Ag Tips from JJ: April 26

Brought to you by: Jonah T. Johnson, MS, CPAg, CCA - Sales Agronomist, PCT | Sunrise

April 26 2019: Is your planter ready for 2019?  Here is a quick Refresher.

1. Level the Planter.

Check your hitch height. Make sure the planter’s tool bar is level (vertically) or running slightly up hill. When planters tip down, coulters run too deep and the closing wheels run too shallow. 

2. Check Tire Pressure.

While it seems basic on a ground planter, this can be the difference between a good solid stand and one that is thin due to drive tire slippage. 

3. Check Brushings and Parallel Linkage.

Worn bushings increase row bounce which increases seed bounce. Stand behind the row unit and wiggle it up and down and back and forth checking to make sure bushings are tight.

4. Drive System. 

Check every chain. Kinked chains cause shock and vibration in the meter. Start with fresh, lubricated chains and check them daily. Include meter drive chains, transmission chains and insecticide box chains. The best tool for a worn chain is bolt cutters! 

5. Calibrate Seed Meters.

Calibrated meters can add six or more bushels per acre. Send your meters and samples of your seed to our certified MeterMax Stand to gain accuracy. 

6. Double Disk Openers.

Test to make sure there is good contact between the double disks. Slide a business card from the top, down along the front of the disks, until the card won’t lower any further. Mark that spot. Then, take the card from the back and slide it forward until it stops. Mark that spot and measure the distance between the two marks. If it is less than two inches, reshim or replace the disks. In general, the disks must be more that 14.5” in diameter. 

7. Seed Tubes. 

Inspect seed tubes for wear at the bottom. If they have a lip or fray on the bottom of the tube replace them. 

8. Closing Wheel System.

Consider an alternative to rubber closing wheels. At Sunrise Cooperative, we don’t recommend one over another, they all do different jobs in different conditions. 

9. Closing Wheel Alignment.

With your planter setting on concrete, pull straight ahead about five feet. Look at the mark left behind the planter by the double disk openers. The mark should run right down the centerline between closing wheels. If a closing wheel is running to close to the mark, adjust the closing wheels back to center.

10. Row Cleaners.

With higher levels of residue, almost all planters can benefit from row cleaners if they are run correctly. Row cleaners are meant to sweep residue from the row to allow warming of the soil around the seed trench. Make sure row cleaners gently sweep residue – you don’t want to move soil, just residue. 

11. Improve Germination with Seed Firmers.

Uniform germination adds, on average, six bushels per acre. Keeton Seed Firmers promote uniform germination by improving depth control and seed to soil contact. By using Keeton Seed Firmers to set seeds to the bottom of the seed trench, you increase the odds that seeds absorb moisture uniformly and emerge evenly. 

12. Gauge Wheel Adjustments. 

Guage wheels should be set so that when they are in the raised position there is a soft to medium amount of contact that occurs between the disk openers and the inner rubber of the gauge wheel. Once raised, spin the gauge wheel to feel the amount of contact.

13. Check for Display Updates. 
Most manufacturers update display firmware to fix previous problems, but most importantly, allow new technologies to perform correctly. Check with your equipment dealer for updates. 

14. Lastly…Get Organized. 

Have your notes by hybrid/variety and populations organized; seed ready, planter monitors programmed and tractors/tenders in-tune.


Equipment is an essential part of planting season. In Episode 37: Planning 4 Planting of the Precision Vision Podcast, we sit down with Bryan Liskai, a 22-year Precision veteran with the Sunrise Precision Solutions Team, to learn the essentials of preparing equipment for spring. Click here for a free Spring Equipment Checklist.