MARKLE, Ind. – Will farmers be able to secure adequate supplies of popular row crop herbicides by 2022?
“The hot topic right now is the lack of supplies for some produce for next season,” said Chad Threewits, Syngenta’s agronomic department representative for Indiana.
The challenge for suppliers and farmers to source enough herbicides for their 2022 growing year needs is not confined to a single state or region.
“We hear this from our members. It is not an uncommon conversation we have with our members. This is one of the main concerns when I go to talk to retailers. At our MAGIE show last month, the big conversations were about finding a product, ”said Kevin Johnson, Acting President of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.
Supply chain issues have impacted every industry, from groceries to Christmas trees, and agriculture has not been spared. Supplies of popular crop herbicides, including glyphosate and glufosinate, as well as ingredients to make herbicides, are tight and these shortages are not expected to end anytime soon.
“The little story is that all of the major active ingredients – if you think of the products that are used on many acres, Roundup, Liberty, even some of the products that contain atrazine that we use in corn – we hear about shortages across the board, ”said Bill Johnson, professor of botany and plant pathology at Purdue University.
Herbicide supply issues began to gain attention in the spring of 2021.
“Where we really had problems last year, in 2021, at least here in the eastern Corn Belt, is that they could get their first post-treatment sprayed, but for all the companies that were doing the re-spray, this was the re-spray, the second trip to the field, where they were struggling to find the product in a timely manner, ”said Bill Johnson.
Kevin Johnson agreed that supply issues escalated in early 2021.
“When spring started to hit, we started hearing all kinds of concerns about the supply issues,” he said.
With many popular herbicide ingredients sourced from outside of the United States, particularly China and India, transportation issues with COVID-19 impacting manufacturing facilities have affected availability.
“Part is because they can’t get the inert ingredients to use in the formulators in the United States and part is because whatever is going on at the formulators in the United States. abroad, COVID has slowed down their operations, they are unable to obtain workers or are unable to operate their factories. We have a lot of products made in China, a lot of products made in India. Even getting the inerts produced in these areas was a challenge, ”said Bill Johnson.
Kevin Johnson said supply chain issues go beyond the chemicals themselves.
“We see it in everything. In some cases, companies were looking for 2.5 gallon lids. Some companies have told us that they put everything in a 2.5 gallon pitcher into a white cardboard box. So there is no white cardboard to find, so they put it in a standard brown cardboard box, ”he said.
Threewits recalled that supply chain issues extend beyond chemicals and are part of shipping and supply delays.
“We had a delay in shipping because we couldn’t get the glue to glue the closed boxes to the cases of herbicide. We had to go from white boxes to brown boxes in some cases in order to be able to ship products, ”he said.
This is not the first time that popular herbicides have been lacking.
“If we look back over the last three or four years, there have been isolated shortages of specific products. I think three years ago we ran out of metribuzin, Syncor and Tricor are the trade names. Then Liberty was in short supply and that goes back to a lot of products made in India and there were problems there, ”said Bill Johnson.
A major problem has been transportation, from global container shipping to the driver shortage of the US trucking industry.
“In the retail world, trying to find truck drivers, not just for long hauls, but also for short haul trucks, it was a nightmare to have truck drivers. This is one of the biggest problems we have, ”said Kevin Johnson.
Farmers are urged to speak to their chemical retailers as soon as possible and realize that retailers may not have prices for some herbicides.
“What we tell everyone is talk to your retailers. I don’t think everyone has the price for what it’s going to be. I think some of them don’t have everything on hand at the moment compared to previous years, where they would already have stocks on hand. Work with your retailers and have these conversations, but in some cases the retailer may not have the price today and they may not have it until the end of October. I hear a lot of people say that they still need enough production to make them feel comfortable pricing some of these chemicals right now. They don’t buy 100% of their supply, so they don’t know where they stand with the prices, ”said Kevin Johnson.
Bill Johnson said that one sector that could be particularly affected are farmers who practice direct seeding and farmers who plant cover crops.
“Whether they are no-till cultivators or cover crops, they should do something before the crop is planted anyway. These farmers, in particular, the shortage of glyphosate has the greatest impact on this market. It’s possible that if someone gets the message that they can’t get enough glyphosate, they’ll go back to tillage, assuming they have the tillage equipment, ”he said. he declares.