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Proper downforce is critical

TREMONT – While many growers feel confident working with the proper seed depth, many are unsure about setting downforce on their planter.

Downforce is about maintaining enough weight to make sure you have seeds at the depth you set and not too much weight to create sidewall compaction and compaction under the gauge wheels. This can limit yield by restricting root development.

“You want to have enough downforce or enough weight carried on those gauge wheels of the row unit to make sure your furrow stays open,” explains Bryce Baker of Precision Planting.

Baker says you can tie up a closing wheel and plant about 50 feet as a way to check on your planter. If soil is collapsing into the trench, that can be dry soil from the surface which can get by the seed and inhibit germination.

A furrow should be formed and open but you don’t want sidewalls to be so tight that you can’t easily chip away at them, according to Baker.

It’s sort of a balancing act. The drier the soil, the more weight you probably want to carry on the gauge wheels.

“If I have very dry soil, I need to firm it up a little bit.”

Marginal or wet soil means you can back off the downforce a bit since wetter soil is much more prone to compaction.

More information on planter maintenance, including a video series, can be found at Precision Planting dealers even have new tools to help growers such as a closing lock-up tool and a v-shaped seed digging tool known as a Furrow Finder.


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