GARY, Minn. – Corey Hanson suspected it was going to be a difficult winter when he agreed to talk about his farming operation in northwest Minnesota.
While some farmers may have wanted to shy away from talking about challenges, Corey has learned it’s important to share what farmers actually go through on a daily basis. He’s had good success sharing his stories with other farm publications, and this winter it was Farm & Ranch Guide’s turn to hear about what was going on at the Floyd and Corey Hanson farm in Norman County, Minn.
We first caught up with him back on Sept. 11, 2019, at Big Iron. Conditions were wetter and colder than average – with highs around 70 and lows around 40 for September. The corn needed more heat to reach maturity.
“Farmers as a whole have been beaten up by Mother Nature for probably 13-14 months now,” Corey said back then. “It seems like we haven’t caught a break, whether it be snowstorms or cold weather, a late-spring or not much heat this summer.”
Giving his first ”official” report on Nov. 11, Corey noted that temperatures moved below freezing on Nov. 5. Seven days later on Veterans Day, the high was only 12 degrees, while the low was 1 degree with a much colder windchill. Temps were 30-40 degrees below average.
Corn for grain harvest started in mid-November…and continued on. The 82-87-day corn was mostly 20-24 percent moisture. Combining continued on Dec. 6-7, with about 65-80 percent of the region’s corn fields remaining unharvested at that time. By late-December, there was about a foot of snow in the fields. Farmers had to leave their corn in the fields for the time being. Looking on the positive side, the fields provided free storage, as well as free drydown.
Fortunately, snow amounts were low in February and March. Farmers started running combines with tracks in mid-March. Corey hired his neighbor’s son-in-law (Eggen Farms out of Ada, Minn.) to combine his corn.
“He was up here with his track machine – he had a few acres to do on his father-in-law’s farmland,” Corey said on March 30.
They were able to harvest about 85 percent of the Hanson acres.
“It is what it is. We’re just going to call it a year and chalk it up to the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life and move on from there,” he said.
Fields were still so wet that Corey described the soil conditions, “like oatmeal or porridge” in late-March. How planting will go remains to be seen.
The March-harvested corn was about 17 percent moisture, and he dried about 4,000 bushels to add to some bins that were partially filled. The test weight was 51-51.5 pounds.
As of March 30, creeks in the Gary, Minn., area were just opening up. The culverts were beginning to run, and most fields still had 20-50 percent snow cover. Standing corn insulated and kept greater amounts of snow.
There was still snow in front of the machine shed doors, too.
Cattle pens were muddy, and the Hanson crew spread straw in the calving area. There were six calves on the ground at the time of this report.
For Corey and his wife, Julie, the days were getting long. It wasn’t just because there was more sunlight, but because Julie had to stay at their house in town while Corey stayed on the farm with Floyd.
During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Julie worked from home in her position with social services. Corey was needed at the farm, so the Hanson’s conversed each day by video chat and practiced social distancing.
Despite the 2019 growing season, the winter, the potential for flooding this spring and COVID-19, the Hanson family remained positive and looked forward to better days ahead. By communicating, remaining positive and caring for others, Corey has found the key to happiness.
“It is not the ground, it is not the crops, it is not the cattle, it is not the machinery that make a farmer. It is the faith, hard work, and love of it all that makes a farmer!” - Corey Hanson on his Facebook page.
All of us at Farm & Ranch Guide want to thank him for his wonderful reports this winter. We wish you great success and hope you have the opportunity to bowl the perfect game.
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