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John Deere 318, Highest Cut Possible?

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#1 mismith OFFLINE  

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Posted April 26, 2015 - 04:35 PM

I just picked up a very nice John Deere 318. It is an early 1983 model with a 50" deck. We plan on using this as just a backup mower for the wife to help out with. We currently use a SCAG Wildcat with 61" deck. We now several acres of nice fescue.
I mow very high, for years I mowed at 5" and we have a beautiful thick fescue lawn. The neighbors always comment on it. I recently went to 4-1/2" but don't want to mow any lower than that.

Can this 318 be set up to mow at 4-1/2" high? I really need to get it that high, even if It needs a slight modification? Let me know please.


#2 dodge trucker OFFLINE  

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Posted April 26, 2015 - 05:11 PM

4-1/2" high?  wow. I keep mine at 2-1/2 and if I had to actually "measure" it before cutting, the tallest blotches MIGHT reach 3-1/4 before mowing .


Can you do a lift kit/bigger tires?

#3 Cat385B OFFLINE  

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Posted April 26, 2015 - 06:07 PM

I am sure you could shorten or modify the back links, but not sure how much much adjustment you will get out of the front draft arms. I thought 3 3/4-4" was max. Most garden tractors are set up to mow short like that, it's a constant battle. One of the reasons a ZTR leaves a lawn looking nicer.

#4 Alc OFFLINE  



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Posted April 26, 2015 - 06:34 PM

I dug out the owners manual for my 50" deck and it said 4" was max but I never tried even that high . I guess you could set it they and see how much more adjustment there are to get it level at that high

#5 mismith OFFLINE  

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Posted April 26, 2015 - 07:11 PM

I talked with a lot of professional landscapers, they all gave me the same advice when we were trying to establish a nice fescue lawn. They all said "mow it at the highest setting you have". I have followed that advice and it works. We have a beautiful thick green carpet lawn. The higher you mow it, the healthier the fescue is. This is especially true in the drought times. The high grass also shades out invading weeds. A lot of people think if you mow it shorter you don't have to mow as often. Not so, it's just relative to what height you want to maintain. I have people stop by all the time and want to know how they can get a lawn like ours. I tell them, stay on top of it with pre-emergence, feed and seed at the right times, and mow high.

I will play around with the 318 and see how high we can get it. I wasn't really looking for a 318 but just stumbled upon it. It was one of those no brainer, stupid good deals that you can't just walk away from.


#6 superspeedex OFFLINE  


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Posted April 26, 2015 - 07:45 PM

I want to see some pics it sounds like a nice lawn if you cant get a good height you could put 26-12-12s and bigger frount type of thing

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#7 JBRamsey OFFLINE  

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Posted April 26, 2015 - 08:16 PM

mismith is right about keeping fescue high. Especially here in NC. Cut it high and often. And lime, lime, lime, lime in my area.

#8 mismith OFFLINE  

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Posted April 27, 2015 - 09:09 AM

Here are a few pics. from this morning. It is far from perfect but as good as we can do out here in the country. It is Kentucky 31 tall fescue, mowed Sat. @ 4-1/2".

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#9 KennyP OFFLINE  



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Posted April 27, 2015 - 10:23 AM

Nice and green! Hope you don't lose the JD out there!

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#10 tater195 OFFLINE  


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Posted April 27, 2015 - 11:04 AM

Not sure on the 318, never had one. I have done this with a few gt/lts. Bigger tires may cause a deck clearance problem. Adding to the gauge wheel / stripe roller brackets is another way. Some units may develop a rub issue from the deck pulleys being too high, so you might have to do a little of both.


Deck leveling isnt quite as critical when mowing high, but you still need to spend some time to get it as close as possible. Raising one corner will sometimes lower the opposite corner, so you may have to chase it around the block 3 or 4 times before you get it dialed in.

I have 4 2x4s cut at 4.5" to sit the blade tips on to get it close, then pull them out and use 1 as gauge to check height while adjusting.


Make sure your tires are all aired up the same too. Use a tire gauge, not just the old kick it and see if they sound about the same. If it has old tires, check for a hump in the center of the tread. Even with the same psi, one could still have that corner setting a little higher