Time spent in the shop over the next couple of works could pay big if your planter needs tuning up, other equipment isn't ready or you haven't checked seed size and adjusted your settings yet.
Our calculations show time spent could be worth up to $1,000 per hour. That might be conservative.
Some of these tips involve simple maintenance; others involve making some equipment changes and investing some money. Now is the time to decide and make your pre-season preparations!
Level the hitch: For units to place seed properly you need the planter frame to be level with the ground. It may not sound like a big deal, but Bill Lehmkuhl, farmer and owner of Precision Agri-Services, Minster, Ohio, says it is. You will need to double-check it in the field, but beware of what you will need to do to make sure it is level before planting day arrives.
Have enough capacity: If you've upgraded your planter, can you use the same tractor this year? It's likely not a matter of horsepower, but of hydraulic and electric capacity. Planting day is the wrong day to find out you have an issue.
Check tractor performance: The planter might be ready but if it's upgraded and the tractor can't power all the new hydraulic and electrical attachments, you might have a problem.
Have weight balanced: One problem with center-fill planters is extra weight when the seed hoppers are full, compacting center rows. Another problem can be not enough weight on the wings, especially if you've switched to auto-guidance and no longer have markers out there.
Keep markers? This planter was bought new with markers that might not be used much- the farmer figured it would help resale value. If you have a central-fill planter, will you have enough weight without markers?
Right amount of down force? If you're still using an older planter with spring tension on planter units, check the settings. You may ned to recheck in the field. If you're looking to make an investment, Bill Lehmkuhl says switching to a down-force system and junking the springs pays.
Worth an upgrade? This planter came out with springs, but was switched to air bags for downforce control. Springs are hard to adjust and keep set to provide uniform pressure.
Pick correct row closer options: You can put all kinds of combinations for closer wheels on the back of the planter. Demonstration work over the past two years by Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind., suggests that if conditions are right, rubber closing wheels are fine. If they're on the heavy side and you're no-tilling, another option might be best. Check out their Practical Farm Research report for details.
Weird planter! This may look like someone couldn't make up their mind on row closing wheels. Actually, Beck's Hybrids used this planter to test various row closing options when no-till c0onditions aren't ideal.
Invest in row clutches? Here's a tough one- invest in row clutches to get control and stop over seeding on end rows and point rows, or wait until you trade for your next planter, which could likely have electric drive units which accomplishes the same goal. One farmer told us that even though he has mostly rectangular fields, he paid for row clutches in a year and a half in seed cost savings, not counting picking up higher yield on end rows form no more over planting.
Square field still pays: If you think you can't afford row clutches to save seed on ends because you don't' have point rows, you might want to reconsider.
Check bearings, bushings and more: Go over each row unit and make sure parts aren't worn too much, Bill Lehmkuhl says. One of the quickest ways to get some units planting deeper than others is to have units with different amounts of wear on moving parts.
Check for wear: Replace worn parts now and gain dollars through better, more uniform emergence.
Check seed opener wear: Different companies will say different things- some want disk openers replace if there is a half-inch of wear- some say to one inch of war. All agree if there is too much wear, seed openers won't make the groove they were designed to make, and seed won't be placed uniformly.
Measure seed openers: Don't skimp on replacing them if there is wear. Barry Fisher, agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, would likely tell you, if in doubt, replace!