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Big in ag: Sandy, steep land & cheap NH3

  • 01

    The world watched this week as Hurricane Sandy battered the northeastern U.S. But, it wasn't just the boroughs of New York City affected. Many farmers felt Sandy's wrath. It was the biggest of the big stories in ag this week.

  • 02

    After coming ashore and bringing devastation to coastal areas, Sandy dropped heavy snow and rain on parts of the eastern Corn Belt, later delivering rainfall as far west as the Iowa-Illinois state line. As she relented, though, forecasters said the heavy moisture could yield to a much drier pattern soon.

  • 03

    Many farmers welcomed the storm's moisture, with some saying it was enough to erase the past year's drought pressure. There are definitely still areas where the drought's far from over, weather experts agree. The storm did, however, keep harvest progress at a crawl, USDA said this week.

  • 04

    Those moisture concerns in areas outside of where Sandy brought recent rainfall are growing more severe as winter approaches. While some farmers have started getting rain, others say their crops next year will be hurting without much soil recharge soon.

  • 05

    Drought conditions like these are starting to have different, broader implications on the farm economy. One sign of that came this week with a Federal Reserve report showing a sharp jump in the number of operating loans taken out by farmers in the last quarter, especially in the livestock sector.

  • 06

    The drought's also put a lot of pressure on the corn and soybean pipeline, and it's foregone that there will have to be rationing among users if the drought-shortened supply is going to last. So, is that rationing underway? Here's an update from a respected Corn Belt ag economist.

  • 07

    One bright spot in the balance sheet for crop inputs looking ahead is in fertilizer prices. Anhydrous ammonia, DAP and potash will likely see a sustained decline in prices for the 'foreseeable future," one expert said this week. Falling natural gas prices are largely to blame for the slide.

  • 08

    Will those lower fertilizer prices spawn more continuous corn in 2013? It historically yields well below corn-after-soybeans, but can work in some situations. Check out some of the pros and cons of the system here. How will your rotation change next year?

  • 09

    One market that seemingly hasn't been phased by drought is farmland. Recent auctions have fetched record-high prices, and more importantly, those prices are being reached in bidding exclusively by farmers, not investors.

Hurricane Sandy has dominated a busy week in agriculture this week.

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