Learning from large variations within a field

XtremeAg.farm farmers Lee Lubbers, Chad Henderson, Melissa Yocum, and Dan Luepkes share their harvest updates. The late-season dry weather has impacted production and created some dangerous conditions for combines. The XtremeAg team is seeing large variations in yield within the same fields.

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 has been very dry and very windy in South Dakota during harvest, and we’ve got six combines running full-time in our beans right now. The combines around this area are kicking up a lot of dust as a result of the dry and windy weather, and combine fires have been a major issue this fall. A good friend of ours lost their machine a few weeks ago. Then they had a neighbor who came over with an identical machine, and a few hours later it caught fire and was lost, too – all in the same field. It’s been so bad that we had to stop harvesting for a few days when the wind speeds reached 40 mph, as the risk of fire was too high. We blow off our combines and heads daily this time of year.

Yields are respectable to good. We are seeing very large swings within the same field based on soil types. The erratic weather has shown us the value of good crop management, and we’ve learned a lot of new things from our management practices and trials this year.

We are also seeding winter wheat into bone-dry ground. All of our wheat will be no-till into soybean stubble this fall. Hopefully, we get a good shot of moisture before the ground freezes up so our wheat can vernalize/germinate before dormancy.

Everyone, be safe during this busy harvest season.

Corn harvest on Chad Henderson's Alabama farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

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 wrapping up corn harvest, and overall it was a pretty good year for our corn. It was by far the wettest corn harvest we’ve ever had due to all the hurricanes and tropical storms that have come through the Gulf area this fall.

We are getting into our soybeans and so far, they have been a little above average. Our double-crop soybeans are getting close to being harvest-ready, and we will run two combines in those fields very soon.

We’re getting ready to plant wheat at the end of October; all of the soil samplings are finalized, and we’ve put out our lime in preparation.

Melissa Yocum - Oregon, Illinois

Illinois farmer Melissa Yocum
Photo credit: XtremeAg
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.

Happy fall! This is my favorite time of year! After fighting the cold, damp weather for the last couple weeks, sunshine and warm temperatures are just what we needed to finish up the bean harvest and push this corn to maturity.

We are well ahead of our normal harvest schedule with combines rolling hard to complete soybean harvest and switching over to corn already. Overall, bean yields in our area were disappointing, to say the least, lower than we even expected due to the very dry August.

The few corn plots that have been harvested are performing well with higher averages than what we expected, definitely building anticipation to get picking and see what kind of corn yields are out there.

Soybean trial
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.

Beans are finally done! Good thing, as I was getting tired of digging rocks out of the bean head. Harvesting beans seems to be more stressful than picking corn this year.

We are just a few days into corn harvest, and we’ve been seeing 150-bushel swings within the same field. Soil type and fertility are very apparent this year as well as the importance of fungicide applications. I’ve never been happier to have irrigation since it will pay big dividends this year due to the exceptionally dry August.

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