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Ask The Hort Agent: Pesticides

Question: Do you have any tips for spraying pesticides?
Answer: Yes and no. I have a few words of advice, but I do not have any extra tips to put on the end of your sprayer. My first tip is about tips. When spraying tall shrubs or small trees adjust your sprayer tip to spray more of a stream than a mist. This will allow you to spray further. Spraying more of a stream is especially helpful when applying pesticides to fruit trees.
Tip number two involves personal protection. Regardless of whether the wind is blowing or not, homeowners should always take precautions when applying pesticides. Wear rubber gloves. Dishwashing gloves can be reused after rinsing. Wear long sleeves and long pants. Wear a hat and safety glasses. Most over-the-counter pesticides don’t require a mask, but it won’t hurt you to wear one. Lastly, wear boots or shoes. It is amazing to me the number of people that spray around their house while wearing flip flops.
When you finish spraying, take off these layers of protection and wash them. Rubber boots are good because they can easily be washed. Similar to your skin, leather boots simply absorb any spray that hits them.
Certainly you will be uncomfortable wearing all these items during the summer. Spray in the mornings when possible. This will reduce your heat load. Wear a bandana or sweat band around your forehead to keep sweat from running in your eyes. Resist the urge to wipe your eyes or forehead with your shirt sleeve. Be sure to wash your hands BEFORE you use the restroom. Of course, wash them again AFTER you use the restroom.
Rinse out your sprayer when you finish spraying. This is absolutely necessary whenever you are spraying any of the “white chalky” pesticides like most fruit tree sprays or liquid Sevin. These pesticides will dry in the sprayer lines and tip if you do not rinse them out. Eventually, they will clog up your sprayer. Rinsing will prevent clogging problems.
Tip no. 4, get a sprayer for herbicides and another sprayer for insecticides and fungicides. Label the two sprayers. Cheap homeowners often use the same sprayer for everything. This comes back to bite them in the form of herbicide residue. One slip up can undo years of careful precautions. Buy 2 sprayers. A sprayer is cheaper than replacing bushes you killed.
Last tip, measure your pesticides. I don’t care how you cook in the kitchen. You need to use measuring cups and spoons when mixing pesticides. More is not always better. All types of problems arise when the wrong amount of ingredients are added. Pesticides are designed to work when you use the recommended rates. You don’t have to use more than recommended.
For more pesticide application tips, visit http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-710/426-710.html or http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/pesticide/hgic2752.html If you do not have internet access, call the Cooperative Extension Office at 910-893-7530 or email me at gpierce@harnett.org
My last tip is also about tips. Don’t believe everything you hear, read or see. This is especially true if they are selling something. The internet is full of half truths, contradictions and snake oil peddlers. Ironically, nobody tips me for my tips.

Gary Pierce

Horticulture Agent

Harnett County Cooperative Extension
910-893-7530

http://www.harnett.org/coop/horticulture-programs.asp

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