Maintaining Closing Wheels

Closing wheels on a planter have two functions – close the furrow, or the seed-vee, and firm the soil around the seed. Most manufacturers use two, angled closing wheels on their planters which can be rubber or cast iron, or producers may add spiked wheels.

Paul Jasa is an Extension ag engineer at the University of Nebraska. He says before planting, it’s recommended to check and make sure the wheels are centered directly above the seed-vee. You can do this in the shop by drawing a line on the floor with the openers by lowering the planter and driving forward slowly.  Then check the closing wheels making sure that they’re centered over the mark. This is also a good time to assess the condition of the wheels.

"If they’re chipped and have holes in them, chunks missing out of them, they can collect mud. In dry conditions it probably wouldn’t bother a bit, they’ll still function. But I’d hate to have mud sticking and start building up on the wheels because then they become less effective," says Jasa. "Now, if we switched to spiked closing wheels, the spikes can wear down and become a smaller diameter. A tail assembly holding the wheels now is closer to the ground, slanted downward and back, and we’re not going to be as effective closing the seed-vee itself."

Check the bearings on the closing wheels. Dust or fertilizer splashed on them can have a corrosive effect, causing the bearings to grind and not spin freely.

"Once a bearing starts to grind a little bit, the wheel will drag as well and then that can actually slide the soil and slide the seed in the seed-v and mess up my spacing," he says. "So, the quick way to check is to walk by the planter and give each tire a quick kick with your foot or spin it with your hand, and it should spin freely without any noise."