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How to tackle sprayer storage prep

Follow this advice to avoid headaches when rolling out the sprayer next spring.

Allison Lund, Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

June 5, 2024

3 Min Read
A red Miller Nitro sprayer
TAKE THE TIME: As harvest moves into focus, it can be hard to set aside time to prepare your sprayer for winter storage. However, it’s important to flush it out and drain excess water to avoid freezing and broken plastic. Tom J. Bechman

Once you wrap up spraying for the season, your mind likely moves on to harvest. It can be easy to slip into harvest preparations without completing storage prep for other pieces of machinery, but do not skimp on sprayer storage arrangements.

Pete Illingworth, a farm crew member at Purdue, admits that preparing the sprayer for storage is easier said than done.

“I wish I could say that I’ve always had the machine washed up and put away, but the last couple years, things around here were chaotic and I never got around to cleaning it,” Illingworth says. “It’s just nice to have it cleaned up and go through to find any problems.”

To make the most of your time, Illingworth shares a few vital steps for sprayer storage that can prevent issues when it’s time to pull the sprayer out next spring.

Clean out chemicals. If you don’t have time for anything else, make sure you at least prioritize cleaning out the plumbing on the machine so no chemicals remain. Run water through the system to ensure it is clear of chemicals. Tank cleaners can be added to the water to aid in rinsing the chemicals.

Drain all water. After rinsing the chemicals, empty out as much water as possible. Water left behind can lead to freezing and broken plastic. “These machines have a lot of plastic, and it takes nothing to have it freeze up and bust,” Illingworth adds.

With larger sprayers, he notes it is nearly impossible to drain every drop of the water. He recommends circulating antifreeze through the system to protect against freezing. A budget-friendly alternative is windshield washer fluid.

Take apart nozzles. Now is a good time to take nozzles apart and clean them before storing the sprayer for the winter. “There are O-rings and diaphragms inside of those,” Illingworth says. “Over time, those things break down, so it’s good to replace those and check them for wear.”

Look at pinch points. Check the pinch points on the sprayer to see if the hoses display any signs of wear. You can take note of which hoses may need attention to avoid any spills next year. Illingworth advises against making those repairs in the late fall or winter because the cold weather can lead to brittle components that can crack easily.

Freezing is biggest concern

“The biggest thing, I would say, is making sure you do whatever it takes to keep that machine from freezing,” Illingworth says. “A lot of the plastic parts are expensive pieces, and if they freeze, you’ve got to buy them.”

If you choose to not run antifreeze or windshield washer fluid through the plumbing system, Illingworth adds that you should pull the plug on the sprayer pump to ensure every drop of water can exit the machine. However, that should be common practice when winterizing any machine.

Illingworth runs fall applications with his sprayer, and he says using it in those colder months can also pose a risk for freezing. He has a heated barn to house the sprayer and mitigate that risk, and he says others in that boat should find somewhere warm to park their sprayer.

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About the Author(s)

Allison Lund

Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Allison Lund worked as a staff writer for Indiana Prairie Farmer before becoming editor in 2024. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in agricultural communications and a minor in crop science. She served as president of Purdue’s Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. In 2022, she received the American FFA Degree. 

Lund grew up on a cash grain farm in south-central Wisconsin, where the primary crops were corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Her family also raised chewing tobacco and Hereford cattle. She spent most of her time helping with the tobacco crop in the summer and raising Boer goats for FFA projects. She lives near Winamac, Ind.

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