This article is about reconditioned/reconfigured planters similar to the types that you see for sale on eBay, Craigslist, or from other vendors. These planters are often smaller versions (2 to 4 row units) cut-down from larger farm planters. Or maybe it is a complete 6 row unit that has been setting in the shed or outside for years that was given to you.
I have two such planters that I use for work. Mine are both 2 row John Deere model 7000 planters that I use to plant corn, soybeans and sunflowers. I have looked at, worked on, and have advised many people with the purchase of these type planters for plot work. The modified John Deere 7000/7100 planter are the models that I typically see for sale here in Illinois as “food plotter” planters because these model planters were and still are very popular models amongst many farmers so there are lots of them around. I love my reconfigured 2 row JD 7000 planters for they are rugged, precise (after I serviced them) and should provide a lifetime use.
A Fresh Paint Seems to be Standard
One thing that I typically see with these planters being sold as food plot planters, is that they most always have been given a new coat of paint and thus they look really great on the surface. But keep in mind that beauty is only skin deep and that these planters were probably made from a larger planter that had a lot of acres of seed run through. But that does not mean these well used planters are bad. Most of these planters are designed to have replaceable parts and can be made almost like new again fairly quickly and easily. Also, please understand that I think the people who do the work to reconfigure these planters for us food plotters and sell them at very reasonable prices are providing a great service.
If you are lucky, the planter you bought or are thinking of buying is one that was made from a well maintained planter and thus it will require only minimal service and it is ready to plant. One of my planters was that type of planter, the other one was what I consider in fair to poor condition and needed some key parts replaced before I was going to plant with it. Working on this planter to get it up to near new condition is what I have been doing the past 2 weeks during all the rainy weather and it the subject of this blog.
It is really that Important?
You may be thinking, hey this is just for food plotting, so who cares if it doesn’t plant perfect. Well that may be true for crops such as soybeans in which planting depth and seeding rate and seed spacing is not that critical. However, when it comes to crops such as corn and sunflowers it’s a different story. Corn especially is very sensitive to planting depth, plant spacing, and plant population. Corn is also typically the most expensive food plot crop that I plant because of the cost of seed and fertilizer inputs. So when I have that much money invested up front, I want to know that my planter’s condition is not going to be limiting my ability to produce corn grain for my late season hunts.
A real Example
Here’s a real example of what I am talking about that I observed last fall. A friend asked me to help them with soil sampling and fertilizer recommendations because they were having trouble growing sunflowers and they thought the issues were due to poor fertility. When I visited the field to pull soil samples, I immediately saw a serious problem with the standing sunflowers that was the result of a planter in poor condition. What I saw was that the planter was dropping sunflower seeds in groups—as many as 3-6 seeds in the same spot. These plants could not produce very good seed heads because these plants were grouped so closely together and were in competition with each other for sunlight, water and nutrients. The result was puny 3 foot tall plants with very little seed production. When soil sample results came back, the fertility was pretty good and obviously not the issue—it was the planter. When I looked at the planter, it was outfitted with finger-pick up seed meters, and the problem was most likely due to rusted internal parts which wouldn’t allow the finger pick up flags to close down all the way and/or worn out brushes, causing the dropping of multiple seeds. End result was that a lot time, effort, and money invested and very little seed production.
Where do you start?
If you want to trouble shoot your planter for potential issues, I suggest starting with the owner’s manual—most are available online. If you have one of the more popular models (i.e. JD 7000/7100), do some Google searches for there are numerous online sources and videos available. If you are in the market for a planter, knowing how a planter works, understanding the parts, and knowing how to trouble shoot for issues could save your hundreds of dollars in potential repairs.
Here are some pictures of just some of the repairs I made on my planter
Replacement of broken seed drop tubes and replacement of seed tube guards
Replaced one very worn out depth gauge wheels to prevent soil from back filling the seed trench before the seed is dropped.
Replaced one down pressure spring which was broken. These springs keep the planter units in the ground and prevent them from bouncing, ensure proper seed spacing and seeding depth.
Replaced seeding rate transmission chain idler pulleys so the chains would run smoothly and not jump.
Replaced several parts inside the seed meters that I use to plant corn and sunflowers. This included, new backing plates, new flags/fingers, new meter brushes(red circle area) and seed belts. This service I had done by a seed company agent who utilizes Precision Plantings parts and calibrates seed meters
I could write a lot more on this subject but instead will provide some links which are very informative on troubleshooting and repairing planter issues
Spring is one of my favorite times to be in the woods and “shrooming” provides a great motivation to make it a priority. So yesterday I carved some time out of my schedule to get a couple hours in the woods looking for mushrooms and enjoying the scenery. Below are some photos from yesterdays excursion. I think it is still a little early for this location, so I will be sure to get back to this woods again within a couple days. Sorry, the location is unknown so not sharing that on this blog.
Easter Sunday conditions were near perfect to conduct a burn of our 3 year old switchgrass areas. This was the first burn since these stands were established in 2011. We had all our fire breaks well established prior to setting the areas a blaze. This made the burns safe, easy to manage, fun and stress free. The following are some pictures that my daughter Emily took during the burns.