The increased size of farm implements is requiring the benefits of both types of tractors. As a result, more 4-wd models are being offered in wheel spaces that accommodate 30-in. rows.

Case IH and New Holland launched the newest of these “hybrids” last fall. Three 4-wd models in the new Case IH Steiger series and four 4-wd models in New Holland’s T9 series allow tread settings as narrow as 60 in. to accommodate 30-in. row-crop spacing. The new models, which range from 350 to 500 engine hp for New Holland and 350 to 450 engine hp for Case IH, pick up where the largest row-crop tractors leave off.

“It’s basically now a tractor designed for middle U.S.A.,” says New Holland’s Prouse. “Anyone doing row-crop work will find a big benefit because it can now go up and down the rows and offer very high horsepower and up to 113-gal./min. hydraulic flow to handle those heavy draft applications and to pull the largest planters.”

Mitch Kaiser, product manager for Case IH, says the chassis on the tractors was narrowed up to 36 in. instead of the standard 44 in. to allow for 60-in. tread spacing required for row-crop work. In addition, front-wheel frames and fenders were sculpted in to fit 480/95R50 tires, currently industry’s largest tires.

“This 86-in.-tall tire provides a longer footprint within the row than standard radial tires to spread out the weight of the tractor and reduce in-row soil compaction,” Kaiser explains.

Case IH, New Holland, Versatile and Claas all offer 4-wds that can be configured for row crops. AGCO and John Deere offer both track models and 4-wd articulated models with various options to fit row-crop applications (see sidebar).

“We do focus on offering customers a 4-wd row-crop model,” says Dave Guetterman, John Deere. “Every one of our models can be configured for row-crop applications. With the way our chassis is designed, customers can set it up in row-crop configuration pretty easily.”

“Our 4-wds were always used to some degree in row crops,” says Versatile’s Shust. “With the right tire selection they will work in row-crop applications.”