Advice For Choosing Compact Utility Tractor Tires

Richard L. Parish, Bogren, Richard C.  |  3/8/2007 2:34:34 AM

News You Can Use Distributed 01/08/07

Owners of compact utility tractors can choose among three types of rear tires and at least five types for the front.

The different types of tires serve different purposes, says Dr. Dick Parish, an engineer at the LSU AgCenter’s Hammond Research Station.

"You can select agricultural tires for general farming, turf tires for use on turfgrass or compromise with an industrial tread," he says.

Parish says the most basic type of rear tire is the basic agricultural lug tread, labeled R-1. This is the typical "tractor tire." The lugs are normally at angles of either 45 degrees or 23 degrees.

"This tire is intended to provide good traction for tillage operations, where an implement must be pulled through the soil," Parish says. "The lugs bite effectively into soft or loose soil. This tire design provides the best traction of any tire type in most soil conditions, but it also does the most damage to turf."

The agricultural lug tread is a good choice for working with farm implements, but it’s not a good choice for mowing turfgrass.

"You can typically choose from several types of front tires to use with these rear tires," Parish says. "If the tractor has front-wheel-assist, it will normally have smaller agricultural lug tread tires on the front. If the tractor is two-wheel-drive only, the front tires will typically be an agricultural multiple-rib tread type F-2 or F-2M."

Some compact utility tractors intended primarily for use on turfgrass have turf tires, called R-3. These tires tend to be low and wide, with a shallow tread. They have no lugs.

"These tires provide much less traction for tillage, but they damage turf much less than typical ag tires," Parish says.

Whether the tractor has front-wheel-assist or two-wheel drive, the front tires are generally turf tread also.

"Although these tires have little traction under agricultural conditions, they have been found to provide good traction and superior wear resistance when used on gravel, and they are a favorite tire for use in pulling trailers on gravel roads in nurseries," Parish says. "Because these tires are low and wide, they make a tractor more stable on side slopes."

The engineer says a popular compromise for compact utility tractors is the R-4 industrial tread. The lugs on these tires are wider and shallower than on typical ag tires, and the lugs have rounded edges.

"They provide some of the traction of ag tires while being easier on turfgrass," Parish says. "As the name implies, they were originally designed for use on construction equipment or highway mowing tractors operating on firm soil, but their versatility has made them very popular for compact utility tractors – especially with front-wheel-assist and a front-end loader."

With front-wheel-assist, the front tires will normally be the same industrial tread. If the tractor has two-wheel-drive, the front tires are typically an industrial multi-rib F-3 tread.

"Not all of these options are available with all brands or models of tractors," Parish says. "But you will generally have several choices. You can select a combination of tires best suited to your needs."

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