tips for using the six row seeder

i can’t sing the praises of the six row seeder enough – though it wasn’t always like that.  for the first couple of years i spent more time cursing at it than praising it.  it’s a tricky little device with adjustments of seed size, brushes for letting more seed in an out, depth regulator, and multiple drive ratios.  certainly there are changes i would like seen made to the design, but it works better than anything else i have seen.

the first few uses of the seeder yielded nothing.  then all the sudden we stumbled upon good results, and then couldn’t figure out how to replicate them.  finally we have it down to where we feel it works well most of the time.  at some point i’m going to do a video post where i explain how to use the six row seeder in detail but right now i’m just giving a few helpful tips.

1. prepare your soil well – spend the extra time getting all the weeds and trash out of the beds.  make sure to break up any soil clods, and get the soil very smooth and even.  if this all seems to be taking a long time, the savings will more than be made up with the speed of the seeder.  out in the fields, a rototiller or rotovator set on the a very shallow setting to just fluff the soil works well for this, then going over with a rake or harrow to smooth everything out.

2. soil moisture is important, two wet and the soil sticks to the baskets and clogs the shoots where the seed comes out.  too dry and it can be hard to push the seeder though.  aim for somewhere in between, but closer to the dry side.

3. before you seed anything set the depth regulators at their highest settings, and then roll it over the seed bed allowing the basket rollers to help smooth out the seed bed even more.

4. if trying to decide between a smaller and large hole, i usually pick the larger hole, and figure i can thin later, but will be really frustrated if i have to reseed due to spotty germination and seeding.  same thing goes for the brushes, if you are trying to decide between two brush settings, go for the higher one, but don’t over due it, you will end up wasting seed and having to do a lot a lot of thinning.

5. watch the middle of the seed hoppers, as you seed, you should see a small depression forming as you go, letting you know that seed is dropping, if you don’t see that after about five feet of seeding, check your settings.

6. watch the collars that lock the spindle into place as you go and make sure that they are rotating, sometimes they get loose and stop spinning and then you have no seed coming out.

7. if the seeder get caught up on something, trash, rock, etc, just pick it up and set it on the other side of the obstacle, dont’ try to push though it.

8. make sure to water very well when you have finished to break open that seed coat, and keep the soil moist until germination happens.

if everything goes right it should look something like this!

while getting the hang of the seeder is certainly difficult, it has also been worth it. these are recent plantings in the hoophouse.   we can plant much faster, much more precisely, and much tighter than we could with other seeders.  it also is a pretty big investment, but it has now more than paid off with increased yield, and time saved in seeding.  for those wanting to learn more about the seeder – check out johnny’s selected seeds.   it doesn’t work well for everything, but for small seeds or tightly spaced crops it works great.

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3 responses to “tips for using the six row seeder

  1. I hope you packing heat.

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