How many times have you replaced your planter hitch – just the part that bolts onto the tongue and then fits over the drawbar on the tractor? No, it's not a trick question. Pete Illingworth, a mechanic at the Throckmorton Purdue University Ag Center, tries to keep their planter in top shape. One of the things he did this year was buy a new hitch.
"It's surprising to see how much wear you can have on a hitch after a few years and not realize it," he says. "I didn't realize the old hitch was worn as much as it was until I bought a replacement and put the two side by side. Then I could see that the pin through the hitch and drawbar had caused a great deal of wear over the years."
Illingworth hopes replacing the hitch that bolts to the planter tongue will eliminate some slop that was occurring because of the wear. He also wonders if it will affect how level the planter runs. He uses a level to check to see if the planter main frame is level once he is operating in the field.
Those who put on planter clinics say one of the keys to uniform planting depth and even emergence is a level tongue, leading to a level mainframe. Otherwise the pitch of the planter either forward or backward can affect whether or not the planting depth on all the row units is uniform or not. Experts say it's one of the easiest things to check, and yet often overlooked. The true test is when it is operating in the field, not on the driveway during testing before the season starts.
Illingworth goes through the entire planter routinely and replaces parts once they have enough wear that he believes they are impacting the performance of the planter. This year that included the hitch.