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Cleaning planters, seeders necessary before warm season grazing season starts

By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
Feb. 24, 2017

Fast facts:

  • Seed boxes need to be free of old seed, cobwebs
  • Use of coated seeds means cleaning of seed transport mechanism after each use 

(410 words)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A shop vacuum and a few screwdrivers and wrenches can go a long way to ensuring smooth sailing during forage planting season, said Dirk Philipp, associate professor-animal science, for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

“A new grazing and planting season is upon us and planting equipment needs to be in excellent working order for a successful season,” he said. “Much of this planting is done with no-till drilling machines due to their versatility and robustness.” 

While growers are planting clovers and other forages during the spring and annual forages in summer, nothing much will happen if seed boxes, seed transport mechanisms and planter wheels are clogged with dirt, old seed or out of alignment. 

Philipp said “a good shop vacuum cleaner and some simple tools available at each farmer’s own tool shop such as screw drivers and wrenches” can get seed planting equipment ready for work. 

“While there are many things on a planter that need attention, here are some pointers for the more obvious parts where cleaning and maintenance goes a long way,” he said. 

Seed boxes:

  • Need to be free of old seed, which can accumulate at the bottom of boxes and clog seed outlets.
  • Old seed can sprout in the seed boxes, making cleaning even more difficult.
  • Spider webs can accumulate over the winter. The sticky netting can easily clog seed tubes.

Seed transport mechanism:

  • Seeds, their chaff, dust and other material can clog the transport mechanism, with its narrow outlets.
  • Remove the tubes and clean them all. Clogged tubes will not transport seed and will affect stand density negatively. 

“With the rise of coated seed, these components must be meticulously cleaned after each use,” he said. “because of the clay-based coating on many seeds, old seed can become hard to remove. High humidity can almost cement these old coated seeds together, making it very hard and tough to remove.” 

Planter wheels:

“These wheels cut into the ground to open up a small gap into which the seeds will fall,” Philipp said. “If planter wheels don’t function properly, seed depth can be difficult to maintain which in turn will negatively affect seed emergence and stand density”

  • Wheels need to be clean before planting.
  • Check wheel bearings to ensure the wheels operate without wobbling. 

“A clean, well-functioning drill will ensure good seed emergence, uniform forage stands which in turn positively affect animal gains, less weed encroachment, and higher environmental quality,” he said. 

For more information on managing forage, contact your county extension agent or visit


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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