Sprayer management heading into winter

Tony Nye - OSU Extension

OK, so tell me truthfully, how many of you quit watching or listening to the “titanic struggle” between Ohio State and Penn State last Saturday?

I will be honest — I thought about leaving the game but decided to stay; it just had a weird feeling about it that it could get interesting, and boy did it.

Our weather has been a struggle as well for many of our farmers. Harvest has been slowed considerably due to all the drizzly, overcast days and the outlook does not look much better.

Talking to friends across the corn belt and looking at crop progress reports for the main corn belt states shows we are behind in harvest when compared to the 5-year average. For example, Nebraska had reports of snow this week and they are already 20% behind normal progress and Ohio as a whole is about 15% behind five year average.

Locally, we are even farther behind because we still have several acres of soybeans to get harvested as well as lots of acreage of corn.

On the bright side, I have been getting more reports on yields and have heard that several corn yields are higher than expected. Soybean yields too have been very good where there was not water damage or considerable disease pressure. One thing is for certain; our farmers will need patience and hope that more good days come our way to keep harvest rolling.

If weather keeps you out of the field you might make sure your sprayer has been thoroughly cleaned and winterized.

Erdal Ozkan, Ohio State University sprayer technology specialist suggests making sure producers have rinsed the whole system (tank, hoses, filters, nozzles) thoroughly. If you did not, make sure this is done before storing the sprayer.

A sprayer that is not rinsed thoroughly after each use, and especially after the spraying season is over, may lead to cross-contamination of products applied for different crops, and clogging of nozzles. Pay even more attention to avoid cross-contamination problems that may result in serious crop injury if you are using some of the new 2,4-D and Dicamba herbicides.

Another problem that may result from lack of or insufficient rinsing of the complete sprayer parts is clogged nozzles.

Once the nozzles are clogged, it is extremely difficult to bring them back to their operating conditions when they were clean. Leaving chemical residues in nozzles will usually lead to changes in their flow rates, as well as in their spray patterns resulting in uneven distribution of chemicals on the target.

Make sure you have cleaned the sprayer with the appropriate cleaning solution. Some chemicals require specific rinsing solutions be used so be sure to check the label information of the products used.

No matter how we clean and where we clean the sprayer, dispose of the rinsate according to what is recommended on the labels of the pesticides you have used.

Ozkan also reminds producers to clean the outer portion of the sprayer as well. Remove compacted deposits with a bristle brush. Then flush the exterior parts of the equipment with water. Wash the exterior of the equipment either in the field away from ditches and water sources nearby, or a specially constructed concrete rinse pad with a sump.

The rinsate should be disposed of according to the label recommendations.

Before winterizing your sprayer, check one more time to make sure there is no liquid left inside any of the sprayer parts to prevent freezing.

Ozkan especially says to take time to protect the pump. You don’t want a pump that is cracked and/or not working at its full capacity because you did not properly winterize it before the temperature falls below freezing. After draining the water, add a small amount of oil, and rotate the pump four or five revolutions by hand to completely coat interior surfaces.

Make sure that this oil is not going to damage rubber rollers in a roller pump or rubber parts in a diaphragm pump. Check the operator’s manual. If oil is not recommended, pouring one tablespoon of radiator rust inhibitor in the inlet and outlet part of the pump also keeps the pump from corroding.

Another alternative is to put automotive antifreeze with rust inhibitor in the pump and other sprayer parts. This also protects against corrosion and prevents freezing in case all the water is not drained.

To prevent corrosion, remove nozzle tips and strainers, dry them, and store them in a dry place. Putting them in a can of light oil such as diesel fuel or kerosene is another option.

Finally, before storing for another year, don’t forget to cover any openings so that birds, mice, insects, dirt and other foreign material cannot get into the system.

Tony Nye is the state coordinator for the Ohio State University Extension Small Farm Program and has been an OSU Extension Educator for agriculture and natural resources for 29 years, currently serving Clinton County and the Miami Valley EERA.


Tony Nye

OSU Extension