Choosing The Right Tire For Your Tractor

With so many choices these days, shopping for tires can be tough as they are required to do some heavy-duty work – and they also come with a heavy price tag.

In this article, we will help you select the right tire for your tractor by laying out some of the best choices available in the market right now.

And remember, the answer to the above question is solely dependent on the type of tractor you use and the type of work you use it for. A proper selection can save you a lot of money and help you carry out various tasks with ease.

Here are some popular tire classifications:

R1 Tires

These are your usual farm tractor tires; the most common type used in agriculture. Excellent for everyday farm chores, they perform efficiently in muddy fields and dirt.

The only downside is that they are not as capable on-road or hard surfaces, especially not on snow. Another thing to consider is that they are not fit to be used on turf, as they will destroy your perfect grassy lawn.

Choosing The Right Tire For Your Tractor

R-1W Tires

This is a more aggressive variant of the original R1; the W (wet) in the name signifies its ability to perform tasks on deep mud or clay.

This ability comes from a 25 percent deeper cleat compared to the usual tire. This tire is a perfect fit if you spend a lot of time working in muddy or greasy clay areas, but it’s not for every farm or ranch.

R-1HA Tires

This variant is especially used for row cropping as its tall and slim design makes it easier to fit between the rows of plants.

The R-1 HA (High Angle) name refers to its higher tread angle of 45 degrees, instead of the traditional 23 degrees in R-1.

Overall, this is a specialized tire and has limited to no use on regular farms.

Pros

  • Aggressive, deep tire tread supplies superior traction and shedding of snow and mud – particularly R1W.
  • Best tire for not getting stuck
  • Excellent traction.

Cons

  • Larger tread equals more wear and possibly higher cost.
  • Very hard on lawns/turf
  • Leaves large ruts on soft ground.
  • Heavy tread also equates to a rougher ride on hard ground.

Ideal uses

  • Uses where the majority of the use is not on hard or established surfaces but on rough terrain.
  • Operation in mud and snow.
  • Operation in wetter conditions.

R-2 Tires

Choosing The Right Tire For Your Tractor
R-2 Tires

R-2 is yet another variant of the R-1, but with more tread depth which makes it unusable for almost 99 percent of farmers. As such, it only shines in paddy fields and that’s about it.

R-3 Tires

Also referred to as lawn tractor tires, these grass friendly tires are used in compact and lawn tractors. But many big farms and golf courses with huge areas of grass also use them on large scale tractors as well.

Choosing The Right Tire For Your Tractor
R3 Turf Tires

The tread depth on the R-3 is much shallower compared to the previous types and this helps to give a smoother ride on pavement. Although it’s good for your everyday tasks in the field, it is terrible on mud and other such surfaces.

Pros

  • Smoothest ride
  • Won’t leave tracks behind on well-drained lawns.
  • They can still tear up a yard that is muddy)
  • Usually the least expensive

Cons

  • Inferior traction compared to other tires.
  • Poor winter and wet weather performance.
  • This can be helped somewhat with wheel weights

Ideal uses

  • Tractors used for paved or well-graded driveway tasks.
  • Tractors used for lawn care on gentle sloping and flat yards.
  • Lawn or driveway maintenance.

R-4 Tires

R-4 tractor tires are a blend of R-1 and R-3 in terms of tread depth; their commercial tread is neither deep as R-1, nor is it as shallow as R-3. This makes them a very suitable option as they perform well in many applications.

Choosing The Right Tire For Your Tractor
R4 Industrial Tires

The tread allows some floatation, which is vital if you don’t want your tractor to sink in the mud and it also drives well on roads and other hard surfaces. These are also better on grass then the R-1, but are known to tear up the turf, so use them carefully.

Pros

  • Useful in a wide variety of uses and conditions.
  • Durable.
  • Better traction than a turf tire.
  • Causes minimal to no damage on lawns with careful operation.
  • Considered by many as a good all-purpose tire.

Cons

  • Rougher ride than a turf tire.
  • Slightly less traction than an ag tire.
  • Does not shed snow and mud quite as well as an ag tire.
  • Less aggressive tread than ag tires
  • The more aggressive the tread, the faster the wear in dry conditions or hard surfaces.

Ideal uses

  • General purpose homesteading where the tractor is used on a variety of surfaces, both hard and soft, or where some use on turf is likely.

To Fill or Not to Fill

Tires are often filled with additional (usually liquids such as antifreeze or beat juice) material to add additional weight to the tractor.

The weight of the tractor is very important to its function – perhaps even more important than the horsepower! The additional weight in the tires adds weight, and more importantly – ballast – to the tractor.

The added ballast is essential when using a tractor a with front-end loader (“FEL”) since the loader will load the front of the tractor with heavy loads.

Some account for this with weights added to the back frame of the tractor, however, this can be cumbersome to add and remove, or inhibit the use of some rear attachments.

Filling tires can make all the difference for traction and should be considered by those using their tractors for general purpose homesteading.

It can be expensive (plan on a few hundred dollars for the pair of back tires) but is worthwhile for the added traction and safety.

For us, using weighted/filled tires made substantial improvements to the tractor and allowed us to use the tractor to work in places we were not able to use it prior to filled tires.

HF Series Tires

These special-purpose tires are designed for commercial field farming and forest use.

HF Tires

The HF implies high floatation, meaning that these tires allow tractors to remain afloat on many types of surfaces – they also come in a range of tread depths from HF-1 to HF-4.

These are generally used in applications where soil compaction is a concern.

F-1 Series Tires

These classic tires are now a thing of the past as most modern tractors are now four-wheel-drive, unlike their predecessors.

F1- Tires

They were generally equipped on non-powered front axles that didn’t require any forward motion, but were used for steering side to side only.

F-1’s design featured a prominent center rib structure that allowed for higher steering capabilities by digging deep into the earth.

F-2 Series Tires

F-2 is the second generation of F-1 tires with a sharper center rib design, with the exception of a decreased number of ribs on both sides.

F-2 Tires

This is similar to the F-1 in terms of design, but offers better control on hard surfaces.

F-2M Tires

F-2M series are the best available tractor tires for legacy tractors that are still plowing the fields today.

They feature a sturdy four-rib design to provide a standard grip on fields and road surfaces.

F-3 Style

F-3 tractor tires are designed for high performance on hard surfaces and can endure heavy use on construction sites.

F-3 Tires

They are essentially used for industrial purposes and equipped on two-wheel backhoe tractors, but not for use in farm applications.