April’s Ag Advice

April's Ag Advice By April Borders Temperatures are slowly starting to warm and days are getting longer. That can only mean one thing � spring is on the way. Soon corn planters will be running across the fields and we will be in planting season full swing. If you haven't taken the time to go over your planter or have it inspected and serviced by your local dealer, please take the time to do so.

A well maintained planter will lessen the risk of down time and ensure a timely finish to planting this spring. A smooth running planter will also provide you with a greater likelihood of a uniform stand � an important factor for achieving maximum yields!

Here are some general guidelines and tips for planter maintenance and adjustment.

* Clean the planter inside and out. This should have been done at the end of last year's planting season before the planter was "put to bed" for the off-season. Check for old seed left in the hoppers, mouse nests, and anything else that may interfere with the operation of the seed meter or seed drop tubes.

* Check and replace all worn out parts.

* �Ensure that coulters and disc openers are aligned accurately.

* Replace worn seals and check trueness of fit of seed drum (Case IH CycloTM).

* Replace worn rubber seals on JD vacuum seed discs.

* Adjust or replace worn disc openers.

* For finger-pickup type planters, check finger-pickup back plates for rust buildup, seed treatment residue, and worn down "dimples." Check and adjust finger tension.

* Check condition of seed conveyor belt. Age + seed treatment = brittleness.

* Also check conditions of belt drive sprocket teeth.

* Replace worn chains. Lubricate or replace chain links.

* Inflate tires to their correct pressure.

* Clean seed tubes and monitor sensors to ensure accurate monitoring of seed flow.

* Replace seed tubes if excessively worn at bottom.

After you have done all the repairs and maintenance, it is time to calibrate the planter!

* For air or vacuum planters:

Calculate and record the seed weight for each seed lot you intend to plant.

Identify and record the correct pressure (air or vacuum) for the calculated seed weight.

Identify and record the correct seed disc (or drum) for the calculated seed weight.

* Double-check the operations manual and identify the correct transmission setting for the desired seeding rate.

* Calibrate actual seed drop against?

Planter transmission settings.

Planter monitor readouts.

* Calibrate at normal planting speeds and seeding rates.

Calibrate in as close to field conditions as possible

Don't calibrate the planter in the farm lane.

* Calibrate pesticides and fertilizer planter attachments at same time because application rates can easily change from year to year.

* Check that the planter toolbar is parallel to the ground when the planter is in use because this affects the disc opener depth, press wheel efficiency and seed to soil contact.

For more information on planter maintenance contact your local planter dealer, visit their Web site or contact your local Extension office.

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