The good news from a logistical standpoint during this fall’s harvest is that most of the grain coming out of the field is relatively dry. That means lower drying costs for farmers and fewer issues related to drying capacity.
“That takes the pressure off of LP (gas),” says Dave Holm, executive director of the Iowa Institute for Cooperatives. “If we had had a wet harvest, that would have been an issue this year.”
Logistically, Holm says the harvest is coming in larger than was expected and that means some grain handlers are beginning to pile grain outside. But with fewer drying issues that shouldn’t be a serious problem, he says.
A second logistical question that is raised during many harvest seasons is the supply and application of anhydrous fertilizer to fields. Until recently the soil was not yet cool enough for safe anhydrous application. That has changed in the past week or two, but a sudden wet spell could potentially complicate anhydrous applications.
More of an issue for farmers is the fact that anhydrous prices have shot up this fall.
Prices have tripled in many areas, Holm says. Supplies are tight and few suppliers have any extra anhydrous on hand.
Dry fertilizer has been less of a problem because dealers can stockpile and store it more easily than can be done with anhydrous. But the hurricane season did lead to river disruptions which slowed shipments of dry fertilizer to the Midwest, Holm says.
An additional fertilizer issue is the trade ruling last spring regarding phosphates. The Mosaic Company had a trade dispute with companies from Russia and Morocco which it took to the U.S. International Trade Commission. In March that organization approved tariffs on phosphates from those countries in response to aid those nations gave to phosphate producers in their countries. Those tariffs raised the price of phosphates in the United States.
For next spring, Holm says chemical products could be the larger challenge, thanks to logistical issues on imports. He advises farmers to talk to their fertilizer and chemical suppliers sooner rather than later to line up product supplies for spring.