Tom McKinney likes high-speed planting tubes that allow him to plant at faster speeds than he did in the past. However, the Tipton, Ind., farmer has no intention of finding out just how fast he could plant and still get the seed in the ground.
While farming is his primary business, McKinney and his wife, Karen, also operate several related businesses, including a Precision Planting dealership. Neil Cline, a longtime employee, handles the Precision Planting business in most cases while Tom and Karen attend to managing and operating the farm.
They installed high-speed planting tubes from Precision Planting soon after the technology became available. John Deere also produces and markets high-speed planting tubes. The companies use different approaches for similar results.
Before adding the high-speed tubes, Tom McKinney typically planted at 5 to 5.5 miles per hour. He was interested in maintaining uniform seed drop for fast, even emergence. With the high-speed seed tubes, he typically plants at 7 to 7.5 miles per hour. He’s satisfied that planter performance is as good at these speeds with the innovative seed delivery system as it was in the past driving at slower speeds.
“It amounts to increasing planting capacity by about 25%,” McKinney says. “That’s huge in an operation where you have lots of acres to cover, especially in a wet spring.”
Some people talk about driving even faster. In fact, Precision Planting has tested planters equipped with the high-speed tubes at speeds as high as 13 miles per hour and found that they still deliver a good stand, Cline says.
“I’m not interested in planting at those kinds of speeds,” McKinney says. “You would get too much wear and tear on your planter bouncing across the field.”
Just because you could plant that fast doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you to do, McKinney says. Besides, there is another factor that influences how fast you can plant besides whether the planter can work effectively at that speed.
Need lots of power
“You’ve got to have more horses if you’re going to plant faster,” McKinney says. “That’s true even in our case going from 5 or so to 7 to 7.5 miles per hour.”
Pulling a 24-row planter and carrying fertilizer as well at 5 miles per hour is one thing, he notes. Carrying the same load at 7.5 miles per hour is a different animal altogether. “We need a 310-horsepwoer tractor to pull our planter at 7 to 7.5 miles per hour,” he says. “We couldn’t even go 8.5 or 9 miles per hour and pull it right with our 310-horsepower tractor.”
Cline says that as far as the high-speed seed tubes go, the technology is improving all the time. Precision Planting has already made adjustments so tubes wear longer and are more likely to work problem-free.
If you want to be on the cutting edge but not the bleeding edge, high-speed technology may be right for you. Just make sure you have enough horsepower to pull your planter faster, McKinney says.