Petrified by thoughts of bad weather and low yields, harvest can be a scary time for farmers. Another terrifying challenge facing farmers during harvest is the haunted house their tractors, combines, and implements are tasked with working in. The ghost of corn and soybean past (residue) lurks in the fields, waiting to wreak spooky and disruptive damage to tires. The result? Downtime due to punctures.
Creating Stronger Stalks
Today’s stronger stalks evoke thoughts of the tagline from a classic horror movie, The Fly—“Be afraid. Be very afraid.” In fact, today’s spine-chilling stalks follow a plotline not too dissimilar from The Fly, an experiment gone wrong: scientists, in an effort to help farmers attain higher yields, create corn and soybean varieties with sturdier stalks more resistant to weather, disease, and insects. What the scientists fail to account for is that these super-strong stalks would cause problems for equipment and tires.
It’s not just the stalks left behind from this year’s harvest that can terrorize your tires. Like classic horror movies that seem to get scarier each year, residue is problematic for tires for longer than one season. As farmers trend toward less tillage, more and more residue is left behind, making every pass through the field feel like a sequel to a fear-inspiring flick.
Stalks and Stubble Damage to Tires
What creates a frightening field for farm equipment to operate in is the difficulty they have pushing stalks over as they run through the rows. Sinisterly stout stalks act much like the knife-like fingers of Freddie Krueger’s glove—slashing sidewalls and puncturing treads. Equally eerie is the early demise of tires caused by the slow chipping away of the space between the tire lugs, along with the leading edge of the tire lug.
Trick or Tires
Luckily for farmers, there are a handful of ways to get over their fear of stubble damage. One trick that’s particularly popular is to dress your combine up in stalk stompers. Available from a variety of aftermarket suppliers, stalk stompers push corn and soybean stalks to the ground, allowing tires to run over them and avoid cuts, punctures, and chunks. An added bonus of stalk stompers is that the flattening of the stalks speeds up decomposition and gets valuable nutrients back into the ground.
Tire manufacturers themselves are taking steps to protect farm tires from bedeviling residue. Using special sorcery, tire manufacturers are creating rubber compounds resilient to stubble damage. Wrapping radial tires with steel belts, Kevlar, and other puncture-resistant belts is another way in which tire manufacturers are working to keep corn and soybean stalks from sinking their fangs into tires, while the more flexible nature of radials tends to roll over and envelop objects more than their bias counterparts.
Who You Gonna Call?
You shouldn’t have to go it alone against a powerful adversary like stubble damage, and the best manufacturers will help you exorcise the demons of a tire that didn’t meet expectations. For example, ATG offers one of the longest, most comprehensive warranties in the industry. We’re so confident in the high quality of our tires that our 10-year workmanship and materials warranty on certain farm radial steel-belted tires includes a three-year stubble warranty. We even make submitting a warranty claim easy, no wrangling or witchcraft needed—you can submit photos and claim data right through your phone using our Warranty Wizard app.