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Meeting the Challenges of Spring

Lingering winter will put you to the test this planting season, get out your camera.

I don't have another way to say it but "let the games begin."

That's kind of how this spring feels. The piled up snow is finally going away - although Nature is adding a bit more for some parts of the Midwest this weekend - and now the frost is coming out.

I was in Bismarck earlier this week where they tell me 26% of the corn is still in the field and they don't hold out a lot of hope for a surprise freeze to firm up the ground for a quick harvest. In the I-states - you know how you are - lingering moisture keeps things interesting too.

What does it mean? I don't have crops to plant, but I can empathize with our readers sitting in their farm offices looking out on the ground that should be warming to a new crop. Wet conditions and the chance for any moisture during planting keeps you challenged.

Got a release this week from Titan Tire advising that this year's spring could require higher flotation tires thanks to saturated field conditions. If you're looking at new tires or adding duals or triples to reduce your compaction, the company offers some advice I'll share here.

First, make sure the tires you're running are at the correct pressure for their respective loads. If you're running low-pressure radials keep them at low-pressures to reduce compaction and boost traction.

Second, if you're in a narrow-row situation, adding duals or triples could reduce compaction - and allow you to run at lower pressures too. Taller or wider tires may be a choice to consider too.

The Titan release has an interesting bit of information to consider. According to the company, five years ago the most popular rear radial tractor tire was an 18.4R38 (or 480/80R38 in metric terms). That tire could carry 7,150 pounds at 23 psi. If you want to keep that 18.4 cross section, the industry now offers this nominal tread width in 42-, 46- and 50-inch-tall-tires. If you decide to go with the 50-inch tire -for it's taller size - you can run 9,650 pounds at 35 psi, or you could carry the same 7,150 pounds of the original 38-inch tire but run at 21 psi. These are the kinds of factors to consider.

If you're in the market for new tires and you've been running bias-ply tires - it's probably time to give radials a look. They do increase fuel efficiency, and can offer better flotation - even with the higher upfront investment. This is true for Titan and other brands on the market. The key, as always, is to research your options and work with a dealer you trust. Tire performance is key when you're talking getting horsepower to ground, older treadworn rubber isn't going perform as well as new tires on those rims.

I'm not saying "go buy tires today." But I am saying, consider all your maintenance options as you do those last-minute checks for the season.

Oh, and the camera reference I made introducing this blog? If you've got some spring planting pictures you'd like to share send them my way at [email protected] and we'll publish them online. Who knows, might even put a few in a future column in our magazines too.

We're all counting the days in the Midwest when planters can roll - we know our Southern friends are already hard at work and hope they have a safe planting season as well.

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