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As crops like corn become more resilient, they leave behind stronger post-harvest stalks in the off-season. These durable stalks damage tractor tires and lead to replacement, affecting your productivity and downtime. Reducing stubble damage can extend tire lifetimes and ensure more working hours per tire.

Learn what stubble damage entails, how to prevent it, and what to look for when selecting your tires.


Stubble damage has been around since mechanized machinery entered the cornfields. However, new varieties of genetically modified corn create stronger stalks and lower cutting heights. When farmers cut their crops for harvest, they leave behind short, sharp stalks that last for months.

When it’s time to start working the fields, many drivers move their tractor or combine right over the stalks from last season. Tractors cannot smoothly roll over the leftover stalks. As the tires drive over the rubble, the stalks cause damage that can lead to tire replacement.


Stubble damage can happen instantly or over time. Two main types of stubble damage affect your tires — erosion and piercing.


As tires pass over the firm cornstalks, they lose small bits of rubber due to friction. The repeated impacts create minor cuts and scrapes on a tire’s surface. Over time, this will weaken the tire and potentially lead to holes or tears. Erosion is a natural process when passing over modified corn, and having the right tires can slow the effects.


When a stalk pierces — or penetrates — the tire, it creates a hole in the rubber and immediately affects the equipment function. If a cornstalk can punch through the tread or tire wall, it can lead to a flat tire. If this happens in the field, you may have to remove the machinery and replace the tire.


Some tires can handle stubble better than others. Knowing what to look for and how to maintain tires can lead to more working hours and less downtime. Look for the following features and adjust your maintenance habits for increased productivity.


As stubble damage becomes more common, many manufacturers have started creating stubble-resistant tires. These tires have several features to prevent damage:

  • Stubble-resistant tires consist of different compounds that make the rubber more firm.
  • The sidewall and tread have unique designs that minimize catch points.
  • These tires are compatible with steel belt chains, which you can attach to lessen stubble’s impact further.

Rubber gets firmer with age, so changing your tires well in advance can also help with damage. We recommend switching your tires in the winter or early spring to give them plenty of time to harden.


Tire sealant can resolve tire erosion and piercings as they happen. Tire sealant repairs the damage from the inside out while you continue driving.

You can install tire sealant in the tire’s interior when you get new tires or adjust your current ones, following TIA recommended practices.

IMI's OTR Tire Seal in white five gallon bucket with a blue sticker across it that has the product and company information.

Our OTR TIRE SEAL was designed specifically with a lower viscosity to travel rapidly in low RPM applications, sealing a puncture when it occurs. Using our tire sealant will increase your uptime and keep you out in the field where you want to be.


Keeping your tires properly inflated will help maintain constant tire pressure. Under-inflated tires flex more while they move across the pointed stubble. This flexing exposes the sidewall and makes it more susceptible to piercing.

Check your tire pressure frequently before entering the field to reduce damage to your tires. Evaluating your farm tires is a simple, cost-effective way to prevent stubble damage to all farm equipment.


Aside from selecting quality tires and keeping up with preventative maintenance, there are multiple ways to reduce or prevent stubble damage. Follow these tips to extend your tires’ lifetime and improve productivity within cornfields.


Many operators drive combines backward for easier handling. We recommend avoiding this practice to prevent stubble damage unless the ground is muddy and you need to clean out the tires momentarily.

Tire lugs are designed to pull objects away from the surface. Driving forward guides objects on the ground away from the tire’s center. Moving backward leads the stubble right to the center, heightening the risk for penetration. You can also wear down your lugs over time by driving the opposite way.


Many farmers and operators work through the winter when possible and necessary. If there is stubble, freezing temperatures will harden it and make it more difficult to pass over. Wait until the weather changes to drive over stubble to prevent damage during the colder months.


One way to avoid stalks on the job is driving between rows where possible. Navigating between rows can prevent sharp objects from entering the tires and reduce erosion. Changing your driving habits is a fast, cost-effective way to help with stubble damage.

Though you may not completely avoid sharp objects, you can reduce the likelihood of piercing a tire. You can also find narrower tires that fit better between rows, making it easier to avoid repeated impact.


Many farmers cut their crops as close to the ground as possible — about 3-5 inches high. However, cutting crops too low can make them more prone to causing stubble damage — the low stalk sticks straight up and doesn’t flatten when the tire goes over it. If you can leave the stalks longer, the tires can push them aside with less damage.


When you invest in quality tires, you want them to last. Our tire sealant solutions for tractors and other agricultural machinery cant help protect your investment and increase your uptime. We can analyze your needs and determine the best option to repair and reduce stubble damage. Contact us online to learn where you can get OTR TIRE SEAL today!