Corey Hanson, Gary, Minn.

Corey Hanson, Gary, Minn., with 120 acres of corn left to harvest in January 2020.

GARY, Minn. – For an extrovert like farmer Corey Hanson, practicing social distancing required some effort.

A board member of the Minnesota State Bowling Association, Corey was part of the decision team that decided to cancel/postpone all bowling tournaments for 30 days starting March 15. Youth bowling tournaments were cancelled until the fall of 2020. His trip to the United States Bowling Congress in March was moved at least to May, depending on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a substantial number of casinos shutting down in Las Vegas along the strip,” he said. “Airlines are shifting people around because airplanes are emptying out with (virtually) nobody travelling. The Center for Disease Control is recommending no grouping over 10 people. That isn’t much of a group.”

Crop insurance decisions were due on March 16, and Corey had an appointment with his agent to get things squared away. Norman County did not yet have a case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and it was helpful to get into the office to meet with his agent.

With 120 acres of 2019 corn still in the field, communication with the members of Corey’s farm team was imperative. The crop insurance company will continue to leave the 2019 claim open as long as Corey shows he is continuing to work on harvest.

He was doing just that.

He took his combine out to harvest in early March when the snow was about knee deep.

“We made one round and took some headlands off,” he said. “The combine was able to go through with only small difficulties, but the front wheel assist tractor with grain cart was getting stuck all the time.”

He tried again on March 15 when the snow was hard and about 12 inches deep. This time, the combine would climb over the snowbanks and then break through. Corey quickly decided that was too much stress on the combine.

When the ground had softened, he tried another combine pass. This time he almost got stuck with the combine.

He’d gotten maybe 3-4 acres of corn harvested. So, Corey spent time on the phone calling farmers with track combines and track tractors with hopes of hiring someone to finish the corn harvest.

If the Hansons don’t get the corn harvested by April 1, it will be impossible to plant a crop this spring. If Corey gets the corn combined, then he has about a 50 percent chance of getting a crop planted on the field – depending on the wetness.

The Hanson family farmland is on the eastern bank of the Red River Valley, where water seeps through if the water table is high enough. Their neighbors were also getting stuck with cart tractors.

“There is an area up here that is really sopping wet right now,” he said. “The ground isn’t frozen. Water hasn’t been moving down.”

As of March 18, Corey’s neighbor with track equipment said he would come over and finish the harvesting if possible. The neighbor had just a little bit of corn left to harvest on his own ground.

At the farm, 90 gestating cows were doing well in their large lot. Corey took the snowblower and cleared off about 2 acres of snow where he and his dad, Floyd, could spread straw for the cows to calf. The first calves were expected in April.