Agriculture sector contends with effects of cold, wet spring

U.S. farmers and agribusinesses are struggling to make up for lost time after a cold, wet spring slowed crop plantings across the agricultural sector.

The unfavorable April weather shortened the window to apply products like fertilizer and herbicides.

After the weather improved dramatically in May, chemical distributors could not meet farmers’ high demand across the entire Farm Belt, according to farmers and dealers.

With late plantings concentrating U.S. demand for herbicides and the Memorial Day holiday creating unexpected logistic issues, chemical dealers found themselves short of supply.

Based on expectations for condensed applications, companies like Monsanto Co. supplied an alternative herbicide containing a chemical known as dicamba to distributors. Farmers found that dicamba was linked to widespread crop damage last year, and said the chemical drifted away from where it was sprayed.

To prevent saturated use of harmful products, Missouri imposed a June 1 deadline for 2018 sprayings, but the state extended it to June 10 because of delayed plantings.

Fertilizer also saw effects of the cold, wet spring. Farm retailers experienced late deliveries as many trucks were catching up on previous shipments.

This led some farmers to plant soybeans, which need fewer nutrients, as opposed to corn and wheat. Now, many distributors are stuck with inventories that farmers no longer want.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch


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