Signs of spring put an end to a long strange winter

XtremeAg Lee Lubbers, Dan Luepkes, and Chad Henderson are getting ready for the spring weather. As planting season is about to begin, shop time is finishing up and vacations are wrapping up.

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. 

It’s been a wild weather ride. On March 9, we hit 76°F. The next day it snowed 5 inches. Then we go right back into the 30°F. to 40°F. range, which is normal for this time of year. The winter wheat is just starting to break dormancy with the recent warm spike. It looks like it survived the winter even though it has been unusually dry since last August.

Planters are through the shop. We have one of the air seeders folded out in the shop; we’ll give it a hard look and check over everything on it. It is due for new gauge wheels. So we get to pop off 72 gauge wheels and pull them apart for new tires. The blades, seed boots, etc., all look good.

We are moving some soybeans and our next corn contracts hit in April/May.

We hauled in all of our starter fertilizer for soybeans before the load limits hit. On fields where we don’t spread, we run fertilizer through our air seeders as we seed soybeans. We just keep working on projects and before we know it, spring will officially be here to stay.

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.

Some weeks you don’t get much done. We had our Corn Warriors TV show meeting this week in Indy; The Podfathers were there, too. As always, there is a lot of fun and great information when getting together with other like-minded growers.

With the different things we are involved in, we get to experience agriculture all over the U.S. I always learn something and gain new friends and experiences through these different groups and farming styles. I would encourage anyone who has an opportunity to be in a group like XtremeAg to take that leap and learn from others.

We also took a few days after our meeting for some much-needed vacation. I feel guilty when I’m away, but it’s a needed break to reset and appreciate home. I did cheat and make a few phone calls to inquire about a few bulls that we need for our cow herd. I like to buy a group that has been raised together, seems to be less fighting that way. Spring is coming fast. Start your engines everyone!

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.

Chad Henderson's red soil
Photo credit: XtremeAg

All of our planter parts arrived, and planters are now ready for the field. We could’ve been planting last week, but we decided to wait due to cool rain in the forecast. The weather this week will determine when our planting season will begin.

I use the straw to determine how hard the soil is. In the strip-tilled area, the soil straw can go almost all the way down (about 10 inches), while in the areas outside of the strip-tilled area, you can see that the soil just a few inches down is rock hard. It is the challenge of farming with Red Clay. It turns into pottery fast.

A straw test run on an Alabama farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

The strip freshener is being run in front of the planter to help reduce the load of liquid fertilizer toted on the planters. Tillage work and burndown are going on ahead of the planters as well. Have a safe season!

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