From the nursery: apply controls for tortrix moth, sciarid, shot hole

John Adlam's check-list of the pre-winter tasks you need to be on top of, including draining down equipment, compost tea applications and preparations for winter biological controls.

Tortrix moths: Caterpillars can still be active this month with warm days. Check foliage that has been pulled together and apply Toppel 100EC or Decis. Predator-friendly products include Conserve, Dimilin Flo, DiPel DF, Insegar WG, Nemolt (SOLA 2010-2131) or Runner (SOLA 2008-2903). Install pheromone traps as a means of monitoring and removing male moths.

Sciarid: Control fungus flies on cuttings on heated beds during the winter months with nematodes. The bottom heat will ensure effective prolonged activity. Consider rearing a rove beetle population using HDC HNS fact sheet 06/10.

Winter protection: Prepare to protect all equipment that has used water during the season. Drain down sprayers after use and check antifreeze levels in tractors. Potting machine compressors collect water every day they are running, particularly at this time of year. Make sure that they are drained down too. Draw up an irrigation drain-down plan to avoid being caught out by early frosts. Solenoid valve tops should be loosened and lever valves set to half open. Irrigators are also vulnerable to sharp frosts if the draining-down programme has not started yet. Remember filters that are exposed on beds and check they are drained. Get white fleece rolls ready for lying out over saleable crops. Ensure staff know where the drain valves are for irrigation lines and mains.

Biological control: If you continue applying Amblyseius for thrip control through the winter, use products such as Aphox, Dynamec, Majestik, Naturalis-L or SB Plant Invigorator. Gap-up plants to help predators move from plant to plant. If your biological control programme has finished, use up bifenthin or consider using Hallmark WZT (SOLA 2008-2944) as a broad-spectrum clean-up of any active pests under protection. Croptex Spraying Oil as an outdoor winter wash will help to control over-wintering scale insects, mealy bugs and mites.

Shot hole: Apply a second spray of Cyprokylt and Serenade ASO (SOLA 2009-0246) on all Prunus sp. for over-winter control of bacterial shot hole and to protect against canker. Spray at least once more before leaf drop. You need at least 48 hours of contact to get good control.

Compost tea: Review your tea applications this year. Note any cultural changes this season and provide staff with specific information on brewing techniques to get the brew right first time.

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