Signs of global crop failures or just normal fluctuations

According to the CBC article below, the heatwave in the US and Canada is predicted to cause a significant reduction in the quality and quantity of the canola and spring wheat harvest, with the cost of both already at record highs.

The poison that is canola becoming unaffordable is something to celebrate in my opinion. Seed oils in general should be banned.

That said, obviously this will have knock-on effects on food prices even for those of us who avoid consuming it directly.
Bear in mind that this was the prediction before the actual season kicked in. I think by the end of August the harvest will be finished in Russia so time will tell. Russia had made a concerted effort to increase land use and ensure food self-sufficiency, so it would not be surprising to see it bear fruit (pun not intended). Much can change during the actual growing season though as itellsya shows above with the example of the canola crop in parts of Canada.

The article actually states that 2017 and 2020 were record harvests:

"Russian farmers reaped a record wheat harvest of more than 86 million tons in 2017... The second largest wheat crop was harvested last year."
The article actually states that 2017 and 2020 were record harvests
Yes, I noticed that. They have done very well in recent years. I might not have made it clear, but my only point was regarding the 2021 harvest.
ZeroHedge reports on the impact of the drought on corn in North America. In short, corn production may be reduced resulting in 'elevated' prices. Note that whilst in the north the drought continues, in the Southwest there's 'persisting rains":

Dry Corn Belt Ahead Of Pollination May Spell Disaster For Farmers​

by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jul 08, 2021 - 05:20 PM

Kirk Hinz, a meteorologist with BAMWX, published an agriculture note Thursday which outlines "persisting rains" in some parts of the Southwest but "expanding dryness" in the north.

Hinz concentrates on the corn belt, which spans the Midwest. He said, "expanding drought into a crucial time of the year ahead of pollination." This means that persistent dry conditions could affect pollination success - and if pollination is not successful this year because of drought and lack of water, then harvest yields this season could come under pressure.

"A lack of consistent rainfall across a big chunk of the US major corn production areas in the Midwest and northern Plains this year continues, with the expanding drought into a crucial time of the year ahead of pollination as well. Weather models have remained volatile recently in regards to how much of these major production areas will receive timely rainfall, but the trend recently has been to push previously forecast widespread nourishing rains further south that's starting to be a growing concern (plus more heat building back in a mid-to-late month) ahead," Hinz wrote.

Here's what happens to corn if pollination is unsuccessful.

Here's the US Drought Monitor, which shows much of the Western US is in some form of drought.

Some rain relief was seen in the week ending June 6, but worsening conditions continue in the corn belt (or Midwest area).

For the four weeks ending June 6, rains increased in west Texas and east New Mexico but expanding dryness in the corn belt.

Over the last two months ending June 6, significant increases in precipitation have been seen from Texas to New Mexico up into Colorado. However, most of the corn belt continues to experience worsening droughts.

Despite improving conditions in the Southwest, the corn belt remains in a drought during the most crucial time of the year for corn development. If pollination becomes an issue, harvests could suffer across the corn belt. That would mean corn prices would remain elevated.
ZeroHedge reports on the impact of the drought on corn in North America. In short, corn production may be reduced resulting in 'elevated' prices. Note that whilst in the north the drought continues, in the Southwest there's 'persisting rains":

I have also read/heard that this will also impact gas prices because gasoline is now mixed with ethanol, derived from corn, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we have been informed, from those that have an agenda.

Moscow. August 13. INTERFAX.RU - The Ministry of Agriculture and Rosstat disagree in the data on the size of the remaining wheat areas in Russia in 2021, the difference is 1 million hectares.

This was discussed at a recent meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture with the participation of Rosstat and representatives of the regions, market sources close to the participants in the conversation told Interfax.

According to Rosstat data as of June 1 (published on July 30), the area under winter wheat for the harvest of 2021 in farms of all categories amounted to 15.6 million hectares (10.4 million hectares in agricultural enterprises), which is 7.5% less than a year previously. The total area of wheat is 28.7 million hectares (18.3 million hectares), which is 2.5% less than a year earlier.

According to sources, the Ministry of Agriculture provided operational data at the end of July, they turned out to be 1 million hectares more. This is due to the fact that a number of farms were still sowing in June - they were sowing the areas under dead winter crops. They were not included in the Rosstat data.

"In fact, both departments are right, the difference is only in the dates on which the area under wheat is estimated," one of the sources said.

Interfax sent inquiries to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rosstat. Rosstat data on reduced areas under wheat, primarily under winter, became the basis for lowering forecasts for grain harvest, especially wheat, this year. And not only by Russian experts. On Thursday, the US Department of Agriculture lowered the estimate of the future wheat harvest in Russia by 12.5 million tons at once - from 85 million to 72.5 million tons.

August 13, 2021, 2:00 PM GMT+2
If you’ve eaten sushi anywhere in the U.S., chances are the rice came from California’s Sacramento Valley. Fritz Durst, a sixth-generation farmer, has grown the grain and other crops there for more than four decades. But this year, amid a historic drought, Durst is planting only half as many acres of rice as usual.

