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Fall harvest, farmers affected by supply chain disruptions

Low water levels in the Mississippi River has been the biggest hurdle.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Fall harvest for 2022 is well underway, and although farmers have been able to get their crops in without a problem, other issues outside of the field have made this a fairly difficult harvest season.

Terry Vissing has been farming in southern Indiana for 50 years. He’s seen his fair share of good and bad harvests. Unfortunately, 2022 has proven to be one of the more challenging ones. One of the biggest reasons – a lack of rain.

“We need light rains to bring the moisture back into the soybeans to get the moisture back up on them, but on whole we probably need large rains across the country,” Vissing says.

Soybeans need to reach a 13% moisture content for the ideal harvest, however, the recent stretch of dry weather has resulted in beans becoming even drier than that which is doing two things: costing him money, and reducing his crop yield.

Although humans don’t usually eat soybeans, they’re critical for livestock feed. More expensive livestock feed could mean higher meat prices. Soybean is the main harvest right now, with corn coming a bit later. Vissing is hoping that by the time corn is ready to harvest, conditions will have improved.

Area farmers have been able to harvest their crops, but they’re struggling to get that grain shipped because of the Mississippi River.

“The Mississippi River is shut down for grain traffic. That’s going to be a problem for farmers getting rid of grain this fall. It’s going to be a price reduction.”

It’s a catch-22: commodity prices for grain are high because of a national drought and the war in Ukraine, and like many other problems this year – the supply chain.

“It is a supply chain problem, and whenever those beans can’t get to the Gulf, they can’t be shipped world wide.”

If it can’t be shipped, then they’re not making money.

It isn’t just exports, but imports, too. Fertilizer, a lot of which comes from Russia and Ukraine, is also shipped up the Mississippi River. A lack of fertilizer is sending prices higher and higher. So high, in fact, Terry says farmers have been advised to hold some of their grain to sell later in the winter to try and limit cost impacts.

This isn’t the first time Vissing has faced such a deliminna, but the severity is a bit rare. The most recent year with conditions similar to now, he says, was 2012 which was actually a far worse drought.

What’s needed most is rain, but the parts of the country that drain into the Mississippi River as much as ten inches below normal for rainfall this year. For now, Terry will have to keep waiting.

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