The Importance of Tarps for Farmers

If you drive through Chase, Kansas these days, you are likely to see a recently built structure that slightly resembles bridge trusses built over the top of a large, concrete box. You may not know what it is, but locals know that the structure will be used to store grain when complete. It is currently being constructed by an Illinois contractor on behalf of the Central Prairie Co-Op. The storage bin’s owners will use tarps to cover the grain in storage.

The design of the structure is such that grain can be easily loaded and unloaded without compromising the quality of the product. Hay tarps will keep out the weather and, in so doing, prevent the growth of mold and other contaminants within the grain product. Yet the tarps can be easily removed to allow the storage structure to be quickly filled using a dual-purpose chute. The chute will also be used to transfer grain from the storage area to waiting trucks. It is a well thought out design that maximizes storage capacity and efficiency at the same time.

grain-storage

As for the tarps, these will be made from high quality canvas. Canvas tarps are preferred over vinyl in this case because they are more breathable. The additional weight of the canvas will also make it more secure in windy conditions and better able to withstand precipitation and changing temperatures. The design calls for the use of fabric sidewalls, or ‘curtains’, that can be opened or closed as the weather dictates.

Importance of Covering Grain

Covering grain with canvas or tarps is about more than just convenience. Grain is susceptible to different kinds of mold and bacteria growth that could make the product unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Moisture encourages that growth. Keeping the grain dry reduces the risk of contamination and keeps the eventual selling price of the product as high as possible. It also prevents grain fires.

Though it may seem counter intuitive, grain with a moisture content that is too high can spontaneously combust. Once again, it comes down to the growth of bacteria and mold. The right combination of water and oxygen encourages microbial growth within the grain. As bacteria grows and multiplies, it produces heat that is then trapped within the grain. The heat can build up to a point of igniting the grain.

It is for these same reasons farmers cover their hay after harvesting it. They choose tarps rather than out buildings because tarping is a more cost-effective solution that also gives the farmer more flexibility in how his/her land is used when hay storage is not required. Tarps are easy to apply, easy to store and inexpensive enough that they do not significantly affect the farmer’s budget.

Mytee Products carries a full line of vinyl hay tarps in 10 different sizes. Each of our hay tarps is made with heavy-duty polyethylene fabric that has been UV treated. If you need canvas tarps instead, we carry those too. All are made with 100% duck cotton canvas for maximum breathability and durability.

Sources:

1. Hutch News – http://www.hutchnews.com/news/local_state_news/new-grain-storage-rising-ahead-of-the-wheat/article_bccfb95d-e5cb-5b06-8693-9f980a0d6a87.html


Tire Chains and Bad Weather: When to Chain and When to Park

Driving in winter weather is just part of the over the road driving career. There is no way around it. As such, the vast majority of truck drivers have to think about tire chains from time to time. There are two questions to consider in this regard, the first being whether to purchase chains or to use chain banks along major routes that supply them. The second question is one of deciding whether to chain your truck or to park it instead.

The answers to both questions really depend on the individual driver and how much risk he or she is willing to take. Ultimately, though, it is the driver who decides whether to proceed in bad weather or not. Federal and state laws prevent employers or dispatchers from forcing drivers to continue driving when they believe weather conditions endanger their safety.

Tire Chain Basics

Tire chains are available in two basic options: the ladder design and the zigzag design. The ladder chains looks just like a mini version of an aluminum ladder you use to paint your home, except that it’s made with chain links instead of pieces of aluminum. The ‘steps’ of the chain ladder go across the horizontal surface of the tire while the rails fit over the side.

tire-chains

The zigzag tire chain looks a lot like a shoelace, crossing from one side of the tire to the other. A zigzag chain can consist of one or two ‘laces’ held together by two side rails. Some truck drivers prefer this pattern because they believe it provides extra bite; others prefer the ladder design.

Regardless of which type a driver chooses, the chains are applied to the tires and held in place with either additional chains, bungee cords, or rubber rope. It is important for drivers to check chains within a few hundred yards of installation to make sure they are tightly secured. It is possible for chains to fall off during travel if not properly secured.

State Regulations

The states have different regulations when it comes to tire chains. For example, California does not require truckers to use chains in a general sense. However, police do have the authority to prevent truckers from entering certain roadways, under certain weather conditions, without chains. Colorado is a bit stricter.

The laws in Colorado apply to every interstate and state and federal highway when weather conditions warrant. When the regulations are in effect, DOT officials post signs along roadways warning truckers to chain up. Chains can only be removed when bare pavement is encountered on a descending grade.

