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Planting Power: How We Built the World’s Best Seed Openers

Generally speaking, farmers fall into two camps when it comes to choosing seed openers for the upcoming planting season – the guy who sticks with what he knows because they work ‘well enough’, and the guy who’s on a never-ending quest for better.

If you won’t settle for ‘good enough’, then you’ve come to the right place – because at Wearparts we know from experience that all seed openers are not created equal. 

In our conversations with farmers and ag dealers, we often hear that OEM blades, in particular, don’t live up to the hype associated with their name – common problems include a high rejection rate during preseason checks or premature wear and chipping out in the field.

Over the past decade, we’ve worked with manufacturers and farmers to deliver what we confidently believe are the best seed opener assemblies on the US market.  So what makes a great seed opener – and why are Wearparts seed openers better?  Let’s take a detailed look at our bestselling blades, and find out.

What makes a superior seed opener?

Premium quality blades start with premium quality steel – and our mission to address common seed opener problems experienced by US farmers started in Europe, with world-renowned French manufacturer, Forges de Niaux. 

FDN’s famous ‘French disc’ has been developed based on more than 75 years of agricultural and engineering expertise, as well as real feedback from farmers, and they are known for their exacting standards when it comes to selecting the steel their disc blades are made from.

Patented heat treatment

One of the key USPs of the FDN seed opener – the Niaux 200 – is the company’s patented heat treatment process, which gives the blade three defined zones of hardness/flexibility.  

This breakthrough metallurgical technology came about after many years of research and testing and is the key reason Niaux blades are proven to last on average 30% longer in the field than any competing product.  Here’s how it works:

  1. The greatest heat concentration is applied near the edge of the blade, resulting in maximum hardness and wear resistance (55-58 HRC).
  1. A slightly lower heat concentration is applied to the transition area on the face of the blade, resulting in a superb balance of hardness and flexibility (50-55 HRC) that enables the blade to cope with shocks and stresses without inhibiting performance.
  1. In the center of the blade, heat concentration is lowered to reduce hardening and retain maximum flexibility (48-50 HRC), allowing the blades to bend so they can cope with extreme axial and radial loads without fracturing.

Self-sharpening seed openers

In addition to this advanced structural integrity, each blade features a longer bevel – ¾” as opposed to the standard 5/8” found on most OEM opener discs – and unique ‘self-sharpening’ technology that promotes supremely even wear even in challenging soil conditions, allowing the blade to get sharper, not duller, as it wears down.

Durable seed opener assembly

Having answered our customers’ requests for a sharper edge and a longer bevel, we turned our attention to the seed opener assembly itself.  Farmers told us they wanted a larger, more robust hub with larger rivets, and that’s what we gave them – our Maximum Duty seed opener assemblies for John Deere feature a 5mm cast housing, with heavy-duty PEER bearings and 5/16” rivets for advanced load capacity and supreme durability.

Advanced seed opener testing

The final piece of the puzzle is precision – because you can have all the features you like on a seed opener, but if it doesn’t run true, it’s not worth the steel it’s made from.  Wearparts seed openers are a cut above not just because of the advanced blade technology, or the carefully designed hub assembly, but also because we hold ourselves to the very highest standards in the industry for blade tolerances, and we test 100% of our seed openers before they leave our warehouse.

Guaranteed to run true

Our Guaranteed True® promise means our seed openers have to meet radial and axial tolerances that are typically half of that permitted by OEM manufacturers.  

Each blade must achieve a minimum of .050/1.27mm axial / .060/1.52mm radial tolerance, and our tests show that a significant percentage pass our tests with half of that to spare.

As a result, Wearparts blades have virtually no wobble or lope, which means rejections during preseason testing are kept to an absolute minimum, and blade shimming takes a fraction of the time – so farmers can get on with the real work of getting those seeds safely in the ground come spring.

Competitively priced

Our Maximum Duty seed openers have a better specification than the John Deere OEM alternative, with a proven longer wear-life and our Guaranteed True® promise – but in terms of price, they stack up favorably, delivering even more cost-effectiveness for farmers.

What farmers say about our seed openers

Longer wear-life is what sets our seed openers apart, and this is emphasized by the feedback we get from farmers – we’ve had guys tell us they weren’t even getting one season out of their OEM openers, and now they’re getting two years from their Wearparts blades.

