Shop work, office time, and getting ready for new challenges
XtremeAg’s Lee Lubbers, Chad Henderson, Melissa Yocum, and Dan Luepkes are spending time in the office and shop as they get ready for planting season.
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.
Winter wonderland, or just plain old cold and snowy? Either way, we’ve been getting some smaller snows this week and normal temps.
The shop projects keep plugging along and we are working our way through the maintenance and upgrade work on all of our tractors and trucks. We’ll bring the planters in next week and start stripping those down for preplanting inspections and maintenance.
The office work never ends this time of year. It’s balance sheet season, renewal time, and time to start with FSA sign-ups for the new farm program. We are also making lists of all the new things we want to experiment with in the field this year. We’re always big on testing, and this year will be no exception. Never a shortage of things to do around here. Stay warm and stay safe.
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.
We are still in the middle of spraying our wheat to get out nitrogen applications. Wet weather has stopped us for a few days now, but there’s always plenty going on in the shop.
Planter repairs are halfway complete. One planter is finished and the other one is coming in. It will go through the same process as the first planter; we’ll check for anything that needs to be replaced or fixed. Disc openers and bushings are being replaced.
Our seed orders are starting to arrive. As they come in we are checking that the shipment sheet matches what is delivered. We store the seed in our warehouse in the order we plan to use it; this gives us easy access and allows for less rearranging when planters are rolling in the field.
Melissa Yocum - Oregon, Illinois
Melissa grew up on a traditional family farm raising calves, hogs, hens, and farming a couple hundred acres. Now, she operates her own farm in northern Illinois and runs her own seed business, MY Seed Company, through which she has been independently selling seed and fertilizer for 20-plus years.
A farmer is an ultimate optimist who takes risks daily.
We take the ultimate risk of laying out millions of dollars in land and equipment to put the crop in the ground; investing in the inputs to grow a crop not knowing how much it will earn, or how much it will yield. A crop that can be wiped out by Mother Nature in a windstorm, rain event/lack of rain, bugs, or disease. Not much we do comes with any guarantee. We risk our livelihood season after season in the quest to feed the world and hopefully afford to live life and farm another year.
This is the time of year farmers make plans for all the inputs we need to purchase just so we can take the risk and hopefully end up with a profit at the end.
Fertilizer, seed, environmentally-friendly weed/pest control programs, equipment additions, upgrades and maintenance, crop insurance, data services, marketing services... There are so many ways to spend and possibly overspend, minimizing your profits.
What is your profit goal? $50 per acre? $100 per acre? $200?? How are you making decisions to help guarantee that you make your goal? You have to begin with the end in mind and always try to have profit goals in mind when making decisions for the upcoming season’s challenges.
Be sure to also enjoy some downtime and doing things you love.
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.
Office work! I don’t sit well, but part of farming is sitting in the office spending time going over last season’s yield and trial data, and new soil test results.
I am always searching for that missing link, the missing nutrient, looking for what was the limiting factor to reaching my goals.
Sometimes I get caught up in the new ideas, new products, and practices. I have to step back and look at what works on my farm and then decide which acres I will put to the test with new things. This last year I burned corn with a new product and killed some other corn with high rates as I experimented. It’s how I learn. So I sit, I read, I analyze. I think of what is coming next, what I can try new for this upcoming season. For me, it’s fun and exciting at times to reach for the unreachable.
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