Farmers like Durst would be having an even worse year if it weren’t for water siphoned from the Sacramento River to irrigate fields. Those diversions, though, have dire consequences for another part of the sushi supply chain: The salmon industry. Low water levels and scorching weather have raised river temperatures so much that almost all the juveniles of an endangered salmon species could be cooked to death this fall, state wildlife officials have said.

relates to Climate Change Hits Sushi Supply Chain Amid California Water War

Fritz Durst has grown rice and other crops on his farm in Yolo County, California for more than four decades. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The drought is so extreme that California regulators earlier this month voted to restrict river diversions for some farmers to protect drinking water supplies. But that’s unlikely to end to water-rights disputes between farms and fisheries, which have tussled in court for decades. As hotter and drier weather drains reservoirs and withers crops, the fight is growing even more fierce, underscoring how climate change is pitting multibillion-dollar industries around the world against one another in a battle for increasingly scarce resources.

“We should be shifting our focus from thinking about drought as an emergency that occurs once in a while, to thinking about it in the context of a long-term shift,” said Jeanine Jones, interstate resources manager at the California Department of Water Resources.

In California, the agriculture industry’s massive water consumption has long been a sticking point for fisheries, environmental groups and other stakeholders. Farms use about 40% of the state’s water on average, according to the nonprofit research group Public Policy Institute of California.

Water rights in California are governed by a complex system that dates back to the Gold-Rush era. Senior rights holders -- companies, farmers and cities with claims that were acquired before 1914, and landowners whose property borders a river -- are the last to see their supplies curtailed. They wouldn’t be affected by the measures approved earlier this month to restrict flows to some farmers.

Climate Change Hits Sushi Supply Chain Amid California Water War

Durst maintains a water well on his farm in Yolo County, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Competition for water isn’t unique to California, however. In Brazil, the Parana River Basin is experiencing its worst water crisis in 91 years, leaving farmers dependent on the river to vie with hydropower plants that provide electricity and water to the country’s industrialized south.

Rice, typically cultivated in flooded fields, is among the world’s most water-intensive crops. Government data reveals the toll drought is having on California’s rice growers, which generate more than $5 billion and 25,000 jobs for the state annually, according to the industry-funded California Rice Commission. In a typical year, the state accounts for about two-thirds of U.S. production of medium- and short-grain rice, the kind used in sushi. By late June, California plantings were 19% below year-earlier levels and the smallest in almost three decades, a U.S. Department of Agriculture report showed.

Lower output will likely translate to higher prices consumers. California farmers can expect to get $22 per 100 pounds of of medium- and short-grain rice for 2021-2022, the most in 13 years, the USDA said.

Tony Gentile, co-owner of Flagship Restaurant Group, which owns 16 sushi bars in six states, said the company has raised menu prices across all of its restaurants in recent weeks as rice and seafood become more expensive and labor costs climb. Though Flagship uses California rice, it’s considering sourcing the grain from Japan or other markets outside the U.S., Gentile said.

“Prices now fluctuate day to day more than any other time that I can remember, and I have been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. It’s scary,” he said.

Rice isn’t the only crop decimated by drought, of course. Dry conditions have had a devastating impact across California’s agriculture industry, which supplies over a third of U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of its fruit. After years of what seems like permanent drought, farmers have started ripping out almond trees, which are typically a 25-year investment.

Scarce Salmon

Fisheries and some environmental groups argue that the drought’s impact on salmon has been even more severe, however. Young salmon are typically released from hatcheries into rivers, where they make their way into the Pacific Ocean. But water temperatures in some rivers have climbed so high that state officials are trucking the fish to cooler areas until conditions improve. Commercial and recreational ocean salmon fishing contributes more than $900 million each year to California’s economy, according to the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Hatchery Assists Salmon Release Into Waterways Due To Drought

Thousands of young fingerling Chinook salmon are released into a holding pen as they are transferred from a truck into the Mare Island Strait in Vallejo,
California, on May 11.Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hot weather and water diversion for agriculture is putting commercial fisheries at risk, said Jon Rosenfield, a senior scientist at environmental group San Francisco Baykeeper.

“Cities like San Francisco and Oakland were once major West Coast fishing ports, but as we’ve diverted water from our rivers and destroyed fish nursery habitats in the rivers and the bay, those fisheries have collapsed,” Rosenfield said.

No Crabs, No Scallops: Seafood Is Vanishing From Menus in U.S.

A previous collapse of the salmon population in 2008 forced fisheries to close in droves. With her income gone, Sarah Bates, who’s been fishing in the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, took a desk job temporarily. Some of her peers went into the construction industry and stayed there, she said.

In a good year, Bates catches 300,000 to 500,000 salmon and sells them at $13 a pound. But the thought of fisheries closing again “keeps me up at night,” she said.

Changes by the Trump administration to limit the scope of protections under the Endangered Species Act could further heighten risks to the salmon population, environmental groups say. The Biden administration is reviewing the revisions.

Karen Braun @kannbwx 6:48 PM · Aug 16, 2021
10 #corn stops in southeastern South Dakota. Average yield: 148.7 bu/acre 2020 average tour yield in this district (district 9): 178.1 3 year ('18-'20) average: 169.5 Grain length and stand disappointed more as we moved south. Got drier too. #pftour21



2 days ago
Researchers from the University of Adelaide estimate that Australia lost about $6.6 billion in revenue to the Chinese market between July 2020 and February 2021 as a direct consequence of Beijing targeting its exports with heavy tariffs, claiming they were part of ‘anti-dumping’ measures.

Key Australian commodities including wine, barley, coal, copper ores and concentrates, frozen beef, cotton, rough wood and rock lobster have been hit.

