Plowing with your Garden Tractor 101, Part IBy
People have been plowing the soil for centuries. It’s one of the most efficient ways to break up the ground to prepare it for growing crops. It’s also embedded into John Deere’s heritage as it was John Deere’s plow that paved the way for the mega corporation that we know of today as Deere & Company.
What I want to do here, in this first segment, is break down the types of plows available and what is needed to get started. For this article I will only be addressing the plows and options available in the garden tractor class. But some of the principles and terminology will apply to the larger tractor classes.
First, what we need to find is the appropriate garden tractor. Using the John Deere models as an example, here are some of the garden tractors available: 110, 112, 120, 140, 200 series, 300 closed frame series, 300 open frame series, 400, 420, 430, 4X5 series, GT series, 3X5 and GX series, X4X5/X5X5 series, the newer X500 and X700 series tractors. That’s not the complete list but it gives you an idea. What we want is a “Garden Tractor”. Refer back to a previous article, “When is a Lawn Mower a Lawn Mower” to help identify what is considered a garden tractor.
Next we need a hitch. There are two basic type of hitches available, the integral hitch (John Deere’s terminology for sleeve hitch), and the 3 point hitch. Most garden tractors will have the Category 0 in the 3 point hitch type, but some of the newer John Deere garden tractors like the X4X5/X5X5 and the X700 series use a modified Category 1 type 3 point hitch.
The integral hitch would be used for the gear drive John Deere garden tractors, like the 110/112 and the 200 series tractors, and also can be used on the 120/140 and the 300 closed frame tractors and the newer 3X5/GT/GX series as well as the current X500 series tractors. Most of these used the tractors lift system and some may even have an electric actuator as an option to lift the hitch. The integral hitches are usually more economical and simpler in design and are readily available. They used a single point for attaching and lifting the implement, i.e. the plow, and used a standard across the board 5/8 inch pin for attaching the implements.
Below is an example of an integral hitch on a round fender John Deere.
Here is an example of an integral hitch on a closed frame John Deere (140 shown).
The 3 point hitches are found in the 120/140, and 300 closed frame tractors and for these tractors, it uses an auxiliary mounted hydraulic cylinder and is plumbed to the tractors hydraulics. These hitches are more expensive and harder to find than the integral hitch, which can also be used for these tractors. These 3 point hitches are category 0 hitches, which mean they used 20 inch width spacing for the lower arms and 5/8 inch pins. Below is an example of a 3 point on a closed frame John Deere (shown with an A-frame adapter).
3 point hitches are also used on the 300 open frame series tractors, like the 318, 332, etc., the 400/420/430 tractors and the 4X5 series. These will be category 0 same as the above hitches. The newer X4X5/X5X5 and the X700 series used the modified category 1 hitches which means they used a 3/4 inch pins. Some after market manufactures make a combination category 0/1 hitch which will interchange between a category 0 and category 1. I’ve seen some people change out their category 1 implements by just changing out the pins to a 5/8 inch pins. Below is an example of an open frame 3 point hitch.
The plows we’re discussing here is the single moldboard type plow. There are also other types of plows, with multiple moldboard shares, but those aren’t that common in the garden tractor class. Most garden tractors can only handle a single moldboard plow, though the larger garden tractors like the 420/430 can handle a two bottom plow. Single moldboard plows are usually in 8 inch, 10 inch or 12 inch sizes. Manufacturers of the plows include Brinly,Agri-Fab,OhioSteel, and Simplicity, among others. John Deere also has their brand of plows, but they are usually made by manufacturers like Brinly and are painted in John Deere green with John Deere decals on them. Below is an example of a Brinly Sleeve Hitch Plow:
Below is an example of a 3 point Brinly plow:
A “new” John Deere plow (possibly made by Brinly) 12 inch Cat 1 Limited:
A John Deere 15 Plow (12 inch plow):
A John Deere 20 Plow (12 inch Plow)
Depending on what type of hitch you have, i.e. integral or 3 point, determines what type of plow you need. The integral hitches can only used the sleeve hitch type plow, while the 3 point hitches can be used on both sleeve hitch plows and 3 point plows. You can buy an A-frame adapter to adapt your 3 point to a sleeve hitch to use on a sleeve hitch plow. Also you can buy or fabricate a 3 point adapter to use with another adapter to change out the hitch on the sleeve hitch plow to adapt to a 3 point hitch. Below is an A-Frame Adapter:
Brinly type 3 Point Adapter shown below:
Both the sleeve hitch plow and the 3 point plow will be offset to allow for the plow share to be vertical when the tractor’s right tires are in the furrow when plowing. There are a lot of adjustments to be made before you can plow and during your plow, but we will cover those in the next article. Below is a 3 point plow showing how it’s offset from the tractor.
Now that I have given you the basic information on finding a plow and locating the proper garden tractor, it’s time to go out and find the setup that you can afford and locate. Stay tune for the next article: Plowing 101, Part II.