Warm and wet weather fuels box blight

The rise of stress on plants can be attributed to the cold, wet snap in May which damaged soft growth, says RHS adviser.

Box blight: disease rise - image: HW
Box blight: disease rise - image: HW

Warm and wet weather this year has led to box blight and slugs attracting more queries than usual, pushing them up the RHS list of top pests and diseases for March-May 2014.

RHS chief horticultural advisor Guy Barter said: "Slugs had a high survival rate over the winter and have had good conditions for the last six weeks so numbers are pretty high."

On box blight, Barter said: "Infections are persisting and increasing after wet weather last autumn. People are reporting it after they have bought new box.

"We tell them to put it in quarantine for six weeks in a glasshouses to make sure it's free of disease.

Barter said designers at Chelsea Flower Show this year used yew instead of box and awareness of box blight is high at the moment. He said: "We have identified hotspots for box caterpillar too. It's widespread in Germany but CABI suggests because of cooler British summers it might be restricted to southern regions here.

"But we're seeing more cases, and in some areas in the same place year after year so it's getting established. Clearly box has not got a great future, which is really sad."

Box caterpillar, first seen in the UK in 2005, is established in Woodford and Loughton in east London and in Stoke Poges, near Slough, with eight sightings this spring in all.

On import bans, he said: "History is not encouraging here. Sooner or later most things that get across the Channel."

Barter added that horse chestnut leaf miner and ash dieback meant those trees were not worth planting "for the long-term", while pests on Spanish chestnut and plane, which have led to import bans, are "not encouraging". He did not recommend "spending time and money on these trees until the situation is clearer". On oak, he said oak processionary moth meant, if it gets established "people will have big problems with young oaks defoliating. It will be difficult to get new ones growing".

He added that stress on plants was attracting queries after a cold and wet snap in May damaged soft growth.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What is being done to develop biocontrols against orchard pests?

What is being done to develop biocontrols against orchard pests?

The SIVAL horticultural trade show in Angers, France, this week (16-18 January) heard about several initiatives to promote more environmentally sustainable orchard growing.

What does the 25-year plan mean for growers?

What does the 25-year plan mean for growers?

Published on 11 January, the Government's long-awaited 'A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment' brings together a number of policy strands into a single framework that will impact many sectors, not least fresh produce, over the coming decades.

What will 'embracing change' mean for horticulture?

What will 'embracing change' mean for horticulture?

At the Oxford Farming Conference, whose theme was "embracing change", Defra secretary Michael Gove expanded on what a post-Brexit UK agriculture and land-use policy will look like and how it will impact farmers and growers.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon