Well That’s Not Good. Crop Failures

This is Yanasa TV (used to be Yanasa Ama Ranch). 27 Minutes. He’s back from a road trip through the midwest farm country. It’s not good. A LOT of drought induced yield losses. Note that European crops are down on drought, and China is having a historical drought with rivers drying up. Add in that Ukraine & Russian grains are at least compromised, if not entirely off line: The globe is shaping up for a significant food shortage.

He spends a little while talking about current cash price for grains being higher than futures contract prices. Why? Well, if you want grain next February (futures contract) someone has to store that grain from now until then. Silos and storage cost money. So futures contracts are usually “current cash + storage cost + allowance for risk”. To have current delivery higher than futures says folks are desperate for grains / feed right now.

He also makes a point that what is in the grocery stores NOW is based on grains grown last season. There’s a year lag or more between a crop failure and the product not being on store shelves. Similarly with cattle. Food, water, & power issues cause ranchers to sell off more cattle than usual, pushing meat prices down for several months. Later, when feed & water are available, they must rebuild the herd by holding some calves back from market to add to the stock. Basically, meat prices rise a generation of two after the feed problem. For cows that’s a year or two. For pigs about 6 months to a year. For chickens it can be shorter.

Today at Walmart, Chicken Thighs were going for $1.98 / lb. A year ago they were 99 ¢ / pound. That’s a double. I did get some at Sam’s Club for $1.39 instead. Some of that, I think, is just Walmart having inventory issues. (IIRC, their process has everything shipped to Arkansas and then shipped out to stores nation wide as orders come in – higher gas prices will hurt more than with a system of direct shipment from vendor to stores) But some of this I’ve seen at other stores too.

Some of this may be an after effect of Hurricane panic buying, but some of it clearly is not.

Public’s has lots of stock and good quality, but prices are high. I didn’t price chicken there today, but other items were up some from what I remember a while ago.

Also, there’s lots of reports of folks cutting back spending on anything optional. Then a lot of reports of folks being laid off. Honda, for example, shutting down a factory for a few days due to inventory not moving. This in the “holiday season” when sales peak.

There is still lots of food in stores, in general. But there’s also clearly stock outages on many different foods, and many non-food items are short inventory or out of stock. To the extent the current crop in the ground is very short, and we end up out of grain in silos, expect shortages of foods, and especially meat, when that hits the market. (Beef, chicken and pork are basically just corn & soybeans ‘repackaged’ with added water… so short grains means very short meats means very high prices for meats.)

I’ve pretty much got my “Prep” back up to snuff. (We’d eaten it down a lot prior to the move, and given some away as buying new was cheaper than moving it ;-) It’s a nice feeling.

IF you do not have some kind of stored foods in the pantry, consider the implications.

Climate has moved back to what it was in the ’60s and early ’70s. A “loopy jet stream”, with rain bands moving all over. The “like clockwork” rains of the zonal pattern is now gone. We are back to the pattern of droughts & floods that caused famine in the ’60s. Pakistan has had lots of their cops drowned in a flood (as has Bangladesh). India is banning rice exports. China has their rivers drying up and is looking to buy up the grain stocks of the world. The “just in time” global shipping without inventory is about to run headlong into Global Issues. Inventory is your friend in unstable times.

Do note, too, that when Colorado River water finally drops below the level of the outflow from Lake Meade & Parker, the huge percentage of our “row crops” that come from California (and Arizona / New Mexico for some too) will suddenly end. Already this year California Tomatoes are taking a big hit. Expect Marinara to be pricey for the next year… and if the Colorado River runs dry, perhaps non-existent marinara and ketchup to follow in late 2023 to 2024. (My best guess of the run dry time is about October of 2023).

Hopefully the world will find a way to get through this without too many folks starving. All we really need to do is eat the corn and soybeans we would have fed to the farm animals, and there will be enough for everyone. You may not want grits & tofu, but if you are in Sub Saharan Africa or the Muslim North Africa, living on $1 of grains a day: that’s a lot better than nothing. We just need to have China, Europe & North America not buy up all the global grains to feed their pigs & chickens while folks in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Africa starve.

