Experts warn of potential slug 'plague'

Weather conditions create potential for extreme pest problems for professional growers as sales rise in consumer sector.

Pests: spring brought ideal weather for slugs after the mild winter
Pests: spring brought ideal weather for slugs after the mild winter

The third-warmest spring in the UK since 1910 and rainfall at 56 per cent above average in May has led to a possible "plague" of slugs, expert advisers have warned - while 2014 is proving to be bad for aphid infestation too.

ADAS consultant John Atwood said: "Slugs and snails are a problem on strawberries and blackcurrants this year. It's already getting to be as bad as 2012.

"They eat the strawberries and losses could be significant - as much as five per cent." He added that 2014 is proving to be "a bad year" for aphids as well.

On the consumer side, latest GfK figures show slug killer sales are up by 78 per cent this year. Scotts Miracle-Gro is up 115 per cent for the year to date on SlugClear products to the end of April.

Bayer Garden sales in this category have increased by 80 per cent year on year.

For professional growers, ADAS consultant Will George said spring brought "ideal slug weather" after the mild winter. ADAS has noted slug/snail damage on aster, iris, Lathyrus, Ligularia, Knautia, Monarda, Phalaris and veronica, and recommended Ferramol slug killer, Sluxx and Sluggo for hardy nursery stock.

Meanwhile, ADAS said aphids have been noted on abelia, abutilon, acanthus, buddleia, Brunnera, campanula, Chaenomeles, clematis, coronilla, Echinops, eryngium, geum, iris, Knautia, Kniphofia, Lonicera, Lysimachia, Papaver, penstemon, potentilla, rheum, rudbeckia, salvia, sidalcea, Symphytum, verbascum and veronica. ADAS recommended Aphox or pyrethroids for ornamental growers.

On bedding, aphids have been reported on geranium and primula. Aphidius colemani or A. ervi will help to control populations. Chess WG (EAMU 2016/13), Spruzit and physically acting products such as Majestik, Savona and SB Plant Invigorator should provide additional control where required for professional growers.

Aphid watch Growers warned to be vigilant

Needlefresh managing director Christopher Hood has said Christmas tree growers need to be "vigilant" for aphids.

RHS advisory service head Guy Barter added: "With the high population now if there's another wet summer, as it's shaping up to be, slug and snail numbers will reach plague proportions, like they did in 2012."

Barter said nematode producer Becker Underwood has increased its capacity "so they won't run out again like they did in 2013".


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

How has the horticulture industry reacted to the Brexit white paper?

How has the horticulture industry reacted to the Brexit white paper?

The Brexit white paper on the future relationship between the UK and the EU promises that the UK will be able to sign trade deals and remain outside the jurisdiction of EU courts, proposals generally welcomed by the horticulture industry.

Are the latest supermarket tie-ups bad news for produce suppliers?

Are the latest supermarket tie-ups bad news for produce suppliers?

Britain's grocery market has long being dominated by a few large players, which many say has put them in an overly strong position to demand low prices from suppliers. So the two recent tie-ups, involving the three largest players of all, have brought concern from growers' representatives.

Show preview - Get set for Fruit Focus 2018

Show preview - Get set for Fruit Focus 2018

The latest developments in agronomy, machinery, technology and marketing will all be showcased for growers at this year's event, Gavin McEwan reports.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Horticulture Week Top UK FRUIT PRODUCERS

See our exclusive ranking of fruit producers by annual turnover. 

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon