Don Hofer - Kiler Canyon Vineyards

‘Performance … Beyond My Expectations’

In the midst of a two-year run of heavy mildew pressure, Don Hofer of Kiler Canyon Vineyards grew concerned over the coverage he was receiving from his air-blast sprayer, or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

“I decided to look into On Target Spray Systems,” he said, “and after learning that coverage is essentially 100 percent, I became very interested.”

On Target Spray Systems sell for more than traditional air-blast sprayers, and, being a small grower, Hofer said he had a difficult time justifying the purchase.

“For us, this is a marginally business-sensible purchase because the machine is so expensive compared to others,” he said, “and we’re small.”

Nonetheless, Hofer, who has 52 acres in wine grapes, decided the advanced technology was worth the added cost, and in 2013 he purchased an On Target electrostatic sprayer.

Today, he said, he couldn’t be happier.

“The performance has been just tremendous,” he said, “beyond my expectations.

“When I considered the advantages we receive from it, they far outweigh the additional costs,” he said. “We’re now thinking that it will pay for itself in four years.”

With the On Target sprayer, Hofer uses about 22 gallons of water per acre at peak season, he said, compared to about 75 gallons per acre with his old machine. The reduction in water usage allows him to maximize time in the vineyard and minimize time spent refilling his sprayers.

Also, Hofer said he has reduced his mildew sprays from six per growing season to four. “Plus, we are using 50 percent the amount of chemicals we used to use,” he said. “And it is saving us money with tractor time and expense, because it takes half the tractor time to cover the vineyard.”

Hofer said the On Target sprayer also is providing unsurpassed control of powdery mildew.

On Target Spray Systems require more care than other spray systems, Hofer said, but the maintenance has not been an issue.

“We found that as long as you follow the directions in the handbook, the maintenance of the On Target electrostatic sprayer is easy and simple and gives you a lot of reliability.

“We have never had a maintenance issue with that sprayer,” he said.Asked if he would recommend the technology to other growers, Hofer said “absolutely.”

“I would recommend it highly for other growers,” he said. “The On Target sprayer saves on tractor time, diesel fuel, wear-and-tear on the tractor, personnel time and, most importantly for us, we get the great coverage that allows me to go to sleep the night before I start spraying fully realizing I will get excellent coverage.”