Fruit Tree Sprayer Needs?

thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near NashvilleFebruary 1, 2014

I've outgrown my 2 gallon pump-up sprayer and need help selecting a "real" sprayer. I know there are other forums for tools/equipment, but because I will be using my new sprayer exclusively on fruit trees I believe you all are far more qualified to determine my needs. If you can't recommend a specific brand and model, I at least hope you will define some general parameters such as Gal per min, size of tank, motor, psi, method of power (12 volt, PTO, etc). Any info would be appreciated because I am very new to this and just don't have a clue what I might need. Here is some info to help you:

I will have about 50 semi-dwarf fruit trees- including most standard types of fruits.
I own both a John Deer riding lawnmower and a compact (ie quite small) Ford New Holland Tractor with a PTO drive an can use either one in conjunction with my new sprayer.
My orchard is level and just a few feet from my house and hose. My trees are about 16-18 feet apart so I can get between them with mower or tractor.
I would prefer some kind of pull-behind (I think?) rather than having my pump attached to tractor/mower.
I want to get by as cheap as I reasonably can.
I must confess that I'm just not very mechanically inclined, so I need something that doesn't need to be modified or have any kind of homemade mounting set-up, etc. I'd prefer to just buy something that is basically ready to go.

Even information as basic as how many gallon tank I'd need for 50 trees would be a huge help. Thanks!

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cityman, Take a look at Northern Tool And Equipment. They sell North Star Sprayers. I think a 16 gal. tank would serve your 50 trees well. I have their 16 gal. and about to go to a 25 gal--- but I have 250 apple an I had to refill the 16 gal several times. I have mounted on my lawn tractor and can spray from a sitting position. I can tell you I am satisified with it after using it for 3 years. GalaGala

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 4:41PM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Thanks, galagala....Never even thought of Northern tool and I have one 30 minutes away. Also, I'd been looking at much bigger tank sizes so I was very surprised to hear you say 16 gallon would probably be enough for 50 trees! This will be my first year to get serious about spraying, and while others here have been kind enough to help me know what and when to spray, I had no idea about what volume might be needed. SO thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:53AM
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A few things to consider. 1 a drain on the bottom of the tank, 2 pump with a high gpm (3.5), and a better gun.I have 3 16 gal sprayers now. 1 for herbicides , one for pesticides, and one for fungicides.The pesticide 1 is the newest and I ordered the pump,gun and tank separate.the gun was the biggest plus. bought at Tractor supply and I can change tips easily from a 20 degree fan to a cone to a 45 degree fan. each has its place.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 8:58AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I would concur with Raven and add make sure it has some form of agitation (generally recycle agitation for small pull behinds).

I own a couple small pull behinds (25 and 50 gal). Both Fimco. They are cheap sprayers but work well enough.

For 50 semi-dwarf I would recommend at least a 25 gal pull behind and probably a 50 gal. once they are grown. For a pull behind I use about a gal/tree in my backyard orchard. Some people use less, but with my equipment that's what it takes to get all the way around the tree and inside the tree, spraying to the point of run-off. These would be mostly peach trees with a 20' spread.

Mixing and filling takes a lot of time, so I'd plan to go big enough so you didn't have to refill.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 11:58AM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

all extremely helpful information. Hopefully I will someday be experienced enough in fruit tree related issues to help someone else, but until then I appreciate you all carrying me as I feel my way through this. thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 12:09AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

My orchard is a similar size, about 1/3 acre. I use a 5-gallon backpack because many trees are on a steep hill; I can do the whole thing with 2-3 refills. While refilling is more work I think overall it will be similar since there is a lot more setup for the tractor.

Anyway, another option to consider and perhaps the place to start since its much cheaper. Even if you switch to something bigger a backpack can be handy if your main sprayer breaks, to use for weedkiller only, etc - plenty of good uses even as a backup. Most backpacks are 4-gal but there are a few 5-gals out there.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 10:05AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I agree with Scott, backpacks can come in handy (have two).

Hookup for spraying my small pull behind goes pretty fast. I have the mower and sprayer in my garage, so it only takes me about 3 min. or less. Takes quite a bit longer to bring out chemicals, measure, and tank fill.

