Get Ready for Corn Planting


A properly maintained and adjusted planter is something that is needed to help maximize corn yield. Inspecting, adjusting and completing maintenance on equipment should be done before planting begins.

Planter problems are usually quite identifiable when the crop emerges or doesn’t emerge. Doubles, triples, seed to close, or skips within the row can easily be tracked to planting equipment that was not properly adjusted or contained worn, broken, or missing parts. The condition of planting equipment can dramatically influence your profit potential for the year. Planting delays caused by a malfunctioning planter or poor stands that result in replanting can have a big impact on the operation’s bottom line.

First, wash the planting equipment to remove soil, excess grease, and other residues. This allows parts to be more easily examined for operating condition. Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual before performing any maintenance. It will be needed throughout the equipment’s evaluation as it provides the necessary information to properly adjust and repair a particular piece of equipment.

The planter should be checked closely for worn parts. The parallel linkage should be examined for wear and proper movement. It is critical for each row to follow the soil terrain to place seeds at the exact depth desired. Worn linkage can allow the row to bounce and move, causing improper placement. Soil opener and coulter blades are also very important to help precisely place seed. They should be measured for acceptable wear. Severely worn blade edges do not allow for proper soil penetration or cutting of residue. Finger units and vacuum levels should also be checked.

Critical areas of planter adjustments include seeding depth, row unit down pressure, leveling of the planter, and seed singulation. Seeding depth for corn is generally recommended to be 1.5 to 2.5 inches depending on soil conditions. It is not recommended to plant less than 1.5 inches because of the potential for improper corn root development.

Row unit down pressure should be adjusted from field to field depending on field conditions. Too much or too little down pressure is a component for achieving proper seed-to-soil contact for uniform emergence. No-till conditions require a different setting than in a tilled situation. The planter should also be adjusted to help ensure it is running level with the soil surface. This helps allow for proper placement of each kernel and firming of soil behind each row.

The proper singulation of seed is the most common identifiable problem when evaluating final stands. This can be a two-fold problem. One part is related to improper adjustment of finger units or vacuum systems, and the other is that planting speeds are excessive. Many modern planters can singulate at higher speeds, but still the bouncing of the planter can have adverse effects on seed placement.

Electrical systems, monitors, and all safety equipment should be examined for proper operation. After all repairs are made, the planter should be lubricated accordingly. A trip to a nearby field for a test run and final adjustments is recommended. Now you should be ready for corn planting.

Source: Planter Maintenance. agKnowledge Spotlight. Web site verified 3/26/2018. 180329200908