Proper Planter Settings can help Maximize Yield Potential
Maximizing corn yield is dependent on many manageable and non-manageable agronomic factors. Planter maintenance and using recommended settings for each seed size to help assure proper seed drop and placement are factors that can be managed. Factors that can impact seed drop and placement include:
Worn or broken parts (sprockets, discs, bearings, frame).
Improper adjustments (vacuum settings, tire pressure, hitch alignment).
Soil condition (rough, too fine, too moist or dry) and tillage method (no-till, conventional).
Field topography (flat vs. hill sides).
Setting and Adjusting the Planter
Prior to heading to the field, seed bags and tags should be reviewed for any seed drop recommendations. The bag weight and seeds per bag are commonly printed on the tag or bag. If seeds per pound does not appear, divide the total seeds by the weight (80,000 seeds per bag/55.4 pounds = 1470 seeds/pound). For many farmers, electronic monitors and computers are the means for setting a desired seeding rate as the plateless planting mechanism allows for the planting of most seed sizes. Regardless, the planter manufacturer’s manual and any after market equipment manuals should be referenced for recommended seed drop settings, planting speed, and down pressure settings. Table 1 may be helpful for selecting an initial vacuum or pressure setting. Table 2, for those relying on plates, may be helpful for selecting an initial plate recommendation.
After planting a short distance, seed spacing should be checked to determine if adjustments are needed. If field conditions change, adjustments may be necessary to maintain seed placement.
General Planting Equipment Guidelines
Always refer to the manufacturer’s and after market manuals before performing maintenance.
Plateless Planters (Air, Vacuum, and Finger Pickup)
GRAPHITE should be used in finger pickup planters.
TALC should be used in vacuum planters.
Additional GRAPHITE/TALC should be used with seed-applied insecticides.
Maximum levels of GRAPHITE/TALC should be used on high applications of seed-applied insecticides.
Seeding units and electronic monitors should be checked for GRAPHITE and TALC build-up which can interfere with seed drop.
Air pressure/vacuum settings should be adjusted and monitored continually for desired planting rate.
The proper drum or disc usage should be based on seeds/pound and seed shape.
Observe electronic monitors continually for desired seed drop and to make sure the monitor is operating correctly.
Treated seed does not flow as freely as untreated seed. Adjustments should be made to compensate for restricted seed flow to help prevent lower than desired seeding rates.
CASE IH Cyclo® Planters
The Cyclo drum gauge should be used to determine the correct seed drum to use.
No part of the seed should poke through the hole(s) in the drum selected.
Air pressure and the brush should be adjusted to optimize desired seeding rate.
John Deere® Finger Pickup Planters
Planter should be operated between 1/2 speed and maximum speed to optimize planting rate.
Planting too fast may result in doubles and triples; planting too slow may result in skips.
Poor depth control and erratic seed spacing may result from planting too fast for conditions.
The torque required to turn the finger pickup mechanism should be adjusted with the appropriate tension tool.
High Speed Planters
Planters equipped with a type of belt to deliver the seed to the seed furrow can be very accurate for seed placement at higher planting speeds. The belts carry the seed to the bottom of the seed furrow instead of the seed being released from the bottom of the seed box and dropping via gravity through the seed tube to the seed furrow. While in the seed tube, the seed can ricochet off the sides of the seed tube and bounce within the seed furrow, particularly at higher planting speeds (5 to 10 MPH).1 Seeding rates are set and monitored by sophisticated electronic sensors.
In general, 20 to 40 pounds of increased downforce per row unit is required.1
In general, at least one additional notch in closing wheel pressure is required.1
Settings in Tables 1 and 2 are suggestions and should be changed based on actual planting performance. Seed tag or bag should be reviewed for planting recommendations. Operator assumes all responsibility for selected settings, plates, and planter operation. Along with the manufacturer’s manual, the manuals for any added aftermarket parts manuals should be referenced for planting recommendations.
1Bergman, R. 2020. High speed planting technology. Integrated Crop Management. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/.
ProMAX 40 Flat Disk. 2018. Deere & Company, Moline, IL.
Kinze® Manufacturing, Williamsburg, Iowa
AGCO Corporation, Duluth, Georgia
Case IH, Racine, Wisconsin
Deere & Company, Moline, Illinois