Oh, and this is a particularly bad time for Holland to be driving farmers off the land; and for the EU to be sanctioning fertilizer exports from Russia…

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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 AGW Climate Perspective, Emergency Preparation and Risks, News Related. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Well That’s Not Good. Crop Failures

  1. John Hultquist says:

    Canned tomatoes and beans are on the shopping list. Also, a big ham to slice and freeze in 1/2 pound packages. Washington State’s apple crop is down about 11% so now would be a good time to dry or freeze 20 lbs. A warm apple pie with ice cream will give one a guilty feeling when hardships are reported across the world.
    Ice cream in gallon plastic buckets — not the high-end brands — will be need; I have freezer space.
    Now to the crazies:
    Teens are pouring milk out in grocery stores in new trend to raise awareness about dairy production emissions

  2. H.R. says:

    We did alright here in my neck of the woods. All the farms around us planted soybeans and corn was planted more to the north.

    I ran a couple of errands up about 30 miles north and the corn looked really good. We’ve had a dry Fall so far, so the corn should come in on time and in good shape. I’m not seeing a bumper crop, but it will be a good year here.

    I have been busy getting ready for the Winter in Florida. I haven’t commented much at all, but I have kept up on the articles and comments.

    I was really busy around the house for 3 days. The last time I was out, I was wondering when they were going to bring in the beans. I had to run to the grocery store this evening and they had harvested every field I drove by!

    Same with the soybeans. We had a wet Spring and 3+ weeks of very hot weather that stressed the beans just a bit. The plants looked a little smaller this year, but they were loaded with pods. How large the beans were inside the pods is hard to say.

    Hmmmm… if they got all that acreage (my trip takes me past about 2,000 acres) in in such a short time, that means they covered more ground before filling the truck, so fewer trips to storage and faster harvesting.

    Still, it looks to be a good year for the soybeans in my area, but no bumper crop for them, either.


    I guess I could say the same for my garden. It was not great and not terrible, either. I did get a 2-pound 3-ounce beefsteak tomato That’s the largest tomato I have ever grown. Yuge!

    Fourteen days to launch and I still have a ton of things to do, so I’ll be scarce here until we land in Florida.

  3. David A says:

    A good site for food storage information in various conditions. Pick an item and gain an idea. https://stilltasty.com/
    EM, any particular recommendation on long term food storage ideas for barter verses consumption.

  4. another ian says:

    “The Great Economic Pretending Has Become Absurd, WSJ Economists Ignore Current Reality and Ponder Possibility of Recession in 2023
    October 18, 2022 | Sundance | 9 Comments

    I do not know how to describe this with the Through The Looking Glass absurdity it deserves.”

    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2022/10/18/the-great-economic-pretending-has-become-absurd-wsj-economists-ignore-current-reality-and-ponder-possibility-of-recession-in-2023/

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    For barter, you want physically small stuff of relatively high value, where the value is easily verified. “The most tradable good” is what becomes money (Austrian school or some such – see Mises I think).

    You want something easily divisible, that stores well for long periods of time, and is easily recognized as being what it is, and what it’s value is. Quality and honesty easily verified. (i.e. a tin can of “something” without a label on it and no date code is worth nearly nothing. Same can with label and date code is worth more. But you can’t open it and sniff or taste a drop without ruining it… and it eventually expires)

    So think liquor. Beers are $1 each. Wine is a $10. Small pints of Scotch, bourbon, etc “good stuff” are your $20 as are Fifths of cheaper Vodka and Gin. For $100s you get really good Scotch ;-) Stores for years to decades and verifiable via an eye dropper on the tongue.

    Fuels too. Stove alcohol, even Everclear (though pricey). Camping stove bottles of butane, propane, etc. Easily stored, lasts decades.

    Women prefer soaps and perfumes. From plain old Ivory or Dove, to jugs of dish soap and on up to high end brand perfumes that are known “by the nose” to those who know… and want them. Also stores for years to decades and verifiable via a sniff test.

    Everyone will want tooth paste or other “self maintenance items” along with medicines and bandaids and such. BIG bottles of multivitamins and aspirin etc. can be traded a few pills at a time.

