in The Shop: First Day Planting--In Case You Forgot How

Published on: 19:41PM Apr 10, 2020

Just in case you forgot since last year:

-Tined row cleaners should be set just high enough to move root balls, clumps of crop residue and the occasional rock. When you look back at the planter while planting, only 1/3 of the row cleaners should be turning at any time. If more than half are turning you're probably moving too much dirt, carving trenches and will have problems with water eroding down the rows if you get heavy rains.

-Set down pressure on the gauge wheels away from headlands in an "average" part of the field. Stop the planter, leave it "down" in planting position, then go back and manually rotate some of the gauge wheels. If you can't turn any gauge wheel: too much down pressure. If you can easily turn gauge wheels: not enough pressure. If you can turn most of the gauge wheels 1/4-turn by hand, then down pressure is about right.

-Closing wheel pressure should be less than you expect. Don't judge by the "firmness" of the soil at the surface. Dig down to seed depth and see if the soil is firm--not packed--around the seeds. Remember how your mother used to gently firm the soil around seeds she planted in her garden? That should be your goal in the corn or bean field. 

-The only way to know exactly what your planter is doing is to dig, dig and then dig some more. Fancy seed monitors and iPads in the tractor cab only offer their software's interpretation of what's going on behind the tractor. It's tough to do a good job planting corn without getting the knees of your pants dirty.