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by Ray L. Brownfield, ALC AFM, Owner, LandPro, Oswego, IL

The thermometer today shows that spring is weeks away. It is 60 degrees with blue skies and sunshine in northern Illinois. It is possible, with ideal weather conditions, for some farmer's corn/soybean planters to start rolling next month. At least that idea is fun to think about. In this very volatile and tumultuous global environment, some good news would be appreciated.

Those who watch the daily commodity markets are probably getting dizzy with the rapid increase and decrease in prices, sometimes during the same day. I mentioned in past newsletters that adverse weather conditions seem to prevail for a second growing season in South America, affecting their corn and soybean yields. To exacerbate the global supply of corn, soybeans, and wheat, both for human and animal consumption, we are now watching an incredibly sad situation evolve between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukraine has some of the richest soils in the world, equal to those in the United States. They export up to 17% of all the corn into the global market, with much of it exporting to China. They are the largest producer of sunflower oil in the world. Ukraine and Russia supply 29% of all wheat exported into the global market. With much of these commodities at risk of not being planted, harvested, and ultimately shipped from ports on the Black Sea, the commodity markets are very concerned how continued global demand for these commodities will be met.

It seems that our ability to produce these commodities could place American agriculture production in a position of high demand, which may bring high, or even higher, commodity prices. Frankly, I prefer that these commodity prices be caused by weather anomalies or by acts of God (in a good way), and not by war.

From the input side of the ledger, the following are percentages of what Russia produces and exports to the United States for our crop fertilizer inputs.

Anhydrous Ammonia (nitrogen) - 22%
Urea (nitrogen) - 14%
Ammonium Phosphate - 14%
Potash - 20%

Even though current commodity prices are at record highs, it appears many of the fertilizer input costs will also be at record highs. The chemistry involving insecticide and herbicide inputs may be in short supply and certainly at higher prices. Some not so good news, but we are dealing with reality.

Being a farm boy, I was raised to look on the bright side. Farming has challenges and one learns to adapt. I feel very fortunate to be in the farming business and am grateful to work with what God created. Hopefully, my April newsletter will see planters rolling and a more positive outlook, for everyone.

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