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Planters require attention to detail

Two Manitoba growers say using a planter to seed canola was a much 
different experience than working with an air seeder

I think it’s something to look into, as far as what type of machine we should be using for canola,” said Andrew Delgarno of Newdale, Manitoba. “Maybe it’s a planter; maybe it’s an air drill; maybe it’s an independent opener machine. I’m not sure what the answer is, and I’m not sure what the seeding rate is.”

Delgarno was one of the farmers who participated in a public information session at the Ag Days show in Brandon. He was there to discuss the results of his own on-farm trials using a planter to seed canola.

“This is our first year of growing canola with a vacuum planter,” he said. For his experiments he used a John Deere 7300 12-row vacuum planter with 22-inch row spacings. For variation, Delgarno says they conducted trials at 22-inch spacings with a conventional seeding rate. Then he set the planter to seed at half rate and went over the field twice to get an effective row spacing of 11 inches.

The results

Unfortunately, inconsistent weather conditions in his area meant the canola seeded with the planter had less favourable growing conditions that the fields where an air drill was used. He believes that influenced the lower yield results obtained from the planter than the comparison crop seeded with a Bourgault air drill.

Another grower, Vaughn Guy of Virden, Manitoba, wanted to emphasize what farmers should be prepared for when using a planter instead of an air drill. Using a planter requires paying close attention to machinery operation, he said. “They (planters) don’t have a monitor that actually counts the seed. So, if you’re not paying attention, you can over seed very quickly. When I started out I put two bags in the planter. Then I went down and back. When I got back my tank was empty. Attention to detail is critical.”

Guy also said he found that the seed holes in the metering discs on his John Deere 1790 planter tended to wear rapidly and increase in size after 600 to 800 acres, which allowed canola seeds to pass through too easily, increasing the seeding rate. “Once the holes are too big, it will suck the canola straight through,” he said. “Your rates will change very quickly.” But, he notes, he has been told there is a way to correct that excessive wear problem.

Operating a planter is more involved than running an air seeder he believes. “You have to really stay on top of your planter. It’s not as simple as going out with your air drill. On a half section, I’m three-quarters of the way through before I comfortable knowing I’m seeding at the rate I want to seed.”

For other growers interested in exploring canola planting, Delgarno said there will a seeding demonstration day held on June 5 in the Newdale, Manitoba, area. “There’ll be more details coming out once we get closer to spring,” he said. †

About the author

Contributor

Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.

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