Farmers brave arctic blast

XtremeAg farmers Dan Luepkes, Lee Lubbers and Chad Henderson are battling the historic cold weather as they prep fields and 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.

It has been below 0°F. every morning for the last two weeks. It’s amazing how the freezing temperatures make the office much more appealing. I’m finishing up the last of our cash flow info so we can wrap up the renewal. Also doing some FSA work via email, and I wrapped up my crop insurance selections last week.

In the shop we have the first planter stripped down. This year it gets new gauge wheel arms. We grease our planters every day, but it’s just due to normal wear. Once the first planter is finished, we will switch and move in the second one, pull everything off down to the base row units, and fix anything that’s needed. If in doubt, we always replace it.

We’ve got about 10 loads of soybeans a week moving; they are going more than three hours away to a processor, so we need a fertilizer backhaul to make it pay. With the backhaul, it’s the best paying option, but it slows down the pace. All in all, we’re just into our normal winter groove: taking care of business. Working on equipment, shipping some grain, and trying to stay warm. Before we know it, spring will be here again – at least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Map of South Dakota low temperatures
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

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.

The weather has allowed us to spray herbicide on our wheat. Having both cold and warm days is allowing for nitrogen and herbicide application. On the warm days, we apply herbicide and on the colder days when the ground is frozen, we apply nitrogen.

One of our focuses now is improving our drainage infrastructure. Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) and Reid Contracting were on our farm to look into a tile project last week. For the drain tile to work, we need a lift station for a 30-acre area of low ground. The wet areas have prevented us from growing a crop in the past and we need to explore drainage options. Having the wet areas tiled will allow for planting the whole farm in one trip. It will also increase the APH for the farm.

snowmobile in the dark
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.

It’s an old-fashioned winter in northern Illinois with over 2 feet of snow on the ground and a wind chill of -50°F. this week. It just means everything takes longer in the cold – plowing snow, feeding cattle. Everything is twice as hard, but the weird thing is I kind of enjoy it. The cold, clean fresh air makes you feel alive. I even went snowmobiling one day this week.

Part of farming is taking time to appreciate this beautiful land that provides our families with a future. Count your blessings, there are many.

Map of Illinois minimum temperatures
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

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