to be allocated space in protected structures.

Eelworm: Note down any crops that have been affected by this pest for accurate, early-season applications of Movento (EAMU 2011-1987) next year. Hot water treatment will also provide control. HDC fact sheet 10/13 suggests that dormant bulbs can be dipped for three hours at 44.4 degsC and herbaceous perennials can be dipped for no longer than one hour.

Container weeds: Patchy weed control on crops grown on capillary systems is usually due to dry pot surfaces. Top them up with Flexidor 125 (EAMUs required) this autumn. End use dates for the protected ornamentals EAMUs are 30 November 2016.

Liverwort: The basic substance sodium bicarbonate is now approved for liverwort control. Application rates are 12g/mt2 (122kg per hectare) applied as a powder to the top of compost surfaces.

Slippery pathways: Control the blue-green algae Nostoc commune, which produces bubble-like growths on pathways and beds, using Jet 5 or Mogeton (EAMU 2015-2273) in protected structures.

Spraying: Apply at least one fungicide spray on tunnel crops this month using Rovral WG (EAMU 2011-3200), Signum (EAMU 2012-2141), Switch or Octave. Use wetting agents for plants with hairy foliage.

Heaters: Calibrate the thermostats with external data loggers or other devices and do not rely of the temperature readings just from the computer system. This will save on fuel and avoid damage to crops. Ensure that fans are operating correctly to move the warm air around the structure.

Pruning: Wait until late winter/early spring before trimming plants to avoid wounded stems and foliage sitting dormant for a long period. Crops will be at greater risk of stem dieback and Botrytis now.

John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates


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