What is in this article?:
• Tires are often a forgotten component of the combine and grain cart, yet a full hopper of grain on today’s combines can add 16,000 pounds to the load, resulting in additional stress to the tires and increased compaction to the soil.
• To ensure optimum performance during harvest, it’s every bit as important to prepare tires as it is to prepare the equipment.
“For instance, grain carts carrying heavy loads can cause significant soil compaction, but the high lug-to-void ratio and flexible button tread design of R-3 tires work to minimize that compaction and provide a long, even tread wear.”
Combines and grain carts can be set up with either duals or singles. Each setup has its pros and cons, but again, the best choice comes down to whether the farmer is working in wet or dry soils.
“Duals are able to run between the rows, which helps avoid stubble damage to the tires, but they aren’t ideal for wet soils. In some cases, mud can pack between the duals, which can cause loss of traction,” says Sloan.
“On the other hand, the large footprint of singles spreads ground-bearing pressure over a wider area and helps to reduce compaction in wet soils. The downside is that the tire is too wide to run between rows and can become more susceptible to stubble damage.”
Stubble damage to tires has been an increased concern for farmers as today’s corn varieties produce a much stronger stalk. Running in between the rows is the easiest way to avoid damage from stubble, but that’s not always an option, in which case Sloan suggests adding accessories to the combine.
“The use of mechanical attachments, such as Stalk Stompers, has become commonplace. At a relatively low cost, a farmer can add an attachment, which can add years to the lifespan of a tire by eliminating damage from stubble.”
While these attachments can improve lifespan in many cases, Sloan contends that nothing is more important to tire longevity than maintaining proper inflation pressures.
A common misconception among farmers is that tires should remain at the inflation pressure listed on the side of the tire, when in fact the proper inflation pressure can vary greatly depending on load.
“Once you have the right tires for the application, the best thing you can do to ensure optimum performance and lifespan is to keep them at the proper inflation pressures,” says Sloan. “So, before harvest, I’d recommend checking inflation pressures on all of the tires and adjusting to the recommendations of the Tire and Rim Associationbased on the load you’ll be carrying.”
Of course loads are not consistently the same every day; wet bushels weigh more than dry bushels and bin extensions can be added or removed from one day to the next. While it would be ideal to adjust inflation pressure each time the load changes, most farmers would agree they don’t have the time to adjust pressures daily, which is why Sloan recommends inflating tires for the worst case scenario.
Being productive at harvest time is crucial to yield, and tires can greatly impact performance in the field. To ensure optimum performance, farmers need to choose the right tire for the job and maintain the proper inflation pressures. The two factors affecting these decisions are soil conditions and load, which can differ from farmer to farmer.
“The bottom line is that farmers should base their tire setup on soil saturation and their inflation pressures on load,” says Sloan. “If a farmer is unsure what the best solution for his or her scenario is, it’s always best to consult with a local tire dealer, and explain how and where those tires are going to be used.”