Farmers encouraged to prepare for possible herbicide shortage in 2022

Farmers are seeing the direct impact of supply chain disruptions. With prices continuing to rise, a Purdue Professor is encouraging growers to prepare for a possible herbicide shortage in 2022.

Posted: Nov 8, 2021 10:01 AM
Updated: Nov 8, 2021 11:35 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY (WLFI) — The combination of supply chain disruptions, and increased prices for two main active herbicide ingredients, are leading a Purdue Professor of Weed Science to believe there will be a herbicide shortage in 2022. 

"The herbicide shortage situation first surfaced this summer," said Purdue Professor of Weed Science, Bill Johnson. "There are a number a retail outlets that had a hard time getting ahold of some of the supplies, particularly glyphosate and glufosinate."

Johnson says roughly 80% of the herbicides used in the United States come from overseas. He says prices for the active ingredients have continued to increase. 

"One way to put this in perspective is three years ago glyphosate cost $10 a gallon," said Johnson. "Now we're seeing prices of $50 a gallon and we're hearing it could go as high as 80 dollars a gallon."

Not only are prices increasing, but the supply is low. Johnson says this will have a major impact. 

"The two active ingredients (glyphosate and glufosinate) are used on literally every acre of soybeans in the state and two-thirds of corn acres in the state," said Johnson. "It’s really an issue that hits us in the Eastern Corn Belt pretty hard."

Johnson says the supply chain disruptions are caused by a variety of factors. 

"Number one, we're having difficulty getting some of the materials used in the formulations from overseas," said Johnson. "Number two, sometimes these formulating agents are held up in the ports and they're not able to get off of the ships."

The Purdue Professor of Weed Science says there's also another reason for the supply chain issues. 

"We're also hearing problems with the supply of trucks to get it from the ports to the retail outlets," said Johnson. "Also the packaging materials that these materials are used in as well."

While planning ahead for next year, Johnson says there's something farmers need to keep in mind. 

"What we're hearing is for the 2022 growing season is that those two active ingredients again are going to be in even greater shorter supply," said Johnson. "Farmers and land lords need to be cognizant of the fact that weed control will be more difficult in 2022."

Tippecanoe County Farmer, Josh Cox, is keeping that in mind while he continues to prepare for 2022. 

"When we started pricing product for this year, retailers really were not wanting to give prices because they weren't sure the availability of the product," said Cox. "Due to the shortages we've seen, we’ve had to kind of speed up our purchasing process to try and procure the product for one and then try to get ahead of the price increases."

Johnson encourages growers to plan next year's weed control program assuming you can only make one trip across the field with one of the active ingredients, which is what Cox has been keeping in mind.

"As farmers we have to be pretty flexible, but as far as the herbicide shortages go we'll remain hopeful that we can get the products that we want," said Cox. "But also have a game plan as to if we can't get those herbicides maybe we'll have to reduce the use of our herbicide usage to a degree and stand for a few weeds in the field."

Johnson says farmers need to consider different weed control tools for 2022. 

"Whether that's herbicides, cover crops or alternative weed control methods, we really need to open up our toolbox and utilize more things in the fields and plan on how we can incorporate them in our systems," said Johnson. "If we get caught next year without preparation for that, it could lead to a lot of yield loss."

Johnson is encouraging growers to think ahead and stay aware of the current conditions. 

"Unless something changes very quickly with supply chain issues, shipping, and materials that this will most likely persist into the next growing season," said Johnson. "So my read on it is there's better than a 90% chance there's a shortage of at least one of the active ingredients next year."

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