Azalea gall - Galls can develop on young leaves in tight foliage so keep air moving round protected crops. Prevent infection by applying Alpha Captan 80 WDG, Cuprokylt or Systhane 20EW.
Non-native bees - Licences for introducing non-native bees into protected structures in England have been extended until 31 March 2014. Licences need to be in place before bees are ordered and released. Hives containing native bees do not require a licence.
Water stress - Sunny days and frozen pots can produce drought conditions in composts. Apply an anti-transpirant to evergreen crops to limit water loss.
Weed control - Use any mild days that might come along to apply residual herbicides such as Butisan S, Devrinol, Flexidor 125, Springbok, Stomp 400SC (EAMU 2008-2923) or Venzar Flowable to tolerant crops. For established woody field-grown crops, consider using Artist, Butisan S, Chikara, Devrinol or Flexidor 125. However, you should avoid spraying in frosty conditions, if frost is forecast for several days or if heavy levels of rainfall are expected, all of which could increase the risk of herbicide damage. If a field is to be handed over to another tenant in 2015 or rented out for the first time, check that the following crop will not be subject to residual damage from any herbicides used.
Bedding plants - Disinfect production areas before sowing spring seed crops. Starting clean will reduce the risk of early pest and disease attack.
Choisya - Order liner plants now and pot them in March for better crop establishment and survival rates. Prevent snail damage on established plants by using pellets such as Ferramol Max.
Botrytis - Check on closely spaced, protected container plants and apply Rovral WG, Octave, Serenade ASO (EAMUs required) or Switch, choosing a day when foliage will dry out and there is no risk of frost. Compost tea will also help to suppress Botrytis.
Field heaps - A field heap must not be built or kept within 30m of surface water (including ditches) if the land slopes steeply. Changes in the NVZ Regulations mean that from 16 May it must also occupy as small a surface area as required to support the heap and prevent it from collapsing.