12 Jan 2022

Planning for Spring: Planter Maintenance Checklist

We’re in the heart of winter across LG Seeds country, which means a lot of you are preparing for the upcoming spring planting season. Even though planting is a few months away, time spent planning this time of year will save us valuable time in season when planters need to be rolling. Many of you may have heard the quote, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” There probably is no truer statement when it comes to getting ready for spring planting. Here are a few things to consider as the season fast approaches.

Now is the time of year to fine tune the plans we made when we ordered seed last fall. This can be done by making field-by-field plans of what is going to be planted where and at what populations. Advantage Acre can help us organize our seed plans on a field-by-field basis, as well as help prepare seeding rate recommendations by hybrid based on the productivity of different areas of the field and the predicted trend of weather for the upcoming growing season. This program can help our bottom line by maximizing the productivity of each product and each field.

Along with these planning aspects, preparing before taking our planters to the field is just as important. There are many things to check over and make sure are functioning correctly before we get to the field that directly affect our bottom line. In corn especially, non-uniformity in our planted stands can cost us upwards of 7 to 15 bpa according to research done by Purdue University. Now is the perfect time to go over the below checklist to make sure we are maximizing the potential of our crop.

Before The Field: Planter Maintenance Checklist

Seed Meter Care

  • Inspect meters for any warping, breaks or severe wearing.
  • Check all bearings, brushes, seals, and meter surfaces.
  • Never store seed disks in a row unit, take them out of row unit, wash and store on a rod or dowel in a heated area to prevent warping.

Chains and Idlers

  • Check daily during planting.
  • Replace annually, chains are inexpensive in the process when you think about their significance to consistent seed spacing.

Bearings and drive shafts

  • Check for proper alignment.
  • Ensuring all bearings are in good condition will help reduce precious time in the planting process.
  • Sprockets and transmission gears need to be checked for wear and adjustment. Proper lubrication and smooth operation ensure population adjustments go smoothly.

Row Cleaners

  • Make sure they are centered on the row unit.
  • Ensure they move freely, both the wheels and the range of motion up and down.
  • Once in the field, check to see that residue is moved at the desired rate, i.e. not too deep as to “plow” ahead of the row unit and not too shallow as to not move enough trash and have poor seed to soil contact.

Planter Leveling

  • Row unit should be 3/8” to ½” lower than the front.
  • Should be done with the same tractor that you plan to plant with.
  • If this isn’t done, the rest of the planter operations won’t function properly. If the seed tube angles are incorrect, closing wheels will have either too much or not enough down pressure.
  • Checking to see if parallel linkage is running parallel.

Disc Openers

  • Check to make sure disk openers are proper diameter, JD should never be less than 14.5” in diameter (15” new).
  • Make sure there’s no play in the openers, bearings aren’t worn.

Depth Control Linkage

  • Make sure depth of entire planter is checked and the same to establish a starting point if adjustment is needed in the field. (2x4 and plywood under the gauge wheels)
  • Check wheel bearings to ensure no wobbling. Gauge wheels should always be in contact with the disk openers.
  • Worn tires can allow dirt to fall into the bottom of the furrow affecting seed depth.

Seed Tubes and Sensors

  • Seed tubes can get worn out if disks are run longer than they’re supposed to causing wear at the bottoms.
  • Seed tubes and sensors need to be kept clean as much as possible.
  • Sensors should be tested prior to planting to ensure proper function.

Closing Wheels

  • Make sure that the closing wheels are aligned properly over the center of the furrow to ensure proper furrow closure.
  • Check bearings, make sure free spinning
  • Ensure down pressure is correct for the given soil type planting in to.
Advantage Acre, along with Weathertrends360, can help us better plan for the planter pass by giving us 84 percent accuracy in what the future weather may hold 11 months in advance. This is especially important when we have adverse conditions during the planting season that can delay the emergence of our stands, which in turn can reduce our overall potential.  Another thing to consider when planning our planter pass is the hybrid emergence scores listed on the tech sheets. These hybrid emergence scores can greatly affect how fast the stand is established as well as its uniformity. The more things we can do to give us the best chance at fast, even emergence, the better our chances are to reach the best potential.