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The planter is probably the most important piece of equipment to prepare for spring. Issues associated with stand uniformity are often tracked to planting equipment that was not properly adjusted or maintained.
Properly maintaining your planter improves the likelihood of attaining uniform stands, which are critical for optimal yield potential. Variability among plant spacing is often referred to as doubles or triples (combinations of crowded plants), and skips (omissions). Gaps and crowded plants are often the result of poor seed delivery due to poorly maintained planters. Corn yield potential has been reduced by 7 to 15 bu/acre when stands are uneven.1 Listed below are a few guidelines for planter maintenance and operation this spring:
Figure 1. Planter and tractor hitch should be observed for level height.
A planter plate or disk for a plateless planter should be selected that will give a seed drop with a minimum of doubles or skips and be as uniform in spacing as possible. Planter vacuum or air pressure may need adjustment to get the desired seed drop according to seed size. Seed drive gears should be adjusted for the desired population and seed spacing. Planter attachments for fertilizer or insecticides should also be inspected for worn parts and calibrated for proper delivery of amount and placement.
Operate the planter in an area that resembles field planting conditions. Dig up seeds and check for accuracy according to desired spacing between seeds. Review and adjust pressure or gear settings if doubles are occurring.
For additional information on planter maintenance visit the following resources: http://www.pmprecisionplantingservices.com/support-guide/planter-maintenance/ and www.aganytime.com/dekalb/tools/Pages/default.aspx.
1Nielsen, R.L. 2000. Planter maintenance: There’s still time. Purdue University. https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/articles.00/planter_issues-000223.html 2 Vinande, R. 2001. Maximizing corn stand establishment and growth. Proceedings 31st California Alfalfa and Forage Symposium. University of California Extension. http://alfalfa.ucdavis.edu/+symposium/proceedings/2001/01-173.pdf Web sources verified 01/19/16. 150118125624