Harvest seasons vary depending on the crop that was planted, but late summer and fall are busy times of year for farmers. And since the pandemic began, farmers have been working overtime to ensure that their goods make it to market on time.
The agricultural sector is affected by a number of variables, including the weather and pests. The pandemic is yet another of those variables, and consumers may want to know how the many factors that affect the agricultural sector could affect what is and isn’t in the grocery store in the months to come.
A variety of factors have affected the availability of wheat-based products. Earlier this year, exceptional drought levels in the Midwest – areas with high production of wheat products – coupled with concern about spring rainfall amounts being enough for summer crops to thrive may continue to adversely affect the availability of breads, pastas and other items made from wheat.
Things are not looking better regarding imported wheat. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, where wheat crops are grown in abundance, is impacting the global wheat market. Russia, the United States, Canada, France, and Ukraine were the world’s top wheat exporters in 2020, according to Statista. The United Nations reported that 30 to 40 percent of the fall 2022 harvest in Ukraine is at risk, as farmers have been unable to plant crops. This could result in a potential loss of 19 to 34 million tons of exported wheat this year.
The abundance of spring rain in the Pacific Northwest, as well as areas of Minnesota and Canada, contributed to an expected above-average crop of grass seed. However, the upper midwest crop was forecasted to be a week to two weeks late due to cooler than average temperatures.
Despite an abundance, the Oregon Grass Seed Bargaining Association expected that growers will ask for higher prices on seed throughout 2022 for perennial ryegrass and tall fescue due to greater input costs and land rent increases, among other factors.
Later planting dates of corn across the United States corn belt has led to stalled development of the crop in 2022. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Crop Watch anticipated near-average levels of corn on irrigated fields. Across rain fed locations, predictions are more uncertain due to weather throughout July and August (which had yet to be documented at press time). While most sites are expected to see near-average corn crops, a high probability of below-average yield may occur in Iowa, southwest Nebraska and southern Kansas. Above-average yield may occur in northwest Missouri and south-central Illinois. Despite more normalized yields, operating costs have climbed, including the costs of nitrogen fertilizer used in corn production, so store prices of corn, corn oil and other corn products may remain high.
The agricultural sector continues to make strides to provide products people need. However, various factors have affected the cost and availability of a number of products.