Forks to “Work” Earth for Rocks & Stumps?


Jul 27, 2014
Cheboygan, Mi
Searched this one up and haven’t found it. What is your advice on using forks to work the earth/ground to loosen up to be able to better utilize a grapple to pick up the stumps and rocks/boulders afterwards? Would it be too much on the unit due to the possible spring tgey May have? I have an L3200. I have never used these forks since I bought them w the unit in ‘14. They are literally still new. Just not certain how hard they’d be on the unit. I know ideally it’s best to use a skid steer or mini excavator but thought since these are paid for maybe give them a shot?

Thank you in advance!


Well-known member
Lifetime Member

M7040, Nuffield 465
Oct 6, 2012
Williamstown Ontario Canada
There have been previous posts on this forum of owners who have come to grief with forks.

Consider the fact that the relief valve for the loader is only in operation providing protection when you have a loader control valve calling for fluid flow. Once the valve is in the neutral position and the loader is not moving, the relief valve can do nothing to protect your machine.

With a FEL whose bucket can rotate back to the point of almost being a trough, there are extra linkages which make this possible. Kubota cautions against tilting this bucket forward and using the cutting edge to bulldoze as the linkages which permit the bucket to rotate far back magnify the forces experienced when the bucket is used tilted forward.

Forks, being much longer than a bucket, greatly magnify the forces experienced in the hydraulic cylinders and bucket frame.


North Idaho Wolfman

Staff member
Lifetime Member

L3450DT-GST, Woods FEL, B7100 HSD, FEL, 60" SB, 743 Bobcat with V2203, and more
Jun 9, 2013
Sandpoint, ID
Yea not a good option as it can create some huge negative forces on a loader.

One really good option is a three point ripper to break it up, they are cheap.

Here is a good example as this model has a shear pin, so hitting a solid immovable rock will just shear the pin without damaging the tractor, just buy a bag of pins and have wrenches handy.
I mark where it sheared the pin then dig that up with a BH.


Well-known member

Apr 2, 2019
I've never had a problem using a real forklift to 'skewer the soil' to break up the ground around stumps and rocks. Shallow angled thrusts, more parallel to the ground NOT 'poking ' from above like stabbing ...
It's a 'learning curve thing', go slow and see what happens NEVER force anything though.




Feb 5, 2016
Ayer, MA
I had good luck using the forks to dig trenches. Narrow bucket with no sides. Careful how far you jam the blades in the dirt. Getting under big rock or roots can lift back of tractor or blades stuck in ground.

As other said keep the angle shallow.


New member

M7060 Cab
Nov 21, 2018
Middle TN
If we are really talking boulders and large rocks, then no, you won't have any luck with forks and it will break something on your loader or tractor. Boulders is subjective so I would classify a boulder as something larger than 18-24" in diameter.

I did however just recently rent a mini ex and used it to pull up some very large boulders, some as big as 6' across. Some probably weighed as much as 2500-3000lb. A lot were in the 1000-1500 lb range I am guessing. Once loose, I did use my MX5800 and forks to move as many of the wide ones as I could assuming I had the capacity to lift them. Some I had to just push on the ground with my bucket. The very large ones I left for the dozer guy who pushed them when he came to put in my driveway.

If any of the rocks are wide and thin, the forks are much easier to use than the grapple to pick them up.

If you have a lot to do, I would spend the $400-500 for a day and rent a mini ex to loosen anything I really wanted to and then use the tractor to move them. You will save a huge amount of time with the Mini Ex as you can rotate and get to many locations from one spot. Plus, it is amazing how much power the Bobcat E32 I rented had to dig and pull up the rocks. Nothing you could do with your tractor.

Worst problem with removing them is you will need a lot of dirt to backfill them. Luckily for me I had my driveway cut in and had all of the topsoil from it.

Some of what I did below. We have a lot of rock in our area. Some of these were sticking up maybe 8-12", but I wanted to be able to mow over all of this around the old barn.
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Active member

M 6040
Oct 26, 2010
Cavendish Vermont
I have used the forks to break up compacted dirt by shallowly dragging the forks. I don't stab or deeply poke them into the ground.
I have also used the fork/grapple to remove large rocks by sliding the forks down beside the rock and just "jiggling" the forks to loosen the rock, then clamping it with the grapple and lifting the rock vertically.
This has worked for large 3 to 4 foot diameter rocks with almost no straining.


Jul 27, 2014
Cheboygan, Mi
Thanks for all the info! As far as side goes I have oodles of 2’ boulders/rocks. Average probably 3’. Some 5’. Numerous 6’.

Ohio Workman, inhace seen these at Ytactor Supply but didn’t think they’d nearly hold up to the stumps and rocks. I think I will give the tool a try.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Thank you!