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Reworked Potato Planter Works Like New
Willard Kanning found a better way to plant potatoes than stooping over an open furrow. He found a used one-row planter that was headed for the scrap pile and retooled it.
"I stripped away all the foot pedals, depth controls and other features," explains Kanning. "All I needed was the planting shoe and closing disks."
With the help of local welder Earl Keough, Kanning installed sections of old catwalk used on grain bins to make platforms for a helper's seat and to hold extra seed potatoes. The seat was recycled from an old Deere 820, complete with seat belts. A hopper for holding seed potatoes was fabricated from a heavy plastic tool tote.
"It was 3 ft. long and 1 ft. wide," says Kanning. "I cut the 1/4-in. thick sides down to a 4-in. height and mounted it to the frame in front of the helper's seat."
He cut a 4-in. dia. hole in the bottom of the seed hopper and bolted a matching pipe flange and length of pvc pipe to it. Hole, flange and pipe were placed so seed potatoes dropped through them would land directly behind the opener shoes.
The front end of the planter was also modified, replacing the wheels and hitch with 3-pt. hitch connections. Adjusting planting depth is as easy as moving the 3-pt. lever.
"I drive the tractor, and my wife sits on the planter, dropping seed potatoes down the hole," says Kanning. "When the hopper is empty, it's easy to retrieve the next batch from the rear platform."
When one variety is depleted, his wife drops a marker flag down the hole.
The one control that Kanning left in place was the lever for adjusting the camber and height of the closing wheels; however, the wheels were frozen solid. They were equipped with cups for packing grease around the bearings instead of zerks.
"I removed the cups and had to drill out the old grease," recalls Kanning. "I packed the cups and reinstalled them. Now the wheels spin like new."
Kanning spent $50 on the original planter, which looks like new, thanks to a coat of paint. "The closing wheels really hill up the potatoes," he says. "We used it last year and didn't have any problem with greening. The only thing it doesn't do is space the potatoes."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Willard Kanning, 210 Jackson, Plentywood, Mont. 59254 (406 765-2534; 2wnkan@nemontel.net).  

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3