There’s snow on the ground and a chill in the air. But that doesn’t stop the lobbying work of Kansas corn, sorghum, soybean and wheat farmer organizations.
The annual Kansas Commodity Classic, held Jan. 28, in Salina, Kan., gathers members of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association and Kansas Soybean Association under one roof to learn about hot topics they need to be monitoring going into 2022. It’s also historically when several groups have their annual meetings to elect new leadership and conduct business.
On the top of every farmer’s mind at KCC was the fertilizer situation. Kansas wheat farmers should be starting to topdress their fields with nitrogen in February, before the crop breaks dormancy and begins spring tillering. However, according to KAWG, fertilizer prices have increased more than 80% for the 2022 planting season, because of international supply-chain disruptions due to the pandemic.
This, coupled with reports from members from across the state of dry winter conditions that have drawn down subsoil moisture supplies for the dormant crop, could affect the 2022 winter wheat crop yield in the state.
“While we cannot control the weather and its impact on the wheat crop’s yield potential, it is important to note that Kansas farmers are holding off on fertilizer applications due to high prices and availability of supplies,” said Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin. “Even with welcome winter snow and — fingers crossed — well-timed spring showers, these decisions could affect the final grain yields and quality of this year’s wheat crop.”
Other commodity groups in the state had the same tough talks at their tables about the fertilizer issue. For example, KCGA was one of several state corn groups to sign the National Corn Growers Association’s letter to executives of Mosaic Co. in December. The letter called Mosaic to task for the tariffs imposed last March NCGA members claim are the cause of skyrocketing fertilizer problems.
According to the letter, Mosaic has created a monopoly on fertilizer imports, using the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to manipulate the supply curve so that only 15% of phosphorus imports now come into the U.S. without tariffs. These tariffs of 30% to 70% on phosphate imports, according to NCGA, would equate to roughly $480 million to $640 million in added fertilizer bills for U.S farmers.
Weather and more
Other items to note include:
- Weather. Ross Janssen, KWCH chief meteorologist, says farmers should prepare for the current strong La Niña weather pattern to affect the jet stream through spring and early summer. The models show winter to drag into March. However, one model does look promising for some moisture and cooler-than-normal temperatures in later spring and into June, he added.
- WOTUS. Farmers heard more about the reemerging Waters of the U.S. definition under the Clean Water Act. KCGA is one of many groups that have written to EPA in support of the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule that limits the Clean Water Act’s federal jurisdiction.
- Kansas ag economy. Mike Beam, Kansas secretary of agriculture, reported that it looks like the state will exceed well over $4 billion in agricultural exports for 2021, likely a record year. Additionally, the Kansas Department of Agriculture is working to bring in more food processors and other companies to the state to keep that added value of processing the state’s crops and livestock in the state. And, KDA is working with stakeholders to improve workforce development for the food and ag sectors.
- Sorghum carbon footprint. Kansas sorghum growers learned that Kansas State University researchers are starting a study that will help quantify the crop’s carbon footprint — and, ultimately, the farm-level carbon intensity of sorghum. Those data could benefit farmers who want to sell their sorghum in the biofuels market.
Kansas Wheat, Kansas Corn, and Kansas Grain Sorghum, contributed to this article.