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Supply chain interruptions may result in product and seed shortages

Canadian farmers are known for resiliency and perseverance through difficult circumstances. Those qualities will likely be tested in 2022, according to ADAMA Canada. The company is looking to help growers be more strategic this year to ensure a quality crop as product shortages are expected worldwide. 

“Producers have to put in a lot more effort in their planning this year,” said Cornie Thiessen, General Manager at ADAMA Agricultural Solutions Canada, a leading global crop protection company providing solutions to combat weeds, insects and disease. “We’re aiming to have producers better understand supply chain interruptions and how they will impact individual farms. Our message is simple: do what is agronomically right, but plan ahead and have discussions with your retailers earlier than normal.”

Thiessen said there are a number of factors resulting in the current state of supply chain interruptions.

COVID-19

Like other industries, the agriculture supply chain has been disrupted due to COVID-19.

Many manufacturing plants and mines continue to experience sporadic shutdowns due to the ongoing pandemic. Restarting them and getting their products on ships or trains has been a challenge.

Global Logistics and Port Congestion

Thiessen said that as recently as three years ago most companies basically thought of global logistics as free. Shipping rates had grown so cheap that many companies didn’t have to worry about them.

“This changed dramatically. Those prices have all gone up as the world’s economy restarted,” said Thiessen. The global shipping industry suddenly needed an armada of ships to move raw materials to manufacturers and finished goods to market.

“This is where ADAMA has a major advantage,” he said. “We are an ag company, but we also are a globally diversified manufacturing company, which means we have been out in front of these supply chain issues. We won’t escape them completely, but we expect to weather them better than many of our competitors.”

ADAMA has plants around the globe, which gives the company a large amount of capacity and flexibility when it comes to producing the crop inputs that Canadian farmers need.

“Our team is able to shift production from one jurisdiction to another when we detect issues with the supply chain. Having this foresight allows us to go to our suppliers early in the process and get them on board with our needs and the needs of our customers,” said Thiessen.

The most recent supply chain disruption for Canadian farmers occurred in November 2021 when the Port of Vancouver became cut off due to catastrophic flooding in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Major roads such as the TransCanada Highway were suddenly washed away in places, leaving many people to wonder how goods would be shipped inland from Canada’s major west coast port.

ADAMA Canada was quickly able to project that the impact on their customers would be minimal because the company had already received much of their inputs and supplies or could shift to eastern coast ports.

Break The Bundle

For years, some companies have encouraged growers to bundle their crop protection products. This year, farmers should be focused on doing what’s agronomically right for their operation. The best way to do that, said Thiessen, is to break the bundle.

“You may be counting on seed from one company and expecting a discount on fungicides, for example. That discount won’t be worth much if you end up being short on seed,” said Thiessen. “Put the bundle aside this year. Think about meeting your agronomic needs. Once your needs are mapped out, secure the supply.”

The next step, according to Thiessen, is working with a retailer to identify programming opportunities you may be missing. Farmers shouldn’t rely on any single supplier to give them a full suite of products.

Crop prices are high, and ADAMA expects producers will seek to maximize every available acre. Thiessen said farmers are going to have to be more creative to guarantee product in a timely manner.

“Farmers will need to be careful here. Companies may take their order, but will they be able to fulfill an order in time?” Thiessen asked.

“Though farmers may say ‘I’ve been using this product to solve this need,’ they may have to reevaluate by looking and saying, ‘what is the agronomical problem I need to solve?‘ Those problems may be: I need this weed gone or I need this bug dead. Farmers may have to meet with their retailer and talk about what they normally use, but what other way is there to meet the same agronomic need?”

And The 2022 Canadian Crop?

In order to ensure a productive crop, Thiessen said the key is to get off to a good, weed-free start, and there are a number of options to consider:

  • Invest in pre-seed products due to uncertainty around supply for in-crop options. Having less competition for moisture and nutrients helps the crop start off right. Don’t skip this step.
  • Plant at a higher seed rate (but due to seed shortages, this may not be possible.)
  • Being more thoughtful on modes of action, potentially including some residual chemistries. Maximize the value of what you’re putting down and getting some in-crop control.
  • Fertilizer is extremely expensive right now, but sometimes additional fertilizer can help crops outcompete weeds and reduce herbicide reliance.
  • Focus on scouting and doing more spot or variable rate applications, when spraying insecticide. When insects show up (factoring in high crop prices), it’ll be tempting to keep spraying.
  • Stretch limited supplies over larger acres. 2022 will be a good year to leverage the variable rate precision agricultural tools. Farmers have been buying the equipment for this capability, now is a good time see return on that investment
  • Fungicides will experience less supply chain disruption, due to good starting inventories according to ADAMA. If you have a good crop, protect it from disease later in the season. Plant heavier for a thick crop to reduce weed pressure, so to avoid multiple herbicide applications. Understand it might mean a stronger need for fungicides.

Talk to your local ADAMA Sales Representative today by visiting ADAMA.COM/CANADA.

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