Why is quality of cut important?

Its no hidden fact that to achieve the highest possible mowing quality, a cylinder mower is the best. Their clean scissor-like cut makes them the perfect choice for sports turf surfaces, high-quality lawns and recreational areas. The basic design hasn’t changed since Edwin Budding developed the first machine in 1830. The point of cutting is between the bottom blade (also know as a bedding knife) and the blades mounted on the cylinder reel. This is also called the shear point, and is where the scissor-like action occurs.

The quiality of cut and clip rate can also be heavily affected by the following three variables: the number of blades on the cylinder, the ground speed of the mower, and the rotational speed of the blades on the cylinder.

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As mentioned above, the quality of cut is affected by the setting of the mower blades. The main implications of incorrect mower adjustments are:

  • Ribbing, where the bottom blade is bouncing off the ground, leaving a ribbed appearance
  • Tram lining in the turf
  • Causing an uneven cut and tearing of the leaf

All of the above will detract from the aesthetics of the pitch and are easily avoided by attention to detail when setting the mower up.

A poor quality cut usually includes the tearing rather than cutting of the leaf. This causes the cut to have more surface area (usually in a rigid pattern, also where tougher vascular tissues of the leaf such as the Xylem are not cut and damage occurs). This is typical when using rotary mowers or poorly maintained cylinder mowers.

This tearing of the leaf can cause a multitude of problems, including increased water loss leading to reduced drought tolerance, and open torn wounds that are harder to heal and make easy sites for disease entry. Blunt or dull blades and/or poor adjustment of the cutting action results in torn or bruised grass leaves, which will die back and turn brown. This will leave an unsightly visual quality finish to the turf surface.

The use of dew brushes and mower-mounted brushes can also increase the cut quality. Heavy dews tend to clog up mower blades, causing them to work ineffectively. Standing grass up vertically before mowing can dramatically increase the cut quality and height at which leaves are uniformly cut.

*Remember, all moving parts should be oiled or greased as stated in the manufacturer’s handbook. Ensure that excess oil is not applied, as this may drop to the grass and cause damage. If a machine is regularly used, it may require a periodic regrind of the cylinder to maintain the cut quality. All grass clippings should be removed after use either by a stiff brush, airline, or high-pressure water jet. After washing, a protective lubricant such should be applied to prevent rusting.

Looking for a video on how to set the cut on a cylinder mower?