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Serving: IN

Be careful what you wish for in 2021

Tom J. Bechman combine harvesting corn
BRIGHT SPOT: Good yields in many parts of Indiana are one of the few bright spots in a year marred by the global pandemic.
The year 2020 made 2019 look like a walk in the park for many people.

Sitting down to write this piece as we prepare to transition from 2020 to 2021 very soon, my thoughts drifted back to one year ago. Almost every farmer I talked with after harvest in 2019 said the same thing: “Man, I am so glad this year is over. I can’t wait until next year!”

I could understand the sentiment. The 2019 crop season was one of the most frustrating in 40 years, with near-record-slow planting progress in both corn and soybeans statewide, resulting in a relatively late harvest statewide. In the end, yields weren’t so bad in many cases. But the frustration of waiting to plant and fighting mud wore many people down. Surely 2020 would be better.

From strictly a crop-growing standpoint, perhaps it was for many people. For some, however, too much rain in spring 2019 was matched by not enough rain in late summer and early fall 2020. Still, high corn and soybean yields in many parts of Indiana are a bright spot in 2020.

Challenging year

Is that saying much? No, bright spots have been few and far between. Once the COVID-19 pandemic broke in early March, the world changed, and not for the better.

Farmers and rural Hoosiers did what they always do. They persevered. They stepped to the plate. They survived and helped their neighbors in the process. But hardly anyone could say, looking back on 2020, that it was business as usual. Most county fairs were either canceled or greatly curtailed. The Indiana State Fair was canceled, along with hundreds of field days, school-related events and even the Farm Progress Show. It was only the second time since it began that the Farm Progress Show wasn’t held live. In 1986, it was canceled due to too much rain and too many strong storms.

The pandemic was a new experience for all of us, and it drove us to our computers, whether we liked it or not. Personally, to prepare for the virtual Farm Progress Show, I learned how to use a platform called Microsoft Teams, so I could film interviews that my boss would process and file for the virtual show. You can still find them on the Farm Progress Virtual Experience. Go to FPVExp.com and click on the “Trade Show Experience” tab. I conducted over 30 interviews with people from various companies so they could be represented in the virtual show. Before Aug. 1, I didn’t even know how to use Microsoft Teams. And while it was hard to teach this old dog a new trick, I learned enough about it to pull it off. I survived.

Maybe that’s the best some of us can say about 2020. We survived. And in the process, we each likely learned a few new ways of doing things. We also learned something about ourselves. No one knows what they’re capable of until they are called upon to make a real sacrifice, to dig a little deeper, to go the extra mile.

That’s likely the most positive thing rural Hoosiers can carry into 2021. No matter what the new year will bring, we will greet it with a positive, can-do attitude. Who knows what we may accomplish?

Comments? Email tom.bechman@farmprogress.com.

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