Indian summer for pests

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What effect has the extended summer had on you?

Poll ended at Sun Dec 31, 2006 3:43 pm

More pests
0
No votes
Longer growing season
5
63%
More time in the garden
1
13%
All of the above
2
25%
Summer!? What summer?
0
No votes
 
Total votes: 8
Mr Potato Head
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Indian summer for pests

Postby Mr Potato Head » Fri Dec 01, 2006 3:43 pm

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In 2006 we had the longest period of extended summer weather since records began, and gardeners certainly noticed the effects on fruit and vegetable crops. Many were picking runner beans and courgettes right up until the beginning of November and saw yellow daisy-like flowers on their Jerusalem artichokes for the first time. Apples started to bloom again; globe artichokes produced second crop and so did some fig trees.

Usually figs only have a second ripening in sub-tropical areas or in glasshouses, but at Reads Nursery in Norfolk which has the National Collection of figs planted outside, several varieties produced a few late fruit – a phenomenon which staff have never seen before. Even more of a novelty was the banana plant which flowered and fruited outside in the garden of Clare College in Cambridge!

However it wasn’t all good news. The wet and warm weather encouraged fungal diseases such as mildew and rust. It was also heaven for slugs and snails, and allowed certain other pests to continue feeding and multiplying for much longer than usual. Researchers recorded many types of aphid on the wing several weeks later than average, for example, and some commercial growers reported problems with a large autumn generation of cabbage root flies.

So has this warm autumn stored up trouble for next spring? Not necessarily, thank goodness. “To a certain extent most pest life cycles are locked into changes in day length,” says Rosemary Collier, Research Entomologist at HRI Warwick. “So some will have ‘shut-down’ regardless of the warm weather.”

With pests such as cabbage root fly and carrot fly, the extra late generations of maggots don’t necessarily develop enough to form pupae – the stage in their life cycle in which they are able to over-winter. As for aphids, providing we get usual level moderate frosts this winter, the population should be reset at normal levels by spring.

Give us your thoughts on the indian summer. Has it meant an extended growing season, or simply more time for the pests to destroy your crops?
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Chantal
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Postby Chantal » Fri Dec 01, 2006 3:53 pm

I can't say I noticed any more pests than usual although the flea beetle was a big problem for the third year running.

The growing season may have been extended for some crops but my beans and courgettes were rubbish compared to previous years because of the lack of water. I ended up pulling the beans out earlier than usual because they all died back. Last year I froze over 30lb of runner and French beans, this year no runners at all and only a couple of bags of French.

Soft fruit on the otherhand was amazing this year.

Oh, and my Jerusalem artichokes flower every year :wink:
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peter
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Postby peter » Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:06 pm

The vote buttons missed the worst thing I had this year.

Dry hot summer no weed seedlings. :D

Warm wet autumn, weed seedlings by the hundredweight and too damp to hoe. :cry:
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Postby peat » Fri Dec 01, 2006 7:20 pm

I had no sign of blackfly or greenfly this year.
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Postby Alison » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:20 pm

SAME: Pests: Stacks of butterflies, quite a lot of woodwasps, lot of whitefly, but not much different from last year.
NOT SO GOOD: The fruit matured closer together than usual, so all the 3 vars of strawbs came at once. The autumn raspberries started earlier, which meant that they didn't last so long into the autumn.
Lettuces bolted quickly. Potatoes were small and the foliage died off quickly with the heat. No blight till end-August, by which time I had harvested all the potatoes.
No weeds while it was so hot, then it rained and everything suddenly came up and turned green. :cry:
Late August seed-sowings of carrots, fennel and various salads didn't come up - it was just too hot.
GOOD: I was horribly late in getting early summer transplants into the garden: beans, leeks, brassicas, etc, but got a good crop nevertheless because the season lasted longer.
Huge crops of tree fruit and I am still making jams, jellies and bottling apples.
Alison.
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