9 December - Spraying & compost

Spraying - Avoid using systemic products at this time of year. Restrictions on the number of applications for many products means that we do not want to waste useful sprays on any dormant crops.

Spray programmes - Find some quiet time and register with the online UK Pesticide Guide or CSL Liaison to check resistance codes for the products you use to avoid successive sprays with products in the same chemical group. Include biopesticides in your programme including AQ10, DiPel DF, Naturalis-L, Prestop, Serenade ASO and T34 Biocontrol. Most of these have ornamentals EAMUs. These products will work well in your integrated pest management plan. Use the Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products as a reference tool too. Supplier information (particularly EIS sheets) provide useful information on product safety with predators and non-target organisms.

Edible crops - Where some crops have the potential to be edible as well as ornamental, put together an "edible" spray programme for them to eliminate residue risks.

Growing media - If compost has been stored for some time, check the conductivity to avoid root damage at potting and to ensure that it will provide a good flush of growth after potting. High conductivity levels may mean there is little left in the controlled-release fertiliser prills. It may also affect compost-incorporated vine weevil controls.

Vent gear - Grease up all vent gear - motors, racks and bearings can potentially incur damage during the busy summer months through lack of maintenance. Health & Safety Executive leaflet AIS12 provides good safety advice for glasshouse work.

Botrytis - A key time of damage this month, especially with the holiday season approaching and minimal staff coverage on site. Open tunnel and glasshouse doors and vents as often as possible to encourage good airflow. Where irrigation is needed, apply in the morning so that foliage has enough time to dry off during the day. Check the humidity levels of your cold store. Plants in crates and trolleys can dry out more than you think with fan-assisted units. Cover crops with white fleece or hessian and watch out for Botrytis.

Pruning - When you are cutting back leftover plants do not be tempted to lightly trim them because this will produce a leggy plant in the spring.

Choisya - Monitor watering to avoid Pythium, Phytophthora and Fusarium infections. Remove dead and dying plants and drench the remaining crop (within their irrigation regime) using products including Fenonemal (EAMU 2013-1990), Prestop (EAMU 2015-2773) or Previcur Energy (EAMU 2011-1557).


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