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Will this heat wave hurt or help the crops?

Chad Henderson in Alabama worries about this week's heat index while Lee Lubbers looks forward to warmer temperatures for his pale corn crop in South Dakota.


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.

Green soybeans emerge from thick golden wheat stubble on Chad Henderson's Alabama farm in June 2022
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We are more than halfway finished with our wheat harvest. So far it has been a smooth harvest and we like what we are seeing in terms of yields and yield consistency. As soon as the wheat comes out, our double crop soybeans are being planted. The planter runs right behind the combines. We are planting into some pretty thick wheat stubble at times.

Map of Alabama precipitation
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We had some rain last week that has provided enough subsurface moisture for the beans to emerge properly. We are happy with the emergence of our double-crop beans thus far.

We are concerned about the heat index for this week as it is forecasted to be 102°-105° F. That's really bad timing for a heat wave as we have corn that is pollinating this week. We’ve got our Valley pivots running full steam as we try to keep the crop cool, well-watered, and unstressed. In our soil, we are never more than a few days away from drought conditions, so it is critical that we stay ahead and keep the moisture levels as uniform and consistent as possible.

Irrigation pivots run at sunset on Chad Henderson's Alabama farm in June 2022
Photo credit: XtremeAg


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.

Summer is officially arrived in our neck of the woods. Maybe not according to the date, but after a cold and dry planting season with virtually no rain delays, our temperatures are up in the 80’s and 90’s now.

John Deere tractor with John Deere planter in a field of wheat stubble on Lee Lubbers' South Dakota farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

As soon as we got done with planting, it was cool and rainy for over a week. The moisture was just what we needed as it soaked right into the soil and activated the chemicals in the soil. The crops were a little slow to emerge due to the cooler temperatures and cloudy days, but they found their way out of the ground as soon as everything warmed up.

The rain and wind set us back on our wheat program and we had to apply our fungicide from the air instead of using a ground rig. Even flying it on took twice as long as planned with the showers and windy days. But we got it done.

Green bunches of wheat with soil on the roots laying on cement in South Dakota on Lee Lubbers' farm
Photo credit: XtremeAg

We expect the crops to take off growing fast this week with the sunshine and warmer temperatures forecasted. Our corn is a little on the pale side due to all the cloudy days over the past couple of weeks. We are ready for the sun.

Our annual thistle spraying project has started. We run all field borders and waterways/grass areas and spray noxious weeds with our side-by-side. We are on a brief hiatus with our large sprayers until later this week when will start doing some foliar work and trials.

The seasons and weather change fast here in South Dakota, so staying ahead of everything is key to success.

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