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Technical Bulletins

Stubble Piercing - Tractor Tires

Date: MAY, 1991

NOTE: This bulletin replaces Firestone Sales Assistance bulletin #77.

Stubble piercing is a condition affecting agricultural tires. This is a condition where slivers of corn, grain, or soybean stubble penetrate completely through the tire, resulting in a puncture of the tire and tube. The stubble will usually pierce between the lugs of a bar-type tire or in the grooves of a front or implement tire. It can occur on any brand of tire applied to any type of tractor or implement.

Several factors contributing to stubble piercing are:

  • New hybrid crop varieties produce stronger, thicker stalks to better resist drought and insect damage. The resulting stubble does not decompose as readily and can be more damaging to tires.
  • The increased use of conservation tillage practices such as no-till or ridge-till leaves more crop residue and stubble on the soil surface. This material becomes hard and brittle and is not incorporated into the soil as with conventional moldboard plow.
  • Hot, dry summers will also create stalks that are very hard and brittle. Likewise, abnormally dry, open winters will not allow for stalk rot and decay. These weather conditions create stubble that is readily slivered into very brittle splinters capable of penetrating the rubber tires.

If problems with stubble piercing occur or to avoid stubble piercing, the following recommendations should be considered:

  • The use of stubble shoes on the combine heads helps to break and mash down the stubble left after combining.
  • If possible, tire spacing should be such that the tires run between the rows of stubble rather than on or across the rows.
  • If stubble piercing is not extensive, the stubble slivers can be pulled from the tire and the tube or tubeless tire innerliner repaired as required.
  • Generally a higher ply or star rated tire will have increased resistance to stubble piercing. However, if conditions are severe, this may not completely eliminate the problem.
  • Newer tires are more susceptible to stubble piercing. As tires age, the rubber compounds become harder and more resistant to this condition. If more than one tractor is available, run the unit with the older/harder tires in the fields where stubble piercing is occurring.