Answer: Although it may have seemed like the ants were bothering your crops, I suspect it was some other pest(s) whose feeding damage would have released plant juices and/or secreted honeydew which in turn attracted the ants. This can occur with aphid infestations, for example.
Generally speaking, having a problem one year does not mean it will necessarily recur the next year -- which is a good thing for gardeners! Modern IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices would suggest you monitor your plants closely for signs of the start of any insect or disease issue. Immediately identify the problem and based on knowing that, determine how to proceed. Sometimes, a certain amount of damage is acceptable while in other cases the problem needs to be controlled immediately before it builds to critical level.
I would also suggest you consult with your local county extension and see if they have any thoughts on this; they may be familiar with what pest/disease problems are most common in your local area and can help you know what to watch for. I'm sorry I can't be more specific for you long distance but I hope this helps you prepare to troubleshoot this summer.
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