Highest Yield: 355 bu/a – Irrigated
Motto: “If you’re fully committed, you’re not likely to fail”
A fourth generation farmer, Chad Henderson farms over 8,000 acres with his dad, son, and cousin as a part of Henderson Farms in northern Alabama. Henderson Farms grows corn, soybeans, and wheat in what had been mostly a dryland environment until 2012 when Chad added the first irrigation systems to Henderson Farms.
When Chad became partner at age 20, the farm had 1700 acres in total. The farm now covers over 8,000 acres in Madison, Limestone, and Morgan counties in Alabama as well as Floyd County in Georgia.
Purchased in 1909, by Chad’s great-grandfather, Henderson Farms is a family business that keeps Chad grateful.
“Too many people forget where they come from. You have to remember where you are at, because someone gave you an opportunity. But you have to put the work in to succeed, and that’s your choice. You work with the hand you’re dealt, but this is the job you picked, and you have to work hard” says Chad.
Chad’s family shares responsibilities at Henderson Farms. Chad runs the day-to-day operations while his cousin Stuart Sanderson runs the marketing for the business. Chad’s father Mike Henderson helps the two of them, splitting time between both them as needed. Chad’s son Jackson is one of five employees that helps full-time with the farming.
After taking a few years off from competing, in 2015, Chad took first place in the state of Alabama in the conventional irrigated class with a yield of 297 bushels. Their yields have continued to increase with the help of analysis, problem solving, and the agriculture community at large. Chad is currently the Alabama corn production record holder with a yield of 355 bushels per acre.
Henderson Farms has won a state competition in corn production, but Chad said learning how to increase the business’s yield per acre is more important to him than the accolade itself.
“Every state has a contest as part of the National Corn Growers Association,” he said. “You see how much corn you can produce on an acre and a quarter. We’re competitive, but we like to try and push things and try new technology. That patch is basically our research and development. It’s all about efficiency. Farms that stay in business are efficient.”
Chad has said that there is something rewarding about putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow. He has also said that he and his wife, Marie, find it rewarding when local schools take field trips to the Henderson Farms and the team has the opportunity to educate children about farming and where their food comes from.
Henderson says that giving back and advancing the field of farming are important to him.
“I’ll often think ‘what have I done to help lead my farm? What have we done for the next generation?’”