The year is simply racing away and with the unusually mild winter that most of the country has experienced (except for the couple of cold snaps) it will likely mean an early start to the spring.
Spring growth is determined by warmth of the soil and daylight hours, both are now on the increase.
We are only about 11 weeks away from the start of daylight saving.
The mild winter (with exceptions) means in areas where the temperatures have not been as cold as expected, pests and disease spores will have had a better chance of surviving in greater numbers.
In Palmerston North I have been amazed that so far we have only had one very mild frost and my self-sown tomato plants, in exposed situations, are growing still.
This being the case we need to do what icy cold frosts do for us naturally and that is spray deciduous plants/trees with Lime Sulphur.
Roses, bush and standard: Cut back canes to half their size (eg from 1 metre to about half a metre) remove spindly cane and diseased wood, clean up the debris. Spray with Lime Sulphur the remaining cut canes along with the soil underneath the plants (if free of annuals). Leave for about a month and then do your proper pruning after which spray each plant (as you go) with Liquid Copper and Raingard. Sprinkle Rok Solid around the root zone.
A couple of weeks later spray the rose and the soil beneath with Potassium Permanganate and then sprinkle Neem Tree Granules into the root zone.
The Potassium Permanganate also helps kill disease spores and the Neem granules will help ward off early aphids. During the season repeat sprays of Potassium Permanganate at the first sign of any leaf diseases. Feeding of the roses is best done with natural products such as blood & bone animal manures along with Fruit and Flower Power.
For climbing roses tidy up and then spray with Lime Sulphur, following the plan above.
Nectarine and peach trees: The worst problem at the beginning of the season is curly leaf.
You need to start control of this now by spraying the tree and the soil under the trees with Lime Sulphur for total coverage. Leave for a couple of weeks and repeat with Potassium Permanganate spray.
When the leaf buds start to swell, spray with Liquid Copper and Raingard. Repeat with the same every seven to 10 days till the time of the disease is past.
The disease spores rise in wet weather and set up colonies on the leaves; thus it's important that you have copper covering the leaves at that time, with the Raingard preventing the copper from washing off.
It would not hurt to also spray the soil underneath with Potassium Permanganate every so often.
Curly leaf is a hard disease to control and the damaged leaves reduce the amount of energy from the sun the tree receives, which affects the crop size. While the trees are in flower, spraying should be done last thing in the day so pollination is not affected.
Aphids, whitefly, psyllids, thrips, vegetable beetles and leaf hoppers are all pests ready to start breeding when the weather conditions are favourable.
Place Neem Granules on the soil and spray with Neem Tree Oil with Key Pyrethrum added, at the first sighting of any pest. If this is not done early then a few pests can soon become a few hundred and not long afterwards a few thousand.
When plants start to move in the weeks to come, that will be the time to start applying natural foods for their spring growth.
Problems? Phone me on 0800 466 464 or email email@example.com.
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