From the nursery

Spraying success When I hear reports that certain pesticides do not work, I find it is often due to the product not reaching the target. Check the efficacy of your spraying operation with water-sensitive paper attached to the underside of a leaf. Afterwards you will see whether the spray has reached the target, down to small droplets.

Nutrition We have gone into the winter period with lower than normal nutritional levels in both field and container crops on the western side of the country. This may result in the need for a "top up" of nutrients in the early spring to avoid that yellow tip growth we often see. Plan your spring topdressing and top-up programmes so you can start early and get that task out of the way before the busy despatch season gets going. Osmocote Top Dress, Sincron, Floranid Permanent and Triabon are all suitable and reduce the risk of scorch.

Asbestos Remember to update your register of buildings that contain asbestos, revise the nursery plan and produce a policy statement outlining what to do during maintenance or an accident. Legislation also affects the buying, renting and selling of buildings.

Revocations and product use updates Use the Chemicals Regulation Directorate website ( to see whether any of the pesticides you use are losing their approval over the year end and into the early part of 2010. Make sure your spray programme has suitable replacements for the products being phased out or deleted. Make sure you also have all the relevant hard copies of specific off-label approvals. Health & Safety Executive leaflet AIS16 (or SR24 for smaller stores) contains guidelines on store organisation and positioning.

Glasshouse computers Do you know whether your computer settings are right? Check out the temperature, humidity, vent and screen settings. This is an important time of the year for these settings to be right for the crop. Do not just leave the settings the same - alter them to get the optimum growth from the crop being grown at the time.

Powdery mildew Some protected crops are still being affected by this disease. Consider food-grade potassium bicarbonate or Stroby WG for effective control at this time of year.

Azalea gall This can be expected during the latter part of December onwards, particularly in wet weather conditions. Spray with Croptex Fungex when the first signs are seen.

John Adlam is the managing director of Dove Associates

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