Now’s the time when holiday enthusiasts start dreaming of a White Christmas. But the marshmallow world created by falling snowflakes offers much more than a glistening backdrop for a Hallmark movie. And nobody choruses “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” louder than farmers. In the northern states, snow can account for 2/3 of the annual precipitation. Melting snow replenishes subsoil moisture. And even though 10 inches of snow = 1 inch of rain, many Great Lake states can get several feet of snow annually. For crops that overwinter, such as winter wheat, a blanket of snow can insulate the crop, and often serve as mulch for the soil ecosystem. Pasture cattle will ingest much of their water from snow. Often called “poor man’s nitrogen,” atmospheric nitrogen will attach itself to falling snow, adding valuable nutrients to the field.

Oranges are popular stocking stuffers. But do you know how the tradition of gifting this tasty citrus started? Not surprisingly, with Saint Nicholas. Story has it that during his travels as a bishop, he met a shopkeeper with three daughters who couldn’t afford a dowry, which meant the girls would be destitute once their father passed away. St. Nick gave them three balls of gold by tossing them down the man’s chimney, where they ended up in the daughters’ stockings that were drying by the fire, thus giving the girls what they needed to live happily ever after. As years passed, people began to honor the story and St. Nicholas by gifting oranges.

Maybe farmers are just merrier this time of year, as farmer sentiment rose slightly again last month. Purdue’s Farm Financial Performance Index, which compares this year to last, rose to its second highest level this year, and 10% higher than the start of harvest. While crop input prices remain their biggest concern – 32% listed it as their top issue – it’s trending downward, reaching its lowest level of 2023. Reduced fertilizer prices are likely a key driver. Concerns over interest rates continue to grow, now listed by 26% of farmers as their chief issue. Earlier this year, concerns over crop input prices were nearly twice that of interest rates.

The world’s top wranglers and riders have assembled in Las Vegas this week for the National Finals Rodeo. That means RFD-TV will air night and day in my house, and Mike Boyd will make his annual pilgrimage to Sin City. NFR creates the perfect venue for marketing to western lifestyle enthusiasts, ranchers and farmers. Few entertainment properties have utilized the power of social media like rodeo. Many brand ambassadors and social media influencers have emerged and are in Vegas promoting apparel brands such as Ariat, Wrangler and Boot Barn on their Instagram, YouTube and TikTok channels. Stadium and TV signage are marketing brands such as Mahindra tractor, Massey Ferguson, Heston and Purina to ranchers.

Huma is sponsoring the Big Soil Health event this week in Cedar Falls, Iowa. I’ll be interviewed by WHO Radio today during the event.

About the Author

Fred Nichols

Fred Nichols, Chief Marketing Officer at Huma, is a life-long farmer and ag enthusiast. He operated his family farm in Illinois, runs a research farm in Tennessee, serves on the Board of Directors at Agricenter International and has spent 35 years in global agricultural business.

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