The tariffs have severely impacted local industries, with wine sector profits plummeting from $325 million to just $12 million over the December 2020 to March 2021 period after being hit with China tariffs of up to 212 per cent.

China had previously been Australia’s largest wine export market with $1.2 billion worth shipped in the 2019-20 financial year. South Australia is responsible for 50 per cent of Australian production.

China also imposed an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley, and kept dozens of vessels carrying Australian coal anchored off Chinese ports for weeks, unable to unload.

The tariffs were widely viewed as Chinese Government reaction to Australia’s calls for an investigation into the origins of coronavirus, its vocal criticism of human rights abuses, and the imposition of foreign investment and interference laws.

But researchers say a fortunately-timed jump in the price of iron ore and other key commodities that China continues to import has “hidden from view the dramatic costs of China’s trade war against Australia”.

They estimate that Australia-China trade declined by over 23 per cent in 2020 when iron ore exports are taken out of the equation.

That figure grows to 48 per cent if non-iron-ore merchandise exports between January and March 2021 are compared with those for April-June 2020 – before the diplomatic relationship started to deteriorate.

All up, the researchers estimate that if Australia ceased exporting its eight key commodities for a full year, it would lose $23 billion.

The findings form part of a new report commissioned by Adelaide University’s Institute for International Trade to determine the true cost of China’s trade actions.

One of the report’s authors and former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) economist Dr Mike Adams told InDaily that while the research does not quantify the direct impact on South Australia’s economy, “regional South Australia would bear the brunt” of China’s tariffs.

“The wine industry certainly… has been hammered by what’s gone on with China – those huge tariffs – because China was a big, premium market for Australia in wine,” he said.

“To lose that is an enormous blow… to obviously South Australia and more generally to smaller wine producers.”

Adams said barley farmers had also been hit hard by a 80 per cent tariff, but that industry was “a good example of where we are diversifying”.

“We were selling premium malt barley to China and for the most part, what we’re (now) doing is we’re selling barley to Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, the Philippines and other particular markets.

“It’s good that we’re doing that – it’s money – but we’re certainly in a substantial way the price premium that we otherwise enjoyed.”

The report found that Australia’s attempts to diversify into other markets outside China had been “successful to varying degrees”.

“To date, diversification has generally not matched markets lost through China’s economic coercion and discriminatory purchasing,” it states.

“Barley is a success story, albeit at a cost of lower returns, but industries like wine and rock lobster have struggled.

“Coal has been sold at substantial discounts.

“For industries like iron ore and wool, China has a strong interest in maintaining the trade and they appear likely to remain largely unscathed in the short term.”

According to the report, even if Australia was to return to more normal relations in China, it would “probably fail to restore these markets, though it would certainly help”.

“Not surprisingly, other countries have sought to target, or at least benefit from, opportunities arising from China’s actions against Australia,” it states.

“With coal, this is true to varying degrees for Russia, Indonesia and Mongolia.

“In the case of rock lobster, countries as diverse as Vietnam, New Zealand and Mexico have captured increased market share. And for cotton, the United States is an important beneficiary.”

Adams said he would share his report’s findings with DFAT.

He said the Government should cease making “loud statements to the sectional interests within Australia” if it wants to minimise the impact of China’s tariffs.

“The Government should tone down its statements on China (and) it should try to reintroduce more civility into the relationship,” he said.

“It’s (The Government) got to encourage diversification and it’s got to use every chance that it has to engage with the United States, because that’s going to be critical in whatever we do with China.

“It also needs to be engaging with our other regional partners in south-east Asia and what have you because these countries have been coexisting with China and they’re getting the chances and opportunities.”

Adelaide University Institute for International Trade lecturer Dr Naoise McDonagh added that Canberra and the business sector “need to wight risks and plan long-term China risk mitigation and diversification strategies”.

“This report should be a wake-up call to Canberra to accelerate its role in pushing diversification, as well as diplomatic strategies for cooling tensions,” she said.
Granted this thread is about crop failures, but i figure it would also be a good place to document food prices more generally too. I thought the tweets below were a good example of how they're rising, and that prices don't necessarily rise in real time, so there may be slow increases or even extreme jumps:

Graphs on beef and poultry prices:

Following the thread, a person trading in poultry says they've been absorbing the rising costs but now they're going to have to pass on those costs to the consumer: "My core business is based on chicken prices. It's been brutal. Wings especially. I used to get thigh meat for around $40 per 40 lb case or less. Now it's $100 at best.":

The following article is from an investment site which i think provides a good overview of the situation. It can be found in full at the end of this post, but here are some key quotes:
"That's happening despite pretty strong cow kills in the US, due to encroaching drought. And there is no sign this trend will come off in a big rush.
The current lean trim price exceeds the sharp spike seen in mid to late May last year (blue line), when up to 40 percent of US beef processing capacity was knocked-out for several weeks due to COVID-related plant closures, or severe operating restrictions. This caused some panic trim buying from overseas.
The only time export grinding beef prices have exceeded current levels was another brief 'spike' witnessed in late 2019, when Chinese buyers reacted dramatically to protein shortages brought on by a second wave of African Swine Fever sickness in China's domestic pig herd.

trade in the US is no long consigning them to the mincer, to supplement ground beef supply. They are simply too expensive to mince

In addition to the above issues, it seems that all the major beef producing countries have increased demand from China. What also caught my eye is how the US declared in 2019 that 'pink slime' can now be classed as beef.

