Supply-chain issues upend holiday, 2022 season planning

Because of likely supply-chain issues, holiday hamsters were not available at a local grocery store this year.

Every year before Christmas, I go to a local grocery store to buy my sister a pocket-sized stuffed hamster dressed in holiday finery, such as reindeer antlers or a Santa Claus hat. (It’s a sister thing, plus we had pet hamsters growing up.) I’d snatch up a stuffed hamster when I saw it because they sold like wildfire.

This year when I made my annual trek, there were no hamsters. In their place was a box full of pocket-sized stuffed mice. I suspect a supply-chain issue was behind the substitution since the hamsters were made in China. Needless to say, the mice did not sell well, and nearly a full box still sat on the grocery store shelf a few days before Christmas.

Based on conversations with a few growers and ag chem retailers I know, they’re encountering their own versions of my hamster experience.

Hearing that glyphosate was going to be in short supply, a grower in October told me he had begun scrounging up enough to meet his 2022 needs. Even though the price was significantly higher than in 2020, he saw it as an investment that was only likely to climb.

Extension specialists have already begun recommending growers consider alternate crop protection materials should supplies of their go-to products be limited or nonexistent.

unsold mice toys
A box of mostly unsold pocket-sized stuffed mice sat on a grocer’s shelf just before Christmas.

An ag chem retailer I talked to in December said he was having a tough time planning for the upcoming season. Prices for glyphosate had gone up four times since spring 2021, and that was if he could even get the herbicide. Some suppliers told him they would be allocating crop protection products based on his last three years of orders.

Manufacturers blamed the shortage on supply-chain issues that disrupted their ability to source technical product, frequently produced in China, used to formulate crop protection materials.

The same ag chem retailer said another supplier told him he’d likely receive a full order of a popular burn-down herbicide, but much of the product would be delivered after the historic use period.

All of these unknowns point to a need for flexibility and having a back-up plan. As one grower told me, if ever there was a year for having a plan B, it would be 2022.

Let’s hope the plans offer better substitutes than the unsold box of stuffed mice were for holiday hamsters.

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