Let Planter Performance Control Planting Speed

How fast you can drive may depend upon how well planter performs.

Published on: May 26, 2010
The debate has raged for years about how fast you can plant corn and still get even stands. Common ranges include 4 to 6 miles per hour, with some going above 6 miles per hour. Some say type of planter affects it. Others say type of seed plays a role. How do you know where the 'sweet spot' is for driving speed to still get picket-fence corn stands?

Rich Schlipf, Milford, says it's much easier if you're using a monitor that displays both singulation percentage and spacing information on the screen. He has that capability, because his planter is equipped with the Precision Planting 20/20 Seed Sense seed monitor system.

Schlipf raises his own crops and does a fair amount of custom farming. To be fair, note that he's also a dealer for Precision Planting, Beck's Hybrids and Tru-Count planter clutches. His experiences working with other farmers who use the Precision Planting 20/20 Seed Sense system has only made him more convinced that if you know how you're planter is performing, you can fine-tune your speed more precisely. You may find you can plant faster than you think. Then again, you may find that performance suffers when you move above a certain speed.

"I'm usually looking for singulation around 99%," he says. "You can get 100% on a test stand, but in field conditions, that's pretty difficult. What I watch are that seed singulation number and the seed spacing number. Both are displayed don the screen right in front of me. As long as the two are holding at good levels, you know you're doing a good job.

"What I've had one customer do is speed up until the singulation or spacing start to slip. Then he knows he's passed the ideal speed so he can back it off to where his singulation and spacing numbers are good again. If he was planting very slowly before, he may find he can increase his speed without giving up performance."

You could do the same thing without this particular monitor, but it would require lots of digging after planting to determine spacing and singulation. That latter term refers to whether one seed is dropped each time it is supposed to be dropped. Skips or doubles or triples aren't desired.

The problem is it takes lots of time to dig, and conditions may change, Schlipf notes. If conditions change, performance may change. That's why he likes knowing the information from the cab.