Just a few years ago it would have been a dream to have soybean future contract prices over $12 a bushel and corn prices over $6.

There would be no doubt that field crop producers would think the coming year should be very good.

The last three years have been exceptional for most.

The reality for 2012 is that although these are the current contract prices, the cost of production has risen so much the bottom line could become very tight.

In completing a projected budget for our major crops, it is humbling to see that excellent yields and strong prices will be needed to cover expected expenses.

Farmers have a lot invested and at risk. It will not be uncommon to have nearly $500 per acre invested into a corn crop in 2012 before land costs.

Land costs, seed, machinery, repairs, fertilizers and most other inputs are increasing.

Seed and fertilizer expenses make up nearly one-third of the total costs of producing most field crops. These two items also have a great deal to do with how successful the crop production will be.