Randy Francois is paying more attention to the corn market this year than ever before. He’s also keeping a close eye on inputs, rents and all the other costs of farming.

That’s all because 24-year-old Francois is launching his farming career and grew his first corn crop this year.

Francois said growing his 120 acres of corn was a lot different than helping his parents occasionally with their fieldwork.

"The biggest thing is I look so much closer at the dollars and cents of things," Francois, a Buchanan County Farm Bureau member, said. "You don’t realize what it costs for one acre of land — all the inputs that go into it."

Francois isn’t a rookie on the farm.

For several years, Francois helped his parents on the family’s farm, picking up rocks in the fields with friends he recruited from his baseball team and helping with pig chores and grinding feed. In the last few years, since he’s returned to the area after college, he’s helped his...