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2012: A Year We'll Never Forget (but Wish We Could)

March 20, 2013
By: Tyne Morgan, Ag Day TV National Reporter
corn short yields drought
The 2012 drought led to a disappointing year for corn yields, as shown by this photo taken during the 2012 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.  

Last summer will be one farmers and ranchers may never forget. The worst drought in a half a century swept across the U.S. last year, severely impacting both livestock and crops. In a three-part series called "Dealing with Drought," AgDay’s Tyne Morgan will paint the painful picture the drought left, as well as give an update on the state of drought today.

2012 is a crop year many farmers would like to forget. Little rain and scorching temperatures had a crippling effect on plants and livestock across the country.

As the water shut off last summer, so did hopes for big yields. That followed a disappointing year for farmers along the Missouri River.

"We had about 75% of our acres under water by the first week of June," Fort Calhoun, Neb., farmer Jeff Shaner told AgDay while remembering such a trying year in 2011.

Going into planting 2012, portions of Shaner’s fields looked more like a beach than farmland. Unfortunately, the sand-covered land served as a reminder of the flooding in 2011.

"It’s very surprising to go from one year where there’s water to standing in your fields to the next where you can’t find a rain," says Shaner when describing the stark difference from 2011 to 2012.

The natural disaster not only demolished Shaner’s crop in 2011, but left difficult growing conditions to start 2012.

"About 10% of our acres we won't be able to put back into production for the crop year in 2012," Shaner told AgDay last spring.

The saving grace for many farmers’ corn crop last year came through one major resource—irrigation.

"This pivot here paid for itself in the extra crops," says Rich Scheve, a farmer in Beatrice, Neb.

He says he learned firsthand how vital irrigation is when Mother Nature simply doesn’t come through.

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