Brush hogs are one of the most convenient tractor attachments you can use when you need to knock down weeds and vegetation fast on large tracts of land. But since “weeds and vegetation” can be a somewhat vague description of what you can cut with these attachments, things can get confusing when your land has saplings because these are neither full-grown trees nor weeds.
A brush hog can cut softwood saplings up to 3″ (7.62 cm) and hardwood saplings up to 1.5″ (3.81 cm) in diameter. The exact thickness of saplings you can cut with your brush hog will depend on the size of the brush hog, usually determined by the tractor’s horsepower rating.
Read on for details on what size saplings you can cut with a brush hog, the factors to consider, and much more.
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Can You Cut Saplings With a Brush Hog?
Brush hogs can cut saplings and small trees a few inches in diameter thanks to rotary blades that can hit speeds as high as 150 miles (241 km) per hour.
In fact, many YouTubers have tested brush hogs to find out whether they can cut saplings without any mechanical problems. If you take a look at this video, you’ll notice that the brush hog comfortably handles 2-inch (5.08 cm) saplings without any mechanical problems.
But since you likely won’t be working on a field with evenly sized 2″ (5.08 cm) saplings, you must be wondering whether it can handle larger saplings you may encounter. In other words, is there a limit to the size of the saplings you can cut with a brush hog? And if there is, what’s that limit?
Let’s find out in the next section.
What Size Saplings Can You Cut With a Brush Hog?
Most brush hogs will cut saplings between 2 and 3 inches (5.08 and 7.62 cm) in diameter. However, the exact size of saplings you can cut with your brush hog depends on several factors. The most critical determinants are:
- The types of saplings you’re cutting.
- Your tractor-Hog Combo.
The lay of the land you’re working on may also influence the size of the saplings you can cut and how comfortably your unit will handle them, but to a smaller extent as the above factors.
Let’s discuss in greater detail how each affects the size of saplings you can cut with your brush hog.
The Type of Saplings
Generally, brush hogs can cut thicker softwood saplings than hardwoods because softwoods are (obviously) easier to cut than hardwoods. So while you might be able to cut pine saplings near the upper end of the 2″ to 3″ (5.08 and 7.62 cm) range, you’ll need to whip out a chainsaw for a 2″ (5.08 cm) Osage Orange sapling.
Typically, the limit for the hardwood saplings you can cut with brush hog is about 1.5″ (3.81 cm). This figure can be as low as 1″ (2.54 cm) for your specific hog-and-tractor combination, depending on the size of your hog and how powerful your tractor is.
The thickness limit for softwoods is twice that of hardwoods, at 3″ (7.62 cm). However, you might want to keep it at 2 1/2″ (6.35 cm) if you have a less powerful tractor and a small brush hog.
Like any other piece of machinery, brush hogs come with specifications. These dictate every aspect of a brush hog’s usage, from the horsepower required to run it to the maximum cutting diameter.
Generally, the smaller the brush hog, the lower its maximum cutting diameter. For evidence of this, take a look at the Bush Hog specification facts sheet. You’ll notice that 4ft. (48 in) units are typically limited to 1″ (2.54 cm) cutting diameter. Five, six, and seven-footers typically have more cutting capacity (except for the BH5 and BH6 models in the razorback series, which have 1″ [2.54 cm] cutting capacity despite being five-and-six footers).
All the models in the BH10 series can cut brush up to 2″ in (5.08 cm) diameter, and all of them are five footers and above. Meanwhile, the BH20 series comes with a 3″ (7.62 cm) cutting capacity, while the heavy-duty 320 “Original Plus” Series can cut brush up to 4″ in (10.16 cm) diameter.
All this is to show you that brush hogs have varying cutting capacities. The higher the maximum cutting capacity, the thicker the saplings you can cut with your unit.
Where does the tractor factor in?
You need to match your tractor’s horsepower to the brush hog. In other words, your tractor’s power will determine how big a brush hog you can wield.
Generally, a 4-footer (48 in) hog will be less of a load on your tractor than a 7-footer (84 in) That’s why brush hogs come with a minimum tractor HP range. If you go back to the above spec sheet, you’ll notice that the tractor HP rating for the heavy-duty 5, 6, and 7-footers is higher than that of 4ft (48 in). Units. So yeah, your tractor’s horsepower indirectly affects the thickness of saplings you can cut with your hog.
How do you know the exact size of brush hog you can wield with your tractor’s horsepower rating? The consensus is about 5 PTO horsepower per foot of brush hog. That means a 4-foot (48 in) cutter requires a minimum of 20 PTO, while a 7-footer (84 in) requires at least 35 PTO (source).
Can You Cut Tall Saplings With a Brush Hog?
There isn’t a hard limit to the height of saplings you can cut. Height isn’t too big of an issue when cutting saplings with a brush hog: the base diameter is. So as long as it’s something you can bend over with your tractor, you can cut it provided it’s within your brush hog’s cutting capacity.
What relatively thin trees you can’t knock over? Well, you might be able to cut these, but with a heavy-duty brush mower, which automatically means a more powerful tractor. And even then, you don’t want to make it a regular thing because it might cost you wear and tear.
A brush mower is usually a better choice for saplings. In fact, small trees can be downed with one of these. Watch these YouTubers who tried to push the limits of a brush mower by cutting as much as they can, from full-size trees to stumps.
To recap, a brush hog can cut saplings. Most brush hogs will cut softwoods as thick as 3″ (7.62 cm) and hardwoods up to 1.5″ (3.81 cm) in diameter. The exact size (i.e., diameter) of saplings you can cut with your brush hog will depend on its cutting capacity, which is dictated by your tractor’s horsepower.
There isn’t a hard limit for the height of saplings you can cut with a brush hog. The general rule for a lot of folks is “if you can run it over with your tractor, you can cut it.” That’s bad practice though. Picking the right tool for the job is often to key to keeping your equipment running for the long term.
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