According to the Met office, May this year was the coldest May since 1996. It has been very unsettled and unseasonably cold. The provisional mean temperature in May was 9.1°C which is 1.3°C below the 1981-2010 long term average.
Phillippa Dodds, Head of Agronomy for Angus Growers, remarks that in Scotland it has been a slower start to the season because of the cold spell and frosts close to the start of flowering. Meteorological data shows that Scotland’s provisional mean temperature in May was 7.6°C which is 0.7°C below the 1981-2010 long term average. “I would say that production of strawberries in Scotland was initially between 1 to 2 weeks behind. But with the recent welcome sunshine, crops are starting to get going and are catching up. Good growing conditions now mean crops are ripening at a good speed and giving us good quality produce.
“In terms of disease pressure, we have to be vigilant of Botrytis when it is cool and wet. Now temperatures are recovering, it is powdery mildew to look out for. We would control these two diseases in strawberries using an integrated programme of both conventional and biological products with different modes of action which is tailored to the weather. We would try to minimise the number of sprays as much as possible,” she says.
Matthew Goodson of BASF explains that biological fungicide Serifel is a protectant fungicide for the reduction of Botrytis on most protected fruits including strawberries. “It can be integrated into a programme with Charm (fluxapyroxad) in strawberries when in addition to controlling botrytis, we have found it also offers useful powdery mildew control,” he explained.
Photo Caption: Wet and cool conditions mean growers must be vigilant for Botrytis