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Forced to be flexible when buying expensive inputs

Kyle Stackhouse Storage shed with fertilizer and chicken manure separated by partitions.
STORING SUPPLIES: With ag supplies getting harder to come by, Kyle Stackhouse is taking delivery of next year's inputs whenever possible. He has even made room to store dry fertilizer in the manure storage building.
We’re squirreling away supplies for next year and taking delivery whenever possible.

Between spurts of harvest activity, we have begun squirreling away supplies for next year. Most years, this isn’t even a consideration at this point in time. Agriculture, like everyone else, is being impacted by the supply chain. It seems to me there are probably also some sectors of the supply chain that have decided they are going to take a piece of the pie since agriculture has had a bit of an upturn the last 8 months.

The price for fertilizer, fuel and some of the main chemistry products have doubled or more since we made purchases for the 2021 crop. Repair and wear parts are hard to get, and prices have increased there as well. (I tried to order some square metal tube and channel iron the other day, and our supplier said the price has gone up 2.5X! I had to pass.) I’m sure the price of seed has gone up too, but that’s probably getting overlooked because it is a mild increase.

Forced to be flexible

While shopping, I have found what I consider to be reasonable prices, while I have also had offers I chose to decline. Sometimes, I’m not able to get a price. Other times, I’ve been told if you can get it (at that price) from competitor XYZ, you probably should. I’m also having to accept my second or third choice of product mix or brand.

We are also having to store pretty much everything we are purchasing. We have never received as much fertilizer as early as we have this year. Our liquid fertilizer facility is two-thirds full, and we have even set up block walls in our manure storage buildings to separate the chicken manure from dry fertilizer.

Along with delivery comes the bill that has to be paid. There hasn’t been much out there as far as terms or deferral programs.

There have been many years when farmers choose to make a withdrawal from the soil fertility bank due to high fertilizer prices. However, I don’t remember any year when we just didn’t know if we would get products, such as chemicals and fertilizer.

Granted the fall weather hasn’t been good as of late, but even before this wet cycle hit, we had been considering holding off manure applications until early spring. Generally, we apply manure as early after harvest as possible and let the nutrients feed the soil and cycle through the process. However, with the cost of nitrogen, we feel we might get better efficiency holding off applications. In the end, the weather will likely make this decision for us.

As far as harvest goes, we pushed though some less than ideal conditions last week, but still need two or three more days to finish the standing crops. Then we’re anticipating a week to harvest the 200 acres of down corn. That won’t be fun.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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