You'd think buying a brand-new planter and getting it calibrated should virtually eliminate skips and doubles. But that's not always the case, according to Gregg Sauder of Precision Planting Company, which researches and sells a variety of parts that attempt to maximize planter performance.

With planters new or old, test stand results show that erratic skips and doubles are still a common problem. Eliminate most of those, reasons Sauder, and you'll add the potential for another 2,000 ears/acre, or approximately 16 bu./acre.

Meter world

Sauder and his crew used a high-speed camera to slow the action and see what was actually happening in the 15-seed-per-second world of planting meters. The slow-motion video revealed that seeds were doing some wacky and unexpected things — bouncing in and out of the exit hole, caroming off hard steel covers to create a skip, or doubling up due to a worn finger pickup unit or a slightly warped backing plate.

Going a step beyond simple calibration, Precision Planting developed replacement parts, which it says will bring results closer to the consistent picket fence stands that translate into more yield.

Range of sizes and shapes

Sauder says current finger sets work fine for either flat or round seed shapes but struggle to accommodate the variety of shapes and seed coatings that are common today. “We saw that the flag or end of the finger had a hard time holding on to seeds as they moved over the action site of the meter's backing plate,” he says. “We saw seeds skip out from under the flag, and we saw fingers holding two or three flat seeds, causing a double or triple in the field.”

Based on these results, the company developed a finger with curvatures that accommodate a wider range of seed sizes and shapes — flats or rounds, large or small. This precision finger flag follows the contour of the backing plate, reducing the risk of skips due to seeds becoming pinched between the finger and the sidewall of the meter. Other improvements to the finger set include a finger-tensioning system that helps provide more consistent pressure on seeds as they move around the meter so each finger holds a single seed as it reaches the exit hole. Fingers are also chrome plated to eliminate rust and prolong wear life.

Components

Precision finger sets ($28) are one of three major meter improvements introduced by Precision Planting for 2003. Another component is a backing plate (also $28) with interchangeable inserts that accommodate different seed sizes and shapes. The Kevlar and polyvinyl backing plate replaces the stamped metal plate in John Deere and Kinze seed meters.

There's also a SkipStop cushion ($19.50) that reduces skips from seeds that ricochet back into the meter. The cushion absorbs the energy of the seeds when they are released from the finger set into the belt cavity.

These new meter components are available individually or as part of a complete set. You can install the new components yourself or hire one of the company's MeterMax representatives to do the job for you for approximately $25/meter. A package deal that includes all three upgrade parts is available for $75.50, and a complete new meter for new or used planters is available for $169.

For more information, including a free video on the sources of skips and doubles, contact Precision Planting Co., 23207 Townline Rd., Tremont, IL 61568, 309/925-5050, visit www.precisionplanting.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin.