Tuning up equipment, trials, and populations

XtremeAg’s Chad Henderson, Lee Lubbers, and Dan Luepkes are ready to take on this year’s planting season. Weather has delayed planting for Chad, springtime weather is starting for Lee, and Dan is getting his pivot installed for this year’s crop.

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.

Planting has been delayed due to more rain that came in last week. As of Thursday, we had 2 inches of rain with the expected total at 5 inches. Two weeks ago, we had 4 inches of rain. It seems that as soon as the fields start getting dry, more rain comes. We have everything ready to go for planting, so now we’re just waiting for the weather to cooperate.

Map of Alabama precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

We are using this downtime to get organized in the shop and clean up. Inventory is being taken of our parts shelf and nutrient totes and cases are being sorted according to their crop use and timing of usage. Products that will be used first will be in the front of the shop. All of our trial work products are getting grouped together. We are also double-checking that all protocols for the tests are in our hands. This alone saves from having to track someone down the day of planting to ensure the product is being used correctly.

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 feeling like spring finally. Our wheat has broken dormancy and looks like it survived the winter. We had the driest winter since the winter of 2012. Then we received more moisture in eight days than we’ve had since early August. First, we received .50 to 1.00 inch of rain with a foot of wet snow, then eight days later 1.70 to 2.10 inches of rain. It’s awesome to get some moisture back in the profile, and the wheat is loving it. But if you go 40 miles to the west, they didn’t get much precipitation at all. We were on the very edge of a large system.

Map of South Dakota precipitation
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

We are tweaking and tuning up equipment. Our trucks are polished, and we are finishing waxing the tractors. Before we know it, we will have the planters out in the yard, and we’ll be testing seed delivery for any bugs. It sounds like calving has gone well for guys in the area. I see plenty of baby calves lying around catching some rays on the sunny days. It’s nice to see the signs of spring showing up. Stay safe everyone.

Lee Lubbers black semi truck
Photo credit: XtremeAg

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.

We worked with Farmers Edge this week to get our planting prescriptions put together. It’s rare that I leave a script the same as it was in the prior year; we have another year of yield data to look at so there are always changes. We are leaning toward decreasing populations in the poorer areas to a number that is less than one might expect. We have been doing a lot of population trials for several years now, and we are now able to put that information to work for us to increase ROI and reduce costs.

An irrigation pivot is unloaded from a white semi truck in a corn field
Photo credit: XtremeAg

A truck with a new pivot from Valley arrived this week. We are replacing a 50-year-old pivot with a new state-of-the-art system. We’ll talk about the new technology this season on XtremeAg. Part of the old pivot is being moved to the corner of the field that is getting missed with water. We see 100-bushel swings or more on sands with or without water. It’s a big ROI for us to have the ability to control our water inputs on lighter soil.

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