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The latest edition of Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) on planter attachments shows the use of popular aftermarket closing wheels can result in an extra 5 bushels of corn per acre and 2.5 bushels of soybeans per acre. The results show attractive returns on investment for five brands of closing wheels under a variety of tillage systems, but one Beck’s agronomic data specialist says closing wheels are only the lowest-hanging fruit on the yield vine.
Jared Chester, agronomy and data information specialist at Beck’s in London, Ohio, says the company’s PFR study on closing wheels has shown consistent improvements in yields for aftermarket designs that replace OEM rubber-wheel pairs.
“PFR data indicates the proper closing wheel varies depending on a farmer’s soil type and planting practices, but nearly all aftermarket wheels have performed better than the two solid rubber wheels that come standard on most planters,” he says.
Chester says closing the seed trench and optimizing seed-to-soil contact is essential for uniform emergence, which leads to higher corn yields.
“This is achieved by filling the seed trench from the bottom up and firming the soil while eliminating air pockets,” he says. “Open slots also allow herbicides and insects, such as slugs, direct access to the seed. When planting conditions are not ideal, spiked closing wheels are essential to close the trench, eliminate sidewall compaction and prevent restricted root growth.”
Beck’s operates seven PFR farms and three cooperator sites throughout the Midwest. The company awards the “PFR…