The Tyfu Cymru Vegetable Network have launched an online power hour in order to continue to support growers during the COVID-19 outbreak. The first meeting was held on the 22nd April 2020 and featured expert advice from Chris Creed at ADAS. The technical notes arising from the Power Hour is now available to download: Vegetable Network Power Hour Technical Notes 22/04/2020
Overview of general comments:
Manure Applications – Manures can be an excellent way of enhancing soil structure and providing nutrients for the crop, particularly in organics. Horse manure is not as rich as chicken litter, but has a good nitrogen content. Before using manures it is best to compost it in covered heaps which are turned often when temperatures reach 60°C. Covering the heap will prevent nutrients from being leached by rainfall, and effective composting will kill off any weed seeds to prevent spreading them on your land. It might be worth checking for any herbicide carry over – sow a few pea or beans in a tray and look for germination before applying to your land.
Irrigation – The continuing dry weather means irrigation may be needed, especially on recent transplants. Leaky hose and trickle irrigation are the most effective at slowly irrigating the soil, but be careful about timing applications – the upper soil profile may be dry, but cold and wet lower down. Early irrigation will support transplants while they develop a root structure and can draw up water from deeper in the soil as it gets dryer later in the season.
Weed Control – Weed control should be a priority, especially before planting or during crop establishment. Grassy/weedy patches should also be controlled as they can provide a reservoir for leather jackets – if you’re seeing damage on your crops this is like from adults from last year. Couch grass can be a particular problem, but its best to cut and lift this often to limit establishment. Ideally old school spring tined machines are used as these drag up the rhizomes. Do this at the start of a dry spell. Ince worked let the surface rhizomes dry up. When or if the couch comes again repeat. It’s best to plant short-cycle crops like salads in areas near couch grass beds as control will be easier than year-long or perennial crops.
Planning Rotations – Rotation planning can help you maximise the returns on your land. It’s best to plan hungrier crops earlier in the rotation – potato and sweetcorn – after you have manured. You can plan by family group to reduce disease risk, but it may be best to plan according to harvest time. Try to plant crops that are harvested at similar times to the same areas of land to make crop work and harvesting more efficient. Also consider planting density and make sure you plan for suitable seed or transplant rates so as to maximise the amount you can harvest.
Meshes – When planting out, consider planting under a fine mesh where possible, such as WonderMesh, Agromesh and Enviromesh. These can be particularly useful to prevent pest damage (e.g. flea beetle, carrot fly) as well as birds, rabbit and deer. The mesh will also create a microclimate, warming plantings and speeding up germination and early growth. It is best practice to lay the mesh out alongside the crop before planting, and then pull over as you plant. The mesh can either be dug in with soil or anchored down with sandbags. Mesh should be left in place until harvest to avoid pest damage. The crop should be able to support the mesh, and while you might lose a plant or two when taking it over it will be negligible compared with the pest damage that can be avoided.
The full technical notes can be downloaded here: Vegetable Network Power Hour Technical Notes 22/04/2020
If you are a member of one of our grower networks, keep an eye out for details on our regular online meetings for network members.
These focused sessions are facilitated by Tyfu Cymru together with technical experts and include an update on topical issues based on growers instant needs, and allow you to share questions with growers and technical experts. This service will allow you to receive ongoing support through the networks. Want to join a network? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information and recommendations given in these notes. All applications of crop protection chemicals should be made in accordance with label recommendations, which should be consulted before spraying. Some of the pesticides mentioned in these notes may not be supported by label recommendations for their use on pumpkin crops but are permissible via Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU) in the UK under ‘The Revised Long Term Arrangements For Extension Of Use (2002)’. In these cases, the use of the pesticide is at the risk of the user and Tyfu Cymru does not accept liability for any loss or damage caused by such use. The references to on-label approvals and EAMUs for use of pesticides in pumpkin crops and are correct at the time of writing. These are subject to change and approval may be withdrawn at any point. It is the grower's responsibility to check approvals before use of pesticides. If in doubt a grower should seek advice from a BASIS qualified advisor - this is available free of charge for eligible growers through the Tyfu Cymru program, please contact us to arrange an appointment – email/telephone advice is also available.