JUST ADD SUNSHINE
Is your planter ready to roll once the weather straightens out and soil conditions are right? Check out these tips to make sure you are prepared.
One of the first things Pete Illingworth does each year is make sure the planter frame is level so the units don’t pitch forward or back. That helps get the right seed depth.
GOOD SOIL CONDITIONS
Soil conditions were so rough that planter units weren’t placing these soybeans deep enough in every situation. If seeds are left on the surface, either units need to be set to plant deeper, or the soil isn’t in good enough shape to form a proper seedbed.
CHECK COULTERS, BLADES
Did you check coulters and double-disk opener blades for wear in the off-season? If you’ve decided they have more life left in them, pay attention to them as the season progresses.
Does the person who will operate the planter know how to adjust seeding depth properly? Does he or she have access to the planter manual and understand how to use it to change settings? This could save time in the field.
STOP AND MEASURE
A tape measure can come in handy to double-check seed depth placement, Pete Illingworth says. Just because the setting says seed will be placed 2 inches deep doesn’t mean the planter is putting seed exactly 2 inches deep in all conditions. Check each row across the planter at least once.
READ AND SAVE
Avoiding mistakes that could lead to spraying the wrong herbicide and ending up with dead corn or soybeans starts with checking the seed tag. Know which chemicals each hybrid or variety you plant is tolerant to, and keep the tags to record the information for easy reference later.
CLOSING WHEEL PERFORMANCE
Note that the center pair of closing wheels is different than those on either side. In this case, the farmer set up the planter before the season started so he could compare how different types of closing wheels performed. If you go to all that trouble, be sure to stop and compare performance, even if it means taking a few minutes to do so.
INSPECT DOWN PRESSURE
Even if you checked the down-pressure system in advance, make sure it’s working when you get to the field. Depending on which system you have, rows may act together or independently. Either way, there is a mechanism on each row that should be visually inspected often.
MONITOR FERTILIZER SYSTEM
You no doubt checked the starter fertilizer system in advance. Is it working properly in the field? If you have a monitoring system on it, even if it is the Redball system, be sure to glance at it from time to time to check that each row is working properly. Is the overall starter rate per acre figuring out correctly? Is each row delivering fertilizer either to the seed trench or near the row?
If you’re weighing seed coming out of a seed tender, or if you’re weighing other products in the field, make sure scales are calibrated and working properly before the first day you can plant.