Ah, that aroma of fresh-cut turf

The mowing season is in full swing. Mowers are buzzing, clippings are flying and work crews are busy. There isn't a day that passes that you can't smell the aroma of freshly cut turf. Although one group of researchers claims that this fresh-cut-turf aroma is a dangerous pollutant in our atmosphere (see "Research update" on page 66), I still like the smell. But then again, I also like the smell of a wood fire, barbecues and fresh-baked bread-all of which have been singled out as culprits that pollute our atmosphere. As I savor the aroma of fresh-cut turf that wafts through my window, we dedicate this issue to mowing.

At first glance, you might think that riding-rotary-mower components are standardized across all manufacturers' products. After all, most feature a deck equipped with blades, a steering mechanism, a hydrostatic-drive transmission and an engine. But that is about as close as they come. Deck designs and the thickness of the steel from which they are constructed varies among manufacturers' lines and even among an individual manufacturer's models. Manufacturers offer an array of steering mechanisms including joysticks, H-bars, twin levers and conventional wheels. For engines, you have the choice of air- or liquid-cooled, gas or diesel as well as engine size and brands including Briggs and Stratton, Cummins, Ford, Kohler, Kawasaki, Kubota, Puegeot, and Yanmar. As with any purchase you make, you have to do your homework. You need to be familiar with the products on the market to be able to select the unit that matches your needs. And your needs are not always the same as the next guy's. To begin the process of selecting your next riding-rotary mower, take a look at "Comparing riding-rotary-mower components" on page 14.

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If you want to cut fatigue of your work crews that must trudge behind an out-front-rotary walk-behind mower for hours at a time, consider adding a sulky. They attach to your out-front rotary and allow you the pleasure of either standing or sitting. First though, you have to ensure that your mower can handle the extra load. If you like standing while mowing, you also should consider some of the dedicated standing riders on the market. Find out more about standing riders and sulkies in "Equipment options" on page 22.

Aside from rotary mowers, reel mowers provide the high-quality cut that you need, especially for turf that you must maintain at low cutting heights. For extremely low mowing heights that you find on a golf green, minute differences in cutting height have a dramatic effect on the putting speed of the green. You must be able to precisely adjust the cutting height of your reel mower in these cases. Peter Whurr, vice president of product development at Textron Turf Care, takes you step-by-step through the process of adjusting the cutting height of your reel mower in "How to" on page 33.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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