CENTRAL TEXAS — It's planting time for farmers in Central Texas, which means equipment and machinery have to be in working order. In the midst of a parts shortage, that's a lot easier said than done.
The hurdles have been adding up for farmers over the past several months. Having already been slammed by rising input costs, they've spent this winter doing some careful planning. Shane McLellan, county extension agent with the AgriLife office in McLennan County, says there's a lot on a farmer's plate right now.
"You know, fertilizer inputs are high, seed prices are high, chemical prices are high, so everything's kind of a challenge right now for farmers," said McLellan.
Adding to that list of stress: parts shortages. Chad Kolar, regional sales manager of Wylie Sprayers, said the shipping delays have only gotten worse.
"We have reached a point to where there are certain types of and certain individual products within those product lines that are just not coming. They're staying sustained backorders," said Kolar.
That's not good news for farmers who need to get started on planting. Row crops like corn and milo are being planted right now, so there's no room for wasting time on repairs or getting parts replaced.
"A lot of times we may plant as early as Feb. 4, Feb. 5," said McLellan. "By Feb. 15, I typically expect most of our corn to be in the ground."
McLellan said the delays are also due to difficulties getting seeds delivered. At Wylie Sprayers, they're coming up with different ways to use what they have in stock to help their customers.
"We can substitute parts, change componentry, to work around one short or two short components," said Kolar. "It may not be as neat or as clean, but it will still function in the time being."
Some parts are only delayed a short time, but larger items like electronics and display consoles are several months behind.
It's crucial that farmers get their crops in on time because many things are riding on this growing season. Commodity prices are high for now, but the fluctuations have been more dramatic than usual, putting farmers on edge.
"We're not talking about, you know, cents and pennies. We're talking about dollars," McLellan said. "And when it jumps that much, it's kind of frightening,"
As long as farm equipment is up and running, you can bet that farmers will be busy in the fields this week as they try to beat the rain.