The late 2011 planting season, caused by the wet weather, has many North American crop producers working through less than ideal conditions in order to get crops planted within acceptable windows. Maintaining your planter for a normal planting season is one thing, but preparing your planter for muddy field conditions is another.
Chris Lursen, Case IH Crop Production Specialist for Early Riser planters offers several tips to help you increase your productivity and avoid getting stuck during this unusually muddy planting season.
- Carry less seed and fertilizer – this will help reduce the overall planter weight.
- Slow down! This will help the row unit to do what it needs to do.
- Know when to stop and resist the temptation to “mud it in.”
- If your gauge wheels and press wheels are packed with mud, you’re not placing the seed at the proper depth, nor are you closing the trench properly, not to mention you are likely creating compaction that will inhibit yields this season and beyond.
- Utilize a little more row unit down pressure to help distribute and carry the weight of the planter.
- The Early Riser planter row unit minimizes side wall compaction with the reduced inner diameter gauge wheels, so more down pressure shouldn’t hurt.
- Double check the closing system to ensure it is properly closing the seed trench.
- Make adjustments to the closing disks to ensure the trench is closed, if needed.
- Try adjusting one or two row units to be sure you get the results you desire and then adjust the rest of the planter when you are satisfied.
- Adjust residue managers and any row-mounted tillage tools to a minimum depth to only move large clods and residue.
- Don’t allow the tool to touch the small aggregate – moving the small aggregate will just increase the amount of wet soil the row unit is exposed to.
- It may be a good idea to remove the residue manager, row-mounted coulters, or other tillage tools. Eliminating these attachments will reduce any potential problems with mud accumulating on the gauge wheels and press wheels, while also reducing the overall weight of the planter.
- If your planter is a front fold planter and the hitch can be easily raised or lowered (by adjustment of the three point or hitch cylinder), try raising the hitch slightly to easily reduce the amount of soil/residue the residue managers move and also reduce the drawbar pull.
- Note! Changing the hitch angle will also change the aggressiveness of the closing systems and potentially the seed depth of the opening disks.
- If the drawbar angle is changed, check the depth and the performance of the closing system.
- Consider using a tillage tool that can help accelerate drying out the soil.
- The Case IH True-Tandem™ 330 Turbo vertical tillage tool can be valuable, if used properly.
- The 330 Turbo should be set at a shallow depth (1/2” to 1”), and make sure to keep the ground speed up (8-10 mph).
- If you happen to find that wet spot in the field and start to feel yourself getting stuck, DO NOT PICK THE PLANTER UP!
- Picking the planter up reduces the amount of surface area the planter can float on and will almost certainly get you stuck.
- Leave the row units on the ground, shift up and try to pull out of it.
If you haven’t done so already, check out Case IH’s “Top Maintenance Tips To Prep Your Planter Now” blog post for other critical planter tips and adjustments. We also recommend contacting your local Case IH dealer for ideas on responding to your local conditions, as well as downloading the Case IH 1200 Series Early Riser® Planter Productivity Guide for valuable information on planter maintenance.
Check out some other agriculture blog articles to learn more about planting in muddy field conditions:
Planting Considerations for Suboptimal Conditions – No-Till Farmer Blog
Delayed Planting Blues – DTN/Progressive Farmer Blog