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Why such a problem with clumping fertilizer this year?

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by PetalsandPines, Aug 31, 2006.

  1. PetalsandPines

    PetalsandPines LawnSite Member
    Posts: 248

    I have never experienced so many problems as I have this year with product that will not flow properly through my permagreen & lesco spreader. It seems as if the fertilizer just sucks water out of the air, clumps and jams up the holes, I am constantly having to bounce my spreader and put it on it's side to get it flowing right. My biggest problems are coming from Lesco formulations. The standard particle was the worse, I have switched to an elite particle and it clumps like kitty litter. One day I spilled a bit of fert on the floor and the next morning it turned to liquid. I don't remember having issues like this in years past, was there a formula change? I noticed the bags are made to breathe, are they picking moisture out of the air while in storage??
  2. Harley-D

    Harley-D LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 508

    Sounds to me as if your on the money. Are you using a different fert than usual? The reason i ask is that sometimes a supplier will cut a deal to get rid of a fert that's been sitting around awhile. And in the humidity that we've had, it can clump stuff up quick. Escpecially if it's low in slow coat. I fell for that trap once. Got a great deal on the fert, though.

    Do you use spreader covers?
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,215

    I have had a lot of clumping problems,too. I use a very high anaylsis. So I need small openings, (I set it just below 1--about 21 on guage). And usually no slow release. Very hygroscopic--attracts moisture like crazy. High humidity and high temps make it all worse. In hot weather I have to clean out PG spreader every night (or in morning) with a little whisk broom and tiny dustpan. I use a plastic laundry basket with mesh bottom as a screen to catch lumps. About 3/8 inch openings. Difficult to get PG cleared if one hole plugs up during the day. Sometimes i take it to a vacant lot and open it up to the max to try to get it flowing again. Or...stick a finger up into the hopper from underneath. I use the hopper cover at night.
    If humidity is very high I close off the left and right holes and only use the center hole--opening it up to about 2 or 3. This leaves one extra big opening. Works OK, but pattern is a little heavy in the center.
    I use a Scotts R8 push spreader sometimes. I always use only the large center hole. Duct tape the others. Works fine. But some mornings I have to dump old fertilizer in an empty bag and start fresh.
    Lesco products with more slow release seemed to work fine.
  4. PetalsandPines

    PetalsandPines LawnSite Member
    Posts: 248

    I got a decent price on a pallet of lesco elite fert. 20-0-18 I believe (don't quote me) Basically it is a fert used for golf greens. Figured I try it out because I have a lot of smaller accounts that I can use a smaller prill size for fine tuning. Within 2 hours of pouring it in the hopper you can break a crust off the top. Never seen anything like it. Instead of filling hopper with 3 bags I am only using one so the pressure don't compact it even more. Speaking of PG. I got the new magnum and boy do I hate the flimsiness of the bar that opens the hopper. Today it was only in the low 70's and breezy, not a lot of humidity.
  5. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    I hear ya on the hopper handle, make a clip to latch it or the damn thing will open while travelling stop to stop. Mine just started the opening during transport, maybe because i just got the hitch rack, I don't know for sure but today my clip popped off and next thing I knew I had people honking and pointing to the back of the truck, I looked in the mirror and the hopper handle was wide open position. That got me POed.
  6. upidstay

    upidstay LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,341

    Yes, your fert literally was sucking moisture out of the air. It's designed to do that. If you don't have to, don't fertilize on really humid days. Merit is the worst for humidity. Some chemicals will "sweat" on very hot days, especially if left in the direct sun. Back in the bad old days of Dursban, used to tarp my fert bags to keep the sun off of them.
  7. philk17088

    philk17088 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,386

    I started spraying my hoppers with pure silicone water repellant, Camp water proofing stuff. It has helped stop the caking around the holes. It also makes cleanup easier. Spraying the paddles helped too. Just give it a chance to dry on before you put the fert in.
    I can't imagine the problems in those big tow behind ag spreaders!

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