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Harvesting crops and knowledge

XtremeAg’s Matt Miles and Kevin Matthews are in the field with their combines, while Kelly Garrett hopes to get to the bottom of a maturation issue in one of his contest fields.

Kelly Garrett - Arion, Iowa

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

I’ve always said that our NCGA contest fields are really our R&D fields, where we try a host of things to push yield. Well, we scouted one of our contest fields last week and found that the corn is maturing faster than we want. Many of the ears are already denting. The problem is, we don’t know why. We’ve sent ear, tissue, and soil samples to Jason Schley at Next Level Ag this week to run tests in order to determine what is causing the early maturity. Once we know the cause, we will share it with our XtremeAg members. As always, our goal is to learn something that can make us better farmers next season.

That said, we were very encouraged by what we saw on our production corn. We pulled ears from our Integra 105-day (5529SSRIB) field last week and were very impressed with the kernel counts and ear size. All the ears we pulled measured 18×44. Even more exciting is seeing these types of numbers in a corn-on-corn field.

I listened to my XtremeAg partner, Kevin Matthews, who farms at ground zero for disease, and I did a second fungicide application on our R5 beans after we did the initial pass at R1. We are seeing a lot of sudden death and white mold in our area, but our fields are all staying clean as a result of this second pass, we believe.

We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather this summer. We’ve had some hot and dry spells when the non-irrigated corn started to roll up, but we seem to be getting enough rain on a regular basis to keep everything on track. As a result, this is shaping up to be an above-average year for our corn and soybeans. Of course, the season isn’t over yet.

Matt Miles - McGehee, Arkansas

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

John Deere combine harvesting in Arkansas
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We are exactly where we want to be this week, shelling corn! We have felt so blessed as corn yields have been 20 to 40 bushels better than the ear counts we did before harvest. This means we did something right as we explored new ways to improve test weight using the ideas and techniques that my fellow XtremeAg owners recommended. No doubt, having access to the methods and techniques used by some of the best farmers in the country has contributed to our bottom line.

Matt Miles harvests in Arkansas with John Deere equipment
Photo credit: XtremeAg

All our other crops look good as well, and I’m thinking we’ll harvest corn, soybeans, and rice at the same time next week. We hope the rice and soybeans will follow our elevated corn yields. It’s been another tough year with weather. We started out great, and then had to deal with severe flooding this spring. But we’ve managed the crops correctly and as a result, we are in a much better position than we expected to be in at harvest.

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.

Tropical Storm Fred made landfall last week in Florida and worked its way up to the west of us, but the outer bands brought some good rains that really helped the soybeans and later the planted corn in most areas of North Carolina. However, the mountain counties were not as lucky; they were hit hard by heavy rains and flooding.

Kevin Matthews' John Deere combine head in the shop
Photo credit: XtremeAg

The past week has been busy. The combines are in the shop, and we’re going over them and the corn heads in detail, verifying that all our adjustments and settings are correct for harvest. We are starting corn harvest today. It is our second season using the Estes XPR2 concaves and grates. We had a lot of success last year with the XPR2 concaves and learned a lot that will be applied this harvest season. After an entire season of hard work and new trials, we have a lot to share with members. Good luck to all of you, and stay safe.

Kevin Matthews John Deere combine sits outside the shop
Photo credit: XtremeAg

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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