Under cover

Agriculture.com Staff 08/06/2007 @ 12:30pm

With record-setting corn prices approaching and surpassing $4 a bushel, protecting the commodity has become even more important. More producers are equipping carts, wagons, and semis with roll tarps.

While tarps have been around for many years, modifications to systems have made tarping a load easier than ever. Gone are the days of tossing a loose tarp over a wagon in winds and weather. Now, tarps can be attached to a transport vehicle, and operators simply turn a crank or push a button to cover it up.

The strapless, side-to-side roll tarp was introduced in 1980 by Wahpeton Canvas Company (known today as Shur-Co) in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Inventors Jerry Dimmer and Bill Shorma believed their device would help producers save time and labor and reduce the risk of climbing on trailers to manually cover and uncover loads. The idea quickly caught on.

Before you purchase a tarp, Kevin Teichroew of Shur-Co recommends you consider three things.

1. What will you be using your tarp for? Are you hauling grain from the field, distillers’ grain (DG), or fertilizer? When DG dries, it’s as coarse as sandpaper. Teichroew says there’s a specific fabric that will withstand the abrasiveness.

2. How will the tarp be installed? If you plan on installing it yourself, a complete system takes about a half day to go on a semi. If you opt to have someone else do the job, it can run anywhere from $175 to $250.

3. Where will you get parts? If you need to replace a bungee cord or tarp, will it be readily available?

Teichroew says most tarps today are made of nylon, which comes in either an 18-ounce or 22-ounce weight. "The 18-ounce is the most common fabric that goes on most ag-related equipment," he says.

Clark Moret utilizes several tarps on his operation. Moret, who farms approximately 2,600 acres near Boyden, Iowa, has roll tarps on grain carts as well as a semi. He says covered loads are protected from both rain and wind.

"A tarp is a must on a semi. It not only keeps the load inside the semi when I'm traveling down the road, but also it keeps moisture out," Moret says.

He also notes that tarps come in handy if he has to leave a grain cart out in the field or doesn't have a building to protect it against the elements.

No matter what he's covering, Moret says there are two things he considers most important.

"If, for any reason, a tarp needs repair, having easy access to replacement parts is key, especially during the busy harvest season," he says.

"Once the tarp is installed, is it user-friendly? There's nothing worse than fighting with a piece of equipment when a storm is coming," Moret says.

Roll-over systems range in price from about $500 to over $3,000, depending on options. Fitted tarps start at approximately $120.

On the following page is a list of nine tarp system manufacturers.

The Roll-Rite system features an electric power kit arm with an extruded aluminum arm design and patented roller bearing mount. Choose from a single front-mounted or dual-arm system.

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