Peach leaf curl - Taphrina spp. that cause curling, distortion, puckering and blistering of leaves, stems and fruit (see p26) can be controlled with applications of Cuprokylt (EoA 2006-3134) onto peaches, apricots, nectarines and almonds. Some peach cultivars are sensitive to copper oxychloride so check the label before applying to crops. Research using Serenade ASO has shown good suppression against Taphrina spp. It can be tank-mixed with Cuprokylt using EoA 2009-0246.
Pest monitoring - Set up sticky traps now to monitor any early pests present on your crops. Put a date or week number on them, check regularly and replace every three-to-four weeks as appropriate.
Glasshouse/tunnel cleaning - Wash down cleared tunnels and glasshouses before bringing in a new crop with Jet 5, Hortisept, Hyperox, Menno Florades or Vitafect. They will help to remove resting fungal spores.
Health and safety - Review your COSHH assessments and health and safety policy from last year and update where necessary. New equipment, pesticide products and office and nursery procedures must be included.
Top dressing - Fertilisers can destroy the herbicide layer at the point of application, so it is worth waiting for at least three weeks afterwards before applying any herbicides.
Bio-pesticides - Get to know these types of products - they provide physical control (hyperparasitism and competition) against pests and diseases so have a lower resistance risk. DiPel DF, Mycotal and Naturalis-L require high humidity levels to work well but are useful in protected structures. Met52 (for vine weevil, thrip and sciarid larvae) and Prestop (Pythium and Phytophthora spp. control) can be incorporated at potting, with Prestop also approved for post-potting root rot control.
Compost herbicides - Apply Ronstar 2G to compost surfaces in cool, well ventilated structures. Avoid applications to hydrangea, genista and spiraea - other label restrictions also apply. Alternate Ronstar 2G with Flexidor 125 during the growing season to cover a wider range of weed species. Dual Gold has shown promise in recent HDC trial work and will control willowherb and groundsel. It has good crop safety but can affect subsequent growth on Hebe 'Margaret'.