Will the big jump in glyphosate-resistant pigweed in 2010 bring a rebirth of the hooded sprayer?

After a summer in which growers looked at more big Palmer amaranth or pigweed plants than most could ever remember seeing, producers and industry are considering a number of new approaches for dealing with glyphosate resistance.

Monsanto, for example, announced a ramped-up program of rebates on residual and contact herbicides such as Gramoxone Inteon during a media briefing and general introduction at the company’s exhibit at this year’s Sunbelt Expo.

The company also brought in Steve Claussen, the developer of the original Redball hooded sprayer who now works for Willmar Fabrication LLC, to talk about the 915 Hooded Sprayer Willmar, Monsanto representatives and farmers have designed to try to rein in Palmer amaranth escapes.

“We’ve added 11 inches of length compared to the Redball 410 or the conservation boxes, and, in doing so, we spaced the tips inside the hood so that, front to back, we’ve added three to four inches in distance in the hope that as the pigweeds come through we get a better chance of covering them with Gramoxone or other contact herbicides,” said Claussen.

Most farm operations ran one or two hooded sprayers in cotton before the advent of Roundup Ready, Roundup Ready Flex and Liberty Link cotton. But the old sprayers were not well suited for the new weed problems growers face.

The new shape of the 915 Hood allows for better spray coverage with less damage to the plants – older Hoods sometimes knocked fruit off taller plants. The new units also feature a three-nozzle spray pattern that gives better spray coverage than other models and comes with an optional post-direct nozzle attachment.

“The 915 has two knockdown bars, front and rear, that will lay larger pigweeds over and get them sprayed with a contact herbicide,” says Claussen. “The units also have rods that are a half-inch in diameter on the front end that gather tall weeds into the hood.”

The units also are equipped with springs that can place increased down pressure on the hoods, which will allow growers to operate the sprayer at faster speeds.

Monsanto representatives began working with Claussen on designing the new hooded sprayer units last summer. They met with a number of growers in the Mid-South and Southeast and took their ideas to the drawing board. That produced a basic design that was shown to farmers in early August.

Growers asked that the hoods be wider than the old models to cover more of each row, and those changes and others were incorporated into the new 915. (Video)

“The new design also allow growers to use the same unit early in the season and at layby,” said Claussen. In the past, you needed one unit for early season and one for later, but the 915 will do the work of both.”