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New Sprayer Could Mean “Peachy” Future for Growers

By Tara Weaver-Missick
August 1, 2000

New spray technology could offer a “peachy” future for peach, plum and nectarine growers. Agricultural Research Service scientists recently evaluated a superior sprayer that saves growers time and money when they apply pesticides in their orchards.

Plant pathologist Charles C. Reilly with the ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Ga., studied the effectiveness of the Proptec nozzleless sprayer in cooperation with Michigan State University engineers who developed the sprayer.

The sprayer is as good or better than anything growers have available, according to Reilly. That’s because it uses about 20 percent less chemicals per acre and cuts spraying time in half while still providing superior coverage to fruit trees. Current air-blast equipment sprays about 50 gallons per acre, one row at a time. It shoots the spray straight into the air, not fully covering the pest-ridden trees.

The new sprayer looks like the letter “T.” It travels above the tree, rising and lowering--from 5 feet to 17 feet--to accommodate the tree height. It sprays low-volume, uniform droplets directly down and into the tree. It can spray two rows at once, applying 25 gallons per acre.

Another bonus is that the Proptec sprayer reduces soil compaction, because it is relatively light-weight and does not go down every row. A grower can easily alternate which rows the sprayer travels to minimize soil compaction.

California growers are evaluating the sprayer for grapes, blueberries and stonefruits.

ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Charles C. Reilly, ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory, Byron, Ga.; phone (912) 956-6409, fax (912) 956-2929,