WASHINGTON, Ill. — There’s rarely the perfect window for timely planting each spring, but a company is developing a new product that covers more acres in less time.

Precision Planting recently announced a new corn and soybean delivery system that allows growers to plant much faster than possible with current seed tubes.

Jason Stoller, Precision Planting engineering product manager for the new SpeedTube, said at the company’s winter meeting the product will fundamentally solve seed-spacing problems at double the speed.

“Available time for optimum spring planting is both limited and critical, and larger planters are not the answer to growing farm sizes. But planting speed is limited by the constraints of the seed tube because high speeds lead to poor spacing,” he said.

“SpeedTube really is that missing piece to the puzzle. It’s really the final tool that you need in your tool belt to be able to double your planting speed. And it fundamentally does it by solving the problem of poor seed spacing at higher planting speed.”

Planters usually run between 4 and 6 mph, depending on field conditions. Under current systems, faster planting speeds typically result in poor seed spacing or seeds rolling in-furrow, both of which occur after the seed has passed the meter.

“Upward and downward forces going through the field drives the poor seed placing. It happens right at the meter’s release and at the beginning of the seed tube itself,” Stoller said.

The SpeedTube solves that problem with two feeder wheels that grab the seed off while still being held in a vacuum and place the seed right into the belt itself.

“So it eliminates any chance or opportunity for accelerations on the seed to shift position in that portion of the seed’s path to the ground. Not only that, but the seed is being carried and it’s locked into place in those cells in the belt,” Stoller said.

It also eliminates the chance for seeds rolling in the furrow.

“SpeedTubes fit very low into the furrow and project the seed rearward, and we do it in a way where the velocity of the seed exactly matches groundspeed as that seed comes into contact with the ground, so effectively that seed’s velocity negates the effect of the forward momentum that is in traditional seed tubes,” Stoller said.

SpeedTube has its own integrated motor control, as well as a seed sensor. The control of the belt matches the planter speed, and high-definition population monitoring is integrated into the SpeedTube.

“SpeedTube is radically different than anything else in the market today. It is a drop-in replacement for the traditional seed tube,” Stoller said.

“We designed it to integrate with our vDrive electric meter control system, as well as our vSet meter technology. It is designed for both corn and soybeans, and we’ll be working on additional crops, as well.”

SpeedTube has been in development for three years and include extensive in-field testing.

“Over the last two years, we’ve gone to 16 sites throughout the country and planted 4,000 acres doing speed research with SpeedTube. We’ve measured plant-to-plant spacing and evaluated emergence consistency on 1.5 million plants,” said Cory Muhlbauer, Precision Planting agronomist.

“So we’ve learned a little bit about how this product works and where it fits.”

Muhlbauer said it has been tested in all types of soils, tillage systems and cropping systems.

“Our in-field testing was a smashing success,” Stoller said.

The SpeedTube concept development continues at a brisk pace, and more details will follow after the spring planting season.