From the nursery

Mites Do not forget to apply Apollo 50SC to plants that were attacked by spider mites this season. This product is useful in controlling winter-stage eggs and nymphs. Use products containing bifenthrin (non-IPM) but avoid frost before and after application.

Hydrangeas Make sure that plants are exposed to the first frosts, which will promote flower bud production.

COPR Products that have previously had expiry dates of 31 December 2012 for advertisement, sale and supply, and 31 December 2013 for storage and use, have had their dates extended to 31 December 2020 and 31 December 2021 respectively. This is due to a delay in the re-registration process of all existing active ingredients into Annex I. Some of the active ingredients affected include abamectin, bupirimate, glufosinate-ammonium, imidacloprid, isoxaben, metazachlor, napropamide and prochloraz.

Disease watch Changeable weather means an increased risk of Botrytis, downy mildew and root rot infections. Monitor vulnerable species, particularly those with a lot of foliage in tunnels and glasshouses.

Field soil sampling Now is the time to be taking your field soil samples for analysis. Sampling needs to be done accurately - start away from gateways and walk the field in a "W" pattern, avoiding any past lime or manure heaps. Make accurate planning of next year's fertiliser programme and apply only the nutrients needed. Storage of farmyard manures is covered under the Catchment Sensitive Farming legislation.

Compost heaps In parks, the leaves under peaches and cherries usually have bacteria on them that can re-infect next year's foliage. Make sure that compost heaps made with a high proportion of leaves are constructed well and heat up adequately or the bacteria can live on in the mulch you spread next year.

Nutrition Plan your spring top dressing and "top-up" programmes so you can start early and finish before the busy despatch season starts. The Osmocote top dressing material or products such as Sincron, Floranid Permanent and Triabon are all suitable and avoid the risk of foliage scorch.

Fleece Covering plants at night with white fleece is superior to polythene for frost protection. There are several grades of fleece available so choose one with adequate thickness for your requirements.

- John Adlam is managing director at Dove Associates

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