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  • Writer's pictureWendell Koehn

While we wait for dry soils, we can prepare for battle!

Updated: May 18, 2019

“The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.” -Richard Marcinko

As we continue to patiently wait for go time, there are some little details that can be overlooked; especially on the planter. Another walk around the planter looking over the components can sometimes reveal an item not set correctly or a part that at second look needs replaced. Obviously, now is the time to sweat over this. Here are some items to look at on our equipment to make sure it eliminates unnecessary downtime.

Planter Details

  • Tire Inflation: proper & consistent air pressure will keep seed at a consistent depth, reduce compaction, and extend the life of the tires. Maybe, the tires were inflated a few weeks ago for planting. Now is a good time to recheck the tires to see if one has a slow leak that could let you down on a dry sunny day.

  • Level planter front to back: place a level on the bar front to back and level. Not level planters affect seed discs, angle of seed tube, and closing wheels. Don't eyeball it, I did that a few years ago until a business partner pointed out that the draft tubes point up. This gave me the deceptive visual that the bar was level when it was not.

  • Check bushings on parallel arms: This is a big (& expensive) project and may be best to wait on till winter if possible. Precision Planter Solutions from our own state of Missouri has perfected a system of flange bushings that can greatly reduce the cost of this undertaking. Loose parallel arms cause chatter going through the field.

  • Disc openers 14.5" or less replace. With the year like we have with short time to get things done, might be wise to consider 14 5/8" as the minimum. Hopefully, avoiding down time.

  • Check down force: With ample moisture we will not want to use too much down force. Adjust this feature accordingly. This may be a setting to be fine tuned in the field.

  • Make sure closing wheels run true to the trench. You can use a fiberglass field flag from your Beck's Hybrids dealer to place in the seed disc opener and lay it parallel out the back between the closing wheels. This will give you a visual on where to adjust the closing wheels left or right.

  • Check Seed Meters: Ideally, place them on a stand by a professional. If that is not feasible, find a level pasture or grass to drive and check them with old seed in a bag from last year.

  • Final tip: Before planting tie up several closing wheels with wire and check seed placment consistency in level pasture or short grass area. With seed drives off, plant in a dry area of a field ends and check for gauge wheel down force, seed trench depth, etc to make sure the settings and changes are correct.

Planter Monitor

  • Field Boundaries & Names: Like the post says under Ag News on this website, make sure that all monitors on the operation share common field names and boundaries. Data can be corrupted from data that is not recorded into the same boundary.

  • Operate the GPS system out in the yard and make sure you are able to utilize the full service you are paying for. If you are subscribed to RTK and the system you pull off of is not working right, it will be frustrating to be sitting without service on a beautiful dry day to plant.

  • Go through the monitor firmware updates and make sure each device has a current and equal update. Out of date firmware can be a headache in intermittent communication to controllers on your equipment.

  • Go over planting prescriptions if you are utilizing this. TOP Ag Services now offers this service to prep monitors and create scripts customized for your field. Make sure zones cover fields correctly and that default populations entered for each field. This will insure if there is a glitch, the planter will default to a planting rate instead of shutting off.

  • Backup and upload any stray data to your FARMserver® account. Then, delete old data out of your planter monitor. This can improve the speed and performance of the display.

Tillage Equipment & Practice

  • Tillage tool tongue level with draw bar: This will minimize wear on the equipment and will create a seedbed no deeper than necessary.

  • Insure no air is in hydraulic lines: Cycle equipment several times to purge air. Air compresses and will cause a wing to sag if not purged with oil.

  • Level implement Left to Right: This is important to insure an even seed bed. Lower implement on level ground until almost touching. Then, measure with tape measure at the bottom of the frame to the center pivot on the walking tandem or at the wheel spindle if single wheel is present. Make sure that gangs or shovels are equal distance from the ground. Is something bent or in need of adjustment if not equal? It is important ahead of spring rains to only work the depth needed to do the job. If one side of the tool is shallower than the other a deeper than necessary job gets done. This potentially will bury corn seed after pounding rain and cause uneven emergence.

  • Tillage depth: depth like was mentioned should be only as deep as necessary to make implement level and do the job. If this is a weed removal pass then you will have to go deeper. If, this is a pass to create a seed bed only on clean soil then as shallow as possible and still be level creates a smoother seed bed for the corn seed.

  • Gauge Wheels: If this is a part of your tool's settings, make sure they are set appropriately. They can make a big difference on an even seed bed.

Finally, as a closing thought. Is tillage the best tool at this point to control winter annuals? It might be. Or, is a sprayer that can get over the ground quicker and stop the build up of messy trash on top of the ground a better option. Then, chop it up with a high speed shallow pass of the tillage tool ahead of the planter? Not saying one way or the other. Just giving an extra thought on how to tackle some of the henbit that is taking off. Now, we have options. Later, this might be a problem that is harder to correct. The visual in population of henbit by tillage practice is striking. There would be an almost complete control, if this field had been sprayed with Basis Blend or an equal. You can see it below or by following this link:

Fertilizer got put on before all this rain by many. Now, we wait for the next battle! Get ready, for soon we ride!

If you need anything, don't hesitate to call. 417-684-5301 or

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