April 29, 2015
Finger pick-up planters were the rage in the 1970s when they replaced plate planters. Overall, finger-pick-up planters were more accurate. Some believe vacuum planters are the most accurate choice today, but based on a farmer survey, there are still a large number of planters with finger pick-up units being used to plant corn.
Converted to vacuum: This planter started life as a finger pick-up planter, but was converted to an air planter. More people are beginning to make this change. The key is making sure you have enough hydraulic power to drive the air units.
That means there is still a big need for education on helping those planters do the best job they can of planting corn. It typically involves storing the meters properly so they don't rust, then running them through a test stand to make sure they are singulating seed properly. If not, a finger or a spring may be broken. Changing out the broken part with a new part often improves the accuracy tremendously.
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A survey of customers at Stewart Seed winter meetings showed there are still a good number of finger-pickup planters in use on farms. That means there are still people worried about the size and grade of seed. It tends to be a bigger deal in finger-pickup planters.
More than 50% of the farmers answering questions in the survey said they still used a finger-pickup planter. Only about one-third were using vacuum planters. Some had one of each. That may be common where an operation has one planter for corn and another planter for soybeans. Often, the older, finger pick-up planter may be used for soybeans. When planting soybeans, the finger pick-up mechanism is switched out for a soybean cup.
Brian Denning, an agronomist with Stewart Seeds, Greenburg, believes the actual number of finger pick-up planters out there may not be quite that high. Some of the younger farmers who would tend to have newer vacuum planters aren't always the ones who attend meetings, he notes.
However, the question did make it clear that it is still important to provide instructions for care and repair of finger pick-up planters.
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