IT'S CORN-PLANTING season, and even from the road you can tell planting machines have changed from a year or two ago. The newest planters are wider, move faster across the field and are equipped with bigger seed tanks that reduce fill time in the headlands. When it's time to move to the next big field, many of these wide planters can transform quickly, with hydraulically driven folding designs for narrow road transport.

As this new generation of planters becomes an increasingly common sight in the field, will you be able to identify them? Here's quick a look at some of the new products you're likely to see in the fields this spring.

KINZE 3800

Like many manufacturers in the industry, Kinze ascribes to the philosophy that the best way to increase planting productivity and still ensure precision planting accuracy is to lengthen the toolbar. This is demonstrated in the newest Kinze 3800 forward-folding planter spaced for 30-in. rows.

The three-section, 24-row planter is constructed with two outer wings, with nine row units mounted on each wing. The five-section, 32-row and 36-row sizes come with seven-row “inner wing” toolbars (featuring heavy-duty ½-in. wall construction), plus “outer wing toolbar sections” (in six- or eight-row configurations) to handle the different model sizes. All wings are reinforced with two 3- × 3- × ¼-in. “stacked” forward toolbars for added strength. The forward toolbars are positioned to accommodate fertilizer opener installations.

Heavy-duty 2½-in. hinge pins (2¾ in. on all inner wing sections) provide 10° of flex up or down. The outer wing hinges on 32-row and 36-row sizes allow an additional 20° of flex. All hinge pins are inserted through hardened steel bushings following precision align boring.

Kinze claims that, despite the 3800's size and breadth, it has excellent flotation and maneuverability. The forward-folding toolbar design, with hydraulic telescoping tongue, transports at just 14 ft. 7 in. wide (15 ft. 9 in. with optional granular attachments). The sliding transport axle reduces transport hitch weight, improves maneuverability for shorter turns and adds transport ground clearance.

Optional row marker packages include newly designed, factory-installed, three-fold, low-profile marker arms on 24-row sizes. New four-fold markers on the 32-row and 36-row sizes reduce overall operating height compared with three-fold designs. A 20.5- × 8.0-in. gauge tire supports three-fold marker hinge points; two gauge tires are used to support four-fold marker configurations.

The Kinze 3800 can accommodate onboard fertilizer attachments. The liquid fertilizer package consists of two elliptical poly tanks (500 gal. each, 1,000 gal. total capacity) with mounting brackets, and tank saddles, hoses, valves and fittings, quick-fill valve and mounting bracket.

Load-equalizing gauge wheels provide consistent seed placement, even in heavy residue or rugged planting conditions. Mechanical seed singulation metering includes finger pickup meters for corn and oil sunflower and brush-type seed meters for soybeans, milo/grain sorghum or acid-delinted cotton.

Three dual selective control valve (SCV) outlets are required to operate the independent lift, row markers and folding functions. Complete electric/hydraulic control of row markers, four-section point row clutches and folding/unfolding functions are handled right from the tractor seat. Electronic seed monitors analyze and display seed flow and planting data.

Prices: $88,140 for 24 rows, $113,931 for 32 rows, and $128,293 for 36 rows. Contact Kinze Mfg., Dept. FIN, Box 806, Williamsburg, IA 52361, 319/668-1300, visit www.kinze.com.

WHITE 8500

A new central fill system (CFS) is the newest addition to the rugged White 8500 flex-frame planter. For further capacity, the SC144 seed cart provides an onboard bulk seed hopper and distribution system.

The hopper system allows farmers to cover more acres with fewer stops to refill, but maintains the versatility of individual row hoppers for special needs like refuge plantings. The 90-bu.-capacity bulk system can be used with or without row-unit-mounted hoppers.

The versatile design can be used for planting refuge (non-Bt) corn rows and Bt corn in a single pass. It also fulfills the unique needs of seed corn producers needing to plant male and female rows in a single pass. A positive air seed metering system accepts row hoppers as easily as CFS, making the 8500CFS planters easy to adjust, simple to maintain and efficient in the field.

Planters in the new CFS series are the 8523 (23-row, 15-in. spacing/12-row, 30-in. spacing); 8524-20 (24-row, 20-in. spacing); 8524-22 (24-row, 22-in. spacing); 8524-30 (24-row, 30-in. spacing); and 8531 (31-row, 15-in. spacing/16-row, 30-in. spacing).

