Agronomy Blog

Planter Maintenance

by Steve Crafton | Dec 17, 2015

Maintenance this winter will save time and improve plant stands next spring

It seems like every spring there is some type of challenge thrown at us when trying to get our crops in the ground in a timely fashion.  Equipment can greatly influence a good stand of corn.  Time lost due to breakdowns or replanting can hopefully be minimal with making planter adjustments and proper maintenance during the winter months.  Weather is one variable we cannot control, but seeding the crop is one thing we can influence with proper planter maintenance.  If you do not have the time or place to work on your planter, I would suggest taking it to a local dealer.  Seed spacing, seeding depth and good seed to soil contact are crucial to good stand establishment.  Studies have shown a several bushel yield loss per acre due to a poor stand.

Planter maintenance tips

  • Make sure seed tubes are clean, no major wear on end of tube, sensors are clean and working.Check wiring on sensors for any damage and use an air compressor to help clean out dust and debris.
  • Oil chains and replace any rusty worn chains.Make sure the sprockets do not have a lot of wear on sprocket teeth.
  • Replace any broken fingers, adjust tension, brushes and inspect belt on finger pickup planters.These issues can cause significant yield loss due to planter skips, doubles and variable population throughout field.
  • Check disc openers and seed firmer’s, replace any with excessive wear.This will help with good seed to soil contact and uniform planting depth.
  • Check tire pressure – over inflated, as well as underinflated, tires on a planter can make a difference on seeds per acre.
  • Adjust down pressure to make good seed to soil contact.Too much could cause issues with compaction, not enough will influence seeding depth.
  • Inspect row cleaners for excessive wear.A good tip is to check and adjust from field to field.They need to just skim across the top of the soil clearing any debris from the soil surface.If adjusted too deep it could lead to uneven seeding depth and possible crusting of soil if a rain occurs a day or 2 after planting.
  • Check hydraulic and vacuum hoses for wear; if it looks questionable replace it.Busting a hose and spending a half day replacing it when the planter should be rolling is frustrating.
  • Adjust air, and or vacuum, to the seed size/ weight you are planting.This needs to be done each time you change hybrids for accurate planting population.
  • Make sure the planter is riding level through field this could cause issues with seeding depth and seed to soil contact.
  • Check planting depth and spacing multiple times in a field and when you change fields.Soil types and structure very in most fields, and from field to field, so checking depth and spacing is a good idea to insure uniform emergence with good spacing.

Replacing old worn out parts in the off season will save time and improve plant stands which will result in higher yields at harvest.  I listed a few tips from my past experiences with planter maintenance and achieving a good uniform stand.  Every planter is a little different, so refer to your owner’s manual for a complete list of items to inspect.