From the nursery

Green compost: Applying PAS100 green compost as a mulch or incorporating it into the soil has multiple benefits across the horticultural sector. Disease suppression and moisture retention are some of the advantages.

Conifer hedges: If you have hedges near roadways which are always damaged by salt, spray them at least monthly through the winter with Wiltpruf S600 or Orosorb to put a protective coating over the susceptible needles.

Ventilation: Open the doors of polythene tunnels on all the days when the weather permits, to reduce the risk of Botrytis.

Vent gear: Grease up your vent gear. I often see vent motors, racks and bearings damaged during the busy summer months of working through a lack of maintenance. Make sure that your staff use safe working methods when carrying out work on these high pieces of equipment.

Western flower thrip: It is worth continuing your Amblyseius introductions throughout the winter on crops in a frost-free structure; they are not highly active but will still locate thrip to feed on, resulting in a lower over-wintering population and less early season infestations.

Slug pellets: Check the information at www.getpelletwise.co.uk for applications using metaldehyde.

Voluntary: Initiative Keep up-to-date with your Crop Protection Management Plan as part of your Voluntary Initiative action. Don't forget to join up for the NRoSO (National Register of Sprayer Operators) by registering your spraying staff. Give your sprayers a full service. Check all pipes and connections, replace worn nozzles and check pressure gauge calibration. If you are registering your sprayer with the National Sprayer Testing Scheme then it is worth still going over it so that the report comes back with little to do. You can identify the companies who will carry it out in your area from www.nsts.org.uk.

Heat treatment: With Vydate 10G (SOLA 1993-0020) as the only effective insecticide against eelworm, consider the building of a stock plant hot water treatment unit. Stock plant material treatment during the winter can help in controlling eelworm in shrubs and herbaceous plants. Pythium, Phytophthora and rusts are controlled by this process too.

Nutrition: Mild weather is good for growth but with conductivities of 600 siemens in some containers, a hard winter may produce extensive frost damage on soft top growth.


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