Include biological controls plus bio-active products such as DiPel DF, Naturalis-L, Prestop (EAMU 2012-0564), Serenade ASO (EAMUs required), Trianum and T34 Biocontrol (EAMU 2012-1118) where possible. Check the other pesticides you use for compatibility with foliarand soil-applied predators. Where some products state 'short persistence', realistically this can be up to 14 days.
Vine weevil Check regularly for larvae in pots of susceptible crops this winter. Apply a drench of Dursban WG if required, avoiding frost before, during and after application. Nematodes will only work in compost and soil temperatures of >5 degsC.
Hot water treatment Treat stock plant material this winter for leaf and stem eelworms, Pythium, Phytophthora and rusts on affected ornamental crops. Vydate 10G (EAMUs required) and Movento (EAMU 2011-1987), currently the two most effective insecticides, are systemic and therefore only really useful during the growing season. HDC factsheet 10/13 provides details of tank construction.
Health and Safety Sometimes taken off the priority list during busy times so check your Health and Safety Policy statement now for all the hazards on your site and bring it up-to-date. You should review your policy statement regularly to ensure all new hazards are included. Check that your staff who carry out crop protection work are adequately trained and certificated for the work they do.
Servicing Service and re-calibrate all spray equipment including pressure gauges, measuring scales, jugs and syringes. Check for worn parts, leaky hoses and blocked nozzles.
Use the NSTS to test older equipment under the Sustainable Use Directive.
Feeding Make sure older crops are included in your fertiliser programme starting in early spring.
Choices of top-dressing, liquid feeding or inserting CRF plugs will depend on pot size and crop type, location and age.
Stored growing media If you use compost that has been stored for some time, check the conductivity to avoid root damage at potting. High conductivity in the substrate means there is little left in CRF prills.
John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates