Swamped with trial data as decision deadlines approach

XtremeAg farmers Dan Luepkes, Chad Henderson, Lee Lubbers, and Melissa Yocum share their thoughts as the new year starts. Meetings look different than usual but are still important for operations. Learning never stops in agriculture.

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.

On the road again, we drove to North Carolina to share new ideas with our XtremeAg group. It’s always good to share new ideas, what worked and, more importantly, what didn’t. It’s great to be a part of a like-minded group of progressive growers on the cutting edge. I always learn new ideas and come away with great information.

Back at home, each piece of equipment is going through the shop for repair and maintenance. We are also looking at new products for this upcoming season. We are always tweaking our crop program trying to unlock tied up nutrients and yield.

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.

It’s the meeting time of the year. About every day we are meeting to plan for the season. Our meetings have been focused on planting fertility and data management. Data from the 2020 harvest is being used to guide decisions for this season.

We are filling corn contracts while getting the bins cleaned out. Planters are in the shop for maintenance to prep for corn and soybean planting.

We are working to clear back the edges of fields to maintain field borders. It is something that not every farmer does, but we have found that there are many benefits to keeping the field border cleaned. It makes it easier to plant, spray, and harvest on the edges when we keep it clean.

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 the winter grind. January is the month we kick off shop projects. Right now we are running our trucks through annual maintenance routines. We’ve been putting wheel seals in and of course keeping the aluminum and stainless steel polished, so they look nice and shiny.

Red semi getting washed in the winter
Photo credit: XtremeAg

I’m finishing our chemical purchases for 2021 season up this week. It takes a little time running through the programs, but we’re rewarded for putting in the time now. Next week I’ll start the loan renewal process with our lender.

The grain prices look a lot better than a few months ago. It’s nice to be able to take advantage of this rally before they eventually swing back the other way.

The weather is all over the board. It’s been the driest winter in several years so far. You know the weather is crazy when some places in Texas have gotten more snow this winter than we have in south-central South Dakota. Historically, February is wetter than January for us. It would be nice to get some snow for the winter wheat.

Take care, stay warm, be safe.

Melissa Yocum - Oregon, Illinois

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.

Everyone I have been visiting with around here has been busy for the last month reconciling last year’s information while making plans for next year’s season. We often try to take what we learned this year and apply it to next year. But with so many new corn hybrids, new bean varieties, new companion products, even new chemistries being brought to market – including new fungicides from BASF – it can be a daunting job studying & deciphering all the field trial and plot information.

My advice would be to look at information from your area or for soil types similar to yours. Look for information from farm management practices most like your farm (population, planting date, etc.), look for products that can show consistent results for multiple years and compare them to products you already use for reference, but most of all ask questions and look for knowledgeable folks to help you out! This time of year can be overwhelming, but there are plenty of people like me out there to help you. Take care, and enjoy some downtime with family and friends!

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