The correct equipment can give growers more even insecticide sprays. Ayanava Majumdar, Extension entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, wants growers to think about equipment when thinking about insecticides.
Since the summer season is beginning, Majumdar is encouraging growers to check on the condition of their spray equipment. “Oftentimes we forget to check the condition of the equipment, and when the equipment fails, it seems like the product has failed,” Majumdar said.
Majumdar highly recommends checking the insecticide label before making an application because the label contains equipment recommendations. Insecticides come in several different forms, like liquids and dusts, which will dictate the type of equipment that is used. Furthermore, some insecticides may not need equipment. “You may be able to use some of the systemic insecticides by injecting them through the drip irrigation system,” Majumdar said.
According to Majumdar, growers should get in the habit of checking the battery condition of backpack sprayers before use to ensure a uniform spray with good pressure.
When purchasing backpack sprayers, Majumdar recommends ones with thick plastic. “Don’t buy the ones with very thin walls because those sprayers won’t give you the pressure you need,” he explained.
Growers also should be sure to check the opening on the top of the backpack sprayer before purchasing one. A wide opening is desirable, so the sprayer can be refilled and cleaned out easily.
In addition, the backpack sprayer should have a metal spray boom with a quality nozzle. This will reduce any leakage from the nozzle. “If you have a leaky nozzle, it’s pointless to use that sprayer,” Majumdar said. Having a good quality nozzle can ensure a good, even spray.
Regarding the pesticides themselves, Majumdar says to be careful with mixing products. A question he receives a lot is: What happens if I mix an insecticide with a fungicide? There is not a straight answer. Majumdar encourages growers to keep in mind that not all products are compatible. It is always a good idea to check the label for mixing recommendations.
If incompatible products are mixed, it could damage the sprayer. “It (the mixture) will form a sludge inside the sprayer,” Majumdar explained.
Growers should also remember to calibrate their sprayers. Majumdar said there are how-to videos online, or Extension agents would be good resources if growers need help with the calibration. “If you have incorrect calibration, you will be wasting a lot of your products,” he warned.
Majumdar stressed the importance of reading and following product labels. Not following the label could result in poor insect management or the possibility of insect resistance to the product being used. “Don’t cut corners; follow the label,” Majumdar concluded.
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