Setting and Adjusting the Planter

Seed bags or tags should be reviewed for planting recommendations. Bag weight and seeds per pound are commonly printed on the tag or bag. To obtain the desired planting rate, the manufacturer’s manual for the planter or drill should be referenced for recommended settings and planting . Along with the manufacturer’s manual, the manuals for any added aftermarket parts should also be referenced for planting recommendations. Soybean planting rates should be based on seeds per acre or foot of row rather than pounds per acre.

Tables 1 and 2 may be helpful for selecting an initial seed disc or for determining vacuum/pressure settings. After planting a short distance, seed spacing and planting depth should be checked to determine if adjustments are required.

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.
  • Air pressure/vacuum should be adjusted and monitored continually for desired planting rate.
  • The proper drum or disc should be used based on the seeds per pound and seed shape.
  • Electronic monitors should be utilized to help achieve desired planting rates and detect problems.
  • Treated seed does not flow as freely as untreated seed. Adjustments should be made to compensate for restricted seed flow to 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 brush should be adjusted to optimize desired seeding rate.

Feed Cup Type Planters

  • Sprocket and speed settings should be reviewed in the manufacturer’s manual.
  • Planting speed should be adjusted to maintain feed cup rotations per minute (RPM) if the sprocket size is changed and not greater than the defined maximum speed for the sprocket in the manufacturer’s manual.
  • A slower moving feed cup can pick up additional seed resulting in an increased planting rate.
  • The torque required to turn the finger pickup mechanism should be adjusted with the appropriate tension tool.

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.

John Deere® Radial Type Bean Meters

Seed can be singulated with radial bean meters. Daily maintenance should include inspection of the brush, seed bowl, and knockout assembly.

  • At higher planting speeds, large soybean seed may plant at lower rates.
  • At slower planting speeds, the planting rate of smaller soybean seed may be increased.
  • To adjust for different seed sizes, the indicator should be moved to:
  • (A) for small seeds (~3,700 to 4,500 seeds per pound).
  • (B) for medium-small seeds (~2,800 to 3,700 seeds per pound).
  • (C) for large seeds (~2,000 to 2,800 seeds per pound).1

Kinze® Brush-Type Seed Meters

Black 60 cell soybean disk is generally used for smaller seed as indicated in Table 1.3 The dark blue 48 cell brush meter seed plate is recommended for larger seed (1,400 to 2,200 seeds per pound).3

Grain Drills

Grain drills are traditionally the means of planting when a narrow row (7 to 10 inches) soybean crop is desired. Unless depth control wheels or bands are on the drill, a uniform planting depth of .75 to 1.25 inches can be difficult to achieve. Seeding depth can be too shallow when planting into firm soil and too deep in loose soil. Caution should be exercised if drills are equipped with fluted metering devices as large soybean seed can be cracked, and seed may not be spaced uniformly in the row. Vacuum or seed-singulating devices have the ability to plant more uniformly.

  • Drill should be leveled with the tractor.
  • Wheel tracks should be removed ahead of the drill in tilled soil.
  • To help promote uniform planting depth, utilize a leveling toolbetween the tractor and drill.
  • Double-disk openers should utilize depth bands or depth gauge wheels.
  • Press wheel down-pressure should be adjusted to help maintain good seed-to-soil contact.
  • Planting speed should be monitored as higher speeds can increase planting depth.
  • Seed metering devices should be adjusteadjusted to plant desired seeds per foot of row. Smaller seed is normally planted more uniformly with fluted metering devices.


Related Articles

Pre-Season Maintenance - Planter Check-up



1OMA85407_19 John Deere Manuals (verified 3/24/14);

2Introducing Kinze® EdgeVac® seed metering. Kinze Manufacturing. EV 7-05. (verified 3/24/14); 3Kinze Black and Blue soybean discs. (verified 3/24/14);

4Early Riser® Planter Productivity Tips. 2012. PL-3076-12. CNH America LLC. (verified 3/24/14);

5John Deere® planter parts, parts guide. John Deere®. (verified 3/24/14);

6OMA86807. Deere/Bauer Planters John Deere® Components. 2002. Deere & Company. (verified 3/24/14);

7Small soybean seed meter considerations for planters. John Deere®. (verified 3/24/14);

8QA seed services lab. Monsanto Company. Waterman, IL;

9Tony McClelland email. Crop Production Sales Specialist. Case IH. 12/17/2012;

Other sources for this publication: Beuerlein, J., April, 2001. Adjusting a grain drill for planting soybeans. AGF-114-01. Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet. The Ohio State University. (verified 3/24/14).