The planter pass sets up a farmer’s success for the entire season, and because of this, Farm Journal Field Agronomists Ken Ferrie and Missy Bauer encourage farmers to spend time prepping their planter before the season and maintaining its performance through the season.
Bauer presented at five Farm Journal Corn College Planter Clinics this winter. She cites these three problems as the most common errors she sees in the field:
1- Ensure the planter is running level. To measure planter levelness, use a magnetic level on top of the main toolbar. While the planter is in the down and in the running position have someone in the tractor pull the planter forward at planting speed. Walk beside it and watch the level’s bubble. If it’s not level, adjust the hitch height at the drawbar or three point hitch up or down to get the planter level.
2- Maintain proper planting speed. Farmers need to resist the temptation to run a little faster and stay between 4.5 mph and 5 mph. Even well-calibrated meters may be able to singulate seed at faster speeds, but there can still be adverse effects from pushing the throttle forward. Though the seed is singulated properly, faster speeds lead to seed tube bounce that leads to misplaced seeds.
3- Set the correct amount of row unit down pressure. There are consequences to running too much or not enough down pressure. It may need to be checked every field and multiple times through the day. To know if you are running the right amount of row unit down pressure, look at the footprint of the gauge wheels and dig a cross-section of the seed trench to identify adequate down pressure.