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Arrival of tar spot alters plans

A roller coaster of weather continues to take field crops to the brink of disaster and back. Plans change as pests and disease arrive earlier than expected.

Dan Luepkes – Oregon, Illinois

Dan Luepkes farms in Oregon, Illinois, with his son. Together they farm 1,800 acres of dryland and irrigated corn and soybeans, along with hay. He uses subsurface drip irrigation and pivots on his irrigated crops. He also manages a 200-head cattle operation. 

Sometimes plans change. I find myself always changing my mind on things. I’ve even started to plan that I will change my mind into my planning. I know it sounds ridiculous. Every day a new problem arises: Then I have to reassess, evaluate, and make a decision. The latest is change in the timing of our fungicide application. I prefer R1 fungicide timing on corn, for several reasons. Most importantly, I don’t want to mess with pollination. I like to leave that plant alone during this critical time. I also like to add a few fertility products at R1, but the current situation has changed.

Tar spot has reared its ugly head in our area. This disease is way too costly to ignore, or wait on preventive steps, so we decided to roll out a fungicide application at VT or even a little earlier. We’ve also got a case of rootworm beetles that needs to be treated immediately. They have shown up earlier this year and they will be clipping silks, so the plan changed once again. This crop looks good and is very valuable at today’s prices, so we’re going to do whatever it takes to maximize its potential.

A corn rootworm beetle on an Illinois farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Chad Henderson – Madison, Alabama

Chad Henderson is a part of a five-generation farming operation in Madison, Alabama. Henderson Farms operates over 8,000 acres of dryland and irrigated corn, dryland soybeans, wheat, and dryland and irrigated double-crop soybeans. When not farming, Chad can be found carrying on another proud family tradition as a drag racer for Henderson Racing.

Chad Henderson installs tile on his Alabama farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Advanced Drainage System finished up installing the last of the drain tile, and the lift stations are all operational and ready to drain water out of a couple of the most problematic fields. Drain tile is not very common in our region, so we are excited to see how it changes the productivity of these fields. It has been a learning experience, and the ADS team helped us along the way.

Tiling in Alabama
Photo credit: XtremeAg

As soon as we finished the installation we got right into those fields and planted our double-crop beans. The first field has already emerged and is looking pretty good at about 2 inches high. We’ve been awfully wet here this year… it has definitely slowed down the pace of fieldwork as we wait for things to dry out.  

Double crop soybeans in Alabama in July 2021
Photo credit: XtremeAg

The first spraying is complete on our soybean and corn fungicide. There is not any disease flaring right now, but there are some stink bugs that we need to take care of. It looks to be a good dryland corn crop and the irrigated corn is average. Rain showers are in the forecast again this week.

Lee Lubbers – Gregory, South Dakota

Lee Lubbers of Gregory, South Dakota, grew up in the farming tradition, and remembers well using leftover scholarship money as the down payment for his first tractor and rent for 200 acres. Today, he farms more than 17,000 acres of dryland soybeans, corn, and wheat. Lubbers says one of the most important things to him is to always be learning and challenging himself to build an operation and a legacy that the next generation can be proud of.

The weather in 2021 is a wild ride. This year doesn’t cease to disappoint when it comes to weather variety. The first five days of July were over 100°F., and we were officially running out of steam on our row crops. The corn looked like onions and didn’t want to unroll by the 4th. Our soybeans were waiting to flower, just sitting dormant, and starting to turn more grey than green. Luckily, around July 6 we got a small rain and some cooler temperatures. Since then, temperatures have been in the 70°F. to 80°F. range, which is well below normal, and we’ve even gotten a couple more rains. Some spots have received close to 2 inches of rain in the past few weeks. Our crops have a fighting chance again. Looking at the forecast, we know it will get hot and dry again, so we’re hoping to get another rain this week before it shuts off.

Combine harvesting wheat in South Dakota
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We started wheat harvest and had to stop because of the rain. We don’t mind having to hold because of the rain; most of our wheat is barely ready and some fields won’t be ready until early next week. Without the rain, we don’t have a chance at having a fall harvest. This week’s break in the dryness and heat could make all the difference between a decent crop or just running over it for crop insurance. We don’t have moisture down in the profile due to last year’s late season drought. Our corn is just tasseling now, and soybeans are flowering like mad this week.

Our first fields of wheat cut are very encouraging. Quality is good and yields are better than expected for being so dry. Our fertility and management are paying off on our wheat crop again this year. All of our corn trials are completed for XtremeAg, and it’s a lot of them. Our soybean trials are partially done, and the rest will happen around R3. We are still in the fight in South Dakota. Stay safe, everyone.

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