The Bigger Picture
World's Fastest Planter

World's Fastest Planter

"Planting hills spaced 26 inches is a low gear job for most planters, but the 450 races along at 5 mph!"

Having recently covered the introduction of the new John Deere ExactEmerge planter, the headline "World's Fastest Planter" grabbed me. I was doing some research on vintage farm equipment for a colleague, looking through bound volumes of Wallaces Farmer (Iowa's Farm Progress publication) from the 1950s, and came across the ad with that headline.

The ad started out by saying, "You've never planted so fast, so precisely!" That sounded quite similar to what the Deere engineers were saying about their new planter. But this was 1957!

Planter ad in 1957 issue of Wallaces Farmer.

The ad was for the new International Harvester corn planter. It notes, "The new McCormick No. 450 corn planter counts out kernels with adding machine accuracy… spaces them 40 inches apart at speeds up to 6 ½ mph!"

According to the ad, the "secret" was "positive-filling seed plates always count out the right number of kernels; new, lightweight, formed-steel valves have a fast, no bounce action that assures cluster-tight hills at amazingly high speeds."

Note, "cluster-tight hills". How many of you remember planting in hills?

It also proclaimed, "Individual planting units – each with its own gauge wheel – follow ground contours like a hound dog on the scent." (Clever, huh?) "Every seed in every row, in every round, is planted at precisely the same depth."

Flash forward to the new Deere ExactEmerge – "…designed to accommodate accurate planting at speeds up to 10 mph. while maintaining superior seed placement. The seed delivery system cradles the seed from the meter down to the seed trench, maintaining optimal seed placement at high speeds in varying field conditions."

See any similarity in the claims?

Now, I'm just as impressed with the new Deere ExactEmerge planter and new row units as anyone. As soon as it was revealed at the National Farm Machinery Show in February, hundreds of farmers crowded around the new planter to inspect every inch of it, especially the row units.

But, I'm left wondering, if the McCormick No. 450 could plant accurately up to 6 ½ mph in 1957 and the 2014 Deere ExactEmerge can plant accurately up to 10 mph, is that a huge improvement (in planting speed) over all those years, or not?

What about seed placement?

At any rate, it's fun to look back at ag advertising from decades ago.

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