SUNRAY, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As farmers on the High Plains work to produce crops during a historic drought, they are also up against sky-high input costs.
Justin Benavidez, an assistant professor and extension economist at Texas A&M AgriLife, said fertilizer prices are about 300% higher than last year.
“We look at nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as our key components and a lot of those are actually sourced out of places that are under major conflict right now,” Benavidez said. “But even prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we were seeing a large spike in fertilizer prices year over year.”
He said it’s due to supply chain issues and higher demand as commodity prices increase amid higher inflation.
“The good news right there is that we’re still forecasting profitability in our budgets here on the High Plains for producers of most commodities,” Benavidez added.
For Joaquin Andujo, who grows wheat and corn near Sunray, he’s betting on those higher prices, even through the ongoing drought. Plus, he said at Planetierra Partnership, they are not holding back on fertilizer or irrigation.
“We don’t believe in cutting things off to save because our main deal is to get the good yields,” said Andujo. “The grain prices are really, really good at this time and that’s going to offset the cost though everything else. So, hopefully we can make it through and try it again next year.”
For one local, family-owned fertilizer business, Patton Custom Fertilizer, they are working with farmers during this difficult time.
“They’re putting in twice the risk for the same return that they normally do,” said Teddie Whitefield, the Spearman branch manager. “They’re the backbone of the Panhandle.”
Whitefield said they want farmers to get the most for their money.
“We take soil samples, you know, for fertility reports,” he said. “That way we can maximize where they place their fertilizer, try to place it in the right place to where they have the most bang for their buck.”
As the drought continues, Andujo said they are drilling small water wells but they aren’t producing much water.
“It’s nothing better than 200 gallons. So, our water problem is going—the water is going away and as much water we pump all the time, everybody’s pumping a lot of water. So we got a problem for the future,” said Andujo. “And if we don’t get a lot of rains through the next few years, we’re going to be only dry land. So hopefully, we keep getting rains. Let’s pray to God do we get them.”