WHEN THE bin doors finally close on this odd crop season, farmers can finally look ahead to a potentially less expensive year. Experts have predicted lower input costs for 2010. This should help farm incomes improve after the beating they will take this year.

Next year, fertilizer prices alone may be enough to swing the bottom line into the black. Purdue University Extension is estimating 2010 fertilizer costs to be $100 to $130/acre for corn ground. This compares to $200/acre spent on fertilizer for some 2009 cornfields. After all, anhydrous ammonia reached $1,000+/ton last year. Today, anhydrous ammonia sells between $400 and $450/ton.

In spite of news about $400/bag multiple-trait seed, the average price of seed should not be much higher in 2010 than it was in 2009, according to Purdue. Corn seed averaged $89/acre and soybean seed $52/acre this year. Next year, the prices are expected to average $94/acre for corn and stay at $52/acre for soybeans.

Purdue says the prices of crop protection products will not change much next year either. Overall cost of pesticides may go down slightly from $41/acre in 2009 to $37/acre in 2010.

Interest expense that ranged from $9 to $18/acre this year will be lower at $4 to $8/acre next year.

Rental rates have flattened and even decreased a little in some areas. For example, Indiana rent dropped from $169 to $203 in 2009 to $164 to $197 in 2010.

The lower crop input prices will help growers make up for some losses this year. Hopefully they won't come too late.

(For Purdue's input cost projections, visit www.agecon.purdue.edu/extension/pubs.)