Changeable weather - Warm days and cool nights can leave soft foliage vulnerable to damage.
Get rolls of white fleece or Cosytex ready for saleable crops. It is important to make someone accountable for doing it to avoid unnecessary crop damage. A slow adjustment using protection in the early stages helps plants acclimatise to cold weather. Liquid feeding with high-potash products can help to harden up foliage. Applications of Cropaid or Frost Protect from Compo could help prevent frost damage.
Rust - This disease is still active on many species including euphorbia, heuchera, hollyhocks and hypericum. Control before plants defoliate using Amistar (EAMU 2009-0443), Bumper 250EC (EAMU 2009-0707) or Signum (EAMU 2012-2141). Clear up leaf debris to prevent early re-infection next spring.
Light levels - Pull back thermal screens and wash off shade material from glasshouses to make sure that winter light levels are used to good effect.
Choisya - Plants are prone to Pythium, Phytophthora and Fusarium so keep them on the drier side this winter. Drench affected plants within their irrigation regime with Fenonemal, Prestop, Previcur Energy (EoAs required) or Subdue.
Field soil sampling - Take soil samples for analysis by walking the field in a "W" pattern. Start away from gateways and avoid any past lime or manure heaps. Make accurate planning of next year's fertiliser programme and apply only the nutrients that are needed by the crop. Storage of farmyard manures and using winter cover crops come within the scope of NVZ and Catchment Sensitive Farming legislation.
Pansies and violas - Watch out for downy mildew during any periods of unsettled weather. Products for use under protection at this time of year include Amistar (EAMU 2009-0443), Fubol Gold WG (EAMU 2012-0217), Pergado Uni (EAMU 2012-1605) or Revus (EAMU 2012-0487).
Heaters - Put winter-grade oil in heaters, especially if you use diesel oil (35 second), to prevent your fuel from gelling. Premium-grade paraffin in direct-fired paraffin heaters (28 second) will prevent leaf scorch from the sulphurous products of combustion. Check the filters of heaters because the five per cent biofuel content of red diesel can block them up quicker than was the case in the past.
John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates