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Is it too early to think about snow removal?

A tractor-mounted snowblower can save you time next winter. Here's what you need to know before you buy one.

June 1, 2023

The winter snows have (finally) melted away, the days are warm, and we're complaining about the mosquitoes, but one thing's for sure about living in the Midwest. It seems like we're either living through or planning for winter. These long, warm days will soon give way to increasingly shorter days and cooler evenings. Sweatshirts and flannels will soon replace shorts and tank tops around the bonfire and thoughts will once again turn to preparing for winter.

As thoughts turn to winter, snow and snow removal may be top of mind. Clearing snow with a bucket loader on your tractor or skid steer is certainly an option, especially for small areas and around buildings, but what if you need to move a lot of snow?

Clay Zimmerman of Evanston, Wyoming was in this exact position a few winters ago. Clay and his wife own High Uinta Pack Goats, the only pack goat rental service in the United States. For years, Clay's neighbor cleared the snow from the gravel road they share with a bucket mounted to his tractor and it took him all day. That just wasn't efficient. "Where I live, it's all rolling hills and normal snowfall starts at 6 feet deep." Ultimately, a tractor-mounted snowblower was the right solution but it wasn't an easy decision. With so many options available, here's a brief guide to highlight some key items to consider before investing in a snowblower for your tractor.

Tractor Considerations

Before you look at snowblowers, you need to look at the tractor you intend to use for snow removal. Is the PTO 540 or 1,000 RPM? If it’s 1,000, is it large or small? While we’re talking about PTOs, how much PTO horsepower is available?

The next thing to consider as it relates to the tractor is where you plan on mounting the snowblower. Traditionally, snowblowers were mounted on the rear because that’s where the PTO was. Nowadays, some tractors may be available with both a front and rear PTO. This opens up the possibility of mounting the snowblower to the front end. Mounting to the front has the advantage of a more natural driving posture and increased field of vision because you don’t have to constantly look over your shoulder while clearing snow. If you decide to go with the front mount option, pay special attention to the direction of rotation of the PTO because some have a left hand rotation which will require a different gearbox.

Snowblower Considerations

Tractor-mounted snowblowers are available in a variety of heights and widths. When looking at these dimensions, consider both the cutting and overall measurements. The cutting height and width directly affect how much snow you can expect to move. In addition to cutting dimensions, think about the augers. Generally speaking, the taller the blower, the more augers it can house and the more augers your snowblower has, the more capable of chewing through deep, hard-packed snow your blower is.

One final but important thing to check is the overall construction of the snowblower. Is the housing thick and reinforced? What about the fan blades and fan housing? A strong fan with equally spaced, heavy duty paddles will more efficiently discharge snow. When asked what makes a good snowblower, Clay said, "it's got to be heavy duty."

Getting a snowblower for your tractor is an investment that will save you time. In the end, Clay went with an HDS8205 from HitchDoc, mounted to the front 3 point hitch of his tractor. He now clears the snow in an hour. "It's the best purchase I could've made."

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