The quality of your corn stand will largely depend on planter performance. 

An irregular stand can easily cost you 10 percent of your yield. Planter performance is especially critical in no-till because of high penetration resistance, crop residue at the soil surface, and a rough soil surface.

Inadequate planting will result in uneven seed depth and plant spacing.

Hair-pinning is common if coulters and row cleaners don’t work properly.

Here are some tips to prepare your planter for the new season. Four instructional videos on planter design, adjustment and maintenance are available from Penn State Extension’s Field & Forage Crop Team.

• Meters: Metering units have to work well or you’ll get frequent skips, doubles and triples. To guarantee optimal performance, take metering units apart every winter. Remove dirt and clean the hood with soapy water (no kerosene, diesel or oil should ever be used in metering units!). Replace cracked plastic covers. Replace broken fingers in a finger-pickup meter. Seed brushes need to be replaced when worn.

If a groove has formed in the chromium house of the metering unit it is time to replace it. The belt (in finger pick-up meters) should be flexible, not have cracks in it, and should be clean. Clean with soapy water and let it dry before putting it back in. Put the metering unit back together. The rubber belt should be placed back in the right direction, or your meter will malfunction.

You can lubricate with graphite (NO OIL or WD-40). It is recommended to take your finger pick-up metering unit to a dealer to have it calibrated every year or every 300-400 acres. Take a bag of your own seed with you, and give him the correct speed at which you’ll be driving. If you have a vacuum or air meter, check for leaks and appropriate vacuum or air pressure.

• Planter unit: Accurate depth placement can be compromised if planter units are loose or wobbly. You should not be able to easily lift up your unit or move it sideways. Look across your planter units from the side. Are they all at the same height? If one unit is either up or down compared to the others, it needs work. A common problem is that some bolts are loose or additional bushings are needed. You also need to replace cracked or broken seed hoppers.