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Late frost and dry weather cause crop damage

XtremeAg’s Chad Henderson, Dan Luepkes, and Lee Lubbers are staying busy. Chad’s combine is about to hit the field for wheat harvest, Dan is having to dodge frosts, and Lee is getting 100°F. days.

Chad Henderson - Madison, Alabama

A fifth-generation farmer, Chad farms over 8,000 acres with his dad, son, and nephew as a part of Henderson Farms in northern Alabama. Chad grows corn, soybeans, and wheat in what had been mostly a dryland environment until 2012 when he added the first irrigation systems to Henderson Farms.

Our combines are getting ready for wheat harvest and we should get started this week. It appears to be a pretty good crop, but only the final yields will tell the real story. We will be harvesting a few wheat trials that we conducted with Nachurs and Concept AgriTek as well, and we look forward to going through the data and learning something new for next year. Our soybean planters will follow behind the wheat harvest as we get our double-crop beans planted.

We’ve got corn in the V7-V10 range, and corn that is just emerging in the river bottoms. We’ve started making Y-drop nitrogen applications on our later corn last week.

This past week we received 2 inches of rain, but we still have all our pivots running full-time. In our area of northern Alabama, we need to always stay ahead with our irrigation since our heavy red soil dries out very quickly.

We are taking some time after wheat harvest to mend some drainage problems in a few fields by installing drain tile from Advanced Drainage Systems. We are excited to start this project. It’s something that’s been needed for a while – it will be a major help to control water drainage on the farm.

Dan Luepkes - Oregon, Illinois

A fifth-generation Illinois farmer, Dan was raised on a small, 200-acre dairy farm. After the family got out of milking cows, he picked up a few small farms and continued to grow, eventually saving enough money to buy challenging, low-productivity, sandy farms that no one else wanted.

This appears to be the year of late frosts. After losing some beans to frost, almost a month later we got hit again. This time the beans are fine, but 100% of our corn acres have frost damage. The corn will pull through it. The damage looks like you burned it with nitrogen and then put a dose of 2-4-D on them. It’s going to be a week before it grows out of it. Areas 20 miles north of us got hit much worse, and it looks like some might have to replant there.

As I thought may be the case, the pre-emergence herbicide application looks to have failed in many of our fields. There was just not enough rain to activate them. We have started our postapplications of herbicides, and unfortunately, there really isn’t any rain in our forecast, so any residual we put on now might not work either. We are currently sitting at one of the driest springs ever at our location in northern Illinois.

We cut our rye, chopped it, and then planted corn on the same 40 acres all in one day last week. We use the 40 acres to grow our feed for our cow-calve operation. Unfortunately, as dry as it is, the corn is going to struggle.

We are also cutting and baling waterways this month. June is the busiest month on our farm, but it’s light for over 16 hours, and I need to take advantage of the extra light. You can get a lot done in 16 hours. Farming can be a frustrating and bumpy ride at times, but I never get tired of looking at the lush pastures and green rows of corn this time of year. It is why I love this life.

Lee Lubbers - Gregory, South Dakota

Lee and his brother began farming in the 1980s during some of the toughest times for farming, but the lessons they learned still shape them today. 

One thing you can always count on in our neck of the woods is that the weather is never boring. We went from needing a hoodie or coat for nearly the entire month of May with most daytime temperatures hovering in the 50s (°F.) and 60s. There was frosts on multiple mornings, but as soon as June rolled in, our temperatures shot right up to the 90°F. to 100°F. range. We were lucky we didn’t lose any corn or soybeans, but others to our north and east were not as fortunate.

As is the case for most of the heartland, our moisture levels are far less than normal, but again, we’re lucky to have fared better than most areas around us. The 100°F. days that are supposed to come this week will use up a lot of the moisture we have on our winter wheat crop. The crop is currently heading right now and already using a lot of moisture per day. We will start spray applications this week to prevent head scab.

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