17 winter tips; Look ahead to 2013

  • 01

    Winter has arrived. That's been the big story this week in agriculture, a week in the doldrums for the grain markets as farmers start in on year-end planning and look ahead to 2013.

  • 02

    The blizzard that swept through the central U.S. brought a little -- but not nearly enough -- relief from the drought. Around a foot of snow has fallen in parts of the Plains and Midwest, but much more is needed, experts say.

  • 03

    Are you ready for the winter weather like that the country's seen over the last few days? Check out the latest features on getting ready for Old Man Winter, including 17 tips to prepare and cope with the season.

  • 04

    But, the moisture from this week's weather system has been welcomed in wheat country, where the drought's already inflicted a lot of damage to next year's crop potential. That's true not just in the U.S., but in other key growing areas, and it's been a hot topic in Marketing Talk this week.

  • 05

    The grain markets have had a bad last few days. The bears have been in charge for the most part, due largely to light export demand for corn and wheat. Soybeans have fared slightly better, though the recent market movement has some analysts wondering if we're headed for a 'nosedive.'

  • 06

    And, that sentiment got some fresh backing earlier this week with the announcement by analytical firm Informa that 2013 U.S. corn plantings could exceed 99 million acres, leading other analysts to speculate that 100 million isn't completely unrealistic.

  • 07

    That projection comes the same day National Crop Insurance Services announced just shy of $9 billion in crop indemnity payments has been paid out by the industry on some of the more than 280 million policies in the U.S. this year. Will the crop insurance safety net keep corn acres growing?

  • 08

    The drought that prompted virtually all of those insurance payments is now causing big problems on the Mississippi River system, a vital conduit for the movement of U.S. grain to market. But, it could also cause problems in the movement of fertilizer to farmers, experts say.

  • 09

    Federal officials started taking action this week to prevent those river problems from intensifying. The Army Corps of Engineers began removing rock structures from a key stretch of the Mississippi River near St. Louis in an effort to preserve the river's shipping channel.

  • 10

    Now's not just the time of year to be collecting Christmas cards at the mailbox. Officials said this week they're starting to mail USDA's Census of Agriculture. It's not the most welcome task to complete the form, but officials say all data's protected and important to future farm programs.

  • 11

    If the recent winter blast has you pacing the floor inside, be like one Agriculture.com Farm Business Talk contributor: Clean out your office! It's a task nobody looks forward to, but it's vitally important to a well-operated farm business. Check out these tips from other farmers on how to get the job done.

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