Pg1 10-7 San Pat Cotton Harvest_1.jpg

With the cotton harvest coming to an end, the price of fuel and shortage of replacement and computer parts is causing a headache for farmers.

A metal parts and computer chip shortage has been disrupting the supply of products and parts for more than a year now. Vehicle sales floors  are growing bare as they face inventory shortages due to manufacturers inability to get essential parts and chips for the smart devices in those cars and trucks.

For those in the farming business, they’re seeing the same thing, with added inflation and the closure of the Keystone Pipeline that’s causing them to pay more for things such as fertilizer due to a rise in fuel prices.

County farmers are currently finishing up their annual cotton harvest, but with extra added costs.

“Everything turned out pretty good,” National Sorghum Producers Board Director and Sinton farmer Bobby Nedbalek said. “We wound up with some real good yields on the stuff that didn’t get drowned out, and we got a decent crop out of the stuff that was yellow cotton. So it was good, but it was just two or three weeks later than it would have been.

“I’d say it all turned out better than expected.”

Nedbalek said rains that came late last week, and dropped up to 7 inches in some areas of the county, was really good for the next planting season which bodes well for farmers.

“It’s the time when you have to get rains to store up the moisture for next year’s crop,” he added. “If it didn’t rain now, it would be bad news.

“And the cotton prices are good for this year and next year.

“But there’s always good news and bad news about those kind of things, too, because the costs are going to rise dramatically. Fertilizer price is going to be way more expensive than it was last year.”

He said that because the Keystone Pipeline is shut down, that raised fuel prices because the country is relying on oil imports which in turn raises the cost to truck in fertilizer. It also affects the cost of fertilizer itself as the components.

“A lot of our fertilizer costs are connected to the cost of fuel because of what it’s made from; nitrogen, potash and  phosphate,” Nedbalek said.

The rise in fuel cost is also affecting food prices themselves which can be seen by visiting any area grocery store.

Parts to repair tractors – as well as tractors themselves – along with the chips used in them have also been hard to come by, and when they are available, they cost more.

The shortage has been credited to the COVID-19 outbreak which essentially shut down China, where most of the components that have gone missing are manufactured.

While the demand remains high throughout the country, the supply simply isn’t there.

While county farmers such as Nedbalek prepare to get their cotton harvest shipped out in the next few weeks, their focus has shifted to the next crop and their hopes that the global supply chain of needed equipment and supplies evens out to a more normal level.

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

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