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In the field: Next generation learns planting tasks

Brothers in one southeast Nebraska farm family are learning the ropes at planting time.

Elizabeth Hodges, Staff Writer

June 5, 2024

6 Slides

Planting season was in full throttle in southeast Nebraska in mid-May, after several days of rain in the corner of the state.

Evan Woerlen raises corn, soybeans and hogs near Johnson, Neb. In addition to raising his own crops, he helps other area producers by custom planting and harvesting.

In Nebraska, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported in its Crop Progress and Condition Report released May 20 that soybean planting at that time was at 60%, behind 74% in the drought year of 2023 and just slightly behind the five-year average of 66%.

Corn planting on that date was reported at 79%, behind 84% last season and near the 82% five-year average. Sorghum was at 14% planted, near the 17% mark from 2023 and behind the 22% five-year average.

Next-gen planting

When planting season comes around, Woerlen makes sure that his sons — Michael, Spencer and Carter — are all heavily involved with the operation. These boys are certainly not afraid to get their hands dirty and learn important tasks from their dad in the field during planting operations.

Woerlen’s wife, Kristin, also plays an integral role, like many farm spouses, making trips out to the field to help, and transporting meals to keep the crew running for those late nights when the family is trying to finish planting.

While planting season might be a busy and hectic time, the Woerlens say that it is important to teach the next generation of agriculture, and they say that time together in the field is also quality family time on the farm.

Read more about:

Next Generation

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Hodges

Staff Writer, Farm Progress

Growing up on a third-generation purebred Berkshire hog operation, Elizabeth Hodges of Julian, Neb., credits her farm background as showing her what it takes to be involved in the ag industry. She began her journalism career while in high school, reporting on producer progress for the Midwest Messenger newspaper.

While a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she became a Husker Harvest Days intern at Nebraska Farmer in 2022. The next year, she was hired full time as a staff writer for Farm Progress. She plans to graduate in 2024 with a double major in ag and environmental sciences communications, as well as animal science.

Being on the 2022 Meat Judging team at UNL led her to be on the 2023 Livestock Judging team, where she saw all aspects of the livestock industry. She is also in Block and Bridle and has held different leadership positions within the club.

Hodges’ father, Michael, raises hogs, and her mother, Christy, is an ag education teacher and FFA advisor at Johnson County Central. Hodges is the oldest sibling of four.

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