Corn School: Prepping the planter for peak performance

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What needs replacing? What’s worn out? What should I be looking for? Those are just a few of the questions Kearney Planters operations manager Cullen Tinline is fielding from grower customers as winter turns to spring.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, Tinline takes us on a planter inspection and offers maintenance and preparation tips for growers as they get ready to head to the field.

Tinline begins his inspection at the front of the planter with a check on hydraulic cleanliness. Here it’s important to take a rag and make sure the connectors are clean and ready for the tractor. Next up is the the clevis where he checks for signs of wear and ensures the safety chain is intact. As he travels toward the back of the planter, he’s checking hydraulic hoses and fittings. It’s also important to inspect all wiring and hoses.

Next up on Tinline’s checklist are mainframe pivot pins and tires and wheels. If pins seize up they can cause some expensive damage so growers need to keep them free and lubricated. Tire inflation pressure is also a key focus because the rolling radius of the tires is carefully calculated into the rate charts. “If you call us here at Kearney Planters with a rate type question, the first thing I’m going to ask you is have you checked your tire pressure?” he says. Checking wheel bolt torque, the conditions of wheel bearings and looking for cracks in rims are also recommended. (Story continues after the video.)

Tinline then heads to the back of the planter to inspect the row unit. The first thing to assess is parallel arm health. Growers need to ensure bolts are tight to avoid row unit chatter which can impact seed distribution. Next up are the seed blades. He recommends removing the blades and measuring them from side to side. “These blades are 16 inches brand new — at 15 and a half we recommend replacement.”

See Related: Prepping seed meters for planting

Once the blade is removed, components need to be inspected, including the seed tube guard (or inner scraper). Tinline warns that wear and flaking at the bottom of the seed tube can deflect seeds as they fall down the row unit. In the video, he also demonstrates how growers can set seed blade contact at  one- to one-and-a-half inches using two pieces of paper.

After row unit inspection is complete, Tinline’s final point for growers is to keep an eye on no-till coulters. He stresses that coulters must never be set below the seed blades. “It should be a quarter inch to three eighths of an inch above the seed blade. We want (the coulter) to do the opening to take some stress off the seed blades but we want the seed blades to do the final prep of the true V.”

Click here for more Corn School videos.

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Corn School (view all)Season 12 (2023) Episode 26
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