Cutting corners on the crop isn’t an option, but with 1,500 acres of grain crops and a robust custom spraying/harvesting business, Seven Springs, N.C., grower Warren Hardy says being precise and being timely are the keys to his farming business.
Using some different approaches to tank-mixing chemicals and on-farm storage help him with timeliness in his farming operation and a new SprayCoupe with an 80-foot boom and some new nozzles have helped keep him efficient in his custom farming business.
Since he came back to farming full time in 1985, Hardy has worked with his father, who is now retired, and together they have gradually grown their farming operation.
His latest venture is getting into grain buying. “I’m in the grain business, so it was a natural thing to get involved with buying grain. I don’t plan to be a large grain buyer, but with the on-farm storage we have, it looks like a good opportunity on a small scale,” he notes.
He can now store two-thirds of his soybean crop and half his corn crop. The next expansion, he says, will be building a bin to hold most of his wheat crop.
Last year Hardy had some problems in some of his wheat with cereal leaf beetles, making an extra application with an insecticide didn’t quite fit into his schedule. Working with Syngenta representative Roy Gorena, they piggy-backed a broad spectrum insecticide — Karate — with Quadris.
“Typically, we spray a little later for cereal leaf beetle than we spray fungicides on soybeans. Sometimes you can piggyback an insecticide with the fungicide and avoid having to go back and make a second insecticide application.
“Trying to get the spring crops planted and stopping to spray for cereal leaf beetle really would have interrupted corn planting and just would have messed up our schedule,” he says.
“The combination really saved us some time and it worked really well. We are looking at some different application times on corn, but routinely use fungicides on our wheat and to a lesser degree on our soybeans,” Hardy adds.
One of best ever
The wheat crop in North Carolina and Virginia will likely end up being one of the best on record, certainly it will be one of the top yielding crops in recent years. Hardy says his wheat crop was really outstanding.
He planted Pioneer 26R12 and USG 3665 wheat. When his entire wheat crop is cut, he will likely average over 80 bushels per acre and some fields will easily top 100 bushels per acre. How much of that yield is due to fungicides, he says, isn’t certain, but he is convinced using them helped.
In a 10-year test conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, using both triazole and strobilurin fungicides separately and together from 2000 to 2010 showed a consistent yield advantage for fungicide-treated versus check wheat plots.
Virginia Tech Researcher and Plant Pathologist Pat Phipps says over the 10 year period, on multiple sites across the state, they averaged 12 bushels per acre more on fungicide-treated fields. Last year’s drought kept yield increases around 5 bushels per acre, but in some years 20 bushel or more increases were recorded.
The North Carolina grower says he became a believer in using fungicides on soybeans when he used Quadris on part of a 100 acre field. “I forgot about us using it, and when we started combining that field, the machine I was driving had a yield monitor.
“I was picking across the field and had sprayed the fungicide in a strip running lengthwise down the field. Every time I crossed one of those treated strips in the field, the yield monitor would jump.
“Sometimes the yield bump would be 15 bushels an acre and other times only five bushels per acre. In this field of soybeans the yield increase varied, but there was always some increase versus the parts of the field in which we didn’t spray the fungicide,” Hardy says.
“I’m not a big believer in the accuracy of yield monitors, so I can’t say for certain we got 15 bushels per acre more soybeans — that’s what the yield monitor showed. However, I am very sure the treated parts of that field produced more soybeans than the untreated parts,” he adds.
Two years ago he started working with Illinois-based TeeJet Technologies, a company that manufactures nozzles for sprayers. He had recently added GPS and AutoSteer to his new SpraCoupe. Hardy was looking for more accurate and uniform spray application across the 80-foot spray boom on the sprayer he uses extensively for custom application.
Nozzles performed well
Last year TeeJet came out with new AI twin-turbo jet nozzles. The company representative gave him a set of the new nozzles. He used them all year and really liked the performance.
“These new nozzles give superior coverage because of the design that allows a single nozzle to spray out the front and the back. Plus, it’s air-injected so it cuts down on drift and at higher sprayer pressure breaks up the droplets to give better coverage.”
With an automated sprayer controller, like Hardy operates in his custom spray business, sprayer speed may range from 8 to 15 miles per hour. “It allows you to spray in windier conditions and has just worked great for our operation,” Hardy says.
“This year I knew the wheat crop was so good it would take really good penetration and coverage to get a herbicide through the straw. Glyphosate resistant pigweeds are a big problem in the Seven Springs area, so I wanted to get a pre-emergence herbicide in to take out as much pigweed and other early season weeds as possible.
“When Alan York first found glyphosate-resistant and subsequently pigweed with multiple herbicide-resistance, this is where he found the first ones,” Hardy says. “The problem has only gotten worse in the past few years, he adds.
“I talked to my Syngenta representative and he convinced me to use a herbicide to take out any small pigweed that came up through the wheat stubble. I knew I would have to bump up the pressure and use lots of water to get the burndown herbicide down at planting,” Hardy notes.
He decided to buy some of the new TeeJet nozzles for his SpraCoupe. After checking locally, he couldn’t find the nozzles, but Brian Mathis, the TeeJet representative he had worked with two years earlier came to the rescue. “He said, “I’ll find you some nozzles, and he did — all the way down in Marion, S.C.,” Hardy says.
Without the new nozzles, the North Carolina grower says he’s not sure whether he would have tried the Gramoxone application. “Pigweed is just so prolific and it’s so difficult to deal with them once they get more than a few inches tall, he says.
To deal with pigweed, he used Gramoxone for a burndown and Envive that includes Valor in the mix applied pre-emergence. Then he comes back with Prefix, which includes Reflex, Dual and glyphosate. Then he uses glyphosate and Harmony SG, if needed.
York began preaching the multiple families, multiple mode of action approach to avoid rapid development of glyphosate and multiple herbicide-resistance. Hardy says he listened and has tried to follow York’s recommendations as closely as possible.
“The key to it,” he says, “is to be able to get the different herbicides out exactly when they are needed and to do a good job of getting the herbicide in the soil and on the weed in over-the-top applications. Having these new nozzles helps with both the time required getting the materials on and in the efficacy of helping the materials work as well as they can.”
In addition to the new nozzles, Hardy says he saves roughly 25 gallons in a 425 gallon tank because of using TeeJet’s BoomPilot automatic boom section control along with 9 Flow Back boom section valves.
BoomPilot turns each boom section valve off individually when entering previously applied areas and turns the section valves back on when re-entering the unapplied areas.
The Flow Back valve is a unique valve design that enables all the tips on each section to stop spraying within one second of turning them off. When the valve is turned off, the ball valve rotates to stop product delivery to the spray tips, while simultaneously opening a passage way that allows the trapped pressure (chemical) between the closed section valve and the tips to be dumped quickly back to the top of the tank.
Instead of wasting chemical on the ground by the pressure in the boom bleeding down to the 10 psi check valve on the nozzle bodies, the trapped chemical is saved by flowing back to the top of the tank.
The boom lines remain primed so there is no delay to begin spraying again once the boom section valves are turned back on.