The Reason for Uneven Cut in Summer Grass

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It’s August in the Ozarks and our cool season grasses have all gone dormant. What’s left is a bunch of weeds and crabgrass that is really hard to mow and make look decent. When I worked in a dealership we’d get hammered this time of year with complaints about uneven cut. People who bought anything with spinning blades (disc mowers, disc mower conditioners, brush hogs, finish mowers, lawn mowers, etc.) that loved them in the spring would be yelling at us because of the poor cut quality. The service guys would try to sharpen the blades and make sure there wasn’t a bunch of grass gummed up in the cutting area, but there wasn’t much they could do to make machine cut any prettier. Then fall rolled around and the cool season grasses started growing again and the uneven cut complaints went away.

One summer day, one of our salesmen, Don Schmidt, was explaining to a customer why his cut looked bad and I was surprised at the advice he gave. Don had been around farm machinery and ag customers most of his life and really knew how to diffuse a situation when someone was angry and this guy was not happy. After I heard his explanation and realized how much sense it made, I used it the rest of my career. It helped the customer understand that his problem was not the machine Don sold him, but the nature of the crop he was cutting and the time of year it was.

Anything with rotating blades does great in thick lush grass. I’ve seen disc mowers cut crops that were almost as tall as the roll bar on the tractor and do a beautiful job. Where they struggle are with light crops, and the reason, and a technique that should help the situation, is discussed in this video. And, it’s just the opposite of what you’d think.

One thing I’ll caution you about here, don’t try slowing your engine speed down with a zero turn lawn mower. They’re generally designed to run with the engine wide open, all of the time. If you slow the engine speed down you also slow down the flow of oil to the hydro’s, which can shorten their life. It’s fine to do what I recommend in the video on a tractor, if you do it on your zero turn you may damage it.

The advice I give here still won’t give you a perfect cut. Crabgrass grows out and up and it’s hard to cut with anything. Hopefully this does make it a little better and at least make you feel comfort in knowing the problem will soon go away as the season changes.

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