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How Did Your Corn Planter Perform?
Not So Simple
The simple act of placing seed in the soil is not so simple anymore. Today’s planters have a bevy of accessories to help farmers improve their chances of getting the crop off to a good start. Still, it all boils down to seed placement.
Is Your Planter Level?
“Nothing else works right unless your planter is level,” says Matt Hagny, CCA at Exapta Solutions. A couple of degrees “nose-up,” is preferred. A planter configured thusly puts correct pressure on the row units and improves seed accuracy.
Forget Row Cleaners
Many farmers have a box full of unused planter attachments. Hagny reckons row cleaners that do too much cleaning are worse than those that don’t do that much. IF growers use row cleaners (a big if, he says) they should never turn more than half the time.
Let the Force Be With You
In most cases, there is not enough down pressure on individual row units, particularly in no-till soils. Hagny says airbag down-pressure systems are not enough; they often react too slowly to achieve down-pressure across rough terrain. Springs are more active and should be added.
Just a Pinch
In silt-clay-loam type soils, corn should be firmly placed at the bottom of the seed trench, pressed into place by the seed firming device and carefully pinched by the closing wheels. Hagny says the seed should kind of “pop” when he moves them with his fingers.
The Little Things
Tom Cannon pays close attention to the mechanical systems on his planter – the Blackwell, Oklahoma farmer even rebuilds the machine midway through planting season. “It’s often the little things that don’t cost much money that make a huge difference."
Today’s planters work great in ideal conditions, but in wheel tracks or other less-than-perfect field conditions, seed placement suffers. Check seeds behind wheel tracks and wings; adjust down pressure accordingly.
According to an Exapta stand establishment test, a well-maintained planter (opener blades within tolerance, good seed guard and tubes; max down pressure and seed firmers) improves stand 50% more than a worn machine.
A Good Start
Note how this row unit is equipped: the fertilizer system is separate from the row unit. Hagny says row-mounted fertilizer setups rob down pressure and wear out parallel linkage, impacting seed placement. This unit also has seed closing wheels that crumble the soil.