The CFS twin 45-bu. bulk hoppers are mounted directly over the center frame of the 8500CFS planters. Operators can visually check seed levels, through translucent polyethylene hoppers. A low-profile design, with oversized 22-in.-dia. fill openings located only 42 in. above the platform, makes the hoppers easier to fill whether by auger or by bag. Sloping sides feed the seed to the bottom and make cleanout fast and easy. The rear platform provides a convenient working area for the operator, while the railing aides auger positioning for mechanical refill.

The blower system pressurizes each hopper and delivers seed to the row unit. Once the tank is pressurized, the air begins to flow through the delivery tubes. The seed, which is gravity fed into the mixing chamber beneath the hopper, mixes with the air entering from the plenum. The plenum, or air box, distributes air evenly into each mixing chamber. The air/seed mixture exits the mixing chamber via the delivery hoses. Airflow supplies seed to each row unit to maintain an amount of seed at each meter. The system uses few moving parts. Once the airflow is set, no further adjustments are required even if seed size changes.

Price range is $83,065 for the 23-row planter with 15-in. row spacing, to $116,871 for the 24-row unit with 30-in. row spacing. Contact AGCO Corp., Dept. FIN, 4205 River Green Pkwy., Duluth, GA 30096, 770/813-9200, visit www.agcocorp.com.

JOHN DEERE 1770NT FRONT-FOLD

The newest John Deere planter is the 12-row NT, spaced for 30-in. rows. It has the same frame design used on the larger 1770NT front-fold planters with 16 30-in. rows. The design produces a flexible, strong frame for planting and a narrow transport design of 12 ft.

Like many of the newer Deere planters, this one has an optional central commodity system (CCS) for reduced filling time. Another planter style getting CCS this year is the large-frame Bauer Built DB in 44-, 58- and 80-ft. sizes. But the 90-ft. DB will not be equipped with CCS this year. Adding CCS to the DB models costs $15,470.

Another upgrade for these models comes in the form of new XP row units, which are heavier duty and feature components with longer life.

On the NT, the new three-section, front-folding frame with telescoping hitch allows the frame wings to flex 21° up and down for rolling ground. Off road, 22 in. of underframe ground clearance allows for easier transport in and out of fields.

Compared to the current 1770 planters with 12 30-in. rows, the new machines are almost 3 ft. shorter in field position and 8 in. shorter in transport, keeping the planter closer to the tractor.

New hydraulics allow the operator to use an in-cab frame control box and one SCV to fold and unfold the planter from the tractor.

The planter is compatible with liquid fertilizer systems to plant and fertilize in one pass. A 450-gal. liquid fertilizer tank is available and can be attached to the planter hitch.

Price for the new NT planter is $63,200. For more information, see your John Deere dealer or contact John Deere, Dept. FIN, 11145 Thompson Ave., Lenexa, KS 66219, 866/993-3373, visit www.deere.com.

CASE IH ASM AND NEW HOLLAND SP

First introduced as the 1200 series in 2001, the Case IH 1200 pivot-transport planter offered a combination of a wide toolbar, fast planting speeds and narrow road transport. The red planters were soon followed by their blue New Holland common-platform partners, including the SP580 split-row planter designed for corn and soybean rotation between 30- and 15-in. rows.

All models include the Advanced Seed Meter seed disc. The 48-cell, 11¾-in. plastic disc spins at relatively slow revolutions per minute even when the planter's ground speed is high. Slow revolutions per minute result in a more precise seed drop. No disc changes are required when going from a small, flat seed to a large, round one. The company claims that even plateless seed can be planted accurately and consistently.

These planters feature a road transport width of just 12½ ft. In-cab controls twist out the 12- or 16-row toolbar and retract the tongue in less than a minute.

Options include two 30-bu. bulk fill seed hoppers on 12- and 16-row models. Two 40-bu. bulk seed hoppers are standard on the 12/23 and 16/31 SP580 split row.

Prices vary by brand and features but are relatively consistent. The 12-row bulk machine is about $65,016. Price of the 16-row bulk is approximately $82,900. Contact Case Corp., Dept. FIN, 700 State St., Racine, WI 53404, 262/636-6011, www.caseih.com. Or contact New Holland North America, Dept. FIN, Box 1895, New Holland, PA 17577, 717/355-1121, visit www.newholland.com.