Seed Meter Testing – Yes, You need to do it this year!

February 15, 2019

Seed Meter Testing from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

Did you use your planter in 2018? If so, you probably need to test your seed meters this winter. Next topic. Now while I would like to make this cut and dried every year and be done with this question once and for all, I know it just isn’t the case. In the past, I have tried to make the case from a financial standpoint, a piece of mind standpoint, and other angles. This year, I will cover some of the same ground, but also try to get a bit more specific.

This year, you will invest over $125 per acre in your planting pass. Between seed, labor, and machinery expenses, it is your third biggest expense. Testing seed meters isn’t insurance, it is assurance. Insurance is there to make things whole after something goes wrong. Assurance is much more like preventative maintenance. It might not prevent a failure, but you sure feel better about your chances. And when the cost to test and repair a meter is about ¼ of what it costs per acre, it is cheap. If you have one failure that covers 3 or four acres this year, you offset the costs.

But after several years of testing meters, I think there are some Frequently Asked Questions that I can answer in this space that might help in your decision-making process as well.

Did you take the plates out of your meters last spring (within a month of planting being done), and store the plates hanging by the center opening, or stacked flat on the floor? If the answer to any of those questions is no, you need to test. Every planter manufacture says that meters should be disassembled after planting. Plates sitting against brushes, the pressure against singulators and seed extractors wear out the spring. And storing the plates incorrectly, even when they are left in the meter can cause warping that negatively impacts seed meter performance.

Next, do you have John Deere Pro Shaft drives? If so, testing your meters every single year is a must. We typically find that about 10% of all the meters with the pro shaft gearbox attached are in a state of failure. These boxes have gotten moisture inside of them, and that has caused corrosion that creates drag. Therefore, these meters don’t turn as freely as other meters, and are more likely to have seeding issues like poor spacing.

Next, for those of you with finger meters, did you take them off and time them correctly after planting? Many people don’t know that you look at where the belt is on the bottom of the meter to ensure that a finger isn’t against the brush for 9 months out of the year, and causing disfiguration that won’t fix itself.

Finally, there is your seed. In an ideal world, you would get all the same size and shape of seed. Of course, with winter production seed and things like that, you may know what you ordered, but you will not know for sure until April what you will be planting. A planter that performed well on small seed last year could struggle mightily on big seed this year. Testing and tweaking that seed meter helps us ensure that it is the most capable it can be of dealing with the variations in seed you are going to plant this year.

So the short answer to this question is that yes, you need to test your seed meters this year, and probably every year for that matter. It is a couple hundred dollars invested against a chance at thousands of dollars lost to emergence and other issues in a few months. If that isn’t reason enough for you, then consider it one less thing we have to worry about. CVA will be accepting seed meters to test through the 15th of March. This is a simple maintenance job you need to do right now, even if the planter is tucked in the back of the shed. Don’t put this job off until April 1st, because now is the time to get it done, and make sure that there is plenty of time to do it right.

By Keith Byerly

Posted: 2/15/2019 1:32:39 PM by Kelli Emanuel | with 0 comments