Rising cost of diesel fuels harvesting woes

Diesel prices are on the rise, posing a huge challenge for farmers as they navigate their operations through the beginning of harvest season for many key U.S. crops.

It is the beginning of harvesting season in the United States—the time when farmers reap their year-long crop. However, producers face a formidable challenge on the horizon this year: steep fuel prices. GasBuddy has issued a warning that much of farm country could soon be hit by