3 Keys to Making the Most of Your Summer Spray Applications

Wade Givens, Ph.D.

Jun 23, 2020

Spraying is a vital component to each cropping season. Whether you’re feeding foliar nutrition or managing pest pressure, effective spray applications are key to protecting yields and your operation’s return on investment.

There was a time when spraying was reserved for custom applicators. But in today’s ag environment, more and more farmers are choosing to spray their own crops in order to save on costs and make more timely applications when their crops need it.

Need a quick refresher on spray applications?

Key considerations for spraying this summer

Planning for and executing your own spray application requires a unique set of skills and knowledge. There are many decisions—timing, rates, branded chem versus generic, tank mix or premix, which adjuvants to use—you must evaluate to get the most out of each spray. 

Let’s focus on three things to consider as you prepare to spray in your fields this summer:

1. Weed Presence

The type and size of weed growing in the field will guide your choice of herbicide and mode of action, but it will also determine the type of spray you’ll want to use. 

Many broadleaf weeds—with larger, more horizontal surfaces—are well suited for larger, coarser sprays. Meanwhile grasses and young broadleaf weeds need finer sprays for effective control. 

Remember, it’s easier to control smaller weeds than larger ones, so staying on top of weed pressure in your fields is important.

Always read and follow label directions to ensure you’re making the right decisions for your selected herbicide. 

2. Crop Stage

A crop’s stage of development impacts your timing for herbicide, insecticide and fungicide applications. In corn and soybeans, these limits can be by growth stage, height of crop or harvest interval required. 

Be sure you know these specifications for any and all chemicals you’re going to use on your crops and do some field scouting to determine when is the optimal time to spray. 

3. Weather

Temperature can play a significant role in how successful your spray application will be. Hot, dry weather can cause weeds to close their stomata and to slow down their processes, making it harder for herbicides to do their work. 

If you’re experiencing these conditions on your farm, here are some warm-weather spraying tips:

  • Using the high end of labelled rates of translocated herbicides can help offset thicker cuticles and low rates of translocation. 

  • Including the full rate of ammonium sulfate (AMS) in your tank mix can help maximize glyphosate uptake by target weeds.

  • Adding a surfactant per label instructions can be a good way to improve the efficacy of herbicides in warm weather, especially in weeds with thick cuticles. 

  • You can also consider using a surfactant, such as Methylated Seed Oil (MSO) and/or Crop Oil Concentrate (COC), when using a PPO herbicide in warm weather. Be advised that tank mixes containing COC can lead to enhanced crop injury when applied under hotter conditions. If a Non-Ionic Surfactant (NIS) is an option, consider using this instead. Refer to your herbicide labels for more details and options.

PRO-TIP: Residuals are important where herbicide-resistant weeds have become a concern. Using a residual with multiple modes of action allows for resistant weeds to be targeted from multiple pathways, minimizing competition for the crop.

Get the most out of your next spray application

Need help spraying your fields this summer? Grab a free copy of our Spraying Application Guide for the DIY Farmer and refresh yourself on some of the basics before you set foot in your sprayer.

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Wade Givens, Ph.D.

Jun 23, 2020