More from: Farming Supplies

Tractor Tires Are Tough, But Stalks Are Tougher

As suppliers of  agricultural experts here at Mytee Products. So imagine our surprise to learn that while tractor tires are fairly tough, grain stalks are even tougher. Some of the toughest stalks can ruin a brand-new set of tires in 100 hours or less if a grower isn’t careful. Of course, there are things tractor owners can do to mitigate the damage.

According to Ag Web, some of the worst stalks for tractor tires include soybean, wheat, corn, canola, and even cotton. The problem is that running a combine through a field often leaves behind cut stalks with razor-sharp edges that can easily penetrate rubber. If a combine leaves the stalks standing straight up as it passes through, you are looking at a field of spikes sticking up, just waiting to puncture tractor tires.

Ag Web stated back in 2009 that tire manufacturers were working on harder rubber compounds that could better withstand the punishment of the field. We know that to be true as a tractor tire dealer. Today’s tires are better than anything the industry has seen in the past. Nonetheless, there is no such thing as a perfect tractor tire impervious to sharp grain stalks.

Tips for Preserving Your Truck Tires

Every purchase of tractor tires is a cost that goes against the grower’s bottom line. It doesn’t make sense to have to buy new tires every season just for lack of taking care of the tires you purchased the season before. Just a few simple tips can help extend the life of your tractor tires considerably.

1. Modify Your Combine

One of the easiest thing growers can do is modify their combines so that sharp stalks are not left sticking up. Stubble shoes mounted on the combine accomplish this by pushing stalks forward slightly. Rather than being left sticking straight up, the combine leaves them pointed forward at about 45 degrees. They will do little damage to tractor tires as long as the grower doesn’t come back later and drive against the grain.

A stalk stomper is another option. This is a homemade implement consisting of a heavy pipe mounted in front of the rear tires to knock down stocks before the tires pass over.

2. Install New Tires Early

Tractor tires are similar to other tires in that they need time to season. That is to say they need time to ‘toughen up’. If you are buying new tires, install them as early as possible. Give them all spring and summer to toughen up before harvest arrives. They will do much better in the field after a few months on the tractor.

3. Run Between Rows

Growers can also increase tire life by running the tires between rows. This would seem to be common sense. Running between rows minimizes tire exposure and reduces the risk of puncture. If you do have to run across a row, go either perpendicular to it or in the same direction the stalks are leaning. The idea is to minimize contact between tires and razor-sharp edges.

No tractor tire will last forever. But if you make the effort to be careful with the tires you have, they will last longer. So respect the fact that some of the stalks you leave in your field can be pretty brutal on your tires.

If you are in the market for new tractor tires, we hope you’ll check out our inventory. And don’t hesitate to contact us even if you do not see what you need. We still might have a way to get it for you.

 


Hay Storage Options for the New Season

We are now well into the start of the summer season. That means hay growers around the country are already looking at the first harvest. Now is the time to start thinking about storage options for the 2018 season. How growers store their hay partly determines what kinds of losses they will experience as a result of the forces of nature. As always, moisture is a crucial factor.

We sell a variety of moisture testers that make it easier for growers to achieve that perfect balance that minimizes hay losses. But a moisture tester alone will not do the trick. Growers also need to use a bit of common sense when it comes to storage. Whether hay is stored in the field or brought into a covered area, it has to be protected against both drying out and excessive moisture.

Storing Hay in the Field

The least expensive and labor-intense way to store hay is to leave it in the field as rolled bales. This method is actually pretty common for the first crop of the year. In climates where three crops are grown, the second crop may also be left in the field. Field storage is fast and easy, too.

One of the big dangers of storing in the field is losing too much of the crop to dry matter loss. However, dry matter loss is easily controlled by getting hay up off the ground. Allowing hay to remain in contact with the ground can lead to losses of up to 30% or more under normal circumstances. Fortunately, breaking contact between hay bale and the ground is not difficult. Growers can roll finished bales onto pallets, blocks, or even tarps. Another option is to store hay on a layer of gravel.

Storing hay in the field also exposes it to precipitation, and that is where a good moisture tester becomes important. Hay allowed to get too wet is subject to both spoilage and spontaneous combustion. Throwing a temporary hay tarp over exposed bales might be necessary if the weather turns especially ugly and stays that way for a while.

Storing Hay Under Cover

Bringing hay out of the field to store it under cover is generally considered the best way to protect a crop and minimize losses. But it is also expensive if you don’t already have a structure in place. Building a barn is not an option for a lot of growers, many of whom turn to temporary storage buildings like the ones we sell.

