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Checking in on wheat crops in Alabama and South Dakota

XtremeAg Farmers Chad Henderson and Lee Lubbers take final steps to prepare for planting corn and soybeans while tending to their young wheat crop.


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.

Our wheat is coming out of dormancy, and we are halfway through putting our second shot of nitrogen on it. It’s been a day-by-day process with regular rains holding us up from finishing. Hoping this weather pattern will break to allow us to finish our nitrogen application and get our planters in the field.

Map of Alabama precipitation
Iowa Environmental Mesonet

The rainy days have allowed us the shop time to upgrade all our planting tractors with some new hardware. Based on the experience of my XtremeAg colleagues, we took the step of installing new 360 Yield Center liquid nitrogen tanks. I am really excited about the ability to carry more fertilizer and increase the number of acres we can cover every day. The side location of the tanks on the tractor will also help balance the weight better as compared with having a tank mounted on the front of the tractor. The high cost of inputs means we need to be as efficient as possible this year when planting, and I believe changing out our tanks will help increase our efficiency.

Chad Henderson tanks installed on John Deere tractor
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We are pulling the electric drive planters into the shop yard to ensure everything is ready to go. With the electric drive planters, we can simulate planting while the planter is sitting still at the shop. In doing so, we can check the singulation of each row unit by changing the seeding population and speed. We spend an entire day going one row unit at a time checking the calibration of each. It saves us time in the field knowing it was checked before the first seed goes in the ground.


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.

Spring may have sprung a few days early last week, and we are still as brown as we were last November. We received barely any snow this winter. The ground is very dry, and we are now at risk of fires in South Dakota. This is not the norm for mid-March in our part of the country.

Map of March 2022 drought conditions in South Dakota
U.S. Drought Monitor

Our wheat has broken dormancy and looks surprisingly good considering the dry weather and the wild 60ºF. to 90ºF. temperature swings we’ve had to endure this winter. The wheat is just starting to get a green tinge from the road but when you walk out into the field and start crawling around and digging, you can see that the crown is healthy and green, and the leaves are just starting to push out after being burnt off by the cold temperatures.

We are hauling corn now from bin sites that are on roads without posted weight limits. One nice thing is we don’t have to deal with road salt and there are no bugs yet, so our trucks are staying cleaner longer. I’m a big fan of clean trucks.

We are starting to haul in all our chemicals and our semi load of corn seed just showed up. We will have a few other smaller deliveries coming for seed, in-furrow, and foliar testing that we’ll conduct as part of the XtremeAg group. These days, it seems like getting everything into place is the hard part and being in the field is easy.

Lee Lubbers red semi truck
Photo credit: XtremeAg

It was great to get out of town for a few days to attend the Commodity Classic in New Orleans earlier this month. We had meetings with multiple companies and were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning as our meetings started before the show did. Between meetings, speaking on multiple educational panels and creating new content, XtremeAg was busy while at the show. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with other farmers and look at some of the new innovations on display. Of course, traveling there and back was much less fun with the numerous flight delays that everyone experienced. It was good to get home and get ready for planting.

XtremeAg Nachurs panel at Commodity Classic 2022
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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