    In prisons, thanks to lots of smokers, cigarettes become currency. But I have no use for them and I am told they lose quality over time. Still, about $6 / pack of “value” to those who must have them.

    IFF you want it to be food items:

    You still want the properties of long storage life, easily divided, and verifiable quality without significant loss. Foods are generally more bulky, so not for “pocket change” use… I’d likely go for boxes of “slim jims” or bags of jerky. Relatively high value per unit volume or weight. Clearly labeled AND the recipient can easily verify the quality by opening and consuming a bit of their product. (i.e. YOU don’t lose value in the trade by opening it first, but they can verify the value by first use…)

    This being Halloween Season, a few big bags of individually wrapped candies make a lot of “change” that keeps for a few years. And worst case is you hand it out next Halloween when you rotate the stock ;-)

    I’d not bother with bulky low value stuff that everyone will have packed away. The classical “beans and rice”. One can of SPAM is the same as about 8 lbs of rice… Or about 2 “slim jims”…

    Spices are the classical high value rare item. Salt is critical to life and folks forget about it. A couple of 40 lb bags of water softener salt will run you about $16. In a real collapse and scrounge world, “worth his salt” has meaning. Rome paid folks in salt, thus “salary”… I’d guess it would rapidly become worth about 5 lbs per day labor, and then 1 lb / day labor… Pepper Corns (NOT ground) have even higher value.

    Salt is also valuable for “salting meat” for preservation. Think 1700s tech. Just about everything from fish to meat and more was salted to save it. No refrigeration means drying, salting, or canning mostly. Salt is inherently highly valuable. Plus stores forever as long as you don’t get it wet ;-)

    Condiments. All those beans & rice? Where’s the soy sauce, catchup, and mustard? (Mayo does not store well… so skip it) All of them store a long time (as they are either very salty, already fermented, or pickled via vinegar) and are available in several sizes. Also BBQ Sauce ;-) That wild hog someone shot is nice and all, but I’d trade a whole ham of it for a big jug of Sweet Baby Ray’s or a big bottle of a good rub to put on the rest of it… (more on that in an upcoming short post on a spice mix I like ;-)

    Remember that the Silk Road was also called the Spice Trade and that much of Europe Exploration was about trying to find a better way to get spices without Arab traders in the middle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spice_trade

    Pickling spice mix and vinegar are a winning combo too. Traditional food prep uses a lot of both.

    Seeds: I have a large seed inventory in a freezer. Mostly for personal use and for variety preservation. However, at $2+ / packet it is a lot of value in a small space. Harder to verify viability, but one would eventually get a reputation as a good source. My “plan” in any really extended Aw Shit is to turn my yard into a Victory Garden of open pollinated varieties. Then have some of it be a seed garden. Yup, I plan on being a “Seedsman” in that case. It is a bit technical as you must know who’s growing what around you to avoid cross pollination and loss of seed type. So competition would be low… For example: Runner Beans usually self pollinate and rarely get crossed (only with bumble bees that chew a hole in the flower and that’s rare) while corn will cross with anything a mile up wind. Sweet Potatoes can be started from slips to assure purity. So my intent is to “grow my currency” ;-)

    Hope that gives you some ideas.

    Me? I have 40 lbs of salt, 2 large bottles of pepper corns, and about 1/2 gallon of soy sauce ATM. I tried adding more scotch and beer but the inventory keeps getting used up ;-)

  6. David A says:

    E.M. Thanks!!!!! Once again thanks, you are amazing! Appreciated!

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh, and I’d also consider Olive Oil & Garlic Granules. (along with grated Parmesan Cheese in plastic bottles & noodles)..

    This is for “Olio con aglio” or “Aglio e olio”. Oil & Garlic. A classic way of making pasta taste like something without a lot of sauces. Just a little O.O. coating and a sprinkle of garlic (minced or reconstituted granules) with a shake of Parmesan topper. Try it. One Bottle of each (oil, garlic, cheese) lasts a VERY long time. How many folks who have stored 20 lbs of noodles also stored 4 gallons of sauces?.

