From the nursery

Grease bands Time to apply grease bands to stock plants and trees used for bud wood. With a distinct lack of winter wash products and warmer winters of late, these age-old tested methods should be reintroduced to reduce winter insect numbers.

Field planning Now is the time to be planning your next few years of cropping. Make sure you mark the site of Rosaceae subjects with accuracy for tree replanting. Continue to attack perennial weeds with glyphosate now before final land preparation in the spring. As the plant dies down for the winter the active ingredient is taken into the plant; it continues to remain at a low level of activity all winter and suppresses regrowth next season, giving you a head start. If you are taking over cereal land, check what herbicides have been used for the past two seasons to avoid potential phytotoxicity problems. With the final use-up date of 18 March 2010 for dichlobenil, eg Casoron G, consider Chikara (flazasulfuron) which can be mixed with glyphosate for long-term weed control in non-crop areas.

Frost damage Prepare for winter protection of all equipment that has used water during the season. Sprayers should be drained after use and the antifreeze level in tractors checked. Potting machine compressors collect water every day they are running, particularly at this time of year, so make sure they are drained. Solenoid valve tops should be loosened and lever valves set to half open. Irrigators are also vulnerable to sharp frosts if the draining programme has not started yet. Remember filters that are exposed on beds and check they are drained.

Downy mildew The weather is still favourable for downy mildew to spread on hebes, pansies and roses under cover. For stock plants outside and crops under protection, spray with Fubol Gold WG (SOLA required), Aliette 80WG, Signum (SOLA 2009-1842), Valbon (SOLA required, outdoor use only) or Proplant.

Horti Fair Controlling disease by ultra-violet light units was interesting ( LS Solarwoven makes ideal tunnel covers suitable for packing or potting sheds; contact your local supplier. Two long-lasting tunnel films were on display: F Clean, with a 15-year life, and Triple Clear, with a 10-year life; contact XL Horticulture. Floating tank cover that works ( Remember the old Turbair units? ROFA by Mantis is a battery-powered similar system; contact PG Horticulture.

John Adlam is managing director of Dove Associates

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