7 March - Reduce infections

Botrytis: Keep airflow going in protected structures to reduce Botrytis infections.

Fogging - Cold fogging pesticides in protected structures gets a product into a crop without leaving excessive water on foliage or over-wetting the pots.

Field weed control - Using the stale seed bed technique, leave a week's interval after preparing land for planting to encourage weed seedlings to emerge. Burn them off with a contact herbicide a few days before planting, which will help residual herbicides to work more effectively. Contact-acting products include Challenge, Harvest, Kaspar or Reglone.

Plane anthracnose - Avoid infections by applying preventive fungicides such as Bravo 500 (EAMU 2011-1130) or Dithane 945 (EAMU 2012-2057 or 2012-2058) to outdoor crops now. Small brown patches can start to develop underneath leaf buds in the spring. Swap to a systemic fungicide in the early summer to prevent infection spreading onto leaves, which can show as areas of dead tissue along the main leaf vein.

Vine weevil - Check composts for larvae and apply nematodes if soil and compost temperatures are consistently at or above 5 degsC. Check key crops including euonymus, ferns, fuchsia, heuchera, hosta, hydrangea, Taxus, junipers, Parthenocissus, Photinia, pieris, primula, pyracantha, sedum and skimmia.

Mites - Check for overwintering spider mite eggs on protected crops and on the stems and around buds of Fraxinus, Malus, poplar, prunus, rhododendron, Salix, Sorbus aria and Tilia. Rust mites are more obvious on sunny days. If seen, control using Apollo 50SC (EAMU 2001-2271), Dursban WG (non-IPM) or Hallmark WZT (non-IPM, EAMU 2008-2944) at this time of year.

Eelworm - Apply Vydate 10G (EAMU 2012-2322) abelia, anemone, Brunnera, buddleia, hellebores and weigela crops now. The product will start to be taken up by plants as they become more active and will help to control leaf and stem nematodes that overwintered from last year. Trial on a small number of plants first to check for phytotoxicity. Movento (EAMU 2011-1987) is showing promise as an alternative control product for these pests.

Ronstar 2G - If you are lucky enough to have some, apply granules before applying bark mulch for a more effective herbicide layer.

John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates

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