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South Dakota fields blowing away

Lee Lubbers watches the topsoil drifts pile up in South Dakota, while Chad Henderson gets a break in the weather in northern Alabama.


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.

If April showers bring May flowers, I don’t expect to see very many flowers in our region because April has been bone-dry. Things are very slow to green up this spring due to the lack of moisture, and we have had multiple days of high winds that continue to suck away what little moisture we have remaining in our soil. Luckily, our no-till practice as well as the fact that we do not bale residue after we harvest has helped keep most of our topsoil in place. The farmers in our area who did early tillage or baled stover postharvest have had to watch their topsoil blow right off the field. When you start seeing drifts of topsoil in the ditches, you know it’s time for some moisture.

South Dakota drought map
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Our equipment is mostly ready to go for planting. We ordered row cleaners for our new planter on June 1 last year and they are supposed to be at the dealership this week. Then it will take a couple days to mount them. Most things are a challenge this year it seems.

It’s been cold and windy lately, so fieldwork is still a way off. It needs to warm up before we can start planting.


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.

We have a break in the rain, but the ground is still saturated. We hope to have the planters running again by this Thursday. Last week we had about 6 inches of rain, and now it looks like we have a seven- to 10-day window of dry weather ahead of us right now. All 700 acres of the corn that’s planted is up and out of the ground. We have about 2,000 acres of corn left to plant.

Corn in Alabama
Photo credit: XtremeAg

The 360 Yield tanks we installed this spring have proven to be a game-changer for our planting operation. Currently, we are running an 80-acre load of in-furrow and 2×2. In the past, we have always run a 30-acre fill-up. The larger tank load has saved time with the planters and improved our nurse truck. The nurse truck can fill up the planter, then it still has time to go to the shop to get another load without a need to rush. Not rushing to refill the nurse truck helps prevent mistakes from being made. We’ve got a lot of moving pieces, and if we can increase our efficiency in one area, it will pay off across our entire farming operation. 

Our wheat is 10 days away from heading out. It is continuing to look good. We pulled tissue samples last week and are getting ready for the head scab spray application.

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