8 January - Seasonal checks

Winter jobs: Get under cover during adverse weather and tackle your climbing plants by caning and tying them in, ready for the coming season.

If you have snow, try and remove as much as possible on low tunnels to prevent covers splitting. Check snow levels on flat-topped shade areas too. Follow the code of practice if you need to clear gutters on multispan tunnels.

Insect control Check closely for leaf hoppers, aphids, mites and whitefly. Control using rapid knockdown products such as Majestik or SB Plant Invigorator. Avoid using synthetic pyrethrins such as Decis if you are going to use biological control this year and avoid applying before and after frost.

Fertilisers Was the right type of fertiliser used for the crops you grew this season? Was there enough available at the right time for your outdoor and protected crops? Consider expanding your liquid feeding programme to include supplementary feeding of plants that you know become deficient in iron, magnesium, nitrogen or calcium during the growing season. Plan your spring top dressing and top-up programmes so they are in place before the season starts. Slow-release products such as Osmocote Topdress and Floranid Permanent will avoid leaf scorch issues. Controlled-release fertiliser plugs and liquid feeding may also be appropriate, depending on crop type.

Azalea gall Azalea gall can be expected during January in damp conditions. It can affect young leaves in tight foliage, so get the air moving in between and around crops. A preventive fungicide may be of value, such as Bravo 500 (EAMU 2011-1130), Cuprokylt or products containing captan, depending on the crop location.

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.

Conifers Once field-grown Abies and Picea crops are fully dormant, consider applying Roundup over them to control perennial weeds. But do not apply to frozen land.


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