What isn't covered is how cattle feed grain availability, quality and prices are also effecting meat prices; which is partly detailed in this article: Potentially 'explosive' losses of barley and wheat following extreme weather in EU - analyst

Overall, it seems to me that whilst earth changey-type events are significantly affecting prices, it's the additional stressors of the man-made and avoidable crises like lockdown, port closures (hacks), and so on, that the situation is becoming potentially explosive.

Lockdowns, panic buying, low supply: Beef prices surge to unprecedented levels

Jon Condon
Beef Central
Wed, 25 Aug 2021 16:44 UTC

australian beef

AUSTRALIAN beef exporters are riding a surge in demand and price for lean manufacturing beef - most typically used to produce hamburgers.
As Beef Central's home page dashboard graph shows, quotes for 90CL cow meat destined for the US market have hit a 20-month high, reported on Friday at 825.6c/kg in Aussie currency terms. That's up another 34c/kg over the past month, and continues an almost unbroken price rise sequence since the start of the year.

It's part of the reason why some export processor grids are currently offering an unprecedented 655c/kg carcase weight for heavy cows in Queensland, and as much as 680c/kg in southern states.

Trade sources spoken to for this report suggest that similar equivalent prices are being seen for meat trade into other trim markets, especially Japan, Korea and China.

One contact quoted the market yesterday for export 90s as high as 805c/kg (FAS terms), with an additional 35c/kg freight, equating to 840c/kg (A$ CIF).

As can be seen on the 2020-2021 graph published above, the current lean trim price exceeds the sharp spike seen in mid to late May last year (blue line), when up to 40 percent of US beef processing capacity was knocked-out for several weeks due to COVID-related plant closures, or severe operating restrictions. This caused some panic trim buying from overseas.

The food waste that has been occurring due to the rolling and endless lockdowns has been particularly shocking, however the knock on effects may be even more severe with farms going out of business or restructuring to avoid further losses.

The only time export grinding beef prices have exceeded current levels was another brief 'spike' witnessed in late 2019, when Chinese buyers reacted dramatically to protein shortages brought on by a second wave of African Swine Fever sickness in China's domestic pig herd.

African Swine Fever hasn't gone away and instead a new outbreak was reported in South Korea, bringing their total cull to 450,000 pigs, since it was first identified in the country in 2019.

Note also that the last record spike was only two years ago, meaning that these spikes may be occurring with an increasing frequency.

"All manufacturing beef export markets are particularly strong at present," an experienced export trader told Beef Central yesterday.

"Demand on beef has been very, very solid in the US and other markets recently. In fact it's just continued to go up, and up. The cutout value on domestic USDA Choice and Select cattle has just continued to roar north, and Australian grinding beef is being dragged along for the ride," he said.

"Essentially, where that benefits us (Aussie exporters), is that all of those mid-range primals like a cap-on topside or a chuck roll are getting dearer, so the trade in the US is no long consigning them to the mincer, to supplement ground beef supply. They are simply too expensive to mince, and that's being reflected in prices for imported lean trim."

Comment: If beef is becoming too expensive to mince, what will producers use for burgers? Perhaps the USDA's recent reclassification of 'pink slime' as 'ground beef' provides the answer.

"That's happening despite pretty strong cow kills in the US, due to encroaching drought. And there is no sign this trend will come off in a big rush. There might be some small ebbs and flows, but we are getting towards the end of the northern hemisphere grilling season."

"The spot market for manufacturing beef in the US has actually been lower than the out-front market, and it's purely because they keep looking at our kills, and how much of our meat is not going there - at the same time as the NZ cow season is more or less done."

"There's been a little more South and Central American beef entering the US to compensate - but it hasn't made up the shortfall."

Japan trade in manufacturing beef 'continued to be busy,' the trader said, and the nature of the Japan trade had changed somewhat.

"It used to be that you could never trade trim into Japan at anything leaner than 85CL, but there's a lot of 90s and 93s sold into Japan out of both New Zealand and Australia this year."

"Mince is not necessarily a big item in retail in Japan, like it is in Australia or the US - but there is a lot of ground beef sold at food service level in Japan."

A number of factors are evidently in play in driving grinding beef prices higher this year, exporters say. Here's a quick summary:

Japanese competition

Competition among export customers is playing a part.

One of the real growth markets for Australian manufacturing beef in the past 12 months has been Japan. While the US has traditionally been Australia's largest frozen trim customer, Japan is currently our biggest frozen manufacturing beef market, in volume terms.

Using frozen boneless exports as a proxy for trim (virtually no trim is exported in chilled form), volumes into Japan have moved sharply higher this year, in both percentage and outright terms. Comparing July exports with the same period last year, frozen boneless volume to Japan has lifted from 58pc of total beef trade in 2020, to 63pc this year. Outright July frozen boneless volumes have gone from 12,146t in 2020, to 15,175t this year.

Some export traders have concluded that there is some 'down-trading' going on, with difficult financial conditions in Japan prompting some customers to move form more expensive muscle meat, to hamburger beef (known in Japan as 'hamburg steak,' or Hanbagu - see image.)

Exchange rate

Currency is playing a part in current pricing, when measured in A$ terms. The A$ today is valued at US72.5c, but has traded in the 71's for most of the past week. Just two months ago, it was worth close to US76c, heightening current pricing, when measured in A$ terms. At the start of the year, the A$ was still worth around US77c, declining about 7pc since then.

