Low drift spray nozzles and a 12-row hooded sprayer keep herbicides, and dirt, where they're supposed to be for Grady, Ark. cotton producer Gregg Day.

Day, who farms 1,000 acres of furrow-irrigated cotton, 500 acres of rice, 300 acres of soybeans and 35 acres of catfish, confessed that he has plenty of experience, and trouble, controlling weeds in cotton the old way, plowing and cultivating.

Last year, it got to be too much for the producer. He was constantly pressed for time and, “It seemed like I wasn't getting a good kill on the weeds.”

So, prior to this season, Day bought a 12-row Redball hooded sprayer and added air-inducted, AirMix 110-015 spray tips to direct spray with the unit and low-drift Turbo-drop 03 venturi nozzles with an even spray tip for under the hood. He recently put the sprayer under the shed for the summer and he's happy to say he hasn't had to cultivate all season and has done a better job of weed control.

“I can go back after I spray and look up under that cotton and see that I killed all that grass. When I was cultivating the middles and direct spraying, I was covering it up, dust was flying up and I wasn't getting the benefit out of the chemical.”

After cutting stalks in the fall, Day will pull two, four-row ripper/busters. “If I have time I will re-hip it. If not, I'll re-hip it in the spring.”

The producer will burndown in early February with a John Deere High Boy. On burndowns next to sensitive crops or over-the-top applications on Roundup Ready cotton, Day will go with a broadcast hooded sprayer, again to minimize drift. Day points out that wheat and rice can often be right across the turnrow from cotton. The broadcast hooded sprayer is also equipped with the low-drift AirMix nozzles.

According to the manufacturer of the nozzles, Greenleaf Technologies, air-inducted nozzles eliminate most of the small fines which can get growers in trouble with drift. The nozzles create coarser spray droplets, which don't drift as much.

“The nozzles work especially well in directed sprays in Roundup Ready cotton for growers concerned about glyphosate walking up the stalk,” said Will Smart, company president.

One big advantage, according to Smart, is that growers can use the nozzles at pressures they're accustomed to and still not adversely impact drift. One study indicated that at 30 psi, a standard flat fan nozzle creates four times more fines (under 105 microns) than an air-inducted nozzle.

While the combination of hooded sprayers and nozzles significantly reduce drift, Day is quick to point out that you still have to exercise good judgment. “You still have to watch the wind.”

Day planted all Roundup Ready cotton varieties, Deltapine 451 B/RR, Stoneville 4892 BR, Deltapine 5415 RR and Stoneville 4793 RR.

He applied Quadris in-furrow for Rhizoctonia, “the first year I've ever done that. This year, it was kind of hard to tell how it worked. We had such a good spring. But I think it's going to be a good practice.”

Day ran his broadcast hooded sprayer behind the planter, applying Prowl at 1.5 pints per acre. “So much grass will come up before you can get back to it,” Day said. “That application helps out a lot and it's fairly inexpensive.”

Day will make his first application of Roundup Ultra-max over-the-top with the broadcast hooded sprayer at first true leaf. “I try to do it as soon as I can to give me a good window to get my second application. There's a lot of stuff out there that you can't see.”

He'll follow that with a second application of Roundup. On his third and fourth trips through the field, he'll switch over to the hooded sprayer, going with Roundup Ultra Max in all three nozzles.

Again, you have to exercise caution, noted Day. “You have to treat Roundup (in Roundup Ready cotton after the fifth true leaf) like you would Cotoran or MSMA or anything else. You don't want it fogging up on the plant.

“That's why I went with the Greenleaf tip. I haven't seen any damage to the cotton from the directed sprays, and I'm getting great kill,” said Day, who runs the rig at about 6 miles per hour. “I also have a Raven rate controller that adjusts the rates according to the speed of the vehicle.”

Day will layby with a tank mix of Roundup and Cypro, to take care of grass and morningglories.

Day hasn't completely converted to no-till, preferring to do some fall tillage. But during the growing season, nary a steel point disturbs the ground. He doesn't even sweep out the middles to maintain an irrigation furrow, a benefit he attributes to his tall beds.

“Some people may talk about how tall they are. But the tall beds sure made it easy to irrigate,” said Day.

Another benefit of using the hooded sprayer over mechanical cultivation is, “you don't have to be rushing around trying to do water furrows before a rain,” Day said.

Day started moving toward reduced-till in 1997. “Before that, I was disking, subsoiling. It was taking so much time and diesel. This has made it so much easier. It's not like I have enough time to go fishing or play golf. But it does help me maintain and manage the farm a little better.”

Day and his four hands, “have not been pushed nearly as much this year. We've been getting everything done in a timely manner. I have 200 more acres of cotton this year than last year and next year, I may be doubling my cotton acreage.”


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com