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Crazy planting; 9 fuel-saving tips

  • 01

    Spring officially arrived this week, though the weather lately's been almost summerlike in some parts of the country. And, that's fueling a lot of talk about already doing some corn planting, weeks ahead of the normal timeframe. See more about that and what else is big in ag this week.

  • 02

    Is it 'nuts' to plant corn now? That's what some farmers say, though others say it's not a bad strategy. There are major potential pitfalls despite the benefits of getting your crop started this early. So, are you considering planting this early?

  • 03

    If you do decide to run the planter earlier than normal, one big concern regards your chemical and fertilizer applications. Make sure you're not putting products down so early that they'll lose efficacy or, in the case of nitrogen, be gone altogether before young corn plants need them.

  • 04

    The other major potential danger to planting this early is, if your crop gets frosted after it's out of the ground before a certain date, any replanting may not be covered by crop insurance. Make sure you know your county's 'earliest planting date' for coverage, experts say.

  • 05

    If you're not quite ready to plant corn yet, you may be ready to roll on the fertilizer. It's still a little early for that, too, but you can get away with putting on anhydrous or other types right now if the conditions are right.

  • 06

    Regardless of what you're doing -- or getting ready to do -- in the field these days, it's likely costing you a little more than a year ago. Research from the University of Illinois this week shows it will cost about $50/acre more in that state to raise this year's corn crop. Do those numbers sound about right to you?

  • 07

    Fuel is one of the major non-land costs that go into any crop, and it's again going to cost more this year. But, there are ways to cut a few dollars from your fuel bill. Check out these 9 ways to trim your fuel costs this spring.

  • 08

    So, what's all this mean to what will be planted this spring? We will all find out next friday, March 30, when USDA releases its annual Prospective Plantings report. In the meantime, analysts and traders are releasing their own corn and soybean acreage estimates. All agree there's likely to be more of both corn and soybeans this year.

  • 09

    How will all the early fieldwork going on affect the grain markets? Positive progress in the field is typically thought a bearish influence to the trade, but some traders and analysts say this time around, the early progress could mean higher markets.

  • 10

    Farmers remain optimistic about future profit potential, at least in Illinois, according to recent farm land values study in that state that shows land values have gained 20% in the last year. It's a sign, experts say, that farmers there remain confident current profit levels will continue at least the next year.

  • 11

    There's been a lot of talk in the cattle business the last few months about beef herd expansion after years of cuts. New information out this week shows that it's beginning slowly, but if feed costs start moving higher, that slow expansion may grind to a halt, one expert says.

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