WORTHINGTON — When you are eating a bowl of alphabet soup, every spoon gives you a different scoop of letters. You can’t possibly guess which little letters of noodles will appear in each spoonful scooped up.
Farming in 2019 was no different. You never knew what to expect from hour to hour, day to day or week to week. It snowed when it should have rained and rained when it should have snowed.
I decided we should review 2019 just like eating alphabet soup. We never knew what was coming next in agriculture.
African swine fever: Asia (China) has lost an estimated 50% of its hog herd to this disease. Yet, due to tariffs, China has purchased their proteins in record amounts from other countries — not the USA.
Baseball: Entertained most Twins fans with an unexpectedly good season and a lot of home runs.
Crop insurance payments: Are being calculated at record amounts for this area and will allow many the opportunity to continue farming in 2020. A cold, snowy winter increased feed costs for cattle farmers.
Derecho storm: An unusual thunderstorm with a series of storms passing along a front that cause significant damage to crops and buildings with an extended time frame of extreme high winds.
Exhausted: In February, I was told it happened from blowing snow every day just to feed animals. In June, it was planting around the clock to beat the next rain. In November, it was trying to finish harvest before Christmas. Sleep was missed by many in 2019.
Fatigued: I was told a new definition of fatigued is hooking up a four-wheel-drive tractor to a four-wheel-drive tractor to discover you have to call a Cat to extract your planter from the mud.
Grow: Locally, we had the lowest amount of solar radiation ever recorded. Solar radiation is simply sunshine that helps plants grow with photosynthesis.
Hog markets: Have fluctuated to extremes due to African Swine Fever in Asia. Investment funds also had record sales and purchases in cattle and corn markets. These wild swings in prices made it extremely difficult to market commodities in 2019, knowing crop yields were going to be short in the field.
Indecisive: It has been a hard year to make decisions because the rules were seldom defined for farmers. Producers made management decisions before final rules were written. Deadlines were in front of the rules. It appears our modern technology has not adapted to weather and its unknown possibilities.
Jokes and pictures abound: When times get tough, some survive on humor. Cell phones have permitted many to share their misery with pictures and Snaps. “Misery loves company” still stands as a truth today.
Kink: That moment where something should be straight or as planned and it suddenly bends, curves or changes. Markets, weather, tariffs, tweets, planting and harvesting intentions all experienced a kink.
Latest: Planting dates this area has seen in 50-plus years. Record prevent plant acres in our area.
Market facilitation payments: This was known as Trump money by most, but basically saved our rural communities from an absolute financial disaster. Mud: Called mud, slush, slop, slime and quicksand.
Negative attitudes: I personally was told I am negative in attitude by a good friend one day. I agreed he was right. Farming has been poor for six years now, and attitudes are declining.
Opportunities: Are created in times of crisis. Some have started to grow hemp and other products that can be manufactured for oils.
Prevent plant acres: Defined as those acres producers cannot plant before the crop insurance deadline arrives. Record acres in our area will still impact our smaller communities in 2020.
Quickly: When weather permitted you moved quickly. The only thing we did not have to do quickly was water the lawn or wash the car — Mother Nature took care of that on its own in 2019.
Rain: Recorded over 5 feet of rain in 2019 in our area. Normally, we receive around 2 feet of rain.
Snow: Eight months of the year. Growing crops in 120 days is neither easy nor productive. Spring bomb cycle: An unusual storm in early spring that brings lots of rain and snow for extended periods of time in a continuous cycle.
Tweet: Every time Mr. Trump or China tweeted, the markets moved in dramatic fashion, causing a lot of anxiety to anyone trying to market their produce.
Unbelievable: Amounts of rain and snow ... records ....
Vegan: Food trends have disrupted the meat market.
Weather: Will not be forgotten by the farmer, but many others will remember the flooding and exhausted sump pumps and flooded basements as well.
X: This is a G-rated article, so X marks the spot for new tile in the field. There was a lot of that in 2019.
Yikes: The term I was told happens when you get 9 inches of rain in 24 hours.
Zoo: I had a producer call me on June 8 to say, “Mike, it is an absolute zoo out here in the country. Everyone who can drive a tractor is doing so right now. The rain is coming, and the mud is flying.”
Almost the entire agricultural community wants to forget 2019. I have been told that materials and people have to be stressed to mature and grow.
The 2019 alphabet soup memories listed above have caused most agriculture producers to bend and curve farther than they have in a long time. Their resilience has been outstanding and admirable.
The theory is the new trade deals in 2020 will increase our exports and improve our prices.
Locally, we are hopeful for a more normal weather pattern — and average to bountiful yields for 2020. Our whole community would like that.
If you ate today — alphabet soup or otherwise — thank your local farmers. Our American producers supply us with the safest, most abundant supply of food in the world.