Potato Vine Flamers

Product Description
Call for More Info
Maximum quantity available reached.

Not sold online, call for details and pricing!

• One Application Desiccation

• Effective & Affordable Treatment of Blight Spore

• Kills insects & insect habitat

• Preemergence Weed Control

• Safe For the Environment – No Runoff, Soil or Ground Water Contamination

• Available in 2, 4, 6, and 8 Row Units

Red Dragon® Potato Vine Flamers offer producers a totally organic way to desiccate potato vines to stop the growth and set the skins of potatoes. Flamers burn clean, efficient propane, so there is no residue, run-off, or contamination to worry about due to chemical or acid use.

This flaming process uses our patented liquid spray torches which are specially designed to spray liquid propane into the vines where combustion takes place. The canopy of vines and foliage help hold the heat helping to make more efficient use of the fuel. The intense heat thermally shocks the green vines and destroys cell tissues in the leaves, destroying the plant’s ability to conduct photosynthesis. Tall varieties require flail chopping before flaming.

Flaming is also a very effective weapon for blight control. Chemical treatments are expensive, and not an option for organic growers. Flaming to desiccate or scorching the ground right before harvest will help control blight spores.

Fuel consumption averages 20 to 30 gallons (76-114 Liters) per acre and is affected by both the pressure supplied to the spray nozzles and by the ground speed. Ground speeds range from 3 to 5 m.p.h. Heavy foliage must be desiccated at a higher pressure and a slower speed and light foliage can be flamed at a higher speed and lower fuel pressure. This allows the operator to gauge the LP gas used to the amount of foliage, thus conserving fuel and reducing costs.

Safe And Easy To Use. All Red Dragon® Potato Vine Flamers come with electronic solenoids allowing flame control and immediate shut down from the driver’s seat.

Always consult your propane dealer about purchasing the proper tank or have them check your existing tank to make sure it is clean and safe before you begin flaming. You MUST use a propane tank equipped with a Liquid Withdrawal Valve. Do NOT use a bottom withdrawal valve as any possible debris or scale may plug torches or solenoids down the line. We recommend a top-mounted, liquid withdrawal valve with a dip tube that reaches close to but does not rest on the bottom of the tank. Clean fuel and tanks are critical for the optimum performance of all flaming equipment. Please contact us before selecting a propane tank.

The dark rows were flamed 10
minutes prior to the photograph.

Five days after flaming
the results are obvious.

Twelve days after flaming.
Flaming Works!

  • Complete roll cage protection for tank & control heads.
  • Tank straps with valve guard assembly.
  • Category 2 - 3 point hitch.
  • Toolbar complete with leg mounting brackets.
  • Hydraulics for toolbar (standard on 8 PVF & 6 PVF).
  • Complete Manifold Assemblies with electronic solenoids.
  • Cab Control Box with master shut-off switch.
  • All Torches Needed.
  • All necessary hoses cut to length with brass fittings.
  • Fuel Strainer.
  • Red Dragon® Vapor Torch Kit for lighting torches.
  • 250 Gallon LP Tank

Potato Vine Units Include





Kits available in widths 5' - 20'


  • Complete manifold assemblies with electronic solenoids

  • Cab control box with a master shut-off switch

  • Toolbar leg assemblies

  • All torches required for your configuration

  • All necessary hoses cut to length with brass fittings

  • Fuel Strainer

  • Custom Mounting Brackets for the Toolbar legs

  • Valve Protector

  • Red Dragon® Vapor Torch Kit for lighting torches






In 1938 an Alabama farmer had an idea. Price McLemore discovered that the flame from a kerosene burner would destroy the weeds in his cotton and corn. A machine was assembled and several acres of his corn and cotton were flamed cultivated. This first known attempt at flame cultivation from a tractor-mounted unit consisted of two kerosene burners per row on a two-row unit. The fuel tank was pressurized with a bicycle pump, which would supply the necessary fuel to the four burners. This must have been quite a sight to neighboring farmers as he drove the tractor with one hand and pumped like crazy with the other hand. It was crude but effective.

For several years he attempted to arouse interest in his process by presenting it to agricultural research institutions and experiment stations. Most of his efforts were met with disbelief and laughter. Finally, in 1942 Louisiana State University began experimenting with flame weeding in sugar cane under the direction of Dr. H. T. Barr. The Delta Branch Experiment Station included flame cultivation in their 1943 cotton weed control project, and in 1944 they began work with corn and soybeans. The results of these experiments were very promising, especially in cotton, and generated a great deal of interest among farmers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas. It is estimated that by 1946 there were at least 1,000 flame cultivators in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta.

