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Relentless heat is taking a toll on crops

Weeks of excessive temperatures are putting the stress on XtremeAg farmers in South Dakota and Alabama.


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 winter wheat is all harvested. We are pretty happy with the wheat crop this year, and we think our final yield number is a strong to win the XtremeAg wheat wager we have going with all of our XtremeAg farmers. Looks like Lee and Kelly will be the last to harvest their wheat. The winner will be announced at the AgPhd field day at the end of July.

Valley irrigation pivot waters a green Alabama corn field in June 2022 on Chad Henderson's farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We finally are done putting all our double-crop soybeans in the ground, and it feels good to finally be out of the planter. We’ve not had a drop of rain in 2 weeks, so all our Valley pivots are running round the clock right now. The heat has been relentless in the past few weeks with no breaks at all. We are about 25% irrigated and the heat stress is really taking a toll on the crop this year. The temperatures have been averaging around 95° F. for the last few weeks. At best, I believe we are looking at a below-average crop.

Map of Alabama temperatures
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

I am really looking forward to getting out to the AgPhd field day later next month and learning from other farmers about how their crops are doing this season. It seems like it’s been a tough year for most farmers when it comes to managing the heat. 


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.

Map of South Dakota temperatures
Photo credit: Iowa Environmental Mesonet

We are officially in the summer grind and all our crops are growing fast with the warm days we’ve had. We’ve hit 100° F. a few times and looks like there will be a lot hotter days ahead in July. We did manage to catch a half inch of precipitation on most of our ground late last week, and you could see the crops respond to it almost immediately. It’s been so hot and dry here that even the slightest amount of rain makes things perk up for a few days.

John Deere sprayer on a foggy day in South Dakota
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We are spraying with our large sprayers on some corn post applications and starting to do Agricen, SprayTec and AgXplore foliar trials that we will share the results with our XtremeAg members. 

We are also giving our Gators a workout as we spray all our field borders and wasteland to keep the thistle back.

A green and gold wheat field in South Dakota in June 2022
Photo credit: XtremeAg

At this point it looks like wheat harvest will start around July 10-12. Hopefully the hail stays away long enough as we’ve already had a couple fields get a little damaged earlier this season. It seems like high winds and hail are more common in the storms we’ve seen this year. Our harvest crew is wrapping up in Oklahoma and into western Kansas now, before they join up with us to start cutting wheat next month. In the meantime, we are staying super busy doing foliar work on our row crops. 

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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