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What Do Farmers Do All Winter?

Every year – and especially this time of year – people ask me “What do farmers do all winter?” It is true that we are not out in the fields this time of year, but believe me, there is more to farming than working in the fields! But I have to confess – the schedule really is a lot slower in the winter time, especially in Ohio. Right now the weather is cold, the daylight hours are short, and snow covers the ground. Keeping indoors is better than working outside! Even so, there is plenty to keep us busy on the farm.

One thing you must keep in mind is a year of farming is never really balanced in terms of demands on our time. In the prime farming months (for us, April through November), we routinely work 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. If the pressure is really on, we work even more. For my part, I try not to work on Sundays, but plenty of times during the farming season we have no choice but to work Sundays. So given all the long days and lack of time off we accumulate through a ‘farming’ part of the year, we often relax a little when the crops are finally harvested. But there is always plenty to do, so after a rest break, we get right back in to other non-farming responsibilities.

Jerry Fry in Central AmericaWinter months are an important time for us to catch up on our records and bookkeeping. We track a lot of activity through the farm year and we collect a lot of data. Now when we are out of the fields we have time to review the information we collected. We evaluate our crop yields. We review our notes on weed and insect controls. We review the calendar and see how we did on our crop timing. We can take a look at the weather results. Once we gather all this information together, we look for trends and correlations. We try to use what we learned to make decisions for next year’s crops. What can we do better? How can we produce a better crop?

Of course at the American Sweet Bean Company, farming is only part of what we need to do to get you the finest American-made edamame! During the fall and winter, we spend time getting the product out to our fine retailers. We travel to meet customers, distributors, and all the other folks involved in getting our sweet beans to you. We also travel to other parts of the world. This past winter I was in China (more on that later) where I watched them picking and processing edamame. And we maintain a research program in Central America where we grow a winter crop of edamame for evaluation and seed development.

Farming is a wonderful life – but it certainly defies the classic concepts of a regular schedule, predictable work, and a routine calendar. For my family, this is all part of the attraction to farming. We work hard to grow a fantastic crop, and that keeps us hopping from spring until fall. In the winter time we try to learn from what we did, make plans for doing better in the new year, and we try to meet as many edamame enthusiast as we can! We grow these beans for you, and that is a full-time, year-around obsession for us!