Historic Freeze Returns To SE Asia
The first week-or-so of May will see another unusually frigid mass of polar cold sweep Southeast Asia.
The cold air is forecast to descend as far south as Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
After recently breaking its low temperature record for April, Laos is expected to bust its record low for May, too.
Also, shifting to South America, a cold front is advancing ‘up’ the continent with frost noted in Patagonia and also a remarkable -3.2C (26F) logged at San Antonio Oeste, Argentina. Temperatures will drop sharply as we enter the weekend, even at tropical latitudes — a chill that will threaten to further reduced already ropy-looking Argentinian and Brazilian crop estimates.
And I’ll conclude this brief southern hemisphere roundup with Australia where a fierce blast of polar cold is also on the cards as we enter early May:
Snow, Rain, Cold Keeps U.S. Farmers From Planting Corn
Late-season snow, heavy rains, and record cold are resulting in mounting planting delays across the U.S. (and Canada). “It’s just too cold for corn,” said Iowa farmer Kelly Nieuwenhuis, who farms 3,000 acres in O’Brien County.
Nationally, the planting pace is dragging, with only 7% of corn acreage and 3% of soybeans planted through April 24–less than half the acres planted at this time last year, reported the USDA–a gov agency tasked with stabilizing markets.
Focusing in on Iowa, America’s largest corn grower, this year is seeing the state’s slowest planting pace since 2013.
Adding to the planting pressures are global fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide shortages; and while I consider these inputs poisons, they are required by our modern, mono-cropping agricultural industry to achieve anything like decent yield: for every 1% decline in fertilizer usage there is a corresponding 1% decline in yield (with similar numbers for pesticides and herbicides).
Farmers already are complaining about fertilizer prices, which have jumped 300% or more due to supply chain concerns. In addition, the U.S. has imposed trade sanctions on Russia, a major exporter of fertilizers.
Nieuwenhui said some growers are worried about whether they’ll have fertilizer for next year’s growing season.
“It has everyone on edge,” he said. “They’re not sure how those supply chain issues will work out.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (two agricultural powerhouses), combined with planting uncertainty elsewhere (including the U.S., Argentina, Brazil and Kazakhstan), is driving food prices higher and higher, globally. Ukraine is the world’s seventh-largest corn producer, eighth-largest wheat grower and the global leader in sunflowers — Ukraine and Russia combined provide approx. 30% of the total global grain supply, reductions here impact the entire world.
U.S. farmers have until early-May to plant corn before worries of lost yields begin being realized, with the window for soybeans extending until late May or early June.
“About the third week of May, you’re guaranteed to have some yield loss (on corn)”, said Mark Licht, an Iowa State University assistant agronomy professor. Then after that, Nieuwenhuis added: “People start to get nervous.”
May commences this weekend and the latest forecasts (shown below) are suggesting further delays.
Large swathes of the Midwest are expected to see severe cold and heavy rain over the next week, with Iowa expecting up to 1.5 inches of precipitation, according to Justin Glisan, the state climatologist.
Equally troublesome is Iowa’s soil temperature which is approx. 6F below average this month. It’s usually in the low to mid-50s this time of year, added Glisas, but this month looks like it will be among the top 10 coldest Aprils on record.
And May isn’t looking much better:
Additional rounds of late-season snow are also on the cards for many:
The Consumer Price Index climbed 8.5% in March, the largest increase since 1981. This was predominantly driven by energy and fuel rises, but spiraling food prices also had an impact with farm goods making up about 20% of every dollar spent at the grocery store.
Additionally, corn and soybeans are used to feed livestock, either directly or indirectly: higher grain prices = higher meat prices.
Yet while the risk of shortages mount…
…America Continues To Sell To China
Another 1.09 million mt of US corn has been sold to China –the fourth significant order this month– raising expectations that the Asian importer is turning to U.S. supply to help plug the loss of supply from Ukraine.
China has raced to the top of the global list of corn importers, and imported just under 8 million mt of Ukrainian corn in the 2021 calendar year, according to the Agricensus Export Dashboard. However, the Russian invasion has curtailed exports, with Ukraine’s major deep sea ports either blockaded or severely damaged, making it impossible to load the panamax vessels that typically ply that route.
The Chinese have been increasing their purchases each week through April.
“Old crop Ukrainian business was canceled. And they had to buy… one way or another,” said a trader.
Beside turning to U.S. corn, China has also opened its gates to corn imports from Myanmar, with the volume bought in March surging 640% versus the same point of last years.
“I suspect there will be additional purchases still to come… China has little coverage for June-Aug, as well as Sep-Jan. There is still a lot of work to be done… A storm is brewing and the world’s consumers need to wake up,” one broker said.
That shortage has also renewed rumors about the possibility that Brazilian corn could finally be allowed as an export option for China, perhaps even within the next month (pending strict GMO checks). However, given the delayed planting and poor yields mounting across South America, Brazil accepting any large order from China would, as they would re. the U.S., raise eyebrows; but as we see time and time again, nation’s are more than willing to risk their own domestic supply in order to fulfill contracts.
Social Media channels are restricting Electroverse’s reach: Twitter are purging followers, while Facebook are labeling posts as “false” and have slapped-on crippling page restrictions. And most recently, the CCDH has stripped the website of its advertising.
So, be sure to subscribe to receive new post notifications by email. And also consider becoming a Patron or donating via Paypal (buttons located in the sidebar >>> or scroll down if on mobile). The site receives ZERO funding, and never has.
Any way you can, help me spread the message so others can survive and thrive in the coming times.