    BTW, IF it were not desired for noodles, the cheese (that keeps a very long time as a dry cheese), garlic, and oil have many other uses and are high value / unit. I just made a lamp / oil candle via the expedient of pouring Olive Oil around a 2.5 inch chunk of candle stuck in the bottom of an 8 oz wide mouth canning jar. Turned about 1 hour of candle into about 30 burn hours. That’s a big value add about day 7 of any extended collapse… Cheese sprinkled on all sorts of tasteless stuff makes it very interesting. And garlic? Universal seasoning and medicine…

    BTW, I’m planning to pick up a couple of more boxes of those Ikea candles and a couple of flats (12 ea) of those 8 oz wide mouth jars. Along with a BIG (gallon? 2?) can of generic “Crisco” like shortening. IF there’s a collapse of the grid, I can then assemble 24 of these “multi-day” candles (about a week if used only when dark for several hours / day) in about 2 hours. (6 candles cut into 1/4 length, Wick set free at top end, bottom stuck to jar via melting that end a little over a flame, then pack shortening around it). My plan is personal use and / or give to neighbors; but it would make a nice “side job” / business during any long Aw Shit. Have some excess shortening cans (something like $5? each and store forever) and candles; require “core charge” trade in of glass jars for refilling… You can put this in taller “jam jar” like things, but they flicker a bit more in the vertical air flow, and in bowels, the melt doesn’t reach the edge. The 8 oz wide mouth is about ideal for these. The 4 oz regular mouth makes a better candle (doesn’t take a week+ to use it up, no repeated burns that fail to melt the whole puddle to the glass edge leaving you in a well, more stable melt size) but for storage and emergency use, I’d rather have the bigger one (and it uses a lot more shortening or oil and a lot less candle per unit burn time).

    Oh, and I’ve got a couple of spools of cordage, a gallon of BORAX powder, and lot of salt so I can make a few decades of wick, should I need to. Didn’t particularly plan on it, but just accumulated each for other things.

    I have a few jugs of Olive Oil (about 2 gallons I think) along with about a gallon of parmesan cheese in several sealed bottles, plus one big “garlic granules” jug (but likely to buy a couple more…). Hadn’t really thought about it as trade goods, more “how to put 6 months of pasta sauce in a small space”, but… Oh, and about 1/2 gallon of “chicken bullion powder” in several jugs. A couple small and a couple of 1 kg giant bottles from COSTCO / Sam’s Club / Walmart… It is amazing how many bland things can be made tasty with a tsp of the stuff… Were I doing it as trade goods, I’d either buy more of the smaller bottles, or I’d stock a few hundred “sandwich bags” that I could spoon a tsp or Tbl sp of it into one. All of these keep for years near as I can tell. O.O. about 10 at least, ditto dry garlic. Bullion seems to be perpetual… The cheese says to refrigerate after opening, but as a dry cheese I think that’s a bit of paranoia. I’ve kept it in the fridge for several years (after opening a large bottle then the kid decided she didn’t want to sprinkle it on everything anymore…) and for a few years unopened on the shelf.

    The only one with “counterfeiting issues” is Olive Oil. Cheese, garlic and bullion are verifiable via a taste of a speck or two. There’s a large O.O. counterfeiting problem even now (especially high end products). I’d either stick with the “low flavor” cheap O.O. from big box stores in big jugs, or get sealed glass jugs of smaller size, and again lower premium, like house brand Publix market brand or similar. Of course, one could always buy Corn or Soybean oil, but the polyunsaturated oils don’t taste as good, and “go off” much faster (polymerize when open for a year or two, end up stinky, etc.) when mono-unsaturated doesn’t do that. Solid fats, like tallow and lard, are shelf stable and usable for things like candles, but not so good on pasta ;-)

    So a stack of 40 x 1 lb. boxes of spaghetti is pretty small, then the matching O.O. bottle, garlic shaker, and parmesan cheese shaker all fit in a modest box. It will then feed two people for about a month of meals (assuming something else for b’fast or just 2 meals / day). “1 dry pound / person / day” but now with the added oil and cheese calories, so extended. Add a 50 or 100 count “daily vitamin” and you can market it as “food for a month – what’s it worth to you?”…. Your cost? I’d guess about $100 at most. ( $60 for pasta at $1.50 / lb – yes that’s high, then $40 more than covers 3 bottles of added oil, garlic, cheese…)

