As you sit down to read this issue of AgProfessional, the main work of the 2013 cropping season has wrapped up. As you prepare for the end of the year holidays, it’s a time to pause and reflect on the previous year.

It seems 2013 was a little kinder to crops across the Midwest. Although drought hung on in some areas, crops seemed to get enough water to produce a bumper crop at the end of the season. Last year’s small grain stocks appear to have been replenished with this year’s good harvest. Of course, it is uncertain how winter precipitation will impact next spring’s planting or if drought will carry into next season.

Seed companies continue to make progress on developing seed technologies to help farmers who are battling drought conditions. In the future, drought traits will be found in more and more seed offerings, which will help justify higher seed costs through higher yields.

Crop fertility and fertilizer issues also were big news in 2013. Concerns over nutrients in the nation’s waterways gained a lot of attention. Several states are working to improve water quality in river drainage basins by setting up new nutrient criteria. As we move into a new year, these issues will only continue to gain more traction and public awareness. Preserving the ability to apply fertilizer will be critical for farmers’ and ag retailers’ livelihoods. Be sure to be aware of issues in your state and don’t hesitate to get involved.

Although the introduction of new active ingredients has slowed in recent years, several new products were launched in 2013. Future introductions look to remain slow as crop protection companies aim to tweak existing formulations or to combine active ingredients into new combinations.

Another hot button issue this year was genetically modified crops and the subsequent GMO labeling bills. States in the Northeast aimed to create a GMO labeling bloc by requiring contiguous states to pass similar legislation. At the end of 2013, that is in jeopardy as New Hampshire voted down its bill, threatening Maine’s GMO labeling bill.

The measure to label GMOs in Washington State was rejected by voters this fall. Many expected the labeling issue to pass, but the defeat has only reinvigorated anti-GMO activists who are redoubling their eff orts to get a large state to pass a GMO labeling bill. These activists have already announced their intention to bring bills to a public vote in 2014’s elections in order to reach a wider voting audience.

GMOs and biotechnology remain an emotional issue. When we ran an article in November about a new GMO apple that is being tested, people came out of the woodwork to comment on it. Most were against the idea of this apple simply because it was a GMO. The goal is to introduce an apple that doesn’t brown when cut.

We will continue to bring you coverage of GMO issues into 2014, including new introductions, research and labeling issues around the country.

To leave on an upbeat and positive note, 2013 brought great new innovative products to the agriculture industry. Please stop and read the products Rich Keller and I chose as the Top 10 products of 2013. We think these products will help ag retailers and consultants do their jobs easier, better and more effi ciently and thereby improve their farmers’ operations. By remaining on top of the best new technology, our readers can bring a brighter new year to their customers—a win-win for all! Have a safe and joyous holiday season!