Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Enrollment

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Prepping Your Air Blast Sprayer for Spring

Mike Basedow, Tree Fruit Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

March 12, 2020

Prepping Your Air Blast Sprayer for Spring

Adapted from the Cornell Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Tree Fruit Production

Sprayers must be regularly checked over to ensure that proper maintenance has been carried out and that no outstanding repairs need to be done. Faulty sprayers contribute to increased drift levels and waste money through inefficiency and overuse of chemicals. Before attempting any work on a machine make sure that it is fully supported on stands and that all necessary protective clothing is on hand.

The cost of replacing a faulty pressure gauge which has been indicating at 15% below the actual pressure is recouped in around two hours' operation. Maintenance measures such as fitting a new set of nozzles at the beginning of each season also save money. Even when there is overdosing by as little as 5%, the cost of a new set of nozzles would be recovered in less than a day's work.

Think About Safety

  • Take great care when adjusting a sprayer while the tractor engine is running.
  • Always ensure that the fan is stationary before approaching the rear of the sprayer.
  • Engage the handbrake when leaving tractor seat.

Fitting the Sprayer to the Tractor

The selected tractor must always be powerful enough to operate the sprayer efficiently under the working conditions that will be encountered. All its external services-hydraulic, electrical and pneumatic-must be clean and in working order. Tractors fitted with cabs must have efficient air filtration systems. All protective guards must be in place. Trailed sprayers are often close-coupled to the tractor, so it is essential that the drawbar and the PTO shaft are correctly adjusted for turning. PTO shafts must be disengaged when making very tight turns.

Checking the Operation of the Sprayer

Partially fill the tank with clean water and move the sprayer to uncropped waste ground. Remove the nozzles. Although not using any chemical at this point, get into the habit of wearing a coverall, gloves and a face visor when working with the sprayer. Engage the PTO and gently turn the shaft, increasing speed slowly to operating revs. Test the on/off and pressure relief valves, and check the agitation system. Flush through the spray lines and then switch off the tractor. Refit the nozzles and check the liquid system again for leaks. It is a valuable exercise to assess the spray deposits at various points in the canopy and on upper and lower leaf surfaces of the trees to be sprayed. This is particularly important if the foliage is dense or if the trees are grown in beds of three or more rows. Water-sensitive papers, food coloring or fluorescent tracers are available for this purpose. An increase in spray volume or adjustment of the nozzles and their locations may be necessary in order to achieve the correct deposits.

Pre-Season Maintenance

Follow the checklists before you begin spraying

Hoses check…

  • for splits and cracks
  • connections to ensure they are water-tight
  • for hose chafe, particularly in routing clips

Filters check…

  • for missing filter elements and seals
  • for leakage
  • for blocked or damaged filters

Tank check…

  • for fractures and any other damage
  • the tank sits firmly in its mount
  • the securing straps are correctly adjusted
  • the agitation is working
  • the tank is clean

Controls check…

  • the control circuitry (electrical, hydraulic or air) for correct operation
  • valves for both internal and external leaks

Pump check…

  • lubrication levels
  • for leaks
  • the air pressure in the pulsation chamber (if fitted) is at the recommended level
  • the pump rotates freely without friction or noise. Do so by rotating manually or starting at low speed (corrosion may cause seizing up)

Pressure Gauge

The pressure gauge is vital for indicating whether the nozzles are delivering the correct amount of chemical per unit time while spraying. If you have doubts about the pressure gauge, replace it or refer the problem to the manufacturer or supplier.

Nozzles check…

  • all nozzles are appropriate for the location on the manifold
  • all nozzles are in good condition, with no leaks around the body
  • all nozzles are clean and free from obstruction (note: clean with a soft brush or airline - don't damage nozzles by using wires or pins)
  • all nozzles deliver to within + or - 5% of the manufacturer's chart value

Using water only, set to ‘spray' at the specified pressure and collect the output from each nozzle in turn for a period of 60 seconds. Record each output and replace those outside the 5% tolerance stated in the manufacturer's chart.

