Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Food: "What to Hoard in 2021, and It's Not Toilet Paper"

As we were saying with pretty much every Drought Monitor report this Spring (here's April 20):

When the desert is in drought I remonstrate Phoenix and Las Vegas for having allowed population growth far beyond the dry times carrying capacity. When California is in drought I trot out the little chart that shows the historical prevalence of drought—last seen in April 19's "US West prepares for possible 1st water shortage declaration":

Some of the Western megadroughts have been hundreds of years long. As the San Jose Mercury-News depicted it in 2015:


—San Jose Mercury-News "California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say"
That little red blip at the far right side of the timeline is the current drought.
You could make a reasonable argument that for the last 150 years Californians have been living in a fool's paradise. 

But when the drought spreads to North Dakota and threatens the world's best pasta wheat, durum, of which 80% of the U.S. crop is grown in the state, Well if you can imagine the Great Bucatini Shortage of 2020 spreading to all 600 types and shapes, you know my anxiety....

And March 25: "Drought Monitor: Southwest Desert Remains A Desert; Pasta May Get More Expensive".

So here we are with DTN Progressive Farmer, July 19:

Remember back to spring of 2020 when pictures and videos of people hoarding toilet paper filled social media and the news? Well, move over toilet paper because 2021 may likely be the year to stock up on food staples again, mainly due to drought-stressed, failing crops in the United States and Canada.

Most of the items mentioned below were often hard to find on grocery store shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic because people were cooking and baking more at home. We may see a repeat of that in 2021 and with higher prices to boot.

A repeat of 2020 could come with flour becoming scarce (and more expensive) on grocery shelves. The top-producing spring wheat state, North Dakota, has been taken over by a long, destructive drought. In the most recent drought monitor, the majority of the state was in severe drought followed by extreme and exceptional drought covering the central and some western parts of the state.

Farmers had zero to little moisture to plant their crop in the spring after a dry fall and some farmers have seen very little rain to give the spring wheat crop a chance. North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) noted that producers in the driest areas continue to make choices on abandoning or haying their wheat crop depending on yield potential.

USDA said that other spring wheat production for grain is forecast at 345 million bushels (mb), down 41% from last year, with yields as of July 1 expected to average 30.7 bushels per harvested acre, down 17.9 bushels from 2020. If realized, this would be the lowest yield since 2002 for the U.S., noted USDA. Production of hard red spring wheat is estimated at 305 mb, down over 40% from last year. Since July 1, the North Dakota spring wheat condition had worsened, likely lowering production more. NASS said North Dakota conditions as of July 11 were rated 22% very poor, 32% poor, 30% fair, 15% good and 1% excellent. Another spring wheat state, Montana, isn't doing much better with ratings at 21% very poor, 42% poor, 21% fair, 13% good, and 3% excellent.

Another pick would be anything made with oats. That can be oatmeal, various oat cereals and the newly popular oat milk. In the U.S., South Dakota produced the most oats in the country in 2020 followed by Minnesota, according to NASS statistics, with South Dakota and Minnesota accounting for nearly 33% of the U.S. production of oats in 2020. The problem is that drought conditions have likely shrunk the new crop and the most recent crop progress conditions give us a hint.....


We like DTN Progressive Farmer, they have the right attitude. Amd Mary Kennedy's commentary is some of the most incisive in the business.