Parking versus Chaining

Truck drivers ultimately have to decide whether or not to chain or to park. Having said that, some trucking companies have established policies indicating they do not want their drivers ever using chains. If weather were bad enough to require chaining, these companies would prefer drivers pull over and park their rigs instead. They do not want to risk driver or equipment in such bad weather.

Independent contractors do not have the luxury of a company policy making chaining decisions for them. Therefore, they have to consider their own schedules and financial requirements. The one thing that should always be remembered is that human beings cannot be replaced. Delivery schedules can be changed, extra work can be taken to make up for lost income, and equipment can be repaired or replaced. However, a dead trucker is a dead trucker.

Chains are appropriate in certain weather conditions and inappropriate in others. At the end of the day, a driver needs to be objective when it comes to deciding between chaining and parking.


Three Reasons to Consider Hay Tarps

November and December mark the year’s final hay harvest in the southern portions of the U.S. In the north, farmers will be preparing for the first harvest of the year next spring. Yet no matter where hay is produced, growers want to get the most for their money. And in many cases, using hay tarps is part of the profit-maximizing equation.

Hay tarps are designed to protect the harvested crop from moisture. Farmers who want that protection can either use tarps or build storage barns for the harvested material. Other growers do not worry about protecting the crop at all, choosing to leave it exposed to the weather instead.

Here are three reasons you should consider using hay tarps if you are a grower:

1. Protecting Crop Value

Hay is often bailed before it has a chance to fully dry out. This is done in order to maintain proper moisture levels. However, moisture levels that are too high promote mold growth. This is the first reason for covering your hay with tarps. You do not want bales to get wet if it rains because wet hay can contain mold that is dangerous to horses and cattle.

hay-tarp

According to Hay & Forage, growers can lose as much as 20% of a crop by not protecting with either tarps or storage barns. Most of the damage is limited to the outer two or three inches that have absorbed the water from rainfall. Even so, a 20% loss of a crop can be financially devastating. It’s well worth spending the money on tarps and stakes compared to the amount you could lose if baled hay gets wet.

2. Fire Prevention

Though most hay growers will go an entire career without experiencing a hay fire, such fires are more common than you might think. Fires in baled hay are usually the result of high moisture content and inadequate ventilation. The fires are sparked by what is known as spontaneous combustion.

When the moisture content of hay is too high, it allows for the growth of mold and bacteria. The mold and bacteria break down the hay into simple sugars they can digest easily. This is the process of respiration. Unfortunately, respiration produces heat that, under the right conditions, can cause hay to combust. Growers who intend to store hay for any longer than four weeks need to be concerned about protecting the crop from additional moisture.

3. Less Expensive Than Barns

It is true that hay tarps do not offer the same level of protection as dedicated barns. However, they offer adequate protection that is more in line with their expense. Simply put, tarps and stakes are less expensive than building barns. Growers which short-term storage needs are better off spending their money on less expensive tarps.

For a few hundred dollars, a grower could provide adequate protection for his or her crop until it is shipped. Tarps can then be folded and stored until the next harvest, leaving the land open and usable for other purposes. Barns, on the other hand, are fixed structures with permanent footprints.

As a hay grower, do you use tarps to protect your crop? If not, consider the possibility that you might be losing up to 20% of your earning power by leaving your hay exposed to the weather. It is probably well worth your investment to purchase the necessary tarps and stakes you need to protect your hay prior to shipment. At Mytee Products, we carry a number of different hay tarps in various sizes to meet your specific needs and budget.


Common Roll Tarp Problems and How to Fix Them

Roll tarps are indispensable for specific trucking jobs involving loose loads such as stone and grain. They are easy to apply, easy to remove and very effective at preventing debris from flying into the roadway. However, the mechanical nature of the spooling systems used with them is such that things can go wrong. Knowing how your system works, and how to fix it, can save you a lot of aggravation and downtime.

You can encounter many potential problems with a roll tarp and spooling system. We have put together a list of the three most common problems and how these problems can be fixed. Thankfully, a little knowledge goes a long way.

1. Frame Arms Not Centered and Parallel

A roll tarp spooling system requires frame arms to be centered and parallel in order to work properly. When arms are out of position, a truck tarp will not roll evenly. This is a problem whether you are applying or removing your tarp. Fortunately, the issue is usually a bad spring or tube arm. Both can be fixed relatively easily.