Another option for bringing hay out of the field is to stack it in large quantities and then cover the entire stack with tarps. This is a strategy mainly used for the last crop of the year; it’s impractical for the first crop of spring. That hay needs to be easily accessible for both sale and use by the grower.

Even hay stored indoors is subject to volatile moisture levels. So again, keeping the crop off the ground is a wise idea. Pallets, blocks, and even used tractor tires are excellent storage options for getting hay elevated. The goal is to allow circulation under the hay so as not to allow mold to grow.

Determining the Best Option

Experts recommend using a cost analysis reckoning to determine the most suitable option for early-season hay. In other words, determine how much it would cost per bale to implement your chosen storage solution. Take that number and compare it against the expected losses for that solution. Choose the solution that is most financially viable for you.


Hay, Moisture Testing, and Drought Conditions

Imagine being a hay farmer trying to survive under drought conditions. When there’s ample rain, farmers can get at least two cuttings per year and sometimes three. Then their biggest concern is making sure moisture content isn’t too high. But under drought conditions, moisture content is the least of their concerns.

A farmer who buys one of our moisture testers uses it to make sure stored hay does not get too moist or too dry. Moisture content is important to the quality of the hay and, subsequently, the satisfaction of the customer who buys it. But under drought conditions, everything changes. If farmers don’t get enough rain, they can’t even grow a decent crop to begin with.

That appears to be the case in Southwest Colorado this spring. The late winter and spring have been so dry that some farmers have already decided to do just one cutting this year. Some vegetable producers are only working an eighth of their land while cattle producers are reducing the size of their herds for lack of water. It is not a good situation.

Two Ways Around Drought

Drought is nothing new in agriculture. Indeed, some of the longest running family operations in the country have made a practice of planning for drought for hundreds of years. So what can they do, exactly? There are a couple of possibilities, beginning with field irrigation.

Irrigating fields is one way to get around mild to moderate drought conditions. It doesn’t necessarily need to rain as long as the irrigation system is working. But even this method has it downsides. For instance, what do you do after several years of persistent drought leading to water rationing?

Another option is to rotate fields. Field rotation used to be a common practice in the days before large-scale, commercial agriculture. Today though, not a lot of farmers practice it. They really should.

Consider the case of Montana farmer Ray Bannister who operates a 250-head ranch near the town of Wibaux. He began rotating his fields more than 20 years ago and has never had a problem producing hay – even under drought conditions. Bannister explains that allowing a field to rest for one year produces of bountiful crop the next. So that’s what he does.

His hay fields are rested every other year. As for the grazing field, he allows the cattle to severely graze before letting the field rest for 23 months. Bannister says that in the decades he’s been practicing field rotation, he’s never had a problem growing hay or having adequate grazing fields.

When the Hay Does Grow

The farmers in Southwest Colorado will hopefully get at least one hay cutting this year. And when that cutting comes, they will still have to pay attention to moisture content. This year, the biggest challenge will be making sure hay doesn’t dry out. That’s where one of our moisture testers comes into play.

A hay moisture tester consists of an electrified rod and a meter. You insert the rod into a bale of hay and turn the power on. The rod sends electrical current through the hay and receives it on its return. Moisture levels are measured based on the level of resistance to that current.

For the record, we also carry a variety of grain testers. Regardless of whether you are farming hay or corn, you know how critical moisture content is to the finished product. Don’t leave your crop to chance by guessing on its moisture level. Invest in a new moisture tester and know for sure what you’re dealing with.

 


Electric Fencing: When You Need a Fence Fast and Cheap

Imagine owning a herd of bison and suddenly learning they would have to be moved to a new piece of land. You buy the land, but then what? You have to build fencing to keep the bison in. That’s just what restaurant owner Connie Hale experienced earlier this year.

Hale keeps a herd of bison but due to a change in rent, she quickly had to buy a new piece of land and move her animals. Being a busy business owner didn’t leave her any time to actually work on the land, so in jumped the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the Virginia Tech Department of Agriculture.

They immediately went to work to build an electric fence covering a large enough area to contain the animals. Once that fence was done, they began working on the rest of the property.

Connie Hale’s story is not all that unique. Both large cattle ranchers and hobby owners can find themselves in a world of hurt if they need a new fencing solution quickly. Thank goodness for electric fencing. With the right supplies and a little bit of time, you can put up a good electric fence fairly quickly.