South American competition

The increase in South American beef exports to China continues to limit the amount of South American beef heading to the US. That's happening despite the sharply higher lean beef prices in the US market. Market adjustments since the withdrawal of Argentina from the export market in May and June has seen Brazil push more product into China, and relatively less into the US. Brazilian beef exports to China in July were the second highest monthly figure on record, at 91,143t. For the same reason, Uruguayan beef exports to China were up another 4500t in July.

Comment: China is also importing significant amounts of produce from the US: US facing significant meat shortages caused by the lockdown while it's increasing pork exports to China

Tight cattle supply

Continued tight supply out of Australia is also influencing price. Barely three million Australian cattle were slaughtered in the first six months of 2021, and numbers will rise to only around 3.4 million in the second half, MLA forecast recently - amounting to what promises to be the lowest calendar year kill in 35 years.

Softer New Zealand competition

New Zealand slaughter is expected to remain limited for the next couple of months, probably running at about 26-27,000 head per week, one analyst predicted recently. More favourable duty rates than Australia's are also seeing NZ favour China trade over the US. Further compounding the lack of product availability from New Zealand is the fact that China demand is expected to remain strong due to less product availability from Australia and Argentina.

Strong domestic beef demand

Another factor in current high manufacturing beef prices is the continued strength being seen in the domestic Australian beef market - both at retail, and in the recovering food service sector (perhaps NSW excepted).

MLA's weekly Steiner report last week suggested limited offerings from Oceania (Australian and New Zealand) and increased interest from domestic US end-users had caused imported prices to incrementally improve during the course of the week.

"Lean beef prices remain firm as market participants remain concerned about product availability in the fourth quarter," Steiner said.

"Interesting to see US media reports quoting a major restaurant chain that they expect significant price inflation in the US protein space for the remainder of the year."

"But while high prices are clearly top of mind for many US buyers, so is availability. Packers have struggled to fill order due to labour bottlenecks. Wholesale beef prices have spiked in the last three weeks, due to end-users getting shorted in their deliveries and having to go procure additional production the spot market."

Comment: Whether it be avoidable and man-made crises or natural disasters and outbreaks, it seems the food supply as a whole, not just beef, is under threat, with even major suppliers warning of probable food shortages to occur starting this year. As we can see above and in the links below, for some, they've already started; they've just yet to bite:
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And it drills again and again! Strong pressure here south of Nantes from #sesamies only with more than 80% of plants affected on this corn grain! The only advantage is that they may be edible who knows?

October 15, 2021 5:04 pm
A combination of falling market returns and soaring pig prices will deliver demanding conditions for farmers on Irish pig farms during the months ahead.

These were the views expressed by Makeway Ltd. nutritionist Martin Sweeney, who spoke at a series of Glenmarshal Sires-hosted farmer meetings, held this week.

Sweeney said: “The next six months will be very challenging for farmers. But it’s not all bad news.

“A high proportion of the wheat and barley grown in Ireland is used on pig farms. And the quality of the grain produced this year has been excellent. Cereal yields have also been more than acceptable.”

Protein on Irish pig farms

Protein, mostly in the form of soya, is the big ticket item that pig farmers continue to import into Ireland.

But according to Sweeney, the potential for Irish tillage farmers to reduce this deficit is significant.

He said: “Irish-grown peas and beans can be very effectively included in the specification of most pig rations.

“I worked for a number of years in Canada, where peas and beans are regularly included in pig diets.”

Sweeney is aware of some tillage farmers already growing peas and beans as part of a cereal rotation.

“They are subsequently incorporating these proteins into home-mixed pig diets. Farm to farm sales are the obvious way forward, where Irish-grown peas and beans are concerned,” he continued.

“But, obviously, the price has to be right as well.”

Younger pigs

According to Sweeney peas and beans should be kept away from younger pigs.

“But they can be fed very effectively to dry sows, and growing pigs. The one caveat is that the beans must be zero-tannin varieties.”

“The problem with this is that the rape grown here contains amounts of tannin,” Sweeney confirmed.

“However, in Canada they grow canola, which is a genetically modified form of rape.

“This meal does not contain tannins and so can be fed safely to pigs. However, EU regulations prevent its inclusion in Irish pig diets,” he concluded.


It looks like the The Financial Times is telegraphing the British population for the hard time's a head.


Robin Lane Fox 30 minutes ago
Gardens are predicted to become ever drier. It seems a sure bet, though in Britain this year it has not come off. What should we be thinking when we plant for a dry future? One good principle is to try not to defy local conditions. Great gardens have been built despite them, but usually at a high cost of labour and water. In dry European conditions it is no longer worth trying to transplant the English style envied in our green and pleasant land.

Never forget: the 1990s were extremely dry years in which to make a garden. I nearly emigrated to rainy Ireland, but the rain became less regular there too. In 1993 I was glad to read Plants For Dry Gardens by Jane Taylor, still an excellent guide: paperback copies are being offered on Amazon for £3.35 plus delivery.

I also became aware of an initiative by Beth Chatto in her Essex garden near Elmstead Market, five miles east of Colchester. While I was bemoaning a dry stony soil and making poor progress, she was turning the former car park of her plant nursery into a gravel garden.

I also became aware of an initiative by Beth Chatto in her Essex garden near Elmstead Market, five miles east of Colchester. While I was bemoaning a dry stony soil and making poor progress, she was turning the former car park of her plant nursery into a gravel garden. Without artificial irrigation it was becoming a tapestry of bushy plants that photographed enviably well. I was struggling to keep my young trees of pink-berried Sorbus hupehensis alive with a hose pipe. They were in intensive care, while her Judas tree flourished.