Automatic Spray Controllers

Where your sprayer has automatic controllers to monitor the speed of the sprayer and the flow, pressure and area sprayed: check…

  • they are in good condition and properly maintained
  • they are frequently calibrated for accuracy, leaks, blockages, variations in pressure or any minor damage during spraying

Routine Maintenance

The following checks should be carried out routinely:

  • All hoses are tightly connected and free from sharp bends; replace cracked or damaged hoses.
  • All controls move freely and are fully adjustable.
  • Pressure gauge reads zero.
  • Pump can be turned over by hand.
  • Fan turns freely and is not obstructed; bearings are sound and lubricated.
  • Air pressure in pump accumulator (if fitted) is correctly adjusted.
  • Drain plugs and clean filters are in position.
  • Tires on trailed machines are sound and correctly inflated; wheel nuts are tight.

 

Sprayer Calibration Instructions

By H. Russell Holze, M&H Apple Farms LLC

The ideal way to calibrate a sprayer would be to lay out an acre of orchard and directly measure the solution sprayed. However, the measurements outlined below give an easy way to calibrate. In summary, first we measure the sprayer's output volume for one minute, then measure the area that will be sprayer will cover in one minute, and then adjust up to the equivalent of one acre sprayed, and you will know your gallons per acre:

1) Fill the sprayer with water and spray for one minute….refill and measure water. The sprayer does not have to be moving to measure water sprayed. Record the gallons sprayed out.

2) Set the tractor and sprayer in motion and measure the distance in feet traveled in one minute. If this number is greater than 350 pick a slower speed and re-do measurement. 350' per minute = 4 mph, sprayer speeds in the range of 2.5 - 4.0 mph result in better coverage.

3) Measure row width in feet.

4) Multiply (2) by (3) to determine square feet (area) sprayed in one minute.

5) Divide 43560 by the answer in (4). This number should be between 5 and 10.

6) Multiply (1) by (5). This is your gallons of solution sprayed per acre.

 



Prepping Your Air Blast Sprayer for Spring (pdf; 171KB)

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Eggplant

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Garlic

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Horseradish

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Kohlrabi

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Leeks

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Lettuce / Leafy Greens

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Nectarines

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Parsnips

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Peas

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Raspberries / Blackberries

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Upcoming Events

Champlain Valley Tree Fruit Grower Input Meeting

November 30, 2022
Plattsburgh, NY

We need your input!  Mike will be holding a Champlain Valley tree fruit grower input session on November 30 in Plattsburgh at the Clinton County CCE office. Mike will review his 2022 research and extension activities. We would then like to hear from you to set priorities for future tree fruit research and education needs, and to get your input for speakers for our 2023 winter meetings. 

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How Profitable Will My New Orchard Investment Be? Zoom Series

December 5, 2022 : Looking at the Big Financial Picture for Your Farm

Your farm's big-3 financial records (balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow) and how to use them to assess your overall financial situation. This information will help you assess what types of investments are likely to be viable for your farm business and whether or not you are likely to be able to use credit to finance that investment.  We will specifically cover Farm Profitability, Cash Flow, and Key Financial Ratios.

December 6, 2022 : Business Strategy and the Farm Value Chain

How do you create value?  How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?  In other words - what is your farm's business strategy?  Your investments should be in line with your strategy.  Different business strategies will result in investments in different parts of the Farm Business Value Chain.  Farm Business Value Chain - full range of activities needed to create a product or service.

December 7, 2022 : Using Your Farm's Financial Data to Make Management Decisions

Identifying the Enterprises in Your Value Chain.  Your Profit Centers and Cost Centers.  We will cover: Direct vs Indirect Costs and Cost Allocation and Variable vs Fixed Costs and Relevant Range (when does a fixed cost become a variable cost?)

December 8, 2022 : Operating Budgets and Strategic Planning

Operating budgets are the overall financial plan for the business.  You can use a budget based on your current situation as the base to model new scenarios.

December 12, 2022 : Enterprise Budgets

It is more time-consuming to develop detailed budgets for your enterprises, but it is worthwhile to do this for area where you are considering making major investments.  We will demonstrate how to move from an operating budget to an enterprise budget to model specific scenarios within that enterprise. 

