Global grain markets are at a pivot point, with prices finally starting to ease after a dizzying surge earlier this year. Where things go from here could end up being determined by farmers like Justin Sherlock and the extreme weather that’s hitting parts of the US crop belt.
For Sherlock, like most of America’s farmers, crazy weather isn’t anything new. His North Dakota farm gets so much excess water every spring that the area his farm is in has been dubbed the Prairie Potholes for the puddles that form in the middle of fields. But this year has been exceptional. The deluge was so intense, floodwaters submerged acre after acre.
Forget puddles. This spring, the rains were so hard it was more like his farm got dotted with miniature lakes.
“It’s been a struggle,” said Sherlock, who got about 75% of his planned corn and soybean crops into the ground before relentless rainfall forced him to call it quits in mid-June. “It’s been such a long, kind of horrible spring, that I’ll do what I can to grow the best crop I can this year, but I basically already decided to put my hopes on 2023.”
In any normal crop year, flooding on a field like Sherlock’s might not matter that much in the bigger picture of the global agriculture market. After all, North Dakota is a smaller player when it comes to corn, and powerhouses such as Iowa and Illinois saw better conditions for spring planting. But as everyone knows, 2022 is anything but a typical year.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stifled exports from a region that’s known as the world’s breadbasket. The disruption has sent crop futures to near-record highs, with stockpiles extremely tight. That’s adding to rampant food inflation and raising fears of global grain