From The Nursery - Winter protection

Establishment - Check that your plants have a good enough root system to get them through the winter months. Damage from sudden sharp drops in temperature may not show through until the spring, with those plants set down on concrete more vulnerable to damage than crops on either soil or gravel. Plants with little root showing from autumn potting will be prone to root rot pathogens.

Root rotting - Use up Aliette 80WG or Standon Fullstop - drench onto plants suffering from Pythium or Phytophthora infections. First signs are patchy dieback or sudden plant collapse. Other products include Fenomenal, Previcur Energy (EoAs required) or Subdue. Plant Trust incorporated at potting will provide a slow release of fosetyl-aluminium. Biologically active products include Prestop, T34 Biocontrol (EoA 2012-1118) or Trianum P. Long periods of wet compost can encourage root rot disease attack.

Weed control - Contact-action products such as Harvest, Kaspar, Reglone or Shark (EoA 2008-0552) can help to control a wide range of young annual weeds on non-crop areas. Use a hooded sprayer near crops. These products are contact-acting only and as such can be applied to the compost surface of established woody plants if no green tissue is showing.

Pansies - After transplanting, make sure that plant-growth regulator and downy mildew control programmes are in place.

Scale insect - "Crawlers" may still be present on acer, cornus, ilex, magnolia and other shrubs. Control soft pests now before they have a chance to lay eggs and produce a hard shell. Products include Decis, Majestik, Pyrethrum 5EC, Savona, SB Plant Invigorator or Spruzit.

Needle cast - Take preventive action now on conifers using Bravo 500 (EoA 2011-1130) on outdoor crops, Octave, Serenade ASO (EoAs required), Signum (EoA 2012-2141) or Switch. Continue spray applications until November. Humid weather and soft growth encourage needle cast diseases.

Vine weevil - Adults will now start laying their eggs. Begin your nematode applications at the end of the month. Focus on those crops that have no compost-based controls. Drench with Intercept 70WG - if no other neonicotinoid is present in the compost - or Dursban WG. A mulch of Met52 (EoA 2011-1997) can also be applied around established ornamental plants.

John Adlam, Managing director, Dove Associates

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