The glyphosate shortage that started the spring of 2021 is only intensifying as farmers prepare for the 2022 growing season. However, as growers try to source enough of the widely used herbicide for the upcoming growing season, there is good news for one major U.S. plant.
Bayer says its glyphosate plant in Luling, La., is back online after being shuttered since August 28. The plant was idled after Hurricane Ida barreled into the Gulf Coast. Just last week, Bayer told Farm Journal the plant was still in the process of getting adequate and stable power distributed throughout the site. Bayer says that was a crucial step in getting the plant not just back online, but to full functioning capacity, as the company says plant operations staff were moving quickly and safely.
“Luling is a key site that helps provide 100% of the active ingredient for our Roundup branded ag herbicides in the U.S. Demand for glyphosate remains high, and we will continue to focus efforts to ensure our customers have ready access to our Roundup branded ag herbicide products. We’re working directly with our customers to manage the supply they need for the upcoming season,” Bayer told Farm Journal.
Bayer says as demand for glyphosate products remains high, the company is working to provide access to them for farmers.
Widespread Scarce Supplies
However, it’s not just Bayer working through high demand and short supplies. The issue is industry-wide. Lower supplies and an increased appetite to use the product is also creating another issue: higher prices.
While Bayer’s glyphosate is produced domestically, China is also a major exporter of glyphosate. It’s estimated over 80% of the country’s supply is exported. As portions of China are plagued with an energy problem, production has slowed, only exaggerating the issue of growers trying to source glyphosate.
The issue in China is happening as Beijing leaders say there are efforts underway to boost coal supplies and manage electricity use. Reuters reports the rebound in global economic activity is exposing shortages of fuels used for generating power in China and other countries. Glyphosate exports from China into New Orleans Ports have also tapered.
Two farmers told Farm Journal that they haven’t been able lock in glyphosate or glufosinate prices yet, as the retailers they spoke to say no price will be given until they can secure shipment. And one farmer in Iowa says the retailer signaled they would be able to secure glyphosate for 2022, but the retailer wasn’t confident they’d even be able to find enough glufosinate for next year.
Need for Multiple Chemical Plans for 2022
The scarce supply of glyphosate is a concern for retailers and farmers. University of Illinois Extension weed scientist Aaron Hager says growers need to make multiple plans when it comes to their crop chemistry plan, as forecasting which glyphosate products will be available is a hard call to currently make.
“I think the really prudent approach is to not only have plan A and B, but think about plan C, perhaps even D,” says Hager. “With the forthcoming shortages, I think it’s really difficult to make a lot of predictions on either what products will or will not be available, and even if they become available will be available in time, especially when it comes to some of the post-emergence products where timing is very, very critical in terms of trying to reduce the weed infestation, so you’re not cutting into the yield potential of the crops.”
Hager is issuing a stark warning as he thinks the worldwide glyphosate shortage could last for at least two years, since stocks were depleted last year.
“So, if you’re planning on using product A as your primary post treatment, what else could you substitute that for if you can’t have access to product A? So planning ahead and trying to have multiple plans, multiple approaches, is crucial. I would throw out to maybe think about that, not just for 2022, but maybe start thinking also about it into 2023. With a global pandemic, it’s kind of hard to make the predictions on what the dynamics are going to be moving forward.”
Retailers continue to tell AgWeb that the glyphosate and glufosinate shortage is widespread. During the spring of 2021, the shortage of both glyphosate and glufosinate caused prices to climb 50% in some cases.
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