Low sidewall tires (LSWs) are one of the hottest trends in ag traction. Many of our farm customers are installing these massive tires on their tractors and combines. We think LSWs are here to stay, and we have the proof below.
At NTS Tire Supply, we’re interested in products that bring real results for our customers. How about optimal emergence and yield boosts when used for planting? Less rutting? More traction in stubborn mud? We wouldn’t feature LSW tires here if we hadn’t seen the real-world results for ourselves. This fall, our changeover team has been visiting farmers and watching these LSW tires in action. We’ve also spent some time analyzing side-by-side LSW vs. traditional dual trials. As a result, we’re ready to give you the lowdown on low-sidewall traction.
LSWs and Combines: The Right Combination for a Smoother Harvest
There’s always something threatening to derail harvest: A breakdown. The weather. The hired hand that won’t get out of bed. In our area, wet weather has been the culprit for two years now. As a result, some of our farm customers have ditched their duals in favor of 1250 or 1400 LSW singles in an effort to win the mud battle. Here’s what they’ve had to say:
The Good: More Flotation, Shallower Ruts, Less Mud, No Cracked Rims
LSW tires give your combine a bigger footprint in the field. A bigger footprint means more flotation, less mud and ruts, and more wet ground harvested. A standard 650/85R38 dual setup has approximately 1,960 sq in of tire contact with the ground, while a 1250/35R46 single setup has 2,258 sq in of tire contact. Farmers have also installed 1400/30R46 LSW tires on their combines. (As of November 2017, this setup hasn't been approved yet by Titan.) According to our calculations (official measurements are not yet available), these brutes should offer approximately 2,520 sq in of ground contact. By choosing LSW singles, these farmers have improved their combines’ footprint size by 300–560 sq in.
“We don't get as much rutting or as deep of ruts.”
Nearly every customer we’ve visited this fall has said that, with LSW singles, they were able to harvest wetter field areas than they could with duals.
“We were running two John Deere S690s side-by-side. If he is having trouble with the one with the  duals on it, more often than not, this one [with the 1400s] will come right beside it . . . it’ll take out all the wetter areas of the field . . . .”
“The combine handles extremely well whether it's in the field or on the road.”
If you've ever combined in the mud, you know that mud plugging between duals can be a huge mess to deal with, not to mention the mess they can leave for other drivers on the road. With LSW singles, these issues are gone.
One farmer, who previously had after-market 710 duals on his 9870 John Deere combine, said his auto-steer struggled to steer with his duals. He would have to use his brakes to keep it on the row. With the 1400 LSWs, he simply slows down 1 mph and the combine holds right to the row.
A side benefit that we’ve experienced with the LSW singles is the solution to cracked rim issues that many farmers with duals and large grain tanks face. How do singles help? Well, it has to do with how the tires transfer the weight of the machine through the rims, which is explained in the video linked to this post.
The Bad: “A Wall of Mud”
Yes, we’ve heard farmers say a lot of good things about LSWs. But to be fair, we have heard of one drawback:
"These 1400s create a wall of mud in front of the tire.”
Here’s what what we think is happening, based on our experience: We believe that the farmer’s traditional dual setup is knifing through the mud and reaching the hardpan, which will provide stability and traction to get through stubborn wet areas.
But at what cost?
We all know that deep ruts, which potentially lie beyond the reach of tillage, are yield killers. We think you can get similar results without the compaction issues by switching to LSWs. Farmers who have had success with 1400 singles say that they slow down 1–1.5 mph when crossing wet areas, which helps the mud “flow around the tires” and avoid the dreaded mud wall.
"I'll always have floats on my combine from now on.”
The overwhelming majority of customers who have switched to 1250 or 1400 LSW singles for their combines would never go back to duals.
Less mud on the road.
No cracked rims.
Our customers have us convinced: LSW singles will become a common replacement for duals on combines.
LSWs and 4WD/Row-Crop Tractors: Do They Pull?
When it comes to flat-out traction in 4WD and row-crop applications, duals win. But hold on a minute. You have to consider the whole picture. The reason for switching goes beyond traction. LSW tires were originally developed to solve power hop and road lope issues, which can impact your bottom line through wasted fuel and time.
But first, NTS Tire Supply has seen one example of LSWs out-pulling duals for tillage. We have one customer who switched from skinny duals (380s) to LSWs (1100s front and 1400s rear) this year. He saw a definite improvement in traction: In 2016 mud sidelined the tractor. In 2017, which was just as wet as 2016, he used the tractor for tillage the entire fall.
LSW Tires: Solving Power Hop and Rutting
Incorrect ballasting, soil type, and changes in the implement being pulled can all cause power hop. LSW tires make removing power hop very easy. You simply set your air pressure once and you’re likely set for the entire season. The low tire sidewall limits the amount of flex and buckling that occur in the tire, which in turn limits the opportunities for power hop. Some power hop causes you can’t control . . . the tires you can.
As with combines, LSW tires give your tractors a wider footprint for less compaction and rutting in the field. And, often, a narrower total machine width for cruising through those tight spots. Together with reduced power hop, it’s clear that LSWs offer comparable pulling power to traditional duals, especially when you consider the long-term effects of less compaction.
LSWs for Planting: Can they Boost Your Yields?
Titan International, manufacturer of LSW tires, recently released its findings following a field trial that pitted LSWs against duals for planting. We’ve said it above: LSW tires reduce compaction. And when it comes to planting time, less compaction can mean bigger yields.
In its corn test plot, Titan found that ground planted with a tractor wearing Goodyear LSW Super Singles yielded 5 bushes more per acre compared to ground planted with Michelin duals. In its soybean test plot, they discovered a 6-bushel-per-acre yield boost. This equated to a $16 per acre net revenue increase in corn and a $60 per acre net revenue increase in soybeans. Furthermore, this farmer reckons he paid off his LSW Super Singles in less than 1 year.
Follow this link to read the entire LSW planting trial article.
NTS Tire Supply worked with a farmer who did a similar comparison and saw better stands and yields with the LSW single setup versus his dual setup. The results from these initial trials are conclusive: if you don’t need your planting tractor to straddle the rows for in-season passes, switch to LSW singles for planting!
LSW Singles: We think they’ll be BIG in the future.
Based on what our customers have said and field trial results, we think LSW singles are going to make a BIG impact in the field of ag traction for a long time to come.
Want to discuss what LSW tires can do for your operation and get a quote? Call or drop us a line today. 2018 field work will be here before you know it, and now is the time to invest in those equipment upgrades that will make a difference for your operation next year.