The first thing to do is to check the tension springs on both arms. The arm that is in the more forward position is likely the one that is operating properly; the one that is lagging behind is usually the one with the problem. You will know a tension spring is bad when it is fully compressed with little or no tension. Replace that spring and your system should be fine. If all of your springs are extended equally, you likely have a tube arm that is bent or broken. Bent tubes can be straightened; broken tubes must be replaced.

It should be noted that a single failing tension spring could be a sign of more failures to come. Remember that the springs installed when your unit was first manufactured all have the same shelf life. When one spring fails, it is only a matter of time before the rest follow suit. You might be better off replacing all of your springs at the same time.

2. Tarp Is Not Square

It is possible to have problems with frame arms not being centered or parallel even though all of your tension springs and tube arms are just fine. What is the culprit in this case? It could be a tarp that is not square. Although this is rare, it is possible – especially if you purchased a used system that was previously repaired by its owner. If all of your springs and tubes appear to be in good working order despite an off-center or unparallel condition, you may have to remove the tarp and check it for squareness.

3. The Motor Struggles to Unroll Tarp

Systems equipped with motors may struggle at times to unroll the tarp. Sometimes the motor itself is failing, but the problem is more likely to be related to the arm pivot mounts. You can adjust the tension at the pivot mounts to make the arms tighter or freer. If your motor is struggling, consider loosening the tension a bit. As a side note, electric motors usually fail completely rather than gradually. This is why we say that a motor struggling to roll a tarp probably has to overcome too much pivot tension.

Mytee Products carries roll tarps in a variety of lengths and widths for grain trailers. All of our tarps are made of durable 18-ounce vinyl with webbing strips every 3 feet. They can be used with any standard roll tarp system fitted to your trailer.


What You Need to Know about DOT Conspicuity Tape

One of the products we sell here at Mytee is DOT conspicuity tape. This is a reflective tape product intended to be used on trailers in order to increase visibility. As new truck driver, you might question why this tape is used. The answer is simple: the law requires it. Having said that, let us delve more deeply into why the federal government has made use of the tape mandatory.

Also known simply as DOT tape, a roll of DOT conspicuity tape is a double-sided product with adhesive on one side and a highly reflective surface on the other. The reflective surface is intended to reflect the headlights of other vehicles during nighttime driving in order to make a dark trailer more visible. The idea is to reduce the number of serious crashes involving big trucks and cars.

Government Study Results

DOT conspicuity tape was not always required. In the late 1990s however, it was determined that steps had to be taken to increase the visibility of large trucks with the use of additional lights, reflectors, and conspicuity tape. In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an analysis of crash data and estimated the use of conspicuity tape reduced the number of accidents and fatal injuries as much as 44%.

The study was conducted by analyzing crash data from Florida and Pennsylvania. Nearly 11,000 accidents were included in the study. NHTSA researchers concluded that, although using conspicuity tape does significantly reduce the number of crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles, such crashes are not eliminated entirely. They further discovered:

  • Crashes involving flatbed trailers were reduced more than those involving dry vans
  • Applying DOT tape had the greatest benefit on dark roadways with little or no lighting
  • Applying DOT tape significantly improved trailer visibility during inclement weather – except for snow
  • DOT tape was most beneficial for avoiding crashes among drivers age 50 or younger.

The results of the NHTSA study were convincing enough that federal regulations made using the tape permanent. Every trailer now on the road must make use of the tape in strategic locations as determined by the regulations. Furthermore, DOT conspicuity tape must meet certain specifications as outlined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 108 and DOT-C2 in order to be legal.

Limitations of Conspicuity Tape

As helpful as DOT conspicuity tape is, it does not eliminate all risk. In order for it to be as helpful as possible, it must be properly applied and in good condition. For example, dirty reflective tape loses its effectiveness as the amount of dirt and grime accumulates. Therefore, drivers have to take the time to clean the tape every now and again.

Wear and tear can also be a problem. When a piece of DOT tape begins to look old and worn out, it should be replaced as soon as possible. The good news here is that the tape is rather inexpensive.

As a truck driver, it is your responsibility to make sure all of your equipment meets federal standards for safety. When hauling your own trailers, purchasing and installing DOT tape falls squarely on your shoulders. When hauling trailers belonging to a shipper, the expense and labor is their responsibility. Nevertheless, you are still required to inspect the trailer for compliance before you pull out of the shipping yard. Don’t leave until it’s right.

DOT conspicuity tape is a good tool for reducing crashes between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. Make sure you use it correctly at all times. It could save a life.