7 Tips To Prep Your Planter

Good planter maintenance will not only help maximize its performance, but your yield potential as well.

By Tharran E. Gaines

“If there’s anything we’ve learned with AGCO Crop Tour, it is that each seed has the potential to give a heck of a return,” says Larry Kuster, AGCO senior product marketing specialist, seeding and tillage. Yet, he emphasizes that planter maintenance and setup is crucial to giving every seed its best start. Accordingly, Kuster offers these must-do tips for planter care.

  1. Start with the seed meters. “You should take your meters out of the planter prior to planting, put them on a test stand, and run them to make sure they are operating correctly and the discs weren’t warped,” says Kuster. Ideally, the discs were also removed from the planter in the off-season to be cleaned, wrapped up and stored in a warm area to help prevent rust.
  2. “Nearly everyone’s seeds have some type of treatment on them,” says Kuster. “Whether graphite or some type of talc mix, it can build up on the meter.” So, clean the seed disc, tube and meter components.
  3. “Examine the path of the seed from the meters through the seed tube, and particularly the opening at the release point,” he says. “The bottoms of the seed tubes can wear off or get cracked, which can throw off the seed’s drop a fraction of a second, and that can cause a spacing issue.”
  4. Check for wear on planter disc openers. If a 16-inch opener has worn down to 15½ inches, that half inch can cause up to a ¾-inch difference in seed depth, and the disc, along with its mate, should be replaced.
  5. Paired disc openers should contact each other for a distance of 2 to 2½ inches at the pinch point. If an adjustment is needed, adjust from both sides. Also, if you spin the discs by hand and can hear the bearings, the bearings need to be replaced.
  6. Prior to planting, check the parallel linkage of the row units, and check the condition of the bushings that protect all the pivot points.
  7. On a planter with mechanical down pressure, check the settings frequently, including when moving from one field to another. This is important to achieve uniform emergence, yet can be time-consuming. If you use an automated system like DeltaForce® down force control from Precision Planting, be sure to run its diagnostic program each day of planting to make sure all row units are operating in top form.