Improved stalk strength is a valuable characteristic when breeding corn plants to withstand wind and carry heavier yields, but tougher corn stalks can also wreak havoc on tires at harvest.
“The entire tire industry is trying to stay ahead of plant genetics,” says James Crouch, marketing manager for farm products with Michelin, in the video below. “As demand for higher yields is increasing, it makes a harder, more durable stalk that is more resistant to weather and insects — good things for the farmer — but it’s very difficult on tires and equipment.”
And it’s not just a problem while harvesting corn, but in subsequent crop years as well, as he says it can take two or even three years for stalks to deteriorate to the point where they won’t damage a tire.
To help tires stand up to the tougher plant material, Crouch explains Michelin is using and experimenting with different rubber compounds. The tread bar pitch on some Michelin tires has been increased from a true 45 degree angle to deflect stalks away from the centre of a tire. The company also offers a stubble warranty on some tires, and advertises these tires as outlasting competitors’ in stubble resistance.
Ultimately, the best tire protection will come from an after-market shield or roller, says Crouch.
“It’s a very low cost solution to ruining a tire. It keeps you in the field longer, and just provides more reliability for the tire if you have something pushing that stalk to the ground,” he says.
James Crouch discussed the challenges tire-makers are facing with tougher corn stalks with Kelvin Heppner at the 2015 Farm Progress Show in Regina: