Preseason planter maintenance tips

Jonah Johnson

Jonah Johnson

Hopefully by now you have begun to service and prepare your planter for a successful crop initiation. Set yourself up for a successful planting season and a prosperous harvest by taking time to ensure your planter has been calibrated and set to handle the varying seed size that we are experiencing this year. Below are some guidelines to assist in properly adjusting your planting equipment.

 

Planter frame adjustment

Hitch and toolbar height: Tractor hitch heights may vary due to tire size, tractor manufacturer, and type of planter. Hitch height should be raised to level toolbar for best planter performance. The tool bar height should be 20 to 22 inches from ground level. Make sure it is level or running slightly uphill to provide correct down-pressure from springs.

Seed transmission systems: Check sprockets, chains, bearings, meter drives and insecticide drives daily. Any vibration in the drive system will end up at the meters and cause spacing issues.

 

Seed furrow creation

If using no-till coulters, they need to be a quarter inch above the openers, make sure the depth is not set to deep. Coulters should run a quarter inch above Tru-Vee openers.

If coulters are too deep the seed will be planted too deep and the openers won’t turn.

 

Row cleaner setting

Set your planter’s row cleaners deep enough to remove trash and not throw soil. In some cases, floating cleaners may help. Floating row cleaners follow contours and are less likely to “trench” or “hover” when compared to “locked” row cleaners.

 

Check opening disks for proper seed furrow

Check opening disks for wear and alignment. Disks should form a “V” trench, not a “W.” In general, regardless of equipment manufacturer, disks must be replaced when they lose half an inch in diameter.

 

Seed singulation

For finger units, check brushes and fingers for wear. Replace worn or grooved faceplates and replace seed conveyors with missing ladders. In vacuum systems, check for air leaks and worn seals around the metering units.

Larger seed size in 2017 will require increased use of talc, graphite or a combination of the two to assist your respective planter handle varying seed size.

 

Seed drop and covering

Check seed tubes and tube guards for wear, bending or deformation and repair as needed. Vibration or bounce of the row unit can cause tumbling and poor seed spacing. Seed firmers help eliminate gaps between the seed and the bottom of the seed trench which helps create good seed-to-soil contact and uniform depth within the seed trench. Gauge wheels should slightly rub on the disk opener to help create a good seed trench and keep the openers clean.

Keep in mind that too much down force will create sidewall compaction. In tougher, wet soils, spiked closing wheels may help prevent sidewall compaction.
Whole planter inspections

Central fill systems: Seed bridging in the seed tank and seed plugging in the seed hose are common issues. Symptoms of seed bridging include no seed and too much air in the mini hoppers. If this occurs, assess whether the tank pressure is set to the recommended setting and whether the tank agitator is turning when the fan is running. Make sure the agitator pins are centered over seed nozzle openings and then adjust tank pressure by one pound until seed begins to flow.

Symptoms of seed plugging include seed stuck in the seed delivery hose between the tank and mini hopper or in the elbow of the mini hopper. To remedy this situation, make sure the tank pressure is set correctly for the crop being planted. You may also need to unplug the agitator motor to allow less seed to be picked up. For small seed, use tank nozzle inserts.

 

Seed lubricants

Proper use of talc and graphite may eliminate a lot of potential problems. Talc removes static and graphite lubricates seed while moving through the system. Use rates may need to increase for large treated seed and when temperature and humidity are high. Check your respective equipment manufacture’s manuals for recommended amounts of seed lubricant. Also, your seed dealer may have specific recommendations to improve seed flowability.

For more information, visit Pioneer GrowingPoint agronomy at pioneer.com/agronomy.

Sign up to receive the latest agronomy updates for your geography from DuPont Pioneer at pioneer.com/signup.

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