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Land values rocket, crop inputs rise

  • 01

    Harvest is winding down, farmers are working on putting machinery away for the winter and cash grain basis levels are firming. These are among the top stories in agriculture this week.

  • 02

    Corn and soybean harvest passed 90% completion in the last week, and while those numbers are just behind last year's pace, they're ahead of the average pace for this week.

  • 04

    Volatility paced the grain futures markets this week again, and though there's optimism that prices will climb out of their current funk later this year, the markets will continue to trade at the pace of world volatility and economic uncertainty.

  • 05

    "It appears that outside markets are pulling the grain prices down when supply and demand should be pushing them up," says grain market analyst and Nebraska farmer Roy Smith. "Grain markets can be ignored for the time being when the economic conditions world wide are negative."

  • 06

    Farm cost outlooks were big in the last week, with fresh numbers out on farm land values, input costs and more. For land values, it's been a record year in much of the nation's midsection, according to reports from the Federal Reserve, with states like Iowa and Nebraska seeing huge value gains.

  • 07

    What are those land values doing to cash rent levels? Recent research shows there's a lot of variability out there on either side of NASS county averages. Just over one-third of rented acres are within $20 of those county averages, according to a report this week.

  • 08

    Land's just one cost that's trending higher. Variable crop costs look to be 10% to 16% higher for the 2012 crop, analysts say. Though fuel's trending lower, fertilizer is more than making up that difference, cost-wise. How are you staying ahead of rising costs?

  • 09

    One way to get around some of those rising input costs is to keep your machinery in tip-top shape. That means putting it away for the winter in good condition. Here are a few tips to get your machinery and equipment ready for its long winter's nap so it will be ready to roll in the spring.

  • 10

    But even if you put your iron away for the winter in perfect shape, some of it may be on its last leg. If that's the case, check out some of the latest farmer discussions on selecting some new tools and machinery, straight from Machinery Talk and Shop Talk forums.

  • 11

    Another sector where costs have changed a lot in the last year is in hay and forages. The drought in the southern Plains has eroded both the quantity and quality of hay there, putting a premium on good marketing and management.

  • 12

    For a lot of young and beginning farmers, though, buying things like land and machinery is a tall order, one that many say keeps them from getting into the business. A report out this week shows some ways hurdles like these can be lowered, helping more young farmers get started.

  • 13

    This is the time of year when buying things like machinery, hay and fertilizer sometimes take a backseat to what ends up under the tree on Christmas morning. If you've got a hard-to-buy-for farmer to shop for this year, or if you would like to drop a few hints for your own gifts this year, check out our 'Christmas gifts for farmers' page!

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