Benefits of Electric Fencing

Why would someone choose electric fencing over traditional barbed wire? Because electric fences are better. There’s just no two ways about it. Check out the following advantages of electric over its barbed wire cousin:

Speed – There is no question that you can put up an electric fence faster than a barbed wire fence. You do not need nearly as many posts, the posts don’t have to be driven in so deeply, and you’re not fumbling with cumbersome rolls of wire.

Expense – The costs of electrified fencing have come down quite a bit in recent years. Again, it comes down to the number of posts you need. Fewer posts means a lower overall cost. Electrified fencing rope is also cheaper than barbed wire.

Safety – Barbed wire is not necessarily the safest for ranch animals. Barbed wire is sharp and painful to make contact with. By comparison, electrified fencing is very safe. Any animal touching an electrified fence receives a minor but very effective shock.

Maintenance – Electric fences are a lot easier to maintain. You can easily change out sections of damaged wire with very little effort. And as long as you make sure your energizers are kept in good working order, you will not have to worry about the effectiveness of your fence.

 

Electric Fencing can be Customized

Another great benefit of electrified fencing is that it is easily customized. Take the case of Norm and Donna Ward of Alberta, Canada for example. The two veteran ranchers own quite a bit of land in Canada’s heartland on which they raise beef cattle.

Due to the Ward’s philosophy of sustainable ranching practices, they are constantly rotating their grazing fields. But rather than dividing up the ranch into a bunch of smaller parcels, Norm decided it was better to come up with a customized fencing solution that allowed him to move his fences as needed.

He came up with the prefect tool by building a specialized trailer for carrying his posts and fencing wire. The trailer is pulled with a tractor or truck, reeling out the fence as he goes. He says he can fence an entire quarter section in less than 3 hours.

Electrified fencing is fast, cheap, and extremely easy to deploy. It is the obvious choice regardless of the size of your land or the scope of your operation.

 


How Do Hay Moisture Testers Work?

A farmer goes out to the barn with a moisture tester in hand. He chooses a bale, inserts the probe, and pushes a button. Almost instantly a number appears on the moisture tester’s LCD screen. The farmer knows right away whether the moisture level in his hay is acceptable or not.

That’s all well and good, but how does it work? How can a single probe measure the amount of water in a bale of hay? If you have ever wanted to know how moisture testers work, this blog post is your answer. Here we explain the basic principles of testing all sorts of grasses and grains for moisture content.

Moisture Content and Density

The first thing to know is that measuring moisture content relies on the principle of density. It is not like bales of hay are dripping with so much water that it can be collected and measured in a beaker. The moisture content is so low that you cannot see it. In some cases, you can’t even feel it. Therefore, measuring moisture relies on measuring the density of the product.

The more water in a bale of hay, the denser that bale is. The opposite is also true. So hay moisture testers are not really looking for water they can measure. They are simply measuring density. Moisture content can be extrapolated from that density measurement.

The tricky part about this is that different grains and grasses have different natural densities. This is why a moisture tester designed for hay isn’t appropriate for grains or coffee. It is why you cannot chop up a small amount of hay and effectively test it using a grain tester. You have to use a tester appropriate to the product you’re trying to measure.

Measuring Product Density

So, how does a moisture tester actually measure density? By sending electrical current throughout the product and then measuring it when it comes back. Bear in mind that water conducts electricity very nicely. So does air, but not nearly as well as water.

The probe typical of a hay moisture tester actually consists of two components. One discharges the electrical current while the other receives it. This creates a complete circuit that can be measured by the tester’s internal components. The amount of resistance in that circuit determines the density of the product.

A bale of hay with a higher moisture content will present less resistance due to the conductive properties of water. The dryer bale will present more resistance. That’s really all there is to it. Moisture content is extrapolated based on density, and density is measured according to the amount of electrical resistance in the hay.

Multiple Readings for Accuracy

While all of this may sound very scientific, note that readings vary based on how loosely baled the hay is. Accounting for such variations is a matter of taking multiple readings. That’s why you’ll see a farmer test multiple locations of a single bale, then test multiple bales in the stack. The idea is to get numerous readings that can be averaged together.

Even after all those measurements have been taken, a grower’s intuition plays a big role in understanding moisture content. Even the most accurate readings may not necessarily tell the whole truth. So farmers rely on a combination of measurements and their own knowledge and experience.

Now you know how moisture testers work. If you need a new tester for hay, grain, or coffee, we hope you will consider what Mytee Products has to offer. Our range of moisture tester products includes a number of different choices at competitive prices.