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Is Buying A Cultipacker Worth It?
Looking for some advice. I plant mostly clover in my seven different food plots.
I normally use a hand seeder and then drag a piece of fence over top. I try to do this before a rain but that's not always possible.
My question is if I were to use a cultipacker, would I see a positive noticeable deference that would be worth the investment?
Any feedback would be appreciated.
I’ve been trying to find one cheap but no luck yet. I think it’s worthwhile.
It helps some with germination, especially if you don't get a pounding rain right after seeding. Mine is a 3-point hitch style, which has advantages for transport. But the tow-style I had previously was slightly more effective in uniformly compressing the soil.
I've had a small one (4') for 6 years and love it. Add an extra 100 lbs to it. Use it for all my small seed planting season (clover, alfalfa, brassicas)
I think it increases germination rates by more than 50%....seriously.
Since using a cultipacker, I've gone to planting (hand held spreader...Earthway makes a great one) right AFTER a rain. Helps with germ as well.
I have an old pickup truck hood that I bungee some concrete blocks on top of and drag around behind my ATV. It packs the soil slightly and I've had good results with it for several years...
I bought a three point hitch type, 7' wide, a couple years ago. I like using it, but honestly I've had good results with a homemade tire drag. One thing a drag won't do is let you run perpendicular to the drainages in your plot so that runoff doesn't get in a "groove' and cut a ditch. Welll, you can, but the cultipacker will break up the flow with all the shallow grooves it makes and most drags will throw up a small berm on each side that just invites runoff to follow it until it cuts a ditch. This is assuming you get a good rain on your plot before you have some roots to hold it.
If you have a 4 wheeler to pull it, I think that one of those lawn rollers that you fill with water would work reasonably well. They would weight more than 100 pounds when full of water. Downside is the ones I’ve used were narrow, 30” or so, meaning it will take a while to get the job done. They rent for next to nothing at rental stores.
Another question. If the soil is on the wet side, will mud stick to it rendering it somewhat ineffective?
How big are your plots? How many are you planning a year? I would disc the plots, put seed down. If small seed like clover I would after spreading the seed drag a chain link fence over it. Then I or we if there was two trucks drive over the plots in a circle.. You could easily see where you drove with tire marks in soft dirt. It took only about 20 minutes to do about a acre. Worked great. Just try it once you already have a truck and or tractor or atv or all. Ed
I just found and bought a 10-ft wide cultipacker for $100. Got lucky
Dirt Dog cultipacker
Dirt Dog cultipacker
If you want an absolute perfect clover plot and you don’t want to spend for equipment try this. In the plot you want to establish the clover spray and kill the plot around August 10th. (Adjust the date based on your planting zone) You can do a follow up spray a few weeks later. This will take care of any weed problems because most spring and summer weeds are done growing.
Around September 1st broadcast your clover into the plot. Then broadcast Winter Rye into the same plot. Mow down any existing vegetation on top of your seed.
You will have plenty of WR growing in the plot to attract deer all the while your clover puts down roots. Next spring you can mow the tops off the winter rye just above the clover. The Winter Rye will stay alive, suppress weeds, protect the clover, preserve moisture, and feed deer for a few weeks. Just before summer one of the mowings will all but terminate the WR and you will be left with a beautiful stand of clover.
If you want to take it a step further you can broadcast more WR into the clover the following fall to keep the process going.
I like using the Cultipacker. If I were you I would buy an old cultipaker when they made things to last. Craigslist has plenty if you search them. Pay about 300 to 400.
I have had a lot of success using a roller.rural king and tractor supply have both metal and plastic rollers for lawns that you fill with water. I roll the dirt to pack it and make a good seed bed, then spread the seed and roll it again to get good seed to dirt contact. The rollers have a mud scraper on them also. Clover plots and chicory plots as well as brassicas have turned out great
I do my plots just like RIT described. I have a roller but it hasn't been used in years due to how well the Throw n Mow method works for me. Don't get me wrong; discing, tilling, dragging, rolling, etc all work well... there's many ways to skin a cat type of thing. Doing it the way RIT described is just the method that I've setting into after trying everything else. But to answer your question... rollers/cultipackers do work well for what they are intended.
If you get a cultipacker, make sure to get one with "ridge wheels". To clarify, don't get a flat one (with no ridges).
The ridges create slightly differing seed depths and also help to create small moisture pockets.
With any planting, there are usually going to be small areas that didn't germinate well, just go over those lightly (about two weeks after planting) with your hand spreader.
I would find a cultipacker as it is well worth it. I used a landscape roller for years and had ok results. Switched over to the cultipack years ago and one of the best investments you can make. Plus good used ones are hard to find so you wouldn’t have any problem selling it down the road and getting your Money back. I found this one on Craig’s list cheap.
Was always told you want clover seed covered very shallow (1/4"?). Cultipack / roll first then spread, then pack again. I found a cultipack to be a great tool that helped with germination (packs soil tightly around seeds). Was told if you don't have a cutlipack/roller just spread seed before rain.
6’ with 16” cast iron wheels.
6’ with 16” cast iron wheels.
Just bought this one. Looking forward to using it.
A cultipacker is one of the best pieces of food plot equipment you can invest in. They make an ideal seedbed. They aren’t too hard to find in farm country, but might be a bit tougher to locate in other locales. This one’s a little bigger than you need.
You can operate without one but you will have better significantly betterresults with them..... especially for small seeds like clover
Do you cultipack before and after seeding?
I usually do, Rob, especially on the tiny seeds. It’s not as important on bigger seed, such as rye, oats, peas, etc. If you broadcast those seeds, they get lightly disced or dragged to cover up with approximately an inch of soil first. Unless they are drilled in, I think it helps some to cultipack even on those larger seeds. There will still be some seeds that don’t get covered after discing/dragging, and by cultipacking, many of those seeds will get pressed into the soil, so germination chances are better for them.