Chatto has remained a revered figure in gardening. She was always the first to credit her husband, Andrew, with the thinking that shaped her approach to plants. He was a fruit grower, but as a child he had lived in the western US and learnt even then from its wild flora in dry conditions. He once told me, as he often told her, of the impression that California’s natural sweeps of annual poppies, blue-flowered ceanothus and wild lupins made on his young mind. Through them he became interested in ecology and an early exponent of its importance for gardening.

He took Chatto on a trip into the Swiss Alps, where she first saw plants she knew in gardens growing wild in carpets among the rocks. “It was a revelation,“ she later wrote after she took to gardening when she was nearly 40. It still is. Her husband’s interests helped her to succeed with a very dry garden. In 1989 she published a book, The Green Tapestry, setting out her approach to planting and grouping and taking readers round her Essex garden. It was already windswept and very short of water, a major claim to fame. In 2000 she published Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden, focusing on her new garden on the former car park, and in 2016 it was reissued as Drought-Resistant Planting, an excellent buy. The Green Tapestry has just been updated too and reissued as Green Tapestry Revisited (Pimpernel Press, £30). It is a particularly worthwhile read as it is even more up to date, thanks to new chapters by those still involved on site.

Since Chatto’s death in 2018, her plants and gardens have been tended and updated by David Ward, her propagation manager among much else, and teams under Asa Gregers-Warg, active on site since 2001 and now head gardener of the Beth Chatto Gardens. They have carried the green tapestry and its book forward. I have not seen the gardens without her, but some of you write to say how well worthwhile a visit is. Where bone-dry Dorset may be tomorrow, Chatto’s bone-dry garden in Essex has already been for the past 30 years.

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Green Tapestry Revisited gives some of her main principles and continues the story most interestingly. Of course she recognised the importance of plants with grey leaves for dry positions, as the leaves resist scorching and are slower to lose water. She records her debt here to an expert neighbour, the redoubtable Mrs Desmond Underwood, whose minor classic Grey and Silver Plants appeared in 1971.

It too turns up second hand, so buy it if you find it: in a dry era it has a future. Like me, Chatto learnt the value of plants with tap roots for dry places, those long main roots that grow vertically downwards and draw and store water in their fleshy texture. Her garden’s many tall yellow verbascums are tap-rooted examples, excellent plants with a vertical emphasis. Also like me, she emphasises the value of what used to be called gaura, now changed to oenothera: the ones with stems of white flowers survive most winters and are excellent in dry sites, as their prominence on French roundabouts attests. I would add the tap-rooted tall Campanula lactiflora in its lilac-blue forms and in its lower-growing deep violet Prichard’s Variety.

Like Chatto, I also succeed with pokers, the excellent kniphofias that do not have to glow red-hot at the tips of their flowers. In dry soil we both succeed with agapanthus and with hellebores. She included many more grasses than I ever did, but her eye was better trained from flower arranging. She also saw the beauty of plants that would grow into green humps, continuing to enliven the winter.

However, to screen her dry gravel garden she planted a hedge of Leyland cypress, a free-growing monster which I spent my first years pulling out by the roots. She clipped it repeatedly but eventually it spread too wide, a warning to her imitators.

Where Chatto really scored was in her preparation of the car park site. Thanks to the family’s surrounding farm, she could call on JCB diggers to excavate her new borders to a significant depth. With the machines she and her nursery staff then refilled them with manure and good compost before topping them off with a deep layer of gravel. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of this first step, even if you do not command workers and diggers. Thirty years later, I am digging and resoiling my dry beds one by one. She is an excellent exponent of how to avoid doing so.

In dry summers she advised early pruning and cutting back, preferring the use of secateurs to constant use of water from a hose. She has become famous for the phrase “right plant, right place”, arguing against random planting to discover if an unlikely choice will grow in unfavourable conditions. I am not such a fan of this slogan.

Often I have found something right by experiment, whereas what is thought to be right goes wrong and dies. In gardens, plants do not always like what they like in the wild. Sensible experiments are worthwhile.

Over the years, as the reissued Green Tapestry explains, plantings with which Chatto began have often had to be replaced. In 2018 her garden had no rain for 50 days in a row. Nor did mine, in 1990. She championed sustainability, but even she used plants that were not always sustainable for decades. I find that reassuring, not an argument for growing nothing but weeds.
I could not find a thread just about droughts, but on GDACS - Global Disaster Alerting Coordination System, there is this map with quite a few areas experiencing moderate droughts. The harvests in these areas could be affected.
On a different page Copernicus Emergency Management Service there are links to details about floods, fires and droughts, though it appears the floods map is not available globally.
I clicked MapViewer - Global Drought Observatory - JRC European Commission to find the current situation with droughts. This map has more details than the previous. Two countries in South America, Paraguay and Bolivia, are quite affected.
Global drought.png
New and changing weather patterns are on the move here and in the USA. What will the future bring with sustaining the global food demand.

Honey harvest expected to decline dramatically in France
By Euronews with AFP • Updated: 24/10/2021 Video

Harvest progress: 32% of #maïs were harvested against 75% on 10/18/2020. Last week, storm Aurora caused local damage in the northern half of the country #recoltemaïs

Russia Siberia Siberian Federal District. Record 2021 wheat harvest since 2009 1 ⃣ 0 ⃣ , 7 ⃣ Mt All the grain goes to Kazakhstan.
There is a bad harvest.

