by Jeff Werner
I am frequently asked by growers who have older seeders and planters how to match seeds to the planter plates they have on hand. These older planters that go back to the 1970’s or even the 1950’s are typically in great shape and do a good job for a small investment.
John Deere 71 Flex, International 56, 156, Ford 309, John Deere 7000, Allis Chalmers, White, Cole, Planet Jr, McConnell, Earthway, and Cole Powell are among some of the various manufacturers we have information on.
When ordering sweet corn seeds, we will do the best we can to match a round or flat shaped seed to the planter plates you have. I recommend that growers have a listing of the planter plates they have somewhere in the house or office so when ordering their seed, we can be diligent in matching current stock to facilitate the order. On occasion we cannot match current stock and growers will need to purchase the recommended plates. I often get asked… “Why rounds and flats?” I explain as you look at an ear of corn, the kernels on the tips and bottom of the ear are generally rounds and everything in between are flats. As genetics change to higher sugar and less starch content, the kernel shapes are also changing due to the way they are shrunken down in the drying process.
Sweet corn seed comes mainly in rounds or flats and various sizes in each of those shapes. When our sweet corn shipments come in, it is common to get 2 or 3 various lots which can be different sizes and are assigned different planter plate numbers. Harris Seeds lists the planter plate information on larger sizes of corn seed. If you are purchasing smaller corn packets we will gladly include the planter plate information with your order or email it to you upon request.
Most pumpkin seeds and squash seeds are easily planted with a plate planter. I have a John Deere 71 Flex 1 row on a tool bar that I use to plant my pumpkin seeds, gourd seeds, winter squash seeds, zucchini & summer squash seeds and even pollen-free sunflower seeds.
I have also made my own planter plates for pumpkins and squashes using blank plates. Blank plates are available from Lincoln Ag products. I grind notches to accommodate the various different spacing and seed size of the pumpkins & squashes. Some plates have 6 notches, others have 4 and one only has 2 notches. All plates were done through trial and error. Instead of changing the sprockets when switching varieties and in row spacing, it is easier to just switch planter plates. For sunflowers I use a flat notch corn plate and it seems to do a good job.
A commonly overlooked setting on planters is the down pressure springs and seeding depth. Be sure that the seeding depth is set for your soil moisture and conditions. I have had growers bury the seed multiple inches and then wonder why the seed is not coming up quickly or not at all; again trial and error and knowing your soil conditions.
Harris Seeds understands that there are many older planters still in use and we will do the best we can to accommodate your seed needs to get a respectable stand for your cropping season.
Vegetable Product Manager, Harris Seeds
Jeff is the owner of Werner Farms, a diversified 115 acre, family run vegetable & bedding plant operation in western New York. Fresh market produce, cut flowers and plants are sold mainly through an onsite farm market & garden center, and at local farmers markets in the Rochester area. Jeff is a third generation Harris Seeds customer and is now the Vegetable Product Manager at the company. Since working for Harris Seeds since 2003, he has worn many hats and has gained experience in the germination lab, packaging, fulfillment, and trials. He remembers going to Harris Seeds as a child with his father and grandfather to pick up vegetable seeds and flower seeds for the farm. Many generations of Werners have trusted Harris Seeds to supply the seeds and plant material that enable their farm to succeed.