There are a number of benefits to running a taller tire — the biggest being load capacity, says Scott Sloan, ag products manager for Titan and Goodyear Farm Tires.

“A Group 49 tire is going to be able to better handle the load of today’s high-hp tractors better than a Group 48 tire of the same width,” Sloan says. “By being able to handle the load without raising inflation pressures, the grower can expect less ground-bearing pressure, which leads to better flotation and less soil compaction.”

Sloan says Goodyear Farm Tires was one of the first companies to offer a Group 49 tractor and combine tire starting in early 2000, and now offers Group 50 and Group 51 tires, too. “For row-crop applications, Goodyear offers Group 49 tires in section widths ranging as low as 480 (18.4 in.), as well as tires as large as Group 51 in section widths as low as 320 (12.4 in.).”

Whether a farmer should go with a larger tire size will depend on the load, application and design of the machine, tire companies advise. Older-model tractors are not designed to fit the new size categories. Currently, they are offered as an option on new-model machines.

The larger tires are available in both standard and IF, or increased flexion, versions. IF tires have more flex in the sidewalls to allow for more air and a bigger tire footprint. Farmers should work with their dealer to determine the best size and type. The bottom line for farmers is that the larger sizes will give them more options during the tire-buying process.

“For new equipment purchases, a grower may get the opportunity to specify a Group 49 tire as an upgrade versus a shorter tire,” says Sloan. “It’s important that the grower looks at the load-carrying capacity and inflation pressure benefits that come with running a taller tire. It’s also important to look ahead to the future, knowing that any replacement tires will need to have the same size of rim.”

These larger tires will cost more than the mainstay Group 48 because of the additional rubber and materials. But tire makers say the return on investment will come through better traction and less soil compaction due to the bigger footprint.