12:28 AM · Oct 26, 2021 Snip: Video
Since the President of the United States raised port issues as a national concern almost two weeks ago, there’s been no small amount of finger-pointing to just who’s to blame among supply chain parties. Yet as George Berry tells it, the backlog issue is multifaceted, stressed by mismanaged sorting; pressure on intermodal haulers to pick up on the "last free day" to steamship lines; a generalized, widespread shortage of intermodal chassis as they're tied up by various parties; and much, much more. Undue detention issues arise then at the warehouse receiving end more often than not if the hauler’s lucky enough to get an open chassis.

Yet among it all, there's good news for that common problem even in intermodal work, where "free" detention time is dwindling at receivers, and commonly low intermodal owner-operator revenue levels annually are rising. Berry estimates the current high-demand/relatively-shorter-supply situation could yield as much as a $50K revenue boost annually (or around 50%) for such operators. Take a listen:
Also in the podcast: Berry describes himself as a "California kid," and while his intermodal career has been centered in Virginia since early this century, he feels California's emissions regs and other restrictions have exacerbated ports' overload out West. That traces straight back to the California Air Resources Board’s Drayage and wider Truck & Bus rules restricting port operators and the broader trucking community to running only newer-model-year vehicles. Those restrictions were put in place on pre-2007-emissions-spec engines serving the ports well before trucks running in the rest of the state, furthermore, depressing owner-op participation in the state's supply chains.

Wheat Argentina: Not too bad weather as the wheat is filling up. Our model indicates a correct return forecast

Imagine, were seeing Seventy Degree's in this neck of the wood's today. A new record.
We may see some wild swings in the near future according to Oppenheimer Ranch Project.

California farmers to see paltry federal water deliveries as drought’s stranglehold tightens
NICK CAHILL / February 23, 2022
Another year of drought conditions has forced the feds to again restrict the amount of water sent to farmers in California's agricultural heartland.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Following two months of barren weather reports, California farmers received the most disappointing forecast yet Wednesday as the federal government warned many districts in the state’s agricultural heartland won’t get surface water deliveries in 2022.

The initial water allocation update by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the massive Central Valley Project, reflects the increasing severity of California’s drought, and means some Central Valley farmers could go without federally subsidized water for the second consecutive year. Reclamation officials said low spring runoff forecasts are forcing them to cautiously guard the meager amount of water currently stored behind Shasta Dam, the cornerstone of the federal water project.

The Golden State’s traditional rainy season thus far has been a back-and-forth affair, characterized by brief periods of extreme rain and snow followed by monthslong stretches of abnormally dry weather.

Parts of the state saw record amounts of rainfall thanks to a late October storm, but bone-dry conditions returned in November. A week of strong storms brought widespread drought relief in December, but much of the state has seen little to no precipitation since Jan. 1.

The lack of recent rain and snow has reservoir levels plummeting at a time when they should be filling up from runoff. According to state data, Shasta Lake sits at just 53% of its historical average for this time of the year.

Ernest Conant, bureau director of the Mid-Pacific Region, says Shasta and the upper Sacramento Valley unfortunately missed out on much of the beneficial December storms.

“We began the 2022 water year with low Central Valley Project reservoir storage and some weather whiplash, starting with a record day of Sacramento rainfall in October and snow-packed December storms to a very dry January and February, which are on pace to be the driest on record,” Conant said in a statement. “Further, the December storms disproportionately played out this year in the headwaters — heavy in the American River Basin and unfortunately light in the upper Sacramento River Basin.”

Per Wednesday’s announcement, irrigation districts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta stand to receive no water from Shasta and the project’s associated canals. Delta contractors are slated to fare better with 25% of their historical use while the Friant Division contractors, whose water supply comes from the upper San Joaquin River, will receive a zero to 15% allocation depending on seniority.

For the fourth time in the last 10 years, Westlands Water District and other south-of-delta contractors are facing the prospect of a zero percent allocation.
The nation’s largest agricultural water supplier which helps irrigate over 1,000 square miles of farmland in Fresno and Kings counties, says similar drought conditions in 2021 caused farmers to fallow over 200,000 acres.

In a statement, the district said it was “disappointed” with the initial allocation but understands the bureau must conserve water to meet state water quality and environmental standards. It added the current conditions demand a stronger response from California.

“The circumstances in 2021 and those facing us in 2022 demonstrate the need to invest in infrastructure to better manage the state’s water resources, which includes increased capacity to capture water when its available for transport and use in times of drought,” a district spokesperson said. “California needs new storage, both surface and groundwater and improved conveyance facilities.”

The Friant Water Authority reacted more bluntly, saying snowpack levels in the southern Sierra Nevada should warrant more water for growers. It warned the insufficient allocations will force Central Valley farmers to increase reliance on groundwater at a time when the state is striving to recharge depleted aquifers.

“Even if the remainder of the year is extremely dry, Friant Water Authority estimates that approximately 240,000 acre-feet of additional unallocated water supply exists in the upper San Joaquin watershed,” the authority claimed in a statement. “Not allocating water that is clearly available will only exacerbate an unnecessary rush to pump groundwater, causing additional overdraft.”

Congressman David Valadao, whose district covers a large swath of the Central Valley, called the allocations “unacceptably low.”