December 13, 2022 : 5 Step Decision-making Process for Capital Projects and Long-term Investments

Introduces a structured process for a manager to go through to decide among options for long-term investments, projects or changes to the farm business.

December 14, 2022 : Cost Volume Profit Analysis and Sensitivity Analysis

As you change your prices, volume of sales or costs of production how does your profit change?  What is your break-even point and what output level do you need to achieve a target income? We will also cover sensitivity analysis that will help you see how your results will vary over a range of likely scenarios from best case to worst case.  This will help you assess the riskiness of your plan.

December 15, 2022 : Capital Budgeting Tools - Net Present Value, Internal Rate of Return, and Payback Period

Capital budgeting is defined as the process used to determine whether capital assets are worth investing in. it's the process of asking: is an asset worth the resources it requires?  Capital assets are usually long-term investments like new equipment, facilities, and other infrastructure upgrades. By incorporating strategically planned capital budgeting into their financial processes, companies can more effectively determine and prioritize which projects, programs and other investment assets could be most financially beneficial in the long-term.

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SAVE THE DATES

December 13 - December 15, 2022February 2 - February 8, 2023February 21 - February 23, 2023

Save the Dates for the following Winter Meetings:

  • The New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference, DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center, Manchester, New Hampshire, December 13-15  https://newenglandvfc.org/registration/
  • NOFA NY Virtual Winter Conference, February 2-5, 2023 https://nofany.org/2023conference/
  • Empire State Expo, Oncenter Syracuse, February 6-7 2023 https://nysvga.org/expo/information/
  • Becker Forum, Oncenter Syracuse, February 8, 2023  https://nysvga.org/expo/information/
  • Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program Regional Winter Meeting, The Desmond Hotel, Albany, February 21-23, 2023  

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Announcements

NEW ENYCHP BLOG

Visit the new CCE ENYCHP Blog at https://blogs.cornell.edu/enychp/.  New information is continuously being added and you can search for information using key words.  The blog is still in its infancy, but we are working hard to make it a useful resource for our growers!

ENYCHP Public Events Calendar



2022 Spotted Wing Drosophila Monitoring/Management

All berry farmers are watching for monitoring reports that indicate Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) adults are in their region. Mid-season berry crops should be sprayed as soon as berries begin to ripen unless you've elected to use insect exclusion netting.

- For general information about SWD, and to enroll for free monitoring reports, visit the Cornell SWD blog https://blogs.cornell.edu/swd1/.
- Click here for the 2022 Quick Guide for Pesticide Management.
- For some great instructional videos and fact sheets on insect exclusion netting, visit the University of Vermont's Ag Engineering blog.


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

Winter Greens Grower Interviews in Northern New York

October 22, 2022
In this episode, vegetable specialist Elisabeth Hodgdon interviews Lindsey Pashow, ag business development and marketing specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York team. They discuss findings from a series of interviews with winter greens producers in northern New York. Lindsey shares production and marketing challenges associated with growing winter greens in this cold and rural part of the state, success stories and advice from growers, and tips for those interested in adding new crop enterprises to their operation.

Funding for this project was provided by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. The episode was edited by Miles Todaro of the ENYCHP team.

Resources:
• Crop enterprise budget resources available from Penn State Extension (field and tunnel vegetables: https://extension.psu.edu/small-scale-field-grown-and-season-extension-budgets), UMass Extension (winter spinach budgets: https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/outreach-project/improving-production-yield-of-winter-greens-in-northeast and field vegetables: https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/fact-sheets/crop-production-budgets), and Cornell Cooperative Extension (high tunnel vegetables: https://blogs.cornell.edu/hightunnels/economics/sample-budgets-spreadsheets/). Use these budgets as templates when developing your own crop enterprise budget.
• The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, by Richard Wiswall
• The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman

For questions about the winter greens project discussed in this podcast, reach out to Lindsey Pashow (lep67@cornell.edu) or Elisabeth Hodgdon(eh528@cornell.edu).

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