Extreme weather impacting farms nationwide

Record cold weather is impacting farm operations across the United States. XtremeAg’s Kevin Matthews, Kelly Garrett, and Matt Miles share how the weather is changing everything from planting dates to grain hauling.

Kelly Garrett - Arion, Iowa

A fifth-generation farmer, Kelly Garrett farms corn, soybeans, and winter wheat in western Iowa.

On February 16 at 6 a.m. it was -30° F., the coldest I’ve ever seen in my lifetime! The entire county’s weather has been colder than normal creating difficulties and unexpected expenses for many to handle. The cattle still need to be fed daily no matter the temperature, but hauling corn has stopped as the grain elevator legs are unable to operate in these super cold conditions even though the trucks can still run.

Iowa minimum low temperature map
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

The planters have not moved out of the shop and we are installing new blades on the drill and three of our four planters. We are hoping these new serrated blades, when combined with the new closing wheels from Integrated Ag Solutions that we installed last week, will do a better job of cutting through our no-till residue to create the ideal seedbed this spring.

I participated in an XtremeAg webinar last week with my grain marketing consultant, Jarod Creed. There was lot of good information on using crop insurance to insure revenue instead of yields. It’s an approach that has changed our view of how we buy crop insurance each year, and I am excited to be able to share it with XtremeAg members.

Matt Miles - McGehee, Arkansas

Matt is a fourth-generation farmer in southeast Arkansas who grows corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton.

So far in our part of the country, 2021 has said, “2020, hold my beer.” We pretty much have been completely shut down due to snow and ice over the last seven days. Typically in southern Arkansas, we expect a half inch of the white stuff once per year. By the next day, it’s always melted and gone. This past week had anywhere from 10 to 12 inches of snow sitting on the ground. To my knowledge, this is the biggest, longest-lasting storm we’ve had. Southeast Arkansas is not prepared for this type of snowfall and these record-low temperatures.

Snowfall total map for 2021 in Arkansas
Photo Credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

We had two semis get stuck at the grain bin after being loaded up with corn we were trying to haul. So we are shut down until it thaws out.

We had every intention of planting some corn by the last week of February, but it is now pushed into March. We’d like to get some corn in during the first part of March so we can harvest it during the last week of July and capture any early premiums that are available. Our focus at the moment is putting final touches on the planters and making sure all fertilizer is on-site and ready when we begin. Good luck to all and, hopefully, the next time we talk I will be pulling a planter.

Kevin Matthews - East Bend, North Carolina

Kevin and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville.

Rain, turning to freezing rain, followed by power losses has been the norm around here the past few weeks. Needless to say, our fields are very wet. The small grain we planted looks as bad as I can remember due to saturated soils, and we haven’t been able to get into the fields to top-dress due to the wetness. The next two weeks don’t look any better. The rain and ice have made hauling grain extremely slow, but it has allowed us plenty of shop work time. The wife and I did slip off to Myrtle Beach to enjoy a 65°F. walk on the beach for a couple of days and to slow down briefly, but then came home to nothing but ice!

XtremeAg has kept me very busy sharing information with our members and on Zoom calls with partners preparing numerous product trials for 2021. We are very excited about the learning opportunities we’ll share this year. We recorded a Zoom video this week with Pentair Hypro about proper nozzle selection for PWM nozzle bodies such as those used in the John Deere Exact Apply system. It is currently available on XtremeAg.farm. I’m still learning a lot myself.

Fuel and fertilizer prices are keeping us on our toes updating budgets trying to lock in products and assure availability for products. Hopefully, before my next update, we can get into fields and get the small grain headed in a better direction, but it is very doubtful that early planting is going to happen this year.

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