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Maximizing farmable acreage this spring

XtremeAg’s Chad Henderson finds more farmable acres on his existing land, while Lee Lubbers hopes his existing acres are farmable come springtime.


Chad Henderson is part of a fifth-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.

There is always something to learn with farming. And for Henderson Farms, the tiling project that we did last fall is is continuing to teach us new things about our ground every day. Pattern tiling is not very common in our area of the country, but it’s already proving itself on our farm as we are able to open additional acres that up until this year have been essentially un-farmable. 

We are doing this project with Advanced Drainage Systems on a large farm where a small portion is used as a duck impoundment over the winter. It took only 24 hours from pulling the gate to drain the impoundment and turning the pump on, to completely drain the field. Just a week later we were able to get into the field with equipment and work the ground. In past years, we would wait until April before we would even think about working the ground, and even then, we might not have been able to get in the field. 

The ability to do get the water off the field and start working it in February is a huge deal for our farm. It is a real game changer for us in that it is going to allow us to be able to plant the entire field at the same time. These days we need to be as efficient as possible and if we can save road time for our planter and combine to be able to plant and harvest with one trip to the farm, not to mention the potential yield benefits, then that’s a no brainer for us. 


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.

This winter continues to be very dry so far. We might catch an occasional flurry, but each morning we wake up and it's nothing but brown as far as the eye can see. It’s not very often when fires are a risk in the wintertime in South Dakota but that’s the situation we are in right now heading into spring.  

It’s been a roller coaster of temperatures as well. One day we are at 50° F. and the next day brings below freezing temperatures and -30° F. windchills. It seems like we have not had a week straight of consistent temperatures yet. The huge temperature swings are not good for our wheat, but we seem to be holding on just as we did with our corn and beans over a hotter than usual summer. The crown at the base of the ground is still green so that tells us the plant is still alive, but the moisture situation is going to need to change this spring if we are going to bring this crop to yield.

Seems like all our shop work lately consists of either working on a project until it’s done or waiting for a miscellaneous part to arrive before finishing. On our tender trailer project, we waited 2-3 weeks for basic expanded metal to arrive before we could finally finish our racks. In all our years of farming we’ve never had to wait for expanded metal. It has been a real challenge to get full shipments of steel so far this year. 

With the trailer finally done, we are bringing in our high-speed planter next to start installing a new in-furrow fertilizer system from Capstan Ag. We are just waiting on some new row cleaners that were ordered in June of last year. Yes, I said June! Between shop projects and tweaking our battle plans for the season there is plenty to do. Stay safe everyone.

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