After that, actual spraying goes pretty fast.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 3:57PM
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I've got a Solo 451 backpack mister/blower with the optional pump. The Solo does the job very well and has a 3 gal. mix tank.

At 24 lbs. + 3 gal. of mix, you've definitely got some weight to tote around. I fill the unit on my pickup tailgate and drive it near the trees to save steps and to make it easy to put the unit on my back vs picking it up from the ground. Solo makes some kind of low vol. tip for the wand, never tried it but, the pump is important if you ever want to get the level of the nozzle near to or above the level of the tank and have anything come out. In short, unless you plan to spray below the level of your waist at all times, get the optional pump.

In retrospect, I'd probably have been happier with a 10 - 25gal. Fimco sprayer in a plastic wagon on good wheels with a 20' hose, high pressure pump and a gun with tee-jet tips that would allow me to put on the exact tips I want. Definitely look for the recirc. capability, the Solo has that too and I love to utilize that feature while mixing loads.

If I know I'll need more than the 3 gal. capacity in a load for the job, I just mix up the rest and put it in a 2 1/2 gal jug and take it with me to pour in the unit in the field on my tailgate. After 3 gallons, it's time for a break anyway:)

One weak spot to the Solo pump, it is and impeller type and won't like WPs and Surround if you plan to use those. A company rep told me the pump could handle the Surround but that it would shorten it's life, not exactly a ringing endorsement for that pricey, essential pump.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 10:06PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Does anyone have any experience with atomizer sprayers?

It would seem that they might be better at getting the spray material into all the nooks and crannies

All my trees are grown as espaliers not more tha 6-7 feet tall so the "throw" power of the sprayer will not be an issue.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 12:45AM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Thanks for all the info, folks. Mike357, could you please elaborate on your comment about impeller type pump? What is that and what other type(s) exist and which is better? Also, what is recirculation capability? Thanks!

I just went to Northern Tool, as suggested above. I noticed there was quite a price difference between pull behind tanks on wheels and those that are just tanks- which I guess are meant to be mounted onto 4-wheelers or tractors. Right out in front of the store they had several different models of those real small utility dump bed trailers. Though those little trailers (the kind you'd pull with a ridding lawn mower) are small, I think I would really find them useful for hauling feed to animals, garden supplies, brush etc. Well, the price of buying one of those small utility trailers AND a 25 gallon (big enough for me) tank sprayer without wheels is just about the same price as the 35 gallon sprayer on a frame with wheels. So I'm strongly considering just getting the tank and sprayer and putting it in a dump bed trailer that I will buy with it. Then I would have a trailer I could use for things besides hauling my sprayer, but it would do that just a well as buying a sprayer on wheels. At least that is my thoughts......but I wanted to run it by you all to see if there is anything I'm not thinking about/don't know that would make my plan faulty? I feel like I must be missing something or almost everyone would do what I'm proposing. Why buy a trailer that is permanently attached and can only haul a tank sprayer when you can buy a multi-use, dump bed trailer that can haul sprayer or countless other things. I know its very small, but still has at least some utility options. What am I missing, or is this a good idea? Thanks all..

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 2:16AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I don't see anything wrong with a trailer and a sprayer placed inside.

Sometimes when spraying weeds at the farm, I've used the reverse. I've taken a 25 gal sprayer on wheels and put it in the bed of my pickup. I can go up and down rows and spray weeds from my pickup window that way (I know that sounds funny.)

It's easier to maneuver with a sprayer in the pickup bed vs. pulling it behind.

"Does anyone have any experience with atomizer sprayers?"


The sprayer Michael357 has, is an atomized sprayer (just fits on your back).

They make small pull behind atomized sprayers too.

An airblast sprayer is also a form of atomized sprayer.

The advantage of an atomized sprayer is that it takes less water and coverage is better than a hydraulic sprayer (A hydraulic sprayer is simply a sprayer which uses water to carry the pesticide.) Let me explain.

The pesticide on the surface of the tree/crop is what you are really after. Generally this is accomplished by using some form of a carrier.

