It's becoming an interesting lament: "These new corn hybrids are great, but they're killing my tires." Now before my seed company friends come after me, there's a lot of evidence out there that the hard work plant breeders have done to boost crop yield, and create a plant that can stand up to a 70 mph wind, is also a cut stalk that loves to punch through tire rubber.
There are some things you can do - and in fact inventive farmers are already at work. Had a chance to talk with Skip Sagar, a Titan Tire, sales rep for Iowa, recently and the first thing he recommended for farmers facing the problem is to consider radials. "Radials have a harder structure than bias-ply tires," he notes. "And these new hybrids do increase the challenge for tires."
Titan Tire, which manufactures and markets the Goodyear tire line, got a lot of editor's attention recently by sending out a 9-pound section of tire asking what we would do to protect farm rubber. It was an attention-getter and a lot of editors had some fun with it - one colleague even asked her readers what she should do with the tire; while another says it's a kind of office "white elephant" you never know on whose desk it will appear next. Essentially, Titan got our attention. And we know farmers are working with tire dealers to figure this problem out.
Tire companies are standing by their warranties, which is getting costly Sagar says, as hybrids get better. But now farmers, who don't mind a warranty but want to avoid flat-tire downtime altogether, are getting inventive. "I've heard of guys who are taking a concrete-filled pipe and suspending it ahead of their tires to push the stalks forward as the tractor goes through the field," he notes. That way the stalks are angled away from the tires and in theory would push forward away from the tire, instead of up and through.
Manufacturers like May-Wes with their stalk stompers (which you can see at the end of this blog) are stepping in to help solve the problem. And I'm hearing about other inventions at work on the issue. Sagar notes that these approaches, combined with radial tires, will help.
And if you make the switch to radial tires, you'll also have the ability - in many cases - to run at lower inflation pressures too. That can reduce compaction and boost traction and fuel efficiency too. So if you're planning on making some investments to protect tires, and boost equipment efficiency radials make sense.
If you have ideas, or tricks, you've made to protect your tractor tires from tough stubble, send your ideas my way. You can comment below (just register or sign in), or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll share those ideas in a future blog. Great hybrids are pushing up yields, now let's work to deal with the unintended consequences of better, tougher stalks, on farm tires.
May-Wes offers its Stalk Stompers, which ride ahead of tires pushing down tough corn stalks. What have you come up with to beat tough corn down before it punctures a tire?