Propane Shortage Makes Late Harvest Worse

With the US corn and soybean harvests way behind normal because of this year’s wet weather conditions, the Illinois Farm Policy News reported that propane shortages continue to exacerbate the problem.

On Monday, Reuters reported that, “Regional shortages of propane, which is used for heating homes and barns and by farmers to dry their crops, have led to emergency declarations covering nine U.S. Midwest states amid late harvests of soggy grains.




DTN writer Russ Quinn reported on Friday that, “As if the 2019 growing season didn’t have enough weather challenges, corn harvest has come to a complete halt for some farmers as propane for crop drying has been hard to secure.  Increased demand nationwide due to extremely cold weather is limiting supplies available for drying crops.

“While extremely frustrating for these who have seen corn harvest stifled, the good news is more-seasonable temperatures are expected to return to most of the country.  This, in turn, should lower demand for propane and make more available to the market; but it will take some time.”

Quinn explained that, “The lack of propane supplies for crop drying is more evident the farther north you move in the Midwest.  This region faced a double whammy with crops that were wet and locations farther away from the pipelines that supply the product.”

Matt Undlin, a farmer from Lansford, N.D., told DTN his corn harvest could be stalled for the rest of November by a lack of propane.  His retailer said they were 10 semi-loads behind, and priority will be given to hospitals, churches, schools, businesses and residences.




A news release last week from the House Agriculture Committee stated that, “[Committee] Chairman Collin C. Peterson and a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter today to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee on behalf of farmers and rural residents across the Midwest, to bring awareness to the need for a continued supply of propane to Midwest states.

“The letter aims to ensure that FERC is aware that farmers and grain elevator operators are dealing with propane shortages while trying to finish harvest and prepare grain for storage.  This is happening as below normal temperatures have arrived early and residential use of propane is also increasing.  In 2014, FERC took extraordinary measures to address catastrophic conditions and propane shortages.  This letter intends to remind the commissioners that they have tools to help address the conditions facing our rural communities.”

Meanwhile, Thursday’s Grain Transportation Report from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service indicated that, this year’s wet grain harvest has put pressure on propane supplies.

According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, Midwest propane stocks typically peak between late September and mid-October, then slowly fall through November and December.  As of Nov. 1, stocks had fallen 6% since the end of September and were approximately 2 million barrels lower than the same week last year.




Cash cattle trading last week took place at $115 to $117 per cwt, steady to up $1 from the previous week, and at $180 to $184 on a dressed basis, down $2 to up $1.50.

The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was down $1.40 per cwt at $231.84, while select was up $0.38 at $212.29.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $19.55 from $21.33 with 109 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle index for the seven days ended Monday was $144.79 per cwt, down $0.54 from the previous day.  This compares with Tuesday’s Nov contract settlement of $141.62, down $0.35.