“This community is resilient, but the fact remains that our farms will not survive without a reliable water supply for south-of-delta agriculture,” said Valadao, R-Hanford.

Nearly three months ago California officials gave a similar preliminary allocation forecast for customers of the State Water Project. But following the December storms, the Department of Water Resources now expects to be able to deliver 15% of requested supplies.

Though there’s still a chance the federal allocations will change this spring, the bureau isn’t overly confident farmers will see much of a boost.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us this year; strengthened collaboration and coordination among agency partners, water and power users and stakeholders will be instrumental,” Conant said.

Dry Year Ahead for Lake Oroville
Mar 1, 2022

Lake Mead/Hoover Dam NV. Water Level Update
Feb 22, 2022

Lake Shasta Reservoir
Feb 15, 2022

Lake Powell Water Level Near Critical Point
Feb 8, 2022

Meanwhile in Europe:

Drought on the prairies in Canada this year led to a poor hay harvest. Now prices have gone from $50/bale to $200/bale. Livestock operations and horse farmers are feeling the price hike. Apparently the SPCA (an animal protection organization) has been able to take care of some animals. But other than that, there seems to be no relief in sight. While farmers suffer and their animals go hungry, Canada is shipping weapons to Ukrainian Nazis. Despicable.

Just to note the looming drought conditions that are being reported in the UK - with 'only half of the average rainfall' - and France, that is threatening some crops (and this is in addition to the fertilizer shortage). Reports are that no significant rain is in sight for either region:

France, most recent update:

[Update] Looking up, we notice that the drought will affect all French soft wheat production areas, but also German, Polish, Belgian & Czech. During the crucial phase of bolting (establishment of number of ears/plant & grains/ear).

Previous update:
[Drought] By May 11, the drought should extend to all soft wheat production areas, 1/2 of durum wheat and 3/4 of barley. The Paris Basin (extended) would be particularly concerned. No significant rain in sight... #FrAgTw

This drought occurs during crucial phases of yield establishment. It is already beginning to nibble at the potential. This cartography comes from Windy. It takes into account the water content of the soil and the weather forecast.

An idea of the situation in most of the UK:

Article from the UK:

Dry April heightens drought fears for farmers​

© Tim Scrivener
© Tim Scrivener

A dry April has raised concerns the UK could be headed for a drought and left farmers desperate for rain to soak parched crops and grassland.

April has been notably dry, with only around half the normal amount of rainfall in England and Wales.

The outlook is for the month to finish with a mostly dry week, but any chances of significant rainfall do not look likely for some time.
See also: So you want to… build a reservoir?
Farmers across the UK need a spell of wet weather to help wash in fertiliser that has been applied in recent weeks at great cost, owing to soaring input prices.

“The weather is just so contrary these days,” said Guy Smith, who farms 350ha in St Osyth, Essex, the driest part of the UK on average.

“In this patch of Essex, having struggled with too much rain in the autumn and not getting crops established, we seem to be straight into the spring drought.

“Spring drilling was done in reasonably good conditions. Some crops are up nicely, but others on less than decent seedbeds are now really struggling.”

Fertiliser ‘sat on top of ground’​

Having just applied expensive fertiliser, and then to see it sitting on the top of the ground and not doing anything due to a lack of rainfall was “all a bit frustrating”, said Mr Smith.

He continued: “As the old saying goes, ‘a wind from the East is no good for man nor beast’ – and that’s exactly what we have got. We need south-westerly breezes.”

But Mr Smith remains hopeful that showers in May will come to rescue the situation and avert a crisis.

“I’m not getting too down in the mouth yet,” he said. I’m hopeful the weather will come right for farmers.”

Explore moreKnow How​

Visit our Know How centre for practical farming advice

In Norfolk, arable farmer Kit Papworth posted a photo on his Twitter page of him irrigating cereal crops. He said: “Sign of the times. Irrigating cereals in April.”

Rob Gardner, farm manager at Manor Farm in Upton Grey, near Basingstoke, Hampshire said spring crops, including peas, beans and wheat had emerged well, but now needed rain.

“It’s becoming a worry. If we get rain in the next week, we’ll all be very happy,” he said. “If it stays dry over the next two to three weeks, it will start to have more of an impact on the spring crops than the winter crops.”

‘Not critical yet’​

Dairy farmer David Christensen manages 950 milking cows across two units in Oxfordshire, where he farms around 600ha, including 132ha of maize.
Mr Christensen said he was feeling “cautiously nervous” about the lack of rainfall. “It’s been a dry winter, followed by a dry spring and it’s very dry around the farm,” he said.

“If we get an inch or so of rain in the next fortnight, the situation could change markedly. But there’s no sign of that.

“It’s not critical yet, but it will soon be unless we get some rain over the next two to three weeks.”

Mr Christensen is not too concerned about his silage, as he expects to take his first cut in mid-May of grass grown on heavy land. However, he has established a lot of maize in the past week, which “now needs a drink”.

Dry May forecast​

According to the Met Office, most of the UK has had lower than average rainfall this month, although northern Scotland has been wetter than average.
Its long-range forecast predicts that start of May will be dry, with cold nights and frosty mornings possible in rural areas. “A few showers are likely at times particularly for the North and East, where they could be heavy,” it says.

Dry, settled weather is forecast for much of the UK from mid- to end of May, with a chance of showers in places, but a lower risk of prolonged rain.
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