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Planter Preparation (March 2011)
  02/24/11 11:07:56 AM

Maybe it was the long winter, but I haven’t ever been more excited about planting season in my life.  One of the farms I follow on Twitter is in Louisiana.  They’re already finished planting corn.  Wow, we’ve got to get things rolling!

Before you rush out to the field, though, the most important thing on your farm has to be getting every part of your planter functioning perfectly or as close to perfect as you can get it.  Your planter will be travelling about 8 feet per second in the field.  If the timing of dropping one corn seed is off just 1/30 of a second, it will be placed 3 ½ inches from where you wanted it to be.  Poor seed placement is estimated to cost farmers who do a good job adjusting their planters at least 5 bushels per acre and has been shown to be reduce yield potential as much as 50 bushels per acre when planters aren't adjusted well.  This is serious stuff!

Here’s a partial list of things to check on your corn planter before you go out to the field.  You can find the full list on our website at under the Resources tab. 

              Row Units

             Inspect down pressure springs, parallel linkage, and bushings.

            All broken, twisted or worn parts on the shank of the row unit should be replaced.

            Some planters have a firming point, shoe, or inside scraper.  They need to be replaced on a regular basis.  This will depend on your soil type.  The inside scraper also functions as a guard for the seed tube.  If it’s worn too much, your disc openers will wear on your seed tube.

            Worn seed tubes can cause erratic seed placement in the seed trench.  If your seed tubes need replacement you can now purchase seed tubes with tungsten inserts where they can come in contact with the disc opener.  These inserts can protect against wear.

             Disc Openers

            Any chipped, cracked, or abnormally worn disc blades should be replaced.

            Measure the blades across the center to determine wear.  Most new disc opener blades measure 15 inches.  Replace blades that show more than a half inch of wear.

            Disc opener blades should make contact from 6:00 to 8:00 or about four inches in circumference.  Heavy duty opener blades will not have as much contact (normally just three inches).

            Always replace disc openers in pairs.  Mismatching new and used opener blades can seriously affect the row unit’s ability to penetrate hard ground.  Using mismatching blades will also create an abnormally shaped seed trench, which will impact seed placement negatively.

            Row cleaners

            Adjust row cleaners to clear trash further than the gauge wheels.  Any crop residue that gets in front of your gauge wheels will cause shallow planting depth for the seeds at that spot.   Late emerging plants will effectively act as weeds in your field.

There is quite a list of things to check before your planter hits the field so you can get the best stand possible.  Check out the complete list at and do everything you can to get your planter in top shape.  If you need help, ask the best equipment specialists you can find.  Your planter functioning 100% is critical to getting top yields on your farm.

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