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Spring is peak season for crop spraying

Staff writer

Area farmers often make use of aerial crop spraying, particularly when fields are too wet or pastures too uneven to use ground rigs.

Jim Enns, who has about 2,000 acres of farmland with wheat, corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and grass, in the northwest portion of the county, said his operation has called upon an aerial sprayer at times.

“We do it when we can’t get in the field because of wetness,” Enns said. “It’s usually just this time of year when you get fungus.”

Fungus diseases show up about this time of year, Enns said.

Kenneth Shields, who grows wheat, corn, soybeans, and forage on about 2,500 acres southwest of Lost Springs, said he has used an aerial sprayer in the past, but now that his nephew has bought a ground rig, the nephew does the job.

Spraying fungicide on his wheat has as much as doubled the yield, Shields said.

Daniel Stuchlik, who collaborates in his family’s farming operation in the Lost Springs and Pilsen areas, said they call for aerial spraying about two or three times in a typical year.

The farming operation grows corn, soybeans, milo, wheat, alfalfa hay, prairie hay, and brome, as well as a cow and calf operation, Stuchlik said.

Timeliness is essential to treating crops, the farmer pointed out.

“You can’t only wait for the symptoms to show up,” Stuchlik said.

Another consideration to keep in mind is what neighbors in the area are growing, he said. For example, if a neighbor has beehives, or vegetable beds, they don’t want fungicides drifting onto them.

“You don’t want to damage your neighbor’s crops,” Stuchlik said. “You have to look at what’s best for you and your neighbors.”

Stuchlik also arranges for aerial spraying because his pasture ground is too uneven for a ground rig.

Steve Donovan, a crop sprayer whose service area includes Marion, Dickinson, Chase, Wabaunsee, and Morris counties, said the briskest time for his business is spring, when both wheat and weeds are in the growth cycle.

For 16 years, Donovan has operated his spraying business, Central Kansas AG Aviation, out of Herington. He spent a year working with his family prior to that. Crop spraying was a natural career choice for Donovan.

Donovan said spring is his peak time, when he has the most calls for his services.

“We don’t do any fertilizing in this area for wheat,” Donovan said.

He’s kept busy spraying fungicides on wheat, for such diseases as stripe rust.

Donovan said his business also sprays pasture and range land to control weeds and thistle.

After applying fungicide to wheat crops, he’s called to apply it to corn crops.

Last modified May 12, 2016

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