How to Choose the Right Radial Tire

When buying a tractor, finding one with enough horsepower and the latest features and technology is often the priority. However, farmers often overlook a critical asset, and that’s the tires. Bill Durivage, a farm tire expert from Firestone Ag, says don’t overlook your tires because the right ones help your bottom line.

“The most important part about the tire is that it’s the only thing that transmits the horsepower of your tractor or your piece of equipment to the ground. So, all of the efficiency you get out of the high-horsepower equipment is only as good as the tires that you put on the tractor or your combine or whatever piece of equipment. Also, that’s the only thing that’s carrying the load of your equipment. As you increase your payloads, as you increase the size of a tractor to get more ballast, to get more horsepower, you pull in bigger implements and bigger tools. Things get heavier and heavier, and the tires are what carries all of that weight. You also want to have a tire that’s going to generate a giant footprint to protect your soil from compaction.”

He talks about the most important things to consider when choosing the right tires.

“The first thing to consider is the type of equipment and the size of the equipment. So, you want to make sure you’re matching the right tire design to the application and having the right tire sizes. Another thing is, what’s the row size you’re going down? Are you going of down narrow rows or wide rows? Are you trying to stay in between the rows or go over the top the rows of the crops? Another thing on that end is the machine clearances and the machine width overall, so you’re trying to stay within a certain width during transport. Are you trying to fit it in a certain spot of the barn or get within a narrow barn door restriction? If you’re also looking at the size, what rims do you have? You want to make sure you have the right load capacity there, and then, are you using this on the road a lot? Are you using it in the field primarily? Is it heavy usage? Is it light-duty usage?”

When looking at tire options, he talks about some of the design features to focus on.

“I think the first thing to consider is your casing design. Are you looking for a bias construction tire, a radial construction tire, or a very high-technology radial that features IF and VF technology? Historically, in a bias casing, you just have crisscrossing body plies in the carcass of the tire. It’s gonna be rather stiff, it’s gonna generate a smaller footprint, but generally, it’s usually the cheaper tire option. Radial is the next generation of technology that allows the footprint to grow and allows the tire to squat more, and it also increases your load-carrying capacity at some lower inflation pressures. IF tires allow 20 percent more load carrying capacity at the same inflation pressure versus a VF is 40 percent more. Another thing to consider then would be your tread design. Generally speaking, for a tractor-type drive tire, there are R1 tires, R1W tires, and R2 tires. I think you just kind of need to evaluate  what performance you’re looking for out of your tires.”

He also says durability and minimizing downtime are other important factors when evaluating farm tires.