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Corn planter adjustment PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, March 28, 2013 11:44 AM

Ag educator OSU-Extension Putnam County

Regardless of the weather, it is now time to start checking the corn planter and making adjustments. First, read the operators manual to achieve maximum performance. Second, leveling the corn planter is critical to getting excellent corn yields. It is advisable to use the same tractor year after year when planting corn, however do not assume that the planter is level. Wear and tear on tires, changes in the tool bar, and additional weight on the planter or tractor may change planter performance

The University of Wisconsin-Agronomy Department offers the following planter adjustments recommendations: “If a planter is not level, the seeding depth may be shallower or deeper than desired. Make sure the tool bar is parallel and the planter is level from front to rear and from side to side. Leveling pull-type planters primarily involves adjusting the hitch position and setting the cylinder stop on the carrying wheels. To level from front to rear, the hitch can be raised or lowered by adjusting the bolt position where the hitch clevis attaches to the planter tongue.

Three-point lift arms or gauge wheels can be used to establish the proper height of the tool bar above the ground on semi-mounted and mounted planters. To level these planters from side to side, adjustments may be required in both the gauge wheels and the lift arms. Top link adjustments generally are used to level mounted planters from front to rear. The cylinder-stop on lift assist wheels are used for front to rear leveling semi-mounted planters.

To achieve uniform soil penetration, planters used in no-till may require more weight than ones used in tilled soil. Down-pressure springs generally are used to transfer weight from the toolbar to the row units. Usually located on the parallel linkage supporting the row units, down pressure springs may need tightening to achieve greater soil penetration.

Replace worn or broken parts as needed. Check shafts, bearings, seals and gaskets for wear and replace them as necessary. Pay close attention to fiberglass and plastic parts since they may become brittle and crack with age. Replace worn parts, especially in the seed metering and drive components. Lubricate all chains and grease fittings and replace if necessary. Check all bolts and clamps for proper tightness.

The biggest mistake farmers during planting is driving too fast, with a range of three to five miles per hour recommended. Under cloddy or rough field conditions, ground speed should be lower to avoid equipment bounce and subsequent slippage of the drive, loss of depth control and inadequate seed covering. Finger pickup planters tend to increase seeding rates at higher field speeds because more than one kernel may be dropped at a time. Problems with air planters vary depending on the design, but at higher speeds, skips or doubles may occur. Seeding rates are reduced with plate planters because the seeds do not always drop into the cells at higher speeds.

Slippage of drive units (carrying wheels, press wheels, or coulters) which drive the seeding meter may result in seeding rates that are less than desired. Slippage of press wheel drives may occur more often than with carrying or gauge wheels because they operate in soil loosened by the seed furrow opener. While additional weight or down-pressure springs can reduce press wheel slippage, too much weight on the press wheel can cause excessive soil compaction around the seed, resulting in poor emergence.

Tire pressure is important on carrying and gauge wheel drives. Tires inflated to the recommended level tend to make planting more accurate. An under-inflated tire has a smaller circumference, causing more rotations at a given ground speed. This causes the metering mechanism to drop more seeds and overplant. Conversely, over-inflated tires cause under-planting” (Wisconsin Agronomy Department).


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