Things to Know Before the Sprayer Hits the Field to Lead to a Successful Spray Season

June 10, 2020

by Shannon Schumacher, IL Regional Sales Agronomist

Some growers know first-hand the disappointment of getting out to the field, excited to start spraying, and having “goop” clog up the sprayer. Do these simple steps to avoid issues and have a successful spraying season!

Know your water source. Water is a common liquid carrier, but water can vary easily from one well to the next. The pH, temperature, and minerals in the water will influence how the water reacts with the products attempting to be suspended in it. Test your water and understand what, if any, adjustments need to be made to ensure products will perform to their best ability.

Avoid incompatibility with jar testing. Incompatibilities are negative interactions between chemistry in a tank mix. Incompatibilities can be physical or chemical. Physical incompatibilities are able to be seen – sometimes as “goop”, clogged spray tips, or products not suspending in a tank mix. Chemical incompatibilities are often noticed after the application. The solution may look and flow well, but the chemicals may be incompatible and cause some or all of the products not to work (weeds don’t die) or work too well (crop damage). Perform jar tests to ensure physical compatibility and follow label instructions and consult product representatives to ensure chemical compatibility.

Know the mixing order.  Start with reading the mixing instructions on the labels of the products in the tank mix. Shake or agitate all liquids in jugs. It is important to start your tank mix with water; this allows for all products to have “room” in the solution to dissolve. Fill your tank with 50% of the required water for the mix. Start gentle agitation and continue through the mixing process. Add products in the following order, waiting 3-5 minutes between each product to allow for suspension.

  1. Water-soluble packets
  2. Dry formulations
  3. Ammonium sulfate (dry or liquid)
  4. Dry or solid anti-drift agents
  5. Compatibility agents & anti-foamers
  6. Dispersed liquid formulations
    1. Suspension concentrates
    2. Flowables
    3. Suspo-emulsions
    4. Emulsions in water
    5. Micro-capsules
  7. Liquid drift retardants
  8. Remaining liquid formulations
    1. Emulsifiable concentrates
    2. Oil dispersions
    3. Solutions
  9. Adjuvants
    1. Crop Oil Concentrates
    2. High -Surfactant Oils
    3. Methylated Seed Oil
    4. Nonionic Surfactants
    5. Spreader-Stickers
  10. Micronutrients & Liquid Fertilizers

Mixing order using liquid fertilizer as the carrier varies slightly.

Be 100% POSITIVE the measurements are correct. When measuring chemicals for your spray mix, be sure you are measuring correctly. Dry ounces and liquid ounces are NOT THE SAME. When measuring liquids, a standard liquid measuring cup with gallons, quarts, pints, and ounces marked will be sufficient for all liquid products. When it comes to measuring dry products, it is advised to use a scale. Some dry products come with a measuring cup. If there are two from different product measuring cups around your operation, take a minute to compare them. Notice that the ounce marks on the cups are different, this is because the products have different densities. Even 2 measuring cups from the same product, but from different batches can have different marks on the measuring cups, because the densities differ. Dry products usually have low use rates and therefore are priced by the ounce. A very expensive mistake could be made if the product is measured incorrectly. It is best advised to throw dry measuring cups away and WEIGH the product to be the most accurate. You can find a food scale for around $15 at your local grocery store or online, and that will be more accurate than using the dry measuring cups that come with the dry product.

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