Those initials that agricultural tire manufacturers use for ratings – IF, VF, CFO and LSW – were established by a standardizing body. The Copley, Ohio-based Tire and Rim Association consists of manufacturers of tires, rims and wheels, and allied parts.
It publishes an annual report with standards that are used to identify the maximum load a tire can carry, maximum inflation pressure, how wide a tire cross-section should be based on rim width, and other statistics.
The four ratings named above identify farm tires with load bearing capability higher than that of standard tires. The IF or “Increased Flexion” tires can carry 20 percent higher loads at the same inflation pressure as standard tires or, conversely, the same loads at 20 percent lower inflation pressure. For VF (Very High Flexion) tires, load bearing capability is 40 percent higher, or required inflation pressure for the same load is 40 percent lower. CFO (Cyclical Field Operation) can carry 55 percent higher loads when traveling at less than 10 miles per hour, and LSW or Low Sidewall tires have a larger rim diameter than standard tires, and offer a high-flotation option for growers of rice and sugarcane.
And Bruce Proctor is very familiar with LSW tires – because he said he designed the first ones.
Proctor, vice president of Bobby Henard Tire Service in Brinkley, Ark., recalled how the product came about.
“I watched four combines in a rice field in Mississippi, and I saw the problems they were having. I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this.’”
He brought his recommendations to the CEO of tire manufacturer Titan International, worked with their engineers, and the result was the 1250/35R46.
The IF and VF rated tires, he said, are of value not only because they can handle more weight, but also because the farmer can reduce soil compaction by lowering air pressure.
“Either one, the IF or the VF, you’re going to pay a premium for,” Proctor said. “If compaction’s not an issue and you don’t have the load that you need, then there’s no reason to pay the additional premium. However, this equipment is getting heavier and heavier and some of the conventional tires that they have out there now are pretty much maxed out on load carrying capacity. In order to get a better ride, a better flotation or better load carrying capacity, you’re going to have to make changes going to the IF or VF tires.”
CFO tires, he said, are for farm vehicles like a grain cart or combine. “Their load increases gradually,” said Proctor. “It’s not under a lot of torque. You’re able to increase the load carrying capacity in those operations.”
Eric Schnelle, president of S&H Farm Supply in Lockwood, Mo., noted there are many factors that determine which tire is right for each piece of agricultural machinery.
“For one thing, it has to have the ply and the weight capacity load to properly handle and carry the weight of the machine,” Schnelle told OFN. “The other thing you have is the width for flotation, how wide it needs to be to carry the weight, and you also have several different tread patterns, depending on whether it’s a lawnmower tread, or what they call a bar tire tread on an ag tractor or combine. You have some tractors or skid steers that use an industrial tread, which is a lower, flatter tread.”
Schnelle handles tires ranging from 8 to 10 inches up to 42 inches, all specific to models.
“There are some tractor manufacturers where, if you want to special order a piece, you can choose tires,” he said. “There are different costs associated with choosing a tire, but that would be for a special factory preseason order. Like everything, there are premium brands and economy brands, and a lot of the economy brands are imported from all parts of the world, so there’s a lot of variability. Some of the import brands are very cost effective and a good brand, but there are also some that aren’t as good as a premium brand that you’ve always heard about.”


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