As I sat at Mike and Stephanie Hansen's kitchen table in late November, I looked out the big glass doors across their deck to freshly harvested corn fields. They'd just finished harvest at their place near Bouton, Iowa, that morning. Wild weather forced harvest to a lengthy 31 days.
This year, the Hansens dealt with heavy rainfall delaying the crop followed by dry conditions and a violent storm with 125 mph winds. Then, along came crashing grain prices, ethanol plant problems and the national financial crisis.
The Hansens are still upbeat; Mike describes their attitude as cautiously optimistic. Their corn and soybeans came in with reasonably good yields despite the problems. Today's corn hybrids and soybean varieties are built to withstand stress, and this year proved their mettle.
"The hybrids and varieties of 15 years ago would have struggled under these conditions. My own expectations were lower, so even I was surprised,” Mike says.
Like the seed we plant now, designed to grow tough plants, the folks who grow them are just as resilient. We've just come through one of the strangest years in U.S. agricultural history. No one knows what 2009 will bring. Still, the Hansens say they're blessed to have done as well as they did this year.
That's the attitude we should all have this holiday season. We're blessed to be here in this great nation, and we're blessed to be able to give it another run next year, whatever may come.
- December 2008