Growers should consider buying their fertilizer before the new year, says a grain merchandiser.
“That is something that I would definitely put more focus on this year than I have in years past,” said Jason Charles, who runs the export trading division of Land O’Lakes Inc., the second largest co-operative in the United States.
Charles told farmers attending the Agri-Trend 2012 Farm Forum Event that the Mississippi River is so low that a 322 kilometre section of it will likely be shut down for dredging starting Dec. 10.
That river system carries about $2 billion of fertilizer a month from New Orleans to suppliers in the U.S. Midwest and in Western Canada.
If the river closes, the price of getting fertilizer to those markets will rise because barges are the cheapest form of transportation. Additional costs would likely be borne by farmers.
“We will see fertilizer prices increase as we go into the spring barring any weather changes,” said Charles.
“There’s only one thing that can change it. It’s got to start raining and it can’t just rain a little bit.”
The summer drought in the Midwest that dramatically reduced corn yields also took its toll on the Mississippi River, which is fed by tributaries from Ohio, Illinois and Missouri.
The section of the Mississippi that will likely be closed for repairs has a bedrock bottom so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to blast away the rock to dredge the river.
Charles said agricultural companies located along the river have asked U.S. president Barack Obama to declare the Mississippi River a disaster area.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of the world’s most major river artery being called a disaster area but that’s where we’re at,” he said.