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Weather worries & land laments
Harvest is over and farmers are starting to lay the groundwork for the 2013 crop, one that could face an uphill climb if the drought continues. But, what if it doesn't? They're just a couple of the big stories in agriculture this week.
What if 'normal' weather returns in 2013? That shift -- and its effects on grain prices -- was the focus of a meeting this week at the University of Illinois. It's clear prices would fall, but how quickly? "It could happen as quickly as one year, or take longer than that," one economist says.
Where those prices go in the next year also depends a lot on global factors, the biggest one ahead being the 'fiscal cliff.' In this week's Big Picture, Scott Shellady delves into the macro-level factors and what they mean to the ag markets.
Back to the weather: It's worst now in the Plains, where the hard red winter wheat crop is struggling to get a stand established before dormancy. Farmers say it could be the worst conditions in years, and it could have some implications beyond just how much grain flows -- or doesn't flow -- into the bins next summer.
If you're using no-till or cover crops, though, your wheat crop may be in better shape. That's the case for one farmer in northern Kansas who's seeing big-time differences in early wheat stands between conventional tillage and no-till. Check out the dramatic photos here.
So, how big of a corn crop do U.S. farmers need to raise next year to meet demand? One projection this week shows it will take between 80 and 88 million harvested acres to raise just over 14 billion bushels. But, many farmers -- more than half responding to our poll this week -- say trend yields will be tough to hit next year.
That crop size next year will have a lot to do with where farmland prices head, too. Despite some factors that point to a possible downturn in values, one land expert said this week that there's not a bubble building in the land market. Do you agree?
So, what are the other factors to watch to see if land prices are going to tank or continue to surge? Keep your eye on interest rates, grain prices and crop insurance rates among others, one expert said this week. See why and what farmers are saying about these variables.
But, land's just one variable going into your crop balance sheet. What about seed? With rising costs, it's important to pick a variety that's most likely to perform on your acres. One report this week outlines a key variable to watch when picking your seed for next year.
Variables like land prices and seed are important to your profitability, obviously, but so too are factors that are out of your control, like conditions in crop-growing regions overseas. Tune in with Markets Editor Mike McGinnis as he checks in on crop conditions in South America and eastern Europe in Your World in Agriculture.
Did you miss out on the Black Friday deals last week? If so, don't worry -- we've got you covered. Check out all of our editors' picks for Christmas gifts for farmers this year, and find out how you can get some free gifts to put under your tree for the Successful Farming fan in your family.
The future of the farmland market and growing apprehension about drought in 2013 top this week's big stories in agriculture.