Breakdowns, downpours, a worker that didn’t show. When it comes to harvest, there’s plenty that can bring your operation to a halt. Don’t let a tire problem be one of them. Combines and grain carts are two of the heaviest implements on the farm. And they can be the hardest on tires, too. Luckily, there’s a solution engineered exclusively for your harvest implements: CFO tires.
What are Cyclic Field Operation (CFO) Tires?
If CFO is an unfamiliar dose of alphabet soup to you, its roots—cyclic field operation—might sound like Greek too. The only time you’ll encounter these tires on the farm is when they’re mounted on a combine or grain cart (or possibly an air seeder’s commodity cart). This is because tire manufacturers have designed them for a very specific purpose: CFO tires are mounted on vehicles that undergo frequent, predictable swings in weight. CFO tires can better support your most massive machines because they can temporarily carry 55% more load than standard radial tires.
6 CFO Tire Facts
- Help ensure maximum harvest uptime.
- Mounted on vehicles with regular weight fluctuations.
- Have an increased load capacity of 55% under 10 mph.
- Rated to carry their maximum load for 1 mile.
- Not designed for mounting in high-torque applications (ex. 4WD tractor)
- Not designed to carry maximum load down the road.
Tire Failure Boils Down to Heat
A CFO tire’s increased load capacity can be critical to the productivity of your harvest operation. How? A tire under load and in motion generates heat. Every tire is designed to handle a certain amount of heat. Exceed a tire’s load or speed rating, and you’ll generate extra heat that the tire wasn’t designed to handle. Do this too often, and the tire will start to break down from the inside out. This causes fast tire wear and can even invite a catastrophic failure when you least want it—in the middle of harvest with a hopper full of corn. With today’s massive combines and grain carts, often packing hopper extensions, you need tires that are able to safely handle the load.
Flotation Keeps Your Harvest Rolling
The CFO label is about more than just maximum capacity. Every CFO tire starts with an IF- or VF-rated radial design. What are IF and VF radials, you ask? IF and VF tires are an evolution of the standard radial design first pioneered by Michelin in the early 2000s. They bring together advanced rubber compounds and highly technical sidewalls, with a complex network of steel belts, to deliver larger, longer footprints that will help you decrease compaction, rutting, and yield loss in your fields.
How do IF and VF radials provide larger footprints for better flotation? Lower air pressure.
- IF radials can carry the same load as a standard radial at 20% less pressure.
- VF radials can carry the same load as a standard radial at 40% less pressure.
- Or, you can increase their maximum loads by 20% or 40% above a standard radial’s limits.
By running at lower air pressures, the tire sidewalls deflect more, which causes the tire’s footprint to lengthen. A longer footprint is a bigger footprint. And in the harvest world, this can be the difference between sinking into the mud or riding on top of the soupy soil.
Flotation can be the difference between a smooth harvest or wondering if you’re going to get your crop out before the snow flies.
How Much Does Footprint Grow with CFO?
Enough to make a serious difference in how well your combine is going to float through tough wet spots. This is a hard one to figure out, as it’s challenging to find a specific tire model that includes regular radial, IF, and CFO options in a particular tire size. Firestone Maxi Traction to the rescue. The chart below shows a 13% increase in footprint size between a standard 710/70R42 radial and a VF710/70R42 CFO radial.
10 CFO Combine & Grain Cart Tire options
If you want to maximize flotation and minimize yield-robbing compaction during harvest—or the chance that your harvest will come to a complete stop because of a tire failure—CFO is the way to go. At NTS Tire Supply, we sell and service all major brands of ag tires. Which one is the right option for you? A lot depends on the tire setup on your cart or combine. And size availability can range widely among our 11 contestants. The best place to start is with a call or message to one of our tire experts to learn about your options and what will be the best option for your budget.
Interested to know the level of compaction your current grain cart tire setup is causing? Use our Grain Cart Tire Configurator to find out.
Michelin CerexBib 2
Released in 2018, the CerexBib 2 is Michelin’s top combine and grain cart tire and is available in a decent variety of sizes. With CFO+ designation, these tires are able to carry even heavier loads for short periods of time at slower speeds. Remember that a standard CFO designation provides a 55% load bonus below 10 mph. The CFO+ designation adds roughly 10% capacity to that under 6 mph. This is a great option for today’s massive combines.
The original CerexBib is another great option and, like the CerexBib 2, packs Michelin’s Ultraflex technology. The advanced rubber compounds used to manufacture these tires also helps them resist stubble damage, which can help you extend the life of your combine or cart tires.
Firestone Maxi Traction
With both IF and VF CFO options, the Maxi Traction is suitable for combine or grain cart. At NTS Tire Supply, we generally prefer a 45-degree tread bar in wet conditions as opposed to Firestone’s 23-degree tread bar. Firestone has incorporated a dual-angle lug design on its Maxi Traction tires, however, that is supposed to offer excellent traction and cleanout, even in harsh conditions.
Firestone Radial All Traction 23 Degree
Built from two distinct rubber compounds, the All Traction 23 Degree is flexible at the sidewall for a more generous footprint and increased resistance to cracking and weathering. A tough tread compound helps ensure longer life. The tire’s open-center tread helps prevent mud buildup—a plus if you want to avoid dragging your soil halfway home. With the 23-degree tread bar, this tire may be more suitable for cart duty than on a powered axle.
Alliance 372 Agriflex
Alliance’s 372 Agriflex tires are IF-rated and have been a popular choice on both combines and grain carts. At NTS Tire Supply, we believe that Alliance tires are generally a good value—decent performance and prices that are a little less of a shock than some other options on this list.
Alliance 376 Multistar
The Multistar’s tough steel-belt-reinforced casing ensures stable tire dimensions under load for a dependable tire footprint to help you combat compaction. Stubble Guard technology and a durable sidewall help ensure long tire life. The 376 Multistar includes Alliance’s 10-year warranty.
The Optitrac is a premium option from Goodyear/Titan with several CFO models available in popular combine and cart sizes, such as the 1250/50R32. Its helical lugs are supposed to provide additional ride comfort on the road and traction in the field. The Optitrac is also known for putting down a large, consistent footprint to minimize compaction.
Trelleborg puts a lot of effort into shoulder and lug design on its tires, which results in tires that offer excellent slope stability and maneuverability along with the other usual premium tire benefits: excellent mud cleanout; a long, stable footprint; and stout resistance to stubble damage.
BKT Agrimax Force
BKT likes to promote the reinforced bead on its Agrimax Force, which contributes to longer tire life. But hang on, the Force gets more exciting: There’s a decent number of CFO sizes offered in the product line, and BKT also claims a superior ride quality for the tire. That’s no small concern if you spend long hours in the combine cab during harvest.
Mitas’s HC3000 packs the company’s Hexacore technology, of which details are sparse. The company states that this will ensure a “safer fit on the rim” and offer longer tire life and a more even footprint. There aren’t a ton of sizes available, but we’ve had good luck with other Mitas models, such as the SFT, on grain carts and combines.
Keep Your Harvest Rolling with CFO Tires
Mount CFO tires if you want to maximize flotation, minimize yield-robbing compaction, and avoid a time-consuming tire failure on your farm’s largest machines during harvest. Need expert help to decide if you should run with your combine or grain cart’s current tire setup or upgrade to larger tires? Give NTS Tire Supply a call. We’re here to help you Drive Your Farm Forward.