Nebraska and Iowa farmers concerned ahead of the planting season, high gas prices and dry winter the biggest concerns

Nebraska – Dry winter weather, increasing gas prices and uncertainty as a result of the pandemic seem to be the biggest concerns for Nebraska and Iowa farmers ahead of the planting season.

Although some factors are predictable and the farmers can adapt to, the dry winter seems to be major issue that makes them worry of how this planting season will turn out at the end.

According to Jay Rempe, this winter the farmers are experiencing the record-dry winter in the area, something that never happened before.

“It’s definitely on the mind of farmers right now, they’re watching things closely, like you said things are very dry and unless we see a wet spring like we did last year, they’re a little concerned about the soil moisture levels,” Rempe says.

Dry winter season is something that central Nebraska farmers can handle at an additional cost resulting with higher final product prices, but the issue is much more serious when it comes to eastern Nebraska and Omaha metro area farmers.

“We need some really good precipitation between now and planting season or during planting season to refill that soil moisture profile or we’re going to have some struggling dryland crops in the eastern part of Nebraska.”

While these several reasons result with increasing concerns among farmers, there are others who are less concerned about the dry weather, but are worried of the rising gas prices.

One of them is Don Brothers, soybean and corn farmer who has land in in Pottawattamie and Harrison counties. Brothers says there is plenty of time for the moisture to coma on time ahead of the planting season, but he is worried about the rising gas prices recently. In addition to the gas prices, Brothers is concerned that the prices of all other products are increased.

“Extreme compounded by extreme,” he says. “Ammonia, if you would’ve bought ammonia in August of ‘21, you could’ve bought it for $715/ton. Today, if they can even get it, it’s going to be over $1,600. So, how do you figure a 100% markup in three and a half months?”

“The chemicals, they’re up about 30%, Roundup is up about 70%, and the seed companies, soybean, seed corn seed, they’ve really stayed relatively to what they were last year, but the fertilizer and the chemicals are big, and obviously our fuel is up a dollar a gallon over what it was.”

“They are seeing across the board fertilizer costs, chemical costs doubling even tripling in costs, they are caught in the same supply chain issues that a lot of the rest of country is caught in,” Rempe says.

“Plus you throw on top of that the political turmoil we see in the world, China and Russia are some major fertilizer producers and they’re having some shortages and restricting exports,” Rempe adds. “Of course, we have the whole Russia/Ukraine situation which is adding some volatility to the market.”

Although Brothers is among the farmers who bought most of the needed products last fall when the prices were more acceptable, he believes the current prices will remain the same and they might even increase for the next season.

“It’ll be a year to have a bountiful harvest and a good price, and then next year we’ll spend more money to put in a crop to achieve a margin that we’ve always tried to live on.”

Taking into consideration the fact that the last season was great for farmers, something that both Brothers and Rempe agree on, they are understandably concerned of the current situation that might bring their existence into question is something drastically don’t change in near future.

“Was blessed with record yields and it was pretty much through the Midwest predominantly,” Brothers says. “Behind that, we’re blessed with some incredible crop prices that most people have never seen, let alone sold anything for.”

Since farmers will definitely operate at much higher costs compared to previous years, they see the higher selling end-product prices as an opportunity to make profit.

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