Early in pesticide development, powdered limestone or talc was used as a carrier. Crops were "dusted" with a dry pesticide which consisted of a small amount of pesticide mixed with an inert powder. The powder was only used as a carrier for the chemical. Powdered Sevin today is similar to this.

The next technology was to use water as a carrier. Mix a small amount of pesticide with water and spray that on trees/crops. This is referred to as a hydraulic sprayer. It works pretty well, except that it takes a lot of water. Plus water doesn't penetrate dense crop canopies very well.

As technology advanced, it was discovered "air" could be used as a carrier for a pesticide. This is a bit confusing because it still takes some water to use "air" as a carrier. In this, a much smaller amount of water is mixed with the chemical, "atomized", and blown through the canopy. It has the advantage of less water and very good penetration if there is a good air stream. Essentially the air in the canopy is replaced with air which has fine pesticide droplets. Foliage can deflect air, so it's important to have high air velocities.

Although I've never owned a small pull behind atomizer, a potential problem is the small amount of air volume and velocity generated to penetrate the canopy.

My airblast is a fairly small one (as far as airblasts go) and I'd estimate it takes about 43 PTO horsepower (minimum) to run it. There's a reason airblast sprayers take so much horsepower. Essentially they are one big pump for the pesticide carrier - air. Air has weight just like the carrier "water" and just like a water pump, horsepower required for an air pump (i.e. fan) is a function of volume and velocity. A good airblast sprayer will "pump" 7000 lbs. of air per minute.

The motors for small pull behind atomizers are less than 10 horsepower, so it is puzzling to me how they could generate enough air volume and velocity for anything but small crops (like tomatoes) or very small dwarf trees.

Michael's sprayer has a wand of sorts, so the idea is to direct the air in a small amount of area at a time. I suppose it would be a sort of hybrid of a hydraulic and air sprayer.

This may be more answer than you wanted, but I find the topic interesting.

This post was edited by olpea on Sat, Feb 8, 14 at 13:49

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 12:00PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

Actually, I and I am sure most others appreciate the thoughtfully complete answer. So... don't stop.

The HUDSON model 99598 electrically driven sprayer/atomizer caught my eye. (See the photo and the youtube link below). BTW.. that flexible hose detaches so it can be pointed/applied in all directions/positions.

It holds 2 gallons which makes it is easy to carry and since my trees are espaliered I think this little sprayer will easily penetrate and deliver the insecticide and/or fungicide into the tree structure. It "throws to 13 feet.

If I need more than 2 gallons for my 60-70 tree situation, I can look for a larger 5-10 gallon container with the same size opening I can place it in my little pull behind yellow yard wagon easily.

Mike357's Solo is gas driven and costs $500-600 and will come it at 50lbs. loaded. This one is electrically driven is very light and can be had for $200-300. I installed electric outlets around my enclosed 150'x50' orchard so that won't be an issue, for me anyway.

The description says: "Uses any kind of sprayable material including wettable powders. __ [that's good :)] __ Applies micron (22-46 microns) mist that lingers in air to kill flying insects. __Easily penetrates bushes and leaves of trees _ [:)] __ because of small droplet size.__ ( emphasis added)

I think this could work for my small space.

Let me know what you think.


Here is a link that might be useful: YOUTUBE DEMO -HUDSON ELECTRIC ATOMIZER

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 6:46PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


The video looked interesting. I wish the demonstration showed the atomizer spraying plants though.

Nevertheless, it looks like it would work well with espailers. Sounds like you have plenty of electrical outlets in your orchard, so I wonder if this machine isn't tailor made for your setup.

Hudson has a good reputation for delivering quality sprayer products.

If you pull the trigger on buying this, let me know how it works.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 8:02PM
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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)


Here is a you tube showing the Hudson sprayer/atomizer in use on plants ( AT THE ONE MINUTE MARK).

The guy in the Vid seems to be using it at a narrow spread and full blast very close to the plant and seems to be wasting alot of material. But the settings are flexible and the more I see the more I think this will work well for me.

I think this would work well on espalier and even on trees that are kept at 7 feet or less.


Here is a link that might be useful: HUDSON 99598 ATOMIZER IN USE

This post was edited by mes111 on Sun, Feb 9, 14 at 14:17

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 2:08PM
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