Herbaceous clean-up - For late-season herbaceous perennials that die down and shoot again in the spring, clean up any weed growth now by applying a tank mix of Diquat and Flexidor 125. Other dormant-season products include Devrinol, Venzar Flowable or Springbok. HDC levy payers can use the revised (2013) Weed Control Handbook to check herbicide control capabilities.
Azalea gall - This can be expected during January in damp conditions. It can affect young leaves in tight foliage so get the air moving around and in between crops. A preventive fungicide such as Systhane 20EW or Switch can help.
Water stress - Sunny days and frozen pots, particularly with evergreen crops, can produce drought conditions when water is unavailable in the compost. Apply anti-transpirant products such as Wiltpruf S600 to reduce the transpiration levels during these weather conditions. Conifer hedges near roadways also benefit from anti-transpirant applications to reduce salt damage.
Mice - Damage can be evident on protected crops through the cold months. Mice tend to leave slithers of uneaten stem at the base of the damaged area. Control with bait stations or traps.
Damping-off - Check seedling material and apply products such as Basilex, Prestop, Previcur Energy (EAMU 2011-1557), Serenade ASO (EAMUs required), Subdue or T34 Biocontrol (EAMU 2012-1118) as required. Some products may not have specific approval for these diseases but will provide control.
Pine aphid - Dry, bright conditions can encourage aphid activity on Pinus spp., Juniperus 'Skyrocket', Picea abies and Picea pungens. Feeding can cause needle drop, which is not seen until later on during early summer. Check plants and spray with Aphox, Decis (non-IPM), Hallmark WZT (non-IPM, EAMU 2008-2944) or Pyrethrum 5EC, which only has a short-term effect on biological controls. Use a wetting agent (according to label and EAMU instructions) to get good penetration and coverage of these small brown aphids, which can be found hiding in branch axils. Frosty conditions will have an effect on the aphid population but should not be relied on to give full control.
John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates