Tractor tires have a tough job to do today. Machines are bigger. The pulling is tougher. The seasons seem shorter. You need maximum grip for efficient and fast fieldwork. But at the same time, you need flotation. Otherwise, your big iron’s weight can leave you bogged down in the dirt. The solution? VF radial tires.
VF: Alphabet Soup for Your Soil
We’ve explained before how VF tires work. So if you’re curious about the nitty gritty—all the terminology and history behind these tires—take a look at one of our older articles on the topic.
Read More: Roll your way to bigger yields with IF/VF tires.
All we want you to remember for today’s lesson is this: Look for the letters VF in front of the tire size when you’re shopping for tractor tires. VF-rated radials are able to run at 40% lower air pressure (or carry 40% more weight at the same air pressure) as a standard radial. Yes, that’s a mouthful. But what’s easy to spell out are the benefits these advanced tire models bring to your farm.
Safeguard Your Soil and Boost Yields
When you limit soil compaction, you’ll see a yield increase. You can’t downsize your equipment, but you can downsize its impact on your soil with VF tractor tires. As the air pressure in a tire decreases, its footprint grows larger. (Longer, actually.) And a larger footprint spreads your tractor’s weight over a larger surface area. This helps alleviate the worst of compaction’s effects on your topsoil—and yields.
In fact, at NTS Tire Supply, we’ve been studying the effects of tire pressures during spring planting on yields with our agronomy partner AgRevival. Beck’s is doing a similar study. So is Michelin. And so did the Hefty Brothers in 2022. We’ve compiled the results of these studies in the following article:
Read More: Keep farm tire pressures low for higher profits.
In year 2 of our study, we saw a maximum 10.2 bu./ac. increase when tire pressures were dropped to their minimum safe pressures (from 35 psi). And smaller pressure drops brought results too.
Pull Harder, Plus Save Time and Fuel
When you increase traction, you’ll finish fieldwork faster and burn less fuel. (You’ll harness more of your tractor’s horses.) Notice the difference between these two images? With the tire inflated to 35 psi, not one lug is completely on the ground (across the entire tread face). With the tire pressure set at 6 psi, there are at least 3 lugs that are in complete contact with the ground.
Michelin conducted a test between its older MachXBib (non-VF) tire and AxioBib 2 (VF) tire and found that the AxioBib 2 provided a 28%–35% increase in traction and a 7%–11% time savings. Why? The VF tire has a longer footprint with more lugs on the ground. And that means more work done in less time.
Stop Rutting and Sinking and Getting Stuck
Larger footprints also provide better flotation. Yes, even though your largest tractors may weigh as much as a dinosaur, you don’t need to sink into the muck like one. With more flotation your tractor will also handle better—less squirming in soft soils and a better chance that you’ll be able to drink your coffee instead of wearing it.
Our Favorite VF Tractor Tires for Sale
The VF-rated models below are some of the best tractor tires for sale today. If you want all the details about the different tire brands’ strengths and weaknesses, head over to our tractor tires webpage.
Learn More: What is the best brand of tractor tire?
Michelin Axiobib 2
Critics always point out that Michelins are typically the most expensive tires. That’s true, but like they say, you get what you pay for. The Axiobib 2 provides excellent grip, handles long road miles better than many other tractor tires, and is resistant to stubble damage.
Alliance Agriflex+ 372
Here’s a tire that’s at the opposite end of the price spectrum from Michelin, but still delivers impressive performance. In fact, Alliance tractor tires are true customer favorites. And the 10-year warranty Alliance offers on its premium models provides valuable peace of mind.
Firestone Maxi Traction
Firestone’s 23-degree tread bar tractor tire can pull like a locomotive in dry soils. When it turns wet, the 23-degree bar has problems cleaning out, which spells trouble for traction. Firestone’s relatively new Maxi Traction features a dual-angle lug pattern designed to fix many of the 23 degree’s shortcomings. Look for better hillside performance and smoother road travel as well. Note: Not all Maxi Traction sizes are VF rated.
Trelleborg TM1000 Progressive Traction
Trelleborg makes a nice tractor tire, but they can be hard to come by. The top-of-the-line TM1000 Progressive Traction is Trelleborg’s VF offering for high-horse tractors. The company’s “tread wings” result in a wider tread as the tire is put under load, which gives you better traction and flotation.
Our favorite options in Goodyear’s Optitrac lineup are the LSW (or low sidewall) models. Many of these sizes are not available in any other brand. These tires fight power hop and road lope and have proven themselves on everything from 4WD tractors to combines and sprayers. The Optitrac line also includes a few VF tires with standard sidewall heights. Note: Not all Optitrac tires are VF rated.
Owned by Trelleborg, Mitas produces quality tires, although with limited availability in some product lines. We’ve found them to be durable, long-lasting, and a good value for the money in most cases.
BKT Agrimax V-Flecto
Around here, the BKT’s Spargo is one of our favorite sprayer tires. The Agrimax V-Flecto brings a similar blend of value and performance to the high-horse tractor market. Its tread designs are similar to Michelin, so you can expect good grip for the money with BKT.
The Best VF Tractor Tires for Your Farm
Here’s our top, top recommendation: If you’re in the market for a new set of tractor tires, give us a call. NTS’s traction experts will make sure your workhorse is optimized for the toughest pulling conditions. You could even give an old tractor a new lease on life with a set of VF tires. With record high auction prices and dealer lots not exactly crammed with new machines, you may be better off adding some new shoes to your old horse. Give us a call and we’ll connect you with the best tires and wheels to Drive Your Farm Forward.