Possible corn shortage coming to ND

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 9:56 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Farmers say it’s too late for any kind of rain to save their crops. It’s time to move forward with whatever is in the fields. But what they have has many down the production line worried about what will be available to them.

If this field represents all of North Dakota’s corn, half of it would go to making ethanol.

But the drought has cut corn growth across the state, and that has those in the supply chain worried.

Around the state, it’s a similar picture: dead spots in fields.

Clark Price of Washburn is the fourth generation on this land, and it’s difficult to compare this year to any he’s seen.

“We all had hope for it early on, but the wheat crop kinda fizzled out early. It didn’t get enough rain early to hardly get out of the ground so that kinda quit. But we had pretty good hope for the corn and the beans, but as the temperatures are staying in the 90′s and above with no rain, it’s shutting all of them off too. So, pretty likely this won’t be a corn crop,” Price said.

What should be a full ear of corn resembles baby corn. And even that is hard to find.

Like many others around the state, this crop will likely become feed for cattle just to get any use from it.

But what about the corn that becomes fuel, rather than food?

Come harvest season, there may not be enough corn in North Dakota to keep plants at full capacity.

“The corn crop, our feedstock, supply in our traditional market area is very questionable right now. All I can say is we’re very concerned,” Midwest AgEnergy Chief Marketing Officer Phil Coffin said.

Ethanol plants are competing against each other and other industries to get a cut of the limited corn supply.

Industry leaders worry this will create a bidding war for commodities, thus increasing prices.

This is bad for the ethanol plants, but good for farmers like Clark... if there was a crop to sell.

Coffin said his plant won’t lower capacity if there’s not enough corn in North Dakota. Rather, they’ll be going to neighboring states.

This will increase transportation costs for the plants, and put them in an even larger pool of competition for crops.

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