From peanuts to new cotton gins to sugarcane to farming dreams — here are the Top 10 most read stories on deltafarmpress.com for 2012.

10. For Graves family, equipment investments pay in added efficiency, higher yields — Hembree Brandon

Mike Graves and sons Allen and Tyler have spent a lot of money on grain bins, center pivot systems, and other equipment — and they’re considering the purchase of a new module builder cotton picker. But, they see these expenditures as investments that allow them to increase efficiency, boost yields, reduce costs, and importantly, free up more time for family, community service, and other activities.

9. Mississippi farmer Ben Harlow: 'I'm living my dream' — Hembree Brandon

“I think I was born wanting to farm,” says Ben Harlow. “As an only child, living out in the country, there were no neighboring children to play with. Instead of playing cowboys and Indians or playing with toy cars, I had toy tractors.

8. Sugarcane equipment – if you can’t buy it, build it — Elton Robinson

It takes a diverse array of specialized equipment to make a sugarcane crop in Louisiana, and much of it comes from on-the-spot innovations – or what producer Ronnie Gonsoulin, of Ulysses Gonsoulin Sons, calls “Cajun country engineering.”

7. One of the fastest deals ever: A new $6.5 million cotton gin in east Mississippi — Hembree Brandon

Eleven days — that’s all it took for a group of east Mississippi cotton growers to go from talking stage to a signed, sealed, and financed deal to build a spanking new $6.5 million state of the art cotton gin in Noxubee County.

6. 2012 farm bill passes out of committee, heads to full Senate — David Bennett

The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the 2012 farm bill and sent it on to the full Senate. According to a committee statement, the bill – which ends direct payments to farmers -- will cut agriculture spending some $25 billion by “eliminating unnecessary subsidies, consolidating programs to end duplication, and cracking down on food assistance abuse."

5. The Skinners: Getting more yield from the same acres — Hembree Brandon

“My father and I used to have land running all the way to the nearby Alabama state line,” says Bill Skinner, who farms with sons Will and Lee near Macon, Miss. “We were farming 4,200 acres, but we were just spread too thin. Now, my sons and I farm 2,600 acres and we're making as much or more yield on fewer acres, thanks to irrigation, improved varieties, and more efficient equipment and technology.”

4. In east Mississippi, irrigation and cotton acres on the increase — Hembree Brandon

Jay Hoover has never grown cotton. But, this year the Macon, Miss., long-time grains and poultry producer has planted 330 acres on ground that would’ve otherwise been in soybeans.

3. On the Selfs' Mississippi farm, it's wall-to-wall peanuts this year — Hembree Brandon

For years, says Don Self, “My father and I just grew cotton and soybeans, with a little corn occasionally. But when we started growing peanuts, rotation became a necessity in order to limit diseases, and we dropped soybeans.

2. New traits: Soybeans' gleaming future — Forrest Laws

The returns from growing soybeans — and the relatively low cost of production for the crop — have created an excitement among soybean farmers and the companies that serve them.

1. USDA to close 259 offices, facilities and labs — David Bennett

Facing a shrinking budget, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined moves – including the closure of 259 offices, facilities and labs under the USDA umbrella – to save some $150 million annually