Maximizing Yields with Spring Planter Care

contributed by: Shawn Brenneman, District Manager

All the planning that goes into a successful crop – seed choice and positioning, fertility and chemical programs, crop budgets and marketing plans – has been done. You’re ready for spring. Or are you? A little bit of preventative maintenance now on your planter will not only help ensure more trouble free time spent in the field, but will also start the crop off to achieve maximum yield potential.

Careful attention to your planter and the calibration of your seed units can often improve yields through even spacing and consistent depth control.

Here’s a quick list of some of the major points to consider when getting your planter ready for the field.

Before heading to the field
• Check and replace all worn out parts: seed meter components, chain links, disc openers, hydraulic hoses, seed tubes.
• Check that planter units are level to the ground when in operation (can affect disc opener depth, press wheels, seed to soil contact).
• Ensure that coulters and disc openers are aligned accurately – proper alignment improves accuracy of seed furrow opening.
• Lubricate drive chains. Worn, stiff or loose chains can cause a pulsing pattern in the placement of the seed.
• Inflate tires to proper specifications. Over or under inflation of drive tires can affect the transmission speed and seed dispersal.
• Calibrate pesticide and fertilizer planter attachments since application rates can easily change from year to year.
• Clean any hoses and seed tubes. Spider webs and mouse nests can trap seed and result in uneven spacing.
• Check the bottom of the seed tubes. Improper wear can affect the seed trajectory resulting in uneven seed spacing.
• On finger planters, check the finger pickup backplates for rust and seed treatment build-up.
• On air or vacuum planters, check all seals, gaskets and alignment of tubes if the planter folds for transport.

In the field
• Planting speeds should typically not exceed 5-6 mph, otherwise proper kernel metering and seed to soil contact could be impacted.
• Check the actual depth of seeding regularly. Actual seed depth can vary from targeted planter setting as soil conditions change.
• Be sure to clean out hoppers between changes in herbicide tolerant varieties. especially those that are glyphosate tolerant (GT).
• Use graphite or talc where needed to help lubricate the seed and reduce seed treatment build-up in the meter.

Consult your operation manual for a more detailed list of preventative maintenance tips specific for your planter.
Have a safe and productive spring.

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