By Dave Wilson, King’s Research Agronomist
The time to get the drills and seeder in mechanical shape for the season is now. Clean mice nests and cobwebs from drills, blow the fluted openers and seed tubes out with air. Lubricate moving parts; calibrate your drills now. Refer to page 11 in the Product Information Guide for the drill calibration procedure and small seed establishment tips.
Double check the condition of the double disk openers on your drill. With excessive wear on the openers, the disks no longer touch, creating a GAP. When planting large-seeded spring annuals such as oats, spring barley, or spring peas, this gap may not present as much of a problem, and can be compensated for at the deeper planting depths; BUT when planting the smaller-seeded grass and legume crop seed, we may have problems! If we are planting at shallow depth such as ¼ inch, a gap in our double disk openers from wear causes the seed to fall directly on the soil surface. This can often result in poor stand establishment. Check your double disk openers for wear now.
The other problem we see often with small seed establishment is the opposite condition where the drill is set too low, burying small seeds too deep. Be aware of drill depth for small-seeded forages. Use the table on page 56 in the Product Information Guide to confirm seeding rates and depths for crops and mixes. Double check the seeding depth when planting at several locations throughout the field.