Watch Ottawa County farmer Darren Sanders explaining to Mark Franzen why he switched to Wearparts seed openers and the difference it’s made to his farming:

We’ve also had those risk-averse guys who always play safe with OEM tell us that their farming operations have been enhanced once they realized how much more efficient our seed openers are compared to what they’d been using for years – here’s what one farmer said: “After being shown how poor the OEM blades were, I couldn’t believe I had been using them for so long.  Farmers need to know that there is a far superior product available.  Thank you for helping me make my farm better.”

Need more information?

If you’re interested in learning more about Wearparts premium quality seed openers, or you’re ready to try them for yourself, find your nearest dealer from our nationwide network – or get in touch with our team for further information.

Plant 24 is coming | Preseason Offers Live Now!

With exclusive discounts and credit terms on advance orders placed between October 15th and December 31st 2023, now is the perfect time to stock up on spring tillage & planting tools.

Order in bulk to save big – plus FREE shipping on all orders over $2,000!

All orders will ship between January 1st and April 15th, 2024.  Please allow 2-6 weeks for shipping.  Warehouse constraints may mean you are asked to take product early.

Order Now or Contact Us for more info.

The ‘next big thing’ in seed openers is already here

Waiting for the ‘next big thing’ in seed openers from an OEM brand?  What if we told you this new technology already exists – and you can order now to install on planters in time for the 2024 planting season?

At Wearparts, we’re leading the way on high quality aftermarket seed openers that knock OEM options out of the park on tolerance, for the most efficient, precise planting you’ve ever achieved.

Premium seed opener assemblies

Our AA65248MDBA seed opener assemblies (designed to fit John Deere planters) feature heat-treated boron steel blades and reinforced 5mm thick bearing housings with 5/16” rivets, precision-assembled using Peer bearings.  The blades themselves are designed with a longer bevel that allows the edge to stay sharper for longer, outlasting our closest competitor blade by as much as 8%.

Our blade assemblies are tested in-house by us to some of the tightest tolerances in the ag industry – each blade must achieve a minimum of .050/1.27mm axial / .060/1.52mm radial tolerance, or it doesn’t leave our warehouse.  That means no wobble and no lope – and no need to waste hours pre-qualifying blades prior to installation.  

Our Field-Ready Guarantee means that if our blades don’t run true we’ll replace them, no questions asked – so farmers can stop worrying about testing blades before installation, and get on with getting those seeds in the ground.

Achieve bigger yields

Truer blades mean a precise, v-shaped trench for seeds to drop into with less risk of trash getting in there, leading to the formation of air pockets when the trench is closed.  As a result, seeds germinate more consistently and crops are less prone to disease, pests and rot – which means bigger, more predictable yields.  And not only that – our blade assemblies are also guaranteed against breakage in the field, which means zero downtime caused by parts failure.

Put all these benefits together, and the farmer gets increased planting efficiency with a lower cost per acre AND the potential for increased yields, at OEM spec without the hefty OEM price tag.  

As a dealer, you benefit from vastly reduced comebacks, which means more satisfied customers and a lot less paperwork. We’ve got stock of these blade assemblies available for fall shipping, so you and your customers can be well ahead of the game for 2024 planting.

Why wait around for that big OEM reveal – get a pocket-friendly head start with Wearparts and see for yourself why customers choose our seed opener assemblies year after year.  Complete the form below to learn more or contact your sales rep to place a wholesale order.

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Anatomy of Wearparts seed opener blades

Investing in precision seed opener blades is probably one of the best things you can do to ensure successful germination and high yields from your 2023/4 crops.

Quality seed openers will open a clean, v-shaped furrow, working in tandem with gauge wheels to ensure minimal soil displacement for excellent seed-to-soil contact, minimizing the risk of air pockets that can lead to seed failures and losses due to disease.

Seed opener blades might look more or less the same, but they’re not all created equal.   Wearparts seed openers are created in partnership with the renowned manufacturer Forges de Niaux in France, and have evolved in response to real feedback gathered from real farmers.  This means that our seed openers have some unique features and advantages that can give you the edge.

Every seed opener blade assembly is effectively made up of the same component parts.  On a row unit, there are two blades with beveled edges – these can be notched or smooth.  Each blade has a central assembly or housing that contains the bearing – this allows the blade to turn.  The bearing is pressed into the housing and then secured to the blade with a series of rivets.  The blade is then bolted to the frame of the planter.  Blades are mounted in pairs and angled so that they are touching right at the point of deepest contact in the soil.  This creates a precise, v-shaped furrow.  A seed then drops down into the furrow via the seed tube, which is positioned just behind the seed opener blades.

