Remembering Early Cultivating Attachments

Cultivating attachments from a century ago weren’t very effective, but they helped lay the groundwork for farm mechanization.

| February 2019

Single-front-wheel-Moline
This photo shows how the single front wheel of the Moline conversion was mounted, but it doesn’t appear very sturdy to me. This tractor is owned by the Romig family of Madison, Ohio. It is also equipped with a Hamilton transmission and Grid-Iron Grip rear wheels. Photo by Sam Moore.

In today’s environment of no-till planting and chemical weed control, no one thinks about the job of cultivating row crops, which was, at one time, very important. When I was a kid on the farm, Dad wanted the corn and potatoes cultivated at least three times during the early summer. The final cultivation, done just before the corn got so high the cultivator would knock it down, was called “laying the corn by.” 

International Harvester Co. pioneered the concept of the tricycle tractor design for cultivating with their Farmall, which was introduced on Feb. 20, 1923. However, Fordson tractors were everywhere, and their light weight, high speed and small size made them ideal machines (except for the lack of turning brakes) for cultivating.

Of course, Henry Ford refused to build any implements to go with his tractors, believing that farmers could just hook on to the horse-drawn machines they already had in their sheds and become power farmers. A Fordson owner could hook a one- or two-row horse-drawn cultivator offset behind the tractor, and I’m sure many did, but implement manufacturers were quick to recognize an opportunity, and cultivator attachments for the Fordson were built by Moline (Illinois) Implement Co., Oliver Chilled Plow Co. (South Bend, Indiana) and probably others.



Were any sold?

These conversion kits changed the squat and narrow-tread four-wheel Fordson tractor into a wide-track machine capable of straddling and cultivating two standard 42-inch corn rows.

I’ve never seen the Oliver-built version, but in his Oliver Hart-Parr book, Charlie Wendel has two pictures of the Fordson-mounted, two-row cultivator made by Oliver. The Fordson’s front axle is removed and a frame is mounted under the front of the tractor. This frame, to which the two-row cultivator is bolted, extends 2 or 3 feet out in front of the radiator.



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