When visiting strip-tillers, I’ll usually take note of what equipment they have on their farm. And of late, I’m seeing more self-propelled sprayers in their machinery arsenals.

While some strip-tillers rely on custom spraying, getting applications done in a timely manner isn’t always a priority for retailers in the fall, especially when customer demand is high.

This is one reason central Illinois strip-tiller Mike Bland brought all of his spraying in-house. He recently moved from doing about half of his own spraying to handling all of it, and he purchased a John Deere 4730 sprayer.

For years, he relied on his local retailer for fall spraying needs in a conventional-tillage system. But since moving to strip-till 6 years ago, Bland began to think more about the timing of fall application, to better prepare his fields for spring.

“Fall spraying is becoming more important for winter annual control and cover-crop control in the spring,” he says. “We’re finding out it’s more important than ever to spray in the middle of the day, as opposed to in the evening or early morning, to get the best results.”

He typically applies a 2,4-D/dicamba mix and simazine (Princep) for soybean stubble going into corn, and a 2,4-D/dicamba mix and Authority XL on corn stalks into soybeans for weed control.

Bland targets between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as the optimal window for spraying and he uses Deere’s GreenStar 3 receiver on the sprayer to control the seven sections on the 100-foot boom. This has given him the best weed-control results and allowed him to get in the field much faster than when he utilized a co-op.

This year, Bland says he was out spraying 3 days after harvest, whereas in year’s past, he’d had to wait several weeks and by then, weeds had taken hold in his field.

“You call the co-op, but they aren’t going to be out there until 6 p.m., or whenever they can get to it,” he says. “We make more trips with the sprayer than we once did, but we can make them in a timely manner.”

Plus, Bland says he is much more careful staying off his strips with the sprayer than the co-op. He regulates boom height to compensate for higher areas of his field, and avoids driving in the strip zone.

Last year, he sprayed his soybean stubble going to corn ahead of building strips and made sure to navigate around the areas where berms would be built.

“I was a little worried that those strips might green up, but we didn’t have any trouble,” Bland says. “We’ve got an expensive sprayer, but being able to get out when we want has improved our efficiency and it’s been a good decision for us.”

And share your approach to fall spraying in strip-till with us by calling me at (262) 782-4480, ext. 441, or send me an email at jzemlicka@lesspub.com