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Monday, May 23, 2011

A Most Interesting Conversation

I was at the local farm store this weekend to pick up a few plants when I stopped and talked to the owner.  Okay, he's my neighbor, and my cousin, but a farmer and the owner too.  We ended up having the most illuminating conversation. 

It all started out over a tray of sweet potato plants.

I was picking "D's" brain about raising sweet potatoes, specifically for keeping them through the winter, when sort of out of nowhere he says "Andie, don't believe what you're hearing on TV and reading in the paper.  There's not going to be a grain crop this year."


He said Ohio's grain is 7% planted and the cut-off date for planting is little more than a week away.  Only high grounds are planted and low lying fields are still too swampy to get large equipment into. 

He talked about the fact that there won't be a crop along the Mississippi for several years possibly, because the flooding washed away the topsoil and left behind a layer of thick mud and debris.  Tens of thousands of acres of prime farmland, perfect for growing wheat, soy, corn, cotton were washed away, along with the living of several dozen farm families.
The drought in the western states, Asia and Europe came up, and that much of the world would be doggedly looking to buy as much grain as possible and the impact it would have on the already rising food prices.  Limited grain crops are going to drive the price of EVERYTHING through the roof.  

And then he talked about the cheery reports he hears out of the media, specifically from government departments.  He said there's little to be cheery about and that this one bad season is going to affect grain prices for the next 2-3 years.  Or longer.

I can't fully explain the impact of this conversation because you all don't know "D".  He's very quiet.  Very reserved.  Slow to give his opinion.  Conversations with "D" are normally very short, kept to basic, polite "hey how are you, how are the kids?" type of talk.  Once in a while, we talk gardening, but that's the extent of exchanges with "D".  To hear him talk about what's coming around the bend, that was a real AHA moment for me; not because it's a lot of new information, but because someone else is seeing it for what it is.

We talked food storage for a few minutes and I told him that we'd been hitting the commodities hard; wheat, sugar, coffee and chocolate, at which he laughed and promised not to tell his wife where our chocolate stash is located.  

Then I bought a bunch of extra veggie plants.  If his plan was to increase garden plant sales, it worked on me!

I just can't emphasize enough the importance of a deep larder this year.  Everything is going to go up this year, everything.  We're not an oil-based economy, we're a grain-based economy and everything we eat is somehow tied to grain.  Our clothes are tied to crops.  Our fuel is tied to crops.  And when those crops aren't available, we're going to feel that impact hard and fast.    

Pick up some extra food for long term storage.  Even if it's freakin' Ramen noodles and Spam.  Whatever.  Just get some food in your pantry while you can afford it.  If you've been thinking about buying wheat, corn, etc for storage, don't wait!  Do it now while grain is still available and affordable.  The local Walmart store carries 25# bags of white or red wheat for about $12-$13, so there's no excuses for putting it off!  And bear in mind, that shortages in wheat, soy and corn could lead to shortages in other grains as consumers turn to oats, barley, rye for substitutes.  If you start every morning with a bowl of oats, pick up an extra package (or 4) and put them away for darker days.     

Buy an extra pair of blue jeans while you can afford them.  If you need bedding, fabric, towels, look into it sooner than later!  If you have small children as I do, watch for sales on the next-size-up clothing.  They'll prove invaluable later on. 

If you need straw for your garden, buy it now.  No wheat crop = no straw.

Pick up extra seeds for next year.  Sounds like they may be necessary.

Safely store some fuel for cold weather.

Get ready to prove your mettle.

Visit the Ohio Forum at http://www.ohiopreppersnetwork.net/


Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Wow, Andrea, that was a great post. If you don't mind, I may link to it at the IL. blog in a few days. (I just now put a post up, so I'll wait a few day.)

AND, I did NOT know that Walmart carries wheat. You mean wheat berries, right? You've got to be kidding! Those prices are so cheap!! I've been driving about 1 1/2 hours away for more expensive stuff, and I could have gotten it at Walmart! Thanks for the tip. I'm going to be giving them a call, after 'D''s timely advice.

Andrea said...

::blush:: Gen, go ahead and link to it. I think it's good for everyone to hear what the farmers are really saying.

And yes, Walmart (at least my Walmart) carries wheat berries. They carry 2 brands, one is Bronze Chief, I can't recall the other one. They have red and white wheat right on the shelf in line with the other baking goods.

If you can't find it at your Walmart, try shopping online and do that Site to Store free shipping.

Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Thanks, Andrea! I'll let you know what I find out!

Judy Justice said...

Andrea, I have linked to my blog as well. I have a small following. "Interesting post!"

Angie said...

"D"s comments are true - my husband is a farmer. He just finished planting corn yesterday. The cut off date "D" is talking about probably refers to the cut off date we have for crop insurance coverage. June 5 is the last day to plant field corn in our area (West Central OH). After that, they can still plant corn, but at a greater risk. I have heard some farmers may just skip the corn and go all soybeans. We got lucky, but we do not farm thousands of acres like some do. As far as the wheat crop, the concern there is the wet spring will breed fungus. I haven't heard my dh say their wheat has shown signs of it yet.
Your lucky to find wheat at your local Walmart, mine doesn't have it.

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