mechanical transplanters???

myfamilysfarmNovember 4, 2010

Does anyone use a mechanical transplanter? If so, which one and what are the positives and negatives? I'm thinking about getting one and am not sure which ones are better.



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We have a Holland #1600 we use for onions and sweet potatos. I have it set up on a tool bar on our small (JD 400) tractor. Works like a charm. The toolbar has an offset set of holes to reduce the between row spacing for the onions (down to about 12") but centered on the tractor for the sweet potatos for 36" rows. The standard in row spacing on the 1600 is 12" to about eight feet IIRC by changing the sprockets which is pretty easy. We got a close spacing adaptor from Holland that allows us to go down to 3" in row spacing (we use 6" for the onions). That's the reason we use the small tractor - it's a hydrostat and let me tell you you have to go very slow to plant on 6" centers. Even then we walk the rows to "fix" the plants that are not quite right - usually either a missed plant or one upside down (we call it FFD - Fat Finger Disorder). Once the unit is correctly adjusted it is pretty fast - 7000 onion plants take a couple hours give or take. For the sweet potatos IIRC the spacing is 18" inrow and 36" between. We use the liquid fertilizer unit with the SP's and pull the barrel behind the entire operation on a cart. Looks a litte funny but works well. The soil needs to be worked but not too loose much like with a seed planter. We picked this unit up off E-Bay used for a couple hundred dollars - worth every penny even though we only use it twice a year. It can be used to plant small plugs but we are using plastic mulch and it does not plant through plastic so we have never tried it for them. There are some pics on my Photobucket account if you want to see her in action - they are on page two.

Here is a link that might be useful: transplanter pics

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 8:34PM
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Thanks, that's the kind of info I need. We don't have anything with a 3pt hitch at this time, so it makes shopping interesting. I know the Amish use a 'water wheel' and plant thru the plastic, but that's all I know about that. I'm guessing this will be a good time to find equipment, after people have decided whether to go another season or not.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 9:09AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Henhouse (is it Tom?) I have some questions about setting up the transplanter for onion planting.

Can I squeeze 3 rows in a 36" bed?

Have you ever tried planting storage onions at 4 1/2" spacing in rows?
(I had originally seeded for 6" at 4 rows per bed (how I plant by hand). So i'm hoping to plant the same amount of onions in the same amount of space by tightening them a little.)

Also, what depth do you set the furrow opener?

Thanks for the info. I hope you get this soon as i'm transplanting in a few days (I hope).


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Mark -

Sounds like your in for an adventure. I went out and measured centerline to outside of the packers at about 8" so I 12" should be possible as long as you offset the planter on the draw bar far enough. Our rows run a little over 14" IIRC due to it's placement. With the disk holder instead of the chain holder you can get down to 3" in row. It looks like with 3.5 inch would need 16 planting fingers with #7 sprocket. We run 12 pockets on #6. I scanned the chart for the disk holder if you do not have it. Better have fast fingers when you get down that close - those fingers can look like a windmill if your moving too fast. Our tractor is a hydrostat and it crawls just as slow as possible without pulling to a stop and even then sometimes we miss plants.The opener is set to about three inched IIRC but depending on the size of the transplant we may adjust it. We like to set the plants so that the transition from the bulb to the leaves is right at surface level. You will have to experiment a little to get it right - we have found that changing the position of the set in the planter fingers is the easiest way to do this. It's rather an art but after a few passes you'll figure it out. I'll include a link to the Holland manual if you need it. Good luck and holler if you need anything else.


Here is a link that might be useful: 1500 and 1600 Holland manual

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Nothing like asking advice on a new piece of equipment and hearing "you're in for and adventure".....

We'll I bought it to make things easier and hopefully after the learning curve, it will be.

I have it set for 4 1/2" (not 3 1/2) with the 11 tooth gear and all 20 of the fingers. I don't have another wheel to reduce the fingers down to 16, so my helpers will have to work fast (there's gonna be 2 on the seats).

My packer wheels are only 4.25" from center, down at the bottom where they roll along the soil. So i'm hoping I can get my rows about 10" apart or a little less without running over onions.

I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for the advice.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:36PM
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Mark, Tom loves the 'adventure'.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 6:48AM
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You better believe it - I'm a real daredevil. You first time is going to be a bit of a learning experience but nothing to sweat. I think it took a couple hours our first time trying to figure out the best way to adjust everything - including a half row planted upside down (you would think something like that would be pretty obvious but apparently was not).


    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 1:50PM
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If you are looking to get a transplanter with a water wheel then I think you are going to need a 3pt hitch. You have to lift the the water wheel when making turns at the end of rows. If you have a lot to plant they are defiantly worth it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:55AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Tomatoes, you may have missed something.

Tom already uses a holland transplanter, and i've just bought one.
I was asking some details on how to set mine up for onions.

And yes, the holland transplanter only works with a 3 pt. hitch.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 12:12PM
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I suspect that if you really wanted to do the engineering you could rig up some type of hydraulic lift if you wanted but you are right most all I have seen have been for some type of tractor mounted lift. The one I have was actually set up of the old International quick connects (it was actually a one point) but I converted it to mount on a regular three point drawbar. I may have mentioned this in another post but for goodness sake never allow it to run in reverse. That will destroy the planting fingers in a flash.

I would love to get one of the rotary planters that work on plastic - maybe I'll find one someday in my price range.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:36PM
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Sorry, my post was directed towards the original poster. I should have stated that.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:33PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Ah, that explains it.
You're intensions are good but you may be a little late.
Marla posted that in November 2010....

But for the sake of keeping this thread alive, i'll post tomorrow after I give the transplanter a workout and hopefully get my onions in right-side-up.

Wish me luck on my adventure!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:48AM
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Oh wow I completely missed that! Good luck with the planter.

This post was edited by TomatoesAndThings on Mon, Apr 1, 13 at 9:15

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 9:12AM
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What we are looking for at this time is the adapter from 2 pt quick connect to make it 3 pt. At one time we have a 3 pt tractor, but got rid of it (not that good of tractor and newer one much better). Now we need to find the adapter, and just haven't got it yet.

Thanks tomatoes and things, I know the Amish uses a water wheel behind horses. But they are SO creative in adapting items.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 12:30PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Here's the pic to prove it works. I had no problem fitting in 3 rows to a 36" bed. It went slow, but we got 3 180' beds planted with some time to spare.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can plant with this thing!


    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 1:39AM
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    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 2:44PM
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You need to decide what kind of transplanter you want to buy. A water wheel transplante is mainly used to transplant through plastic mulch. It can be used on bare ground, but it is not designed for that.

The holland transplanter is the cheapest of the traditional setters. If you run a lager size farm, I would say 10-15 acres or more, you may want to look at a cup based transplanter like the Mechanical Transplanter model 5000 or 6000. They are much faster than the holland style.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:33AM
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