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It's Mowing Season! - Part II Continued.

Mowing Options:

Direct Behind Mowing Position
Directly Behind Mowing Position

There are two options to mow with either mower; directly behind the ATV, or in an offset position.  There is a learning curve for both the cutting options.  The operator will have to learn the cutting width, turning radius, cutting paths and directions, and cutting speeds best suited for the mowing conditions for each mower.

Directly behind is the easiest option to learn.  Just point the ATV where you want to mow and go.  Some might say, mowing with an ATV (pulling a pull-behind mower) will not provide an adequate or finish cut result equal to a riding or ZTR mower due to the ATV’s large wheels compacting the grass or the material that is being cut.  Our findings differ.  If operating any of the mowers in a directly behind method, cutting material compaction, even in over grown conditions, is not an issue unless you are mowing in overly wet conditions or mowing too fast for the mowers to keep up with the material entering the deck.  We found we had great results on the cut.  We even had several lawn care professionals impressed with the finished results!

Offset Mowing Position
Offset Mowing Position

The offset mowing position allows the operator a good view of the mower and what is being mowed.  With the unique design of the ATV Tongue, the offset position can be adjusted an additional 1" to 14” putting the mower well to the side of the ATV.

Operator likes and dislikes varied on both mowers and in different mowing conditions. When operating the Finish Cut, most of our testers indicated no preference as either position allowed the tester to mow at a relatively quick pace without a great deal of looking back at the unit.  On the other hand, most preferred the offset position for operating the Rough Cut in overgrown conditions.  This method keeps the ATV and operator out of the brush, weeds, grass, or whatever is being cut and in a clean cut path.  Of course the clean cut path can only be made by an initial pass.

Mowing Pace vs. Cutting Efficiency:

The cutting power and efficiency of each mower is very good.

Finish Cut mowing:

Lawn Test Plot with no Obstacles
4 Acre Test Plot
Lawn with no Obstacles

Under normal mowing conditions, a lawn that has been mowed every week or two (grass between 1” to 4”), would allow us to mow 5 to 10 mph with a very clean finish cut.  The only time we really had to slow down was during the turns, around obstacles, or on uneven and rough terrain.  If you had a relatively flat lawn with little or no obstacles, you could easily cut at this quick pace for the entire time it takes to mow.  Any faster and the mower deck would start to experience bounce resulting in a wavy cut and putting unnecessary stress (wear and tear) on the mower. To help eliminate mower bounce on uneven or rough ground, we adjusted our cutting speed by slowing down.  This helped to lessen the bounce and resulted in a cleaner finish cut.

We recorded average mowing times on the 4 acre test plot, consisting of lawn grass with multiple obstacles, at just under 2 hours.  Our quickest record time was 1 hour and 20 minutes, but some poor cutting efficiency was noticeable.  On the 4 acre test plot, consisting of lawn grass with no obstacles, our average time was 1 hour 15 minutes.  The quickest time was only a couple minutes better, but that was with the operator pushing the mowing speeds.  A noticeable poor cutting efficiency was the finished result.

The Finish Cut proved it could mow in overgrown conditions, as well, all the while maintaining a steady pace and still providing an efficient clean cut. We found that we could easily cut at a 5mph clip before experiencing clutch slippage in the thick stuff.  We were able to bog down the Finish Cut mower  in the rough 2ft tall field grass, even with the mower set at its highest cutting height.  This was an extreme test of the unit and clutch slippage was expected.  The Finish Cut is not made for the rough stuff.  This is where the Rough Cut mower shines.

Rough Cut mowing:

Rough Cut mowing the thick stuff
Rough Cut Working in Thick Stuff

The Rough Cut mower could handle everything we threw at it.  Clearing of a field/woods barrier packed with thick brier, thistles, small saplings, and lots of overgrown weeds was made easy with the unit.  It performed beyond our expectations and made short work of every job we asked of it.  Weeds over 7 feet tall were no match.  Saplings of 2” diameter or less didn’t stand a chance.  Wet heavy field grass couldn’t slow it down.  Even a couple of hidden obstacles in the tall stuff where chewed up and spit out with ease.  (Well, except for that one leg size log hidden in the field grass).  We chalked that up to operator error by not looking for and clearing large obstacles before mowing over them.

Can the Rough Cut be used as a finish mower?  If a finish cut lawn look is not a big concern, then the rough cut would work fine for the dual purpose. We found the mower provided a near finish cut look.  The mower's four tires are positioned within the width of the deck to allow for mowing close to objects.   We would recommend the optional floatation kit.  It will help to virtually eliminate mower scalping. We experienced some turf scalping on moderately uneven turf.  We believe, with the addition of the optional floatation kit, this scalping could be eliminated.

Our mowing speeds varied as was dictated by the type of cutting material we were mowing and the cutting height of the deck. We averaged a respectable 5mph in thick field grass with the cutting deck around the 3” height.  Overgrown conditions had us slowing down and allowing the mower to catch up with the amount of material entering the deck.  We raised the deck to the 5” or higher mark and were able to increase our cutting speed.  A neglected overgrown field will require multiple cuts to get a “finish cut” look, but for fields where you just need to “knock it down”, one pass will suffice.

We recorded average mowing times on our 4 acre test plots, consisting of tall field grass and a mixture of overgrown weeds with no obstacles, at just over 2 hours. On the same test plots, our second pass times were decreased to just under 2 hours.

Extreme brush cutting slowed us down to a crawl, but that was expected.  The unit still provided an outstanding cut and allowed us to clear an overgrown fence row in a relatively short time.  The Rough Cut can easily be pulled between 5 to 10mph on regular lawn cutting.  Mower bounce, on rough ground, was less obvious than on the Finish Cut, but was still encountered at mowing speeds of 10mphs or more. As with the Finish Cut mower (to help eliminate mower bounce), we adjusted our cutting speed by slowing down.  We also lowered the tire air pressure to around 5psi.  This really helped to lessen the bounce and resulted in a cleaner cut.  The Finish Cut uses slick semi-pneumatic tires on the front which eliminated us from using this technique (lowering tire air pressure) on that mower.

Wet Marsh Cutting
Rough Cut in the Really Wet Stuff

Can the Rough Cut mower cut swampy areas?  Sure it can. But, will it float as advertised?  Floatation of the Rough Cut was questionable and we found that it does not float very well.  Our test of the unit in a wetland area with field grass, lots of sand and mud proved it will float about as well as the ATV.  The weight of the unit will make it sink in the wet thick stuff and if any water level is present the mower will suck up too much water causing it to stall.  We believe the unit wouldn’t have passed our test even if we had the additional floatation kit installed and the cutting height adjusted to its highest level.

We notice that when turning corners, there was a feeling like the back of the ATV was being pulled or pushed (fishtailing or jackknifing) to the side, instead of freely rounding the corner.  We found this was due to the weight of the mower vs. the speed at which the corner was taken.  The mower would turn near zero turn radius and stop all forward motion, but would be "whip-lashed" back into motion when the ATV and mower straightened out.  The feeling was not noticed when turning speeds were decreased.

The weight of the Rough Cut unit (approximately 520 lbs.) will push any ATV on hilly terrain.  If you must mow in moderately hilly terrain, caution must be taken.  We recommend that you mow in the directly behind position and vertical to extremely hilly conditions or parallel to any road side or ditch conditions.

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