Planter Checkup List
This is the time of year that most farms have a planter in the shop so you’re working on the most important machine on your farm. There is a very popular saying that goes something like, “the sins of planting will haunt you the entire season.” This rings true if you have even minor issues on your planter at the start of the season. The focus this year is all about getting all of our plants we planted out of the ground and at the same time so we get stand counts that turn into ear counts. Losing even 1,000 plants per acre costs you 7-8 bushels at harvest so let’s get this first pass right. The following are some preseason planter checkups you should be doing.
- Row Cleaners: Check overall appearance and bearings. If they are floating check the full range of motion checking for any wiring or hoses that can become entangled.
- No-till Coulters: Check diameter and sharpness of coulters. Put planter on a level surface and make sure they are running ¼” above double disk openers to prevent false trench bottoms. If you won’t be in heavy residue no-till consider removing them if you have row cleaners to prevent pinning residue in trench ahead of openers.
- Disk Openers: Take a business card and come in from front and back marking where there is contact on the disks, the space in between this should be around 2”. If it’s more or less than 2” check the shims and recheck the disk contact. Disks on John Deere and Kinze planters should be no less than 14.5” in diameter, check and replace worn ones as needed.
- Chains and Sprockets: Check all chains and sprockets for wear and kinks. Even small kinks and vibrations can greatly affect seed spacing and singulation. Consider replacing if in doubt.
- Shaft Alignment: Check hex shafts to make sure they align when planter is unfolded. Also check for spacing and any warping in the shaft.
- Seed Tubes: Check seed tubes for any feathering or wear at the bottom, and replace if you see any. Some have warped when left in storage so check to see if they line up when placed in planter. John Deere planters should have the seed tube protector checked, buy a new one and compare to current, replace any that are worn.
- Seed Firmers: Keeton seed firmers should have an audible smack if pull and release them when planter is placed on a level surface. Other brands will have specific instructions for checking pressure, refer to their material on how to set them up.
- Row Units: Take each row unit and pick up on them checking for any wiggle. Check the bushings on parallel arms for any play and replace as needed.
- Gauge Wheels: Gauge wheels should have contact with disk openers and should have no play in them side to side. When the planter is put down they should not be able to spin freely.
- Closing Wheels: Place the planter on a flat surface and pull a few feet forward scratching with disk openers. Closing wheels should line up with disk openers running perfectly down the middle of them.
- Finger Meters: Check fingers for any defects, check holes at base of arm for any wear also checking springs for pressure. Check brushes for any issues or wear. Check backing plate for wear or warping.
- Vac Meters: Check plates for warping, and check singulators for any issues. Double check vac tubing and pressure before taking planter to field.
- Seed Lube: Most manufacturers have a recommended seed lubricant, but from experience an 80/20 graphite talc blend seems to cover most needs. If you are using a corn planter for planting soybeans, don’t skip on the lubricant. In the past no lubricant on treated soybeans has shown major issues in plantabilty. Bayer has also come out with their new fluency agent that reduces dust from vac and air planters while cutting down on residue left in planter.
For more information, contact your local Landmark agronomist @800-236-3276.