I remember visiting with a couple dairy farmers at the Mid-American Hay Auction sale April 2 in Sauk Centre. We were chatting about possible winterkill in alfalfa. We didn't know it then, but we speculated the December rains we had would destroy many of the alfalfa fields. That ended up to be the case in central and northern Minnesota.
The conversation included the dry conditions we were experiencing as we completed a winter with one major snowfall event. The ground we were standing on wasn't icy, muddle or sloppy; it was dry, which is unlike a traditional April of mud and puddles. Was a drought in the offering this year? We haven't had a horrible drought since 1988.
One farmer bought a load of hay with high RFV as insurance in case a drought ensued. He thought the price might escalate if the dry conditions remain.
We all left hoping for a good harvest, but had doubt.
What ensued was near perfect. I don't think the three of us could have predicted or written a better script for the year we had: Bumper crops, ideal growing conditions and a perfect fall followed for the next seven months.
Minnesota was blessed with measurable rain each month starting in May and continuing right up to September. We were blessed to have the aforementioned dry spring, which allowed farmers to do their sowing early.
Unlike, 2014, we were blessed with innumerable 80-degree days that kept the crops growing. It was warm, but not hot, which was conducive to the dairies in the area.
To wrap up the season, the clouds dried this fall, the temperatures stayed high and much of the harvest was taken out without any extra fanfare.
There wasn't a battle with muddy conditions. The crops reached maturity and actually dried in the field, which eliminated a lot of drying costs.
Then we had the yields.
One dairy farmer near Sauk Centre told me he could have easily taken a fourth crop of hay, but didn't because he didn't have any room. He also said the weather was so conducive to growing alfalfa this year that his interval between second and third crop was shorter than first and second because his alfalfa grew back so fast.
Many of the farmers I visited with talked about good yields on small grain with great amounts of straw.
As fall inched closer, a farmer I was interviewing said this could be a special year, but was worried the white combine (hail) could still ruin what might be.
But we were spared, and the talk quickly turned to this year being the best harvest we have ever had.
One of my good friends, who farms between Sauk Centre and Villard, said he was amazed because his combine yield monitor was reporting yields of over 300 bushels per acre in certain areas of the field. His final tally was a corn crop that yielded better than 200 bushels per acre.
I had the opportunity to ride with two custom harvesters this fall and both said the corn was higher than the cab in many fields. They couldn't see to the end of the row.
They weren't the only ones. Several farmers recently told me this was the best crop they've had in their 30-plus years. The crop was so incredible. Typically I will have farmers who mutter on a pretty good year that it could have been better. Never once did I hear those words rumble from any mouth.
I know we don't have the milk prices we would all like, and I hope that changes soon.
But I also know when we step back and remember this year, it will go down as something special; we were really blessed.
And that is something to be thankful for.