Grain Growth Halted – Cold Is Here

I’ve put up postings on this for a while. Often citing lists of cold places or linking videos from farmers (most recently Yanasa Ama Ranch). Well, the USDA has just stated that this last round of freezing temperatures has effectively ended the grain season.

Why does this matter? Because due to a cold wet late spring, crop was planted late. To get full harvest would require growing into November. That’s impossible. Furthermore, a lot of crop was not harvested at the usual times so is still in the field. It is now more likely to rot there than to be harvested.

Yet the USDA, while calling the season done, is still keeping up rosy predictions on harvest amounts and yields. That’s not gonna work.

Has corn at 55% “good to excellent” so quality and yield are down, then only 20% harvested. That’s about 1/2 of what was harvested at this time last year. Soybean numbers are almost the same at about 54% good and 25% harvested.

No, I don’t think there will be food riots and the end of Supermarkets as we know them. I do think we can’t possibly export $50 Billion to China (1/2 soybeans) and that chicken and pork prices are going to rise, possibly a lot. I think I’ve already seen the start of that at Smart & Final. The last two weeks when I’ve stopped in, they have NOT had their perpetual cheap chicken “weekly special”. Instead of 89 ¢ / lb. it is now $1.29 and no discount.

I’m sort of OK with that as my cupboard is already full of food and I’ve canned about all the proper size jars I’ve got and the freezer is almost full. So I stocked up when the stocking was good. I’ve also got about a half year supply of beans and rice should it come to that ;-) Still to do is pick up some more SPAM at COSTCO and a few more canned hams ;-)

Then there is likely to be some kind of wavier on ethanol in gasoline if corn supply is low. I’m fine with that, too. That’s good for up to a 30% increase in corn for chickens and pigs.

Where there are more likely to be problem events is in countries with lots of hungry mouths, scarce growing land, and a shortage of money. Africa, Asia. When they depend on large imports of wheat, corn, rice, beans just to stay alive, and the supplier countries are unable to meet demand, it will be a very bad outcome. Major food supply sources are Canada, USA, Australia, Brazil, to some extent Argentina if they can get their government together. Well, of those, all but Brazil are facing weather challenges.

IIRC, Europe is about break even on food, so ought to do OK, depending on just what happens where. BUT will likely have a lot of pressure from surrounding populations. Southern Africa used to be a net exporter, but Socialism has ended that. They are joining the rest of Africa as food supply short areas. India has fairly stable weather so ought to hang in there as stable, unless the monsoon gets messed up by cold. China is already in trouble and getting worse. Russia grows a lot of wheat and other crops, but will be challenged in a real cold turn. I think they know how to deal with cold, though, and are smart enough to shift to things like barley and oats fast if needed.

That all means that IMHO the Americas, Australia, and the Pacific Islands ought to all be just fine, with some modest price rises as export demand drives up prices a lot. Europe will do OK being rich enough to out-bid as needed in global markets. Russia will be OK, being very cold smart. That leaves the problems to Africa, Middle East, and southern Asia / China, with India as a likely OK but not great.

For those reasons I think it is a wise move to be pulling US Troops out of the Middle East. In a couple of years those are likely to be very bad places to be. (IFF this weather trend continues and growing season compression continues.)

But that’s “projecting” far into the future. For now, it’s just the USDA saying growth is over and harvest is challenged.

Here’s Yanasa Ama Ranch with the stats and such:

The better news (from that same link to USDA above) is that things like wheat and oats have been nearly normal. So you can have your pancakes and oatmeal instead of bacon and roast chicken ;-)

Just make sure to keep an eye on how things finish out this year, and then do we get a repeat next year… Once we start stacking up 2 or 3 bad weather years in a row, that’s when I think it will start getting “dicey” on the world stage. The first year it is likely to just be a price bump on cheap meats. Chicken and pork.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Global Cooling, Plants - Seeds - Gardening and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Grain Growth Halted – Cold Is Here

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    I’ve seen this show once before as a young grain farmer in the1980s. The Russians and Chinese locked in grain contracts and got them shipped early while the USDA fumbled around telling everyone there was lots of grain available. Just as it became obvious and grain prices to the farmer began to raise. Carter announced a halt in foreign shipments to “save” the Americans from food price shock and the prices to to the farmers fell while the grain companies refilled their storage bins. In the end the American farmers got even less for their crops that year then normal. The American consumers got hit hard and the grain marketing companies made record profits. And a generation of young grain farmers went broke because of collusion between the grain buyers and bankers that forced the farmers to sell that years shortened production cheap….pg

  2. u.k.(us) says:

    Never underestimate the resourcefulness of those in fly-over country :)

  3. philjourdan says:

    As I was reading, and you got to the”food riots”, I was about to yelp! at you, but you then knitted it together very well. Higher prices means less demand, and all get what they want (here – I also agree other countries are not so lucky).

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    @philjourdan; When dealing with necessary commodities like food the have a strange price and demand behavior. At the point of 3% excess supply, the price and demand are the lowest as buyers only buy just-in-time as the availability and price are not in question. At the point of a 5% shortage the demand and price skyrocket because everyone wants to be assured of supply and price so they buy extra! and hoard. Food demand is fairly inflexible and perishable so higher prices do not result in reduced demand. Lower prices only results in more waste…pg

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    There’s also the curious case of “inferior goods”. NOTE: That does NOT mean a bad product. In economic jargon it means a perfectly fine product that is less desirable.

    While overall food demand is relatively inelastic, product substitution DOES happen. Price for Pork goes up, demand for pork drops as people swap to cheaper chicken. Classical supply and demand.

    But take things like potatoes. The are not the sought after high priced delicacy. They are the cheap “inferior goods”. When someone gets an extra $20, they don’t buy extra potatoes, they buy that steak they’ve wanted… Cut the price of potatoes, they are seen as even less “desirable”, and demand can drop some as folks put rice pilaf on the plate to make it more “special”…

    So you get these very curious demand / supply curves with various food products where sometimes the price / demand relationship is inverted from the usual… Where folks see “beans & rice” as poverty food and as soon as they can, buy more meat and fresh vegetables instead, even at 10 x the price / kg.

    Then you also have the fact that the product is seasonal. A price rise this year does not necessarily create more product next year. The price movement is usually due to transient effects that are gone a year later. Farmers know this, so don’t react to the price excursion. They react to their best predictions of the future…

    It’s an absolutely fascinating part of Economics.

  6. Larry Ledwick says:

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