Soon after, the International Harvester Company began researching flame cultivation and developed a cast iron burner. It produced a relatively flat, fan-shaped flame which improved the coverage area as the unit moved through the field. However, this project was abandoned due to a corporate decision.

One of the next developments in row crop cultivation was the addition of another burner, sometimes under a hood, to control the weeds and grass between the rows. This was not universally accepted, according to J. W. Gotcher Sr., President of Gotcher Engineering and Manufacturing Co., an early manufacturer of flaming equipment. "Most growers thought it was necessary to stir the soil at regular intervals throughout most of the growing season for maximum plant growth and production" according to Gotcher. The third burner technique became popular when frequent rains caused the fields to be too wet to cultivate in a conventional manner.

It is estimated that by 1960 there were 15,000 flaming units in the fields, most of which were being used in cotton with some used in corn and soybeans. At about this same time interest was growing in non-selective flaming of mint and alfalfa.

In the years that followed, research proved that flame cultivation can be used on 30 to 40 different crops with good results. Although the majority of the research has been done with corn, cotton, and soybeans, many other crops such as milo, garlic, blueberries, strawberries, radish, lettuce, potatoes, asparagus, grapes, fruit trees, and the Australian tea tree all have been successfully flame cultivated.

The objective of row crop flaming is not to "burn the weeds to a crisp" but to expose the weed to enough heat to vaporize the water in the plant cells. This will destroy the plant's ability to move moisture and carry on photosynthesis and in a short time will cause the plant to wither and die. The time that the flame must be in contact with the weed will vary with the type and size, but in most cases, 1/10 of a second is enough exposure. Small, tender plants are more susceptible to heat than more mature growth, therefore the crop needs to be larger than the weeds or grass to be controlled. Some plants by nature are more resistant than others to the 2000° F. blast of heat from the torch. The best way to tell if you have sufficiently exposed the weed is to perform "The Fingerprint Test". To perform this test, squeeze the leaf between your thumb and finger. If you leave your "fingerprint" the weed has been exposed to enough heat to kill it. When preparing to flame, the speed, torch angle, fuel pressure, and other variables need to be considered.

A proper burner setting is necessary for weed control and to prevent damage to the crop. In some cases the crop will be stressed, however, it will recover in a very short period of time. Normally the burners are set at an angle of 30-60° from horizontal (See figure 1), 4-10 inches from the crop, and a pressure of 25-70 PSIG. Tractor speed will vary from 2.5 to 5 mph. Generally, torches are staggered when moving through the row so as not to collide with the flame from the opposite burner (See figure 1). By directing flame into the crop row from both sides, more complete coverage and faster ground speeds are possible.

A different application would be pre-emerge flaming, sometimes called seedbed sterilization. This is generally performed before the crop is planted to remove any weeds in the seedbed and to give the crop a viable start. A variation to this technique is to flame 3-4 days after planting, just before crop emergence, to give the crop a good weed-free start.

Flame Engineering Inc. manufactures complete units and kits, which mount to the producer's toolbar. Our complete unit comes with skid style legs, tank cradle, and protection cage. When ordering a kit, the producer has the option of either skid style legs, like the complete unit, or drop-down legs suspended from the toolbar. The kits do not include tank cradle or rollover protection.

Figure One

Flame cultivation is performed on potatoes for control of the Colorado potato beetle (CPB). According to Moyer, these burners were directed towards the row at 45° from horizontal of the boom and tilted downward at a 45° angle. The flamer was operated at speeds from 3, 4, 5, and 6 mph (6). Moyer also stated that "the flaming technique provided 70-80% control of overwintering adult CPB. It was also determined that flaming reduced egg hatch by 35%, lowering the number of first-generation CPB larvae (6)."

Another use for flaming in potato fields is potato vine desiccation before harvest. Vine desiccation is accomplished by using Red Dragon® Liquid Spray Torches. Speeds traveled when desiccating vines will range from 2-4 mph depending on pressure settings and vine density.


Byrd and Snipes, C. E. Flame Cultivation in Cotton. 1996. (August 8th, 1999).

Chappell, W. E. "Flaming of Corn, Soybeans, and Vegetable Crops" Fifth Annual Symposium on Thermal Agriculture (1968) 55-56.

Moyer, Dale D. Development of a Propane Flamer for Colorado Potato Beetle Control. Cornell Cooperative Extension. 1991.

Parks, Jack H. "Progress of Flame Cultivation in the Texas High Plains and Rio Grande Valley." Proceedings of First Annual Flame Symposium. (1964) 8-17.

Smith, Bryant, and Hall, M. Flame Cultivation to Control Weeds. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Bulletin 269. Undated.

Wilson and Ilnicki, R. D. "Control of Annual Weeds in Cole Crops." Proceedings of Third Annual Symposium. (1966) 18-21.


Related products