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Farmers experiment with soybeans planted February 19

A dry winter means farmers can begin the planting season early.

XtremeAg’s Matt Miles plants his first 50 acres of soybeans. Kelly Garrett eyes an earlier than usual start, and Kevin Matthews works through supply chain issues as he gets ready for planting.


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

As we made plans this past weekend, I had to hit Google up for some definitions of extreme. Extreme is “furthest from the center or a given point; outermost.” At XtremeAg we sometimes do things just to prove or disprove we can. I texted all my partners and told them my thoughts and one of them said, “If you are going to do it twice, you need to start early,” and one of my planter operators, who is also a landowner and great friend of mine said, “I hate to see you waste money.” You are probably wondering what in the world I was planning to do? 

Two weeks ago I said we were 30 days away from planting. Every year we try to do something that’s unique to my area win or lose, just to see if it can be done. So, on Saturday, February 19, we planted our first bean field in southeast Arkansas. As my team contemplated this crazy idea, Robb Dedman, my crop consultant, asked if we were going to do it on the Vardemen place. I said, “No sir! If we are going to do this, we don’t need to hide it.” Instead of planting early beans on a field that was more or less hidden from public view, we decided to put it all out there and plant on the field right next to the highway. This way, all our friends and neighbors can see if our experiment progresses or takes a nose dive. If we’re going to put our necks on the chopping block, let’s do it for all to see! 

We do think we have a legitimate shot at making this work as long as the rains predicted for this week are not too severe. I hope it works, and I really hope it doesn’t cause a divorce since the field we chose is the farm that my wife grew up on. It’s only 50 acres. If we can’t make it work, then it will be a lesson worth learning. Either way, I’ll have something to talk about, so stay tuned to for updates on our progress. 


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

I had the opportunity to go to Ames, Iowa, last week to meet with the Iowa State Agronomy team. We discussed collaborating on some research trials this season. I’m especially excited about working with them on some stress mitigation trials.

Kelly Garrett's John Deere planter sitting in his Iowa farm shop on a winter February day
Photo credit: XtremeAg

It’s the end of February and Matt Miles has already started planting beans. In a month I will start planting, which will be a week or two earlier than normal. Using stress mitigation products such as Accomplish Max from Agricen, and Shield from Integrated Ag Solutions, both Matt and I are confident we can push our planting date earlier and get a yield bump as a result. 

As many of you know, I’ve been itching to plant soybeans earlier and earlier every year. Last year, I even tried planting 35 acres of soybeans in mid-December, thinking they might get a real early start as soon as winter broke. They didn’t. But you don’t learn unless you try.

A light dusting of snow in February in Iowa
Photo credit: XtremeAg

Other parts of the Midwest have received snow, but we have been very dry so far.  That means we can plant earlier, but I am concerned about the lack of subsoil moisture. I hope to have some moisture before we head to the field.


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.

Our wheat crop is looking good. We have completed one top-dress application already and the next one will hopefully be completed in the next two weeks. We will combine the second application with a herbicide application assuming the weather permits.

It’s been a real busy time. Seems like there is very little time off regardless of the time of year. The shops are full, keeping trucks running as we haul grain and fertilizer. Just about every day another truck comes into the shop for repairs and maintenance. Then, of course, we have our planters being worked on. Two of our corn planters are being updated from the toolbar back. We have pallets of parts sitting everywhere in the shop and sheds. We have a lot of partial shipments as a result of the supply chain issues. It’s very frustrating not getting complete shipments.

Green planter parts sit in cardboard boxes on the floor of Kevin Matthews' North Carolina farm shop
Photo credit: XtremeAg

I had the opportunity to take some of the team to the National Farm Machinery show in Louisville, Kentucky, this past week. It was great to get back to visiting with fellow farmers and agribusiness partners who keep us going through the year, despite the supply chain issues. The show seemed to suffer from supply issues as well as John Deere had no combine and only an 8R tractor from a dealership rather than Deere directly. Fendt was showing off a used combine in their booth. Something you rarely see at the show, but this just shows you how tough it’s been with the supply chain issue challenges everyone is facing.

Xtreme Ag logo is a team of the nation’s top producers who have come together to share their experience, expertise, knowledge, and farming practices with other farmers. Members get access to exclusive content from the team as well as one-on-one support for their own farming operation. Visit for more information.

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