My Grown Up Christmas List
Amy Grant has a great Christmas song by the same title as this article. When we start making our Christmas list for this year, we should all start by asking Santa for better conditions for our farmers in 2019. The past year has just not been kind to the hard-working people that produce our local foods. But these farmers, like all farmers, are eternal optimists and their hope that next season will be better never wanes. We should be grateful for that attitude, because without it, we wouldn’t have enough food to put on our tables each day.
We are all fortunate to live in a county that is still largely agricultural. We know we have access to a safe, fresh food supply. Think of the millions that live in metropolitan areas that have never seen an apple on a tree or a tomato on a vine. Most of them just think it comes from the store. They never stop to consider the hard work, sweat, risk and worry that went into producing the food they so often take for granted.
The 2018 season was just short of disastrous for many growers. Warm temperatures in February that woke up fruit trees and berry plants early soon gave way to three major freeze events in March that put crops at risk. In addition to flower buds being exposed to potentially lethal temperatures, the cold weather that extended into early April kept the bees from getting out to pollinate these flowers so they could produce fruit.
Then came May. In many places in Henderson County, late May brought as many as 14 straight days of torrential rains. Totals across the county for that period ranged from 14 to 22 inches. Records fell and crops succumbed to water. What didn’t wash away or die from the floods were seriously damaged. Sod, corn, soybeans, strawberries and hay were among the worst crops hit. But so too were tomatoes, peppers, beans, sweet corn, other vegetables, berries and apples. Hardly anyone was unscathed by the rising waters and constant rain.
For many crops, it was too late to replant and fields were so soaked they couldn’t be worked for some time after the rains stopped. For apple growers and others that didn’t flat out lose the crop, it was difficult to spray and keep the crops healthy.
But the rain didn’t stop in May and we stayed wet throughout much of the season. The crops that did survive the floods, often were compromised on quality due to the continuing wet weather. It made for more plant diseases and more difficulty in controlling those pests. An average rainfall for Henderson County is about 55 inches – reasonably wet compared to the national average of 39 inches. However, Henderson County locations have recorded from 70 to 75 inches of rainfall this year. That’s about a year and a third worth in one year.
Add to this, the hail storms that hammered the county in July across various places and Hurricane Michael that roared through the area in October. All in all it’s been a battle to say the least for our farmers. With 20% of the Henderson County economy based on agriculture, that’s a hard hit. As always, our farmers made the best out of it. While they will have seen much better years for their pocketbooks, they have struggled to get the most out of a bad situation.
We always should be thinking of others, particularly those whose plight is worse than our own. At this time of year especially, many people are without some of the basic necessities of life. As we make our Christmas List this year, remember all people who are in need, but also remember our farmers, who would like for once to have a year that doesn’t bring so many challenges. Your farming neighbors in Henderson County would be most appreciative just as you appreciate the wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables you enjoy from them each year.
Make a good 2019 your Christmas Wish, your hope and your prayer this Holiday season.