For tiny seeds, I definitely cultipack before and after.
Thank you everyone for the feedback. I do have one more question. From reading the replies, it seems as though many of you are using your cultiacker before AND after seeding.
Additional feedback on this strategy would be very welcome.
Thank you in advance for the advice.
definitely worth the money depending on what your planting.
Camp David, Yes.....pack, broadcast and then re pack.
I have found right after a light rain to offer the best germination.
Seed to soil contact+moisture=great germination!
T-Roy nailed it pretty good. Even on bigger seed that has been dragged cultipacking will help. The small seed needs a firm bed. What really can help if you are lucky enough to time the planting when your soil has retained some moisture. I always roll the dirt in a ball. If it is somewhat sticky and stays in a ball it’s perfect seeding and one pack is probably enough.
What Troy said. I noticed better stands even in wheat plots, using the same amount of seed, after I started cultipacking. With clover, it's a no-brainer.
Been wanting one for years. Finally broke down and ordered a 3point 84" with 15" cast wheels. Its being delivered to my local Fedx at the end of April. I pick it up there. I sure hope its worth it!
Depends on the size of your food plots. I use my ATV, drive back and forth over and have never had an issue. A couple of times I used my truck, works great! BC
I watched several Youtube videos of people making ATV friendly packers with plastic culverts filled with cement. Good, not bad or just better than nothing?
I’m planning to do that this summer
RIT- I’m going to try your plot idea. Do you recommend using the suggested lbs per acre for clover and winter rye? Or more clover and less rye? Can you overseed either?
Ambush, it will be better than nothing. I own a cheap flat one (fill it with water) and a cast ridge wheel one.
However, a cultipacker with "ridge wheels" has given me much better germination by far.
there is only one way to go in my mind:)
Would a cultipacker work for overseeding a horse pasture?
Try no till, it's for sure it will work, we do about 3000 acres, also cover crops in the fall.
Yes, my old Oliver finally broke last fall to the point we couldn’t weld it back together. I’m going to get another one this spring that I can lift with 3-pt hitch . My last one was a pull behind and pulling it over rocks is hard on them . I have a lot of limestone outcrops on my place and in roads
Used a cultipacker for the first time last fall. Previously, we used a drag and water filled lawn roller. Cultipacker is the real deal. Goodbye drag...and the lawn roller will only be used on the lawn going forward.
The big 12-15’ cultimulchers are easier to find and cheaper to buy than a 8 or 10’ cultipacker. There’s a big demand for those small cultipackers by plotters. They are fantastic for planting everything with small seeds.
There are lots of those old cultipackers just sitting in the tall weeds out in a wood lot or pasture. If a guy keeps his eyes open, occasionally you can pick one up pretty cheaply. Some of them have wooden bearings, which can be easily repaired/replaced.
I found one just the other day... on our land! Land that’s been in our family for 50+ years. It has been covered up by dirt and leaves, but I’m going to try and yank it out sometime this spring, might not be worth much, but I have to try. I believe it’s a 3 point.
It would be interesting to know the story behind how it ended up there, one Arrow!
“Just park it over there for now. We’ll move it later” How big is it?
I didn’t measure it, but if I had to guess it was a 6 footer... maybe 8. It was a double roller. Definitely excited about it.
I’ll have to ask my dad about it. My grandpa passed a while back or I’d ask him, likely it was his. Which makes it more worth the time to try and salvage.
Going to see if the DIY route will work for our ground here in OK. It's mostly sandy so I think it will. 48" overall width, 12" culvert pipe(40" long), 1 1/4" steel pipe 'axle', pillow top bearings, 2" hitch and 360 lbs of quikrete. Less than $100 invested.
Cool! That would never have enough weight for my ground but it should be good for soft ground. It's definitely better than nothing. Well done.
Putting the cultipacker to work in the morning on a couple new alfalfa plots.
It’s getting to be that time of year, pav!
Any place around you rent them out? Might be an option while you wait for one to show up on Craigslist etc.
Nice job Russ! How did you center the axle. A side few close up of the axle area would be appreciated. Thanks
Norseman, I'll take a couple of pics and post later this weekend after I make a few modifications. But, here's what I did: The culvert pipe is 12" inside diameter(smooth walled on inside) so I cut out a round piece of 1/2" plywood and drilled a 1 1/4" hole for the axle. Got the plywood to fit very snug on inside. Axle is 48" long which is the width of my ATV. Cut the culvert pipe at 40". Put one piece of plywood in one side. Turn that side on end and sit it on 2 - 4" posts centered(see pic). That gets the bottom of the packer 3 1/2 to 4" off the ground. Poke the axle down through plywood until on the ground. That will leave 3 1/2 to 4" at the top too. Tape over axle opening. Shovel in quikrete. Tamp it down after each wheel barrow load while keeping axle close to center. Once got all the quikrete in, center the axle, tap on the other piece of plywood until down into the concrete.
Brilliant! Thanks Russ. I gots me another spring project!
Here's a close up pic of the axle and pillow top bearing. It was pretty easy and I had most everything at home. I don't know how long it'd last if driving over rocks/gravel(moving between fields or getting to the field) but our property is very sandy so should do fine there.
Looks good, Russ! I MacGyvered some wheels on my small (40”) cultipacker, so I could flip it over and transport it on the wheels vs the rollers, but it has a pin type hitch, instead of a ball hitch, like yours......That Oklahoma sand is pretty soft, though ;-)
If you do no-till can I use the cultipacker after you spread the seed Lewis
Yes, that's what we are going to be doing - broadcast seed then run cultipacker over it.