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By Wally Richards

A question that many gardeners ponder is how good a job are they and their garden sprays doing to combat the problem that the spray is been used for?
Often it is not easy to determine how effective the sprays are without doing controlled tests but it is easy to see in many cases that the results that were expected did not come up to expectations.
Weeds didnít die, pests and diseases remain and often get worse over the following days.
There are several reasons why sprays havenít performed in the manner that we expect of them. The first of these is using the wrong spray for the particular job.
This is a common occurrence and firstly one should check that the label on the spray bottle states that it is designed to control the particular problem. For instance some insecticides will control a certain range of insects but may not include the one that it is been used for.
This also applies to weed killers and fungicides.
Many garden sprays will control a larger range than is stated on the container but because these other uses have not either been proved or registered with the Pesticides Board they cannot be shown on the label.
Another problem that occurs frequently is after a spray has been mixed and used there is still spray left over in the container. Instead of carefully disposing of the residual, gardeners tend to store this already mixed solution for future use.
This is a bad policy as many sprays when mixed will slump over a period of time reducing their effectiveness.
Also if these are left in the plastic holding tank of the sprayer, the chemicals are absorbed into the plastic of the container and this can cause chemical reactions when the container is used for other sprays. Systemic weed killers can leave a residue that will damage tender plants if the same container is used for other spray applications such as pest control.
It is always advisable to have one spray unit for weeds and another for other uses. Both containers should be clearly marked accordingly.
Incorrect mixing can also be a factor in the effectiveness of a sprayís activity.
The directions on the label should be followed to the letter as they are designed to give the optimum results. If the instructions also include information that a given amount of spray should be used over a given area (this is found on some weed killers) then it is important that the area be measured and the right amount of spray material applied.
If two different sprays are to be mixed and used together then they should not be placed into the spray unit at full strength as a chemical reaction and occur. It is safer to place the given amount of water into the unit, add the required amount of the first chemical, agitate then add the second chemical. Agitate again before use. Many home sprays are compatible with the major exception been Lime Sulphur.
The correct amount of spray should be applied to the foliage of the plant, in most cases this is to the point where the spray material is starting to drip off the foliage.
Some sprays need to be applied when the foliage is already moist and the information on the label should indicate this factor.
Otherwise the foliage should be dry or near dry prior to application as the extra moisture may dilute the spray further and reduce the effectiveness.
Likewise, rain and humidity after application can wash away or reduce the sprayís effectiveness. To overcome this a rainproofer should be used in the spray mix.
It is interesting to note that some spray stickers will actually assist the rain in washing off the spray particles to a greater degree than if no sticker additive had been used.
Spraying oils may help give a better coverage but can also reduce the effectiveness of the chemical and reduce the results.
The writer has found that copper sprays used in winter for disease control of problems such as Bladder Plum, Brown rot and Black spot have a far better protection factor against the diseases if spraying oil is not included in the copper mix. The oils which are used for control of scale and mites can be applied separately at another time if these problems are known to exist.
There are two basic types of sprays in use; Contact sprays, which do not enter the foliage of the plant but sit on the foliage, protecting or controlling the problem that they are been used for. These sprays effectiveness is reduced by rain and weather.
Systemic sprays on the other hand enter the foliage of the plant and in most cases are transferred through part or the whole plant to protect and control from within the plant. These spray are less affected by weather and rain but in some plants such as shiny or hairy leafed plants the chemical may have difficulties in entering the plantís cell structure.
Commercial spray operators have a solution to both these problems by adding a rainproofer, spreader and sticker called Raingard. The same product not only ensures the effectiveness of contact sprays by giving 14 days rain protection but also acts as a chemical bridge for systemic sprays assisting in their penetration into the plants foliage.
The first obvious advantage of the product, at this time of the year, when copper sprays are applied to roses and fruit trees is that the copper is going to be there doing its job for up to 14 days whether in rains or not.
This assists in overcoming those critical periods such as bud burst etc.
Raingard increases the effectiveness of all garden sprays and as it is made from Pine tree resin it is completely organic and can be used to great advantage by organically minded gardeners in their application of all organic sprays.
Raingard is currently available to home gardeners from many garden centres through out New Zealand. To top of page.


After you have spent time and money, diligently spraying your gardens for weeds, insects and fungus diseases the worst thing that can happen is to have a shower of rain or your spouse turning on the sprinkler system a short time later.
All your work and money has been washed away.

