The seed tube guard serves two functions. One is to protect the seed tube. When the seed tube starts to have premature wear, what's going to happen? You’re going to see the plastic curl inwards on the seed exit. When the plastic curls inwards and you begin to see that happen, you will impact your seed release. It's going to potentially change your seed spacing.

The second function of the seed tube guard is an even more important function of that seed tube. It's going to make sure that your disc openers when you place them into the ground and they flex, that they don't flex to a point where you create a narrow furrow. You want to make sure that you’re creating a consistent furrow, and if your seed tube guard is not to spec, those discs will flex so close that it could end up potentially changing the depth of the seed. You could have done everything right on your depth assembly and your seed tube guard is still changing your depth because your discs are flexing inward. The other thing that happens in that situation is your discs bring on some wear that you weren't anticipating. Those hubs and those bearings are putting more pressure on them. The seed tube guard is a small part, but it does a lot of different things for you.

PHOTO 1: WEAR AND TEAR. A seed tube guard needs to be replaced when it reaches ¾ of an inch because it’s not doing the job that it’s intended to do if you allow it to go down any further than that.

So how do you check a seed tube guard? In photo 1, you’ll see a SpeedTube guard. SpeedTube is Precision Planting’s high-speed planter option. If a SpeedTube guard has a width that's less than 0.64 inches it needs to be replaced. Using a measuring tape if you end up having right at 0.64 inches in width left, you know that the guard is no longer serving its function. If it's less than that, you know that it's not doing the job you need it to. A seed tube guard needs to be replaced when it reaches ¾ of an inch because it’s not doing the job that it’s intended to do if you allow it to go down any further than that.  

PHOTO 2: DECISION TIME. A seed tube guard needs to be replaced when it reaches ¾ of an inch because it’s not doing the job that it’s intended to do if you allow it to go down any further than that.

In photo 2, you can see a seed tube guard that's worn past the point you want it to be. You’re going to check this by taking your measuring tape and measuring your seed tube guard. You want to know if it's within spec. For example, if you see that it’s at 5/8 of an inch in width you would know it’s not within spec and you’ll need to replace it. There are other times where it may be 3/4 of an inch and if you’re doing your check before you get out in the field and it's at 3/4 inches or a little bit above that, should you think about replacing it? Is it going to last through the entire season? That's some of the math that you need to do when you’re doing this check. Is it going to last me? Am I going to have peak performance not just on acre 0, but on acre 600? Not just on acre 600 but acre 1,200?

CASE IH FIRMING POINTS. Case IH disc openers are offset and feature a forming point and a shoe to hold the sidewall open. Be sure to get the Case IH shim gauge to make sure your forming points and shoes are still good.

Now on a Case IH planter, you have a firming point. Case IH has provided a nice tool to understand when you need to replace your firming point. They give you a guide that says you place the firming point within a certain space, and if you can see your firming point through that triangle, you're good to go. In this example, you know you need to replace it because you can't see it through the triangle. It's a good idea to replace it, so it does its intended job.

A Premier Precision Planting Dealer is your partner to help you achieve a picket fence stand this spring and steer clear of the regret that comes from avoidable yield loss caused by lack of maintenance. Find your local Precision Planting Premier Dealer at planterexpert.com.

Watch a video about seed tube opener maintenance. To see videos of all recommended annual maintenance checks, visit PrecisionPlanting.com/Maintenance.

Download the free Planter Maintenance Guide. This guide includes a 1-sheet checklist, links directing you to the corresponding videos, and an overview of 15 key maintenance areas on your planter.

Download the free guide! 

The Planter Maintenance series is brought to you by Precision Planting.

More from this series

Precision Planting, LLC is the leading provider of practical and effective precision ag technologies to help make farmers smarter every season. New technologies from Precision Planting are opening doors for farmers to take advantage of the data they collect on every field pass, from planting to harvest, and to use that data to increase production and profit potential by better managing input costs and ensuring the seeds they plant maintain their top-end yield potential at emergence and beyond.