    Anyway, that’s the thinking that went into selecting those things for my Prep, even though not planning on trading it. Just wanted the Aglio e olio flavor to go with all those mondo boxes of pasta from COSTCO ;-) and some cheese on top ;-)

  8. jim2 says:

    RE: Recession. I watch some financial TV and read financial web sites. Various pundits have been calling for recession for a couple of months now. One I saw recently put the odds at 100% for 2023. The housing market is already collapsing fast, and no one can play that one down. The Winter in Europe will be a cold one in more ways than one. They brought it upon themselves by listening to the Green Energy Extremists.

    Of course, the Dimowits don’t want to acknowledge any of the above. And while the above might seem adequate cause of a Red tsunami, my faith in my fellow citizen to vote rationally has been greatly diminished.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jim2:

    We’re in a recession NOW. By 2023 it ought to be a full on depression (if a nuclear war doesn’t end it all… /snark;)

    Folks are starting to have lots of layoffs, and everyone is tending to the Hunker Down mode. This can be a “spiral decent into hell” as money velocity drops “hugely”… but the Central Bank is NOT flushing liquidity to keep Vm up, it is rocketing rates up (that causes V of money to drop…)

    IF you were trying to give the economy a bad case of cramps, crash & whimper: IMHO there isn’t much more one could do without it being obvious you are trying to kill the economy.

  10. jim2 says:

    Yep, killing the economy with the blunt instrument of interest rates is the only way the Fed can bring down inflation. Once enough jobs are lost and companies folded, with the rest making much less money, demand will plummet and eventually prices will follow. It’s nice the Dimowits are “in charge” this time.

    It would also be good if the election were a few more months down the road, but it isn’t.

  11. Steve S6 says:

    RE corn and soybeans. They are currently piling up, quite literally huge mounds, along the Mississippi waiting for barges that can’t navigate the river due to very low levels. Even with Army Corps of Engineers dredging. See article in Legal Insurrection.

  12. jim2 says:

    RE: Recession. One problem the Fed is up against it persistent employment! This “recession” has yet to kill the job market and that will have to happen before prices fall. We may or may not be in a recession right now, but it’s looking really bad for 2023.

    Unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, five straight declines, underemployment rate fell, but more than 155,000 people are still unemployed

    https://newsrnd.com/news/2022-10-20-unemployment-rate-fell-to-3-9—five-straight-declines–underemployment-rate-fell–but-more-than-155-000-people-are-still-unemployed.SybbIWqRXo.html

  13. The True Nolan says:

    Yep. The Feds say unemployment is at 3.9%. Meanwhile, John Williams with Shadow Stats says it is at 24%. Most readers here may be familiar with Williams. He has for decades now been figuring statistics consistently using the OLD methodology, i.e., no shuffling around of categories and definitions to make the figures look artificially low.
    https://usawatchdog.com/inflation-75-year-high-unemployment-24-john-williams/

  14. jim2 says:

    ADP isn’t a government agency. They also report an uptick in employment activity. I suppose if you choose your own methodology, you can make the number anything you like.

    https://adpemploymentreport.com/

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Many consider ADP the best indicator of actual employment (NOT UN-employment) as they are a payroll processor and only count actual checks being sent out by them (then adjust for their share of the market to get total employment).

  16. David A says:

    Curious as to the fluctuations in the number of people in the work force

  17. jim2 says:

    The Fed will have to make the unemployment rate go up to effectively lower the inflation rate. That’s why the high employment rate, as of today, is a real problem for us. The housing market is crashing, but rates will have to go much higher to kill the rest of the economy. There are those who think the Fed is raising rates too fast, but I’m pretty sure that currently the Fed sees its first task to kill inflation. Again, it’s too bad we are so close to the election. It would be nice if there were time for a few more hikes. Oh well, people currently do have to buy food, gasoline, and heat the house. We do have that going for us.

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