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Memorable moments and behind the scenes

This year was a blessed year for my family. I hope you feel the same around your place. Thank you for sharing your time and experience with Southeast Farm Press.

Brad Haire

December 28, 2023

4 Min Read
From left, the author of this commentary with Alabama farmer Andy Wendland Nov. 29, the last day of cotton harvest and a birthday.Brad Haire

It’s old hat: But time does fly, and 2023 took off fast and never landed. There were many, but let’s talk about a few memorable moments I ran across.

We spoke with Georgia farmer Joe Boddiford, who we’ve known for many years and mostly through peanuts. This year, he planted his 50th consecutive corn test plot in partnership with the same company. He planted the very first test plot when he was 23, the first year he started farming on his own. He’s 73 now and his son, Knapp, was with him when he planted the 50th. Pretty neat.

Ryan Jenkins was our lower Southeast Peanut Efficiency Award winner this year. He is also a great ambassador for agriculture, and a pretty good actor. His video on how he growers ‘Peanut M&Ms’ straight from his field was both fun and educational. In the video, he digs up a vine, pulls a few pods free, and then with some creative editing, he cracks a pod to reveal colorful in-pod peanut M&Ms. Brilliant.

We went to a farm bill listening session in Alabama that U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville conducted. Good discourse, but one stood out. USDA FSA guaranteed young farmer loans sparked it and resulted in a great quote.

A gentleman said: “My oldest is 20, my youngest is 16. They both lived on the farm their whole life. Even with guaranteed loans, and it’s no different than the men sitting in this room that’s been doing it 50 years, if they can’t go out there and make money off a crop, it won’t matter if they have a loan, if they can’t pay it back.”

Hurricane Idalia caused widespread damage to Florida, Georgia and well up into the Carolina’s.

De Broughton is a crop consultant in Live Oak, Fla., where Idalia hit hard. “It’s awful. I’m visiting farms now trying to help assess,” she told me the morning after. It was bad. The power in that part of Florida remained out for several weeks, she stayed at it. People like De matter when tragedy hits.

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Georgia farmer Alex Harrell made a 206.7-bushel soybean average this year, a new world record. I visited him the day it was announced. We shot a video in the spot in the field where he broke the record.

The heat index was near 115 degrees that afternoon. The iPhone I used for the video kept popping up the ‘Temperature’ alert and shutting down. We stuck with it though, and the video ended up getting near 70K views on Facebook. Thanks, Alex. This summer was hot.

One of the best parts of the job is talking with excellent young farmers and jumping in the picker with them to do it, like I did in Alabama with Drew Wendland Nov. 29. It was the last day of the 2023 cotton harvest and happened to be my birthday, a big-number one. I was there just outside of Montgomery visiting the family. Drew’s parents, Andy and Dawn, knowing it was my birthday, took me out to eat that night. We ate at Uncle Mike’s. The best Cajun-style food I’ve had, and I’ve had and cooked plenty. Go there if you are anywhere close. And thanks again to the Wendland family.

Highlighting in this column all the highlights I’ve ran across is impossible. That’s not the point.

This year was a blessed year for my family. I hope you feel the same around your place. That is the point. Thank you for sharing your time and experience with us. We look forward to circling back with old friends and making new ones in 2024.

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