I would wager that these problems have happened to every gardener reading this column. So what do commercial spraying contractors do to overcome this problem?
They can be spraying hundreds of dollars worth of solutions and there is no way they want to see their efforts and money go down the drain.

Their answer is to add to the spray mix a small amount of a product called Raingard (Trade name of Key Industries Ltd, Auckland).

Raingard has been used commercially in N.Z. for 7 years and the product has proved its worth time and time again.

Imported from America, Raingard is a biodegradable terpenic polymer, totally organic and safe to use. A product that is actually Pine tree resin based. Unfortunately, Raingard has only been available to the commercial market and the home gardener has not being able to enjoy its many advantages.

That is up to now as your local garden centres are now stocking the product in 100 mil bottles.
A very economical product as you only need to put 1 ml of Raingard into each one litre of garden spray.

This gives 14 days rain protection once the Raingard has dried.
Normal drying period is about one and a half hours. After this you can hit the sprayed areas with a hose and you will not wash off your spray.
This is especially important when using contact sprays as they are normally washed away with the first reasonable amount of rain.

Organic sprays are all contact types, copper is a good example, Raingard will put a film over the garden spray and over the next 14 days the spray particles will be slowly released, protecting your plants.

You will be able to sit back and watch the rain coming down knowing that your efforts are not wasted. Raingard can be used with systemic sprays if rain is threating.
The writer has used the product for several years and can testify to its effectiveness.
Wally Richards
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I have often been asked by gardeners why their weed spraying is not as effective as they expected.
Whilst there could be several reasons for this, the most likely is the weed killer's ability to penetrate into the foliage of the weeds being sprayed.
Many of the weed killers we use have to enter the foliage of the plant to have a successful kill.
If for some reason this does not happen then the plant may not receive a dose of the killer spray sufficient to kill the weed.
Thus we may see no result at all or a partial dying off of the weeds only to discover a few weeks later that they have rejuvenated and are growing away happy as ever. This is a most frustrating turn of events as the gardener has not only lost the time taken to do the spray but has also lost the money spent on the weed killer.
The reason that the plant has not absorbed the spray can be that the outer skin of the foliage is too tough to penetrate and this is often found in the case of such plants as Ivy. Foliage may also be waxy or hairy and sprays tend to bounce off, rather than stick and wet.
Another aspect can be the break down or dilution of the spray either caused by moisture, rain or watering.
For weed killers to be most effective and do the job that they are designed to do, they must be applied at the correct rates, over the given area, as prescribed on the bottle's label. They also should be applied so there is complete coverage of the foliage and then the foliage has to accept the chemical into the leaf structure. When the above factors are not met then we find only a partial kill and need to repeat the spraying again.
Information has recently come to hand from the U.S.A. which included some trials that were completed to find out how terpenic polymers would effect the results of weed killers on plants.
The trials concluded that the terpenic polymers doubled the phyto-toxicity of the weed killers used. In other words the weed killer was twice as effective with the addition of the polymer.
The reason for this is the chemical particles are wrapped into a film of polymer which melds with the waxy leaf surface forming a chemical bridge over which herbicides move directly into the plant's tissue. This is also more effective than the use of some "penetrants" which tend to destroy the leaf's surface structure and thus forming a barrier for the translocation of the weed killer. Another interesting aspect is; when using a terpenic polymer, there is a reduction in spray drift thus reducing the danger of preferred plants being affected by minute air borne particles of spray.
There is a terpenic polymer available to the home gardener through many garden centres in New Zealand and its called "Raingard".
I have being using Raingard with Roundup for several years and have always had excellent kill results. Several other gardeners using either Roundup or other weed killers have also reported back excellent results when they have added Raingard to the spray mix. One case involved half a paddock with Raingard added and the other half without. The 'with' half had a total kill, where the 'without' had to be repeated as there was only a partial kill.
Thus we find Raingard as not only a rainproofer, sticker and spreader but a bridge that greatly assists the effectiveness of your spraying. It can be used with all weed killers and all other sprays including all insecticides and fungicides to increase their effectiveness.
The recommended rate is 1 ml of Raingard to each litre of spraymix & foliar fertilisers.
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If there is not a garden centre near you with Raingard in stock, then order through our Mail order page at Mail order

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You can reach me by e-mail at: wallyjr@manawatu.gen.nz