Cash crop producers look back on the highs and lows of the year
By Diego Flammini
As 2019 draws to a close, many people will take some time to reflect on the past 12 months.
With that at top of mind, Farms.com reached out to members of the U.S. ag community for their thoughts on how the 2019 growing season played out on their farms.
Scott Gaffner, a cash crop producer from Greenville, Ill., categorized the year as successful despite multiple challenges.
“I think we were expecting the worse with the time is took us to get the crops in the field and the wet season, but it turned out to be a pretty good year,” he told Farms.com. “Last year was a record year for us, but our 2019 yields were comparable to years prior to” 2018.
In particular, the soybeans held up despite the fact Gaffner did not have a chance to apply all his crop protection products.
“The soybeans went above and beyond what we thought they would because we didn’t get all the beans sprayed with fungicide,” he said. “The ones we did spray yielded about 10 bushels per acre better than the ones we didn’t.”
In terms of the year’s lowlights, Gaffner pointed to legislative challenges.
Aside from the weather, waiting to see if trade deals with China and other countries would come to fruition made the year difficult, he said.
“The issues with China and not passing the (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement) continued to put us as a disadvantage compared to previous years,” Gaffner said.
For Dennis Gardner, a cash crop producer from Croswell, Mich., overlooking the weather was tough.
“There were more lows than highs,” he told Farms.com. “It was such a challenging year weather wise. We had a lot of rain early on, a drought in the middle of summer and then a wet fall.”
But, like his Illinois counterpart, Gardner was pleased with yields, given the difficult growing season.
“We’re probably 30 percent under our normal corn production,” he said. “But, given the year we had, I guess it isn’t a complete disaster.”
Heading into 2020, Gaffner is proud of the strength the industry showed during challenging times throughout the year.
“Farmers are so resilient,” he said. We “have the ability to take these down years, learn from them and do better in some areas that maybe we got lackadaisical with and just do a better job of producing food and making better decisions.”