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Inspect, repair, calibrate

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Armed with your planter's owner's manual, start your examination of finger pickup meters by completely disassembling each unit and blowing out all debris, seed, and graphite with compressed air.

"Pay particular attention to graphite buildup around the cams of the pickup mechanism's hub," Kevin Kimberley advises. "Scrub off any seed treatment from working parts with a surface-cleaning solvent on both sides of the meter. And buff out any surface rust."

Manuals provide tips for inspecting parts for wear and required adjustments. "I like to replace certain parts like brushes, belts, and their idlers each year," Kimberley says. "Look for a warped baffle or elevator housing. Reapply slip plate as instructed in the owner's manual, but do so lightly. Overapplication does more harm than good." Have meters calibrated by a planter technician to assure they're operating dead-on accurate, he urges.

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Armed with your planter's owner's manual, start your examination of finger pickup meters by completely disassembling each unit and blowing out all debris, seed, and graphite with compressed air.

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Again, disassemble the entire meter and blow it clean. "Seed treatment buildup is particularly a problem with pneumatic meters, as it adheres to plastic parts like glue," Kimberley says.

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Large- and small-size seed corn used to come in two basic shapes: flats and rounds. Now add wedgies, canoes, and torpedoes.

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Remove disks and measure their diameters. If that measurement is close to or greater than 1/2 inch less than the original size, replace the disks.

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Remove all tubes, checking their bottoms for wear.

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With the planter in transport position, grab these wheels and turn them to check for "operating slop, indicating worn eccentric bearings," Kimberley advises.

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Check the closing wheel assembly for looseness where its arms connect to the row unit.

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"We often ignore parallel linkage -- at our peril," Kimberley says. "Their bushings can be worn and arms bent or twisted, which jeopardizes the ability of a row unit to run level and smooth."

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Down-pressure springs, like parallel linkage, are often overlooked.

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Every component on the entire drive system (including the transmission) should be examined -- chains or cables, sprockets, idlers, clutches and their bushings or bearings.

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"There is nothing more time-consuming than repairing a tire during planting," Kimberley says. So inspect all the tires and check their pressure.

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The final step in prepping the planter for the field includes checking the alignment of each row.

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