Key features of a seed opener

The seed opener has one job: to create the perfect furrow conditions for seed germination.  This means it needs to cut through any surface trash, penetrating to the ideal depth and ensuring the furrow is clean, ready to receive the seed before being closed over again.

For this reason, there are three key features of any seed opener – precision, sharpness and durability.

  1. Precision

Precision is important during the manufacturing of the blade, both in terms of the flatness of the profile and the attachment of the bearing hub/housing.  If the steel is in any way warped, or if the housing is not absolutely centered, the blade will not run true.  This will result in unacceptable levels of ‘wobble’ in the blade when it runs on your planter.  The resulting furrow will be uneven in width, and may be unstable.  The blade will wear unevenly around the circumference, which will result in irregular furrow depth.  We test all our seed opener assemblies in-house to some of the tightest runout tolerances in the industry.

  1. Sharpness

The sharpness of a seed opener blade is vital for ensuring the blade can cut through surface trash and achieve the optimal depth for seed placement.  It’s also important where dry soil conditions are prevalent, in order to minimise the amount of downward force necessary for the blades to penetrate the soil.  This reduces drag and fuel consumption costs.  It’s also important that blades stay sharp as they wear down, so that the shape of the furrow stays consistent right up until the point where the blades have to be changed.  The length and angle of the bevel on the blade can impact on how well a blade wears down.

  1. Durability

Durability and sharpness or hardness are closely linked.  A harder edge on a blade will naturally be more durable; it will wear down more slowly and withstand hard or rocky soil for longer, which means less downtime spent changing blades and ultimately, a lower cost per acre.  The overall durability of a seed opener blade also has an agronomic impact – a more durable blade is less likely to break or crack and can cope better with tough ground conditions so again, you spend more time planting and less time changing out damaged blades.

How are Wearparts seed openers different?

Wearparts seed opener blades have some subtle difference from the standard blade specification.  These have been developed in direct response to what farmers told us they wanted in a seed opener blade, and designed to increase efficiency in the field.

You’ll notice that images of our blades or indeed sample products at your local dealership have a distinct ‘pie slice’ illustration on the face of the blade, which hints at one of the biggest differences – the fact that our blades are heat treated to achieve a harder spec on the edge.  We also offer a longer bevel, plus a larger bearing and rivets.  Let’s take a look at the key benefits of each:

  1.  Heat treated boron steel 

The heat treatment process on our boron steel seed opener blades has the effect of creating variable hardness in different areas of the blade.  Our blades have three zones of hardness as indicated by the ‘pie slice’ decals we apply to our sample products.  

During the hardening process, extreme heat is applied to the outer edge of the boron steel blade.  This causes structural changes in the carbon structures within the steel.  The hardest zone is indicated by the red section of our pie slice, which is rated 55-58 HRC on the Rockwell scale and has been designed specifically to offer a longer wear life on the ground-engaging portion of the blade.

The middle part of the blade naturally also heats up during this process, but the temperatures reached are slightly lower.  This zone is highlighted in orange, and is harder than non-treated steel, but still retains a degree of flexibility (50-55 HRC).

The inner zone closest to the hub is highlighted in blue.  This zone does not reach high enough temperatures during the hardening process for those structural carbon changes to take place, so this area of the blade remains in its natural, flexible state (49-50 HRC).  This is important because while the cutting edge is exposed to wear from the soil, the center of the blade is exposed to the highest levels of stress from the weight of the machinery and the drag of the soil, making the zone closest to the hub more prone to breakage.  Retaining the flexibility here reduces this risk.

  1. Larger bearing and rivets

Because the hub of the blade is where the greatest force is concentrated within the seed opener assembly, we’ve developed a larger hub with larger, stronger rivets.  This spreads the force over a larger surface area, reducing the risk of breakage.

We use high-quality PEER bearings for our seed openers, with the option of a split or solid inner race.

  1. Longer bevel

The bevel is the graduation of the blade edge from its full thickness (usually 3-4mm) to the actual cutting edge.  The length of the bevel on a 15-inch blade is usually somewhere around a half inch and typically, by the time the bevel is worn halfway down, the blade has become too blunt to penetrate the soil.  Our longer bevel means the blade stays sharp right up until the point where it needs to be changed and is able to maintain appropriate contact with its neighbouring blade, so you get more acres out of every pair.

To find out more about our market-leading seed opener blades, get in touch – or better still, visit your local Wearparts dealer, where you can see the difference for yourself!  Find your nearest dealer here.