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Finger pick-up planters still on the job

Many people are still using a technology that has worked for decades.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

April 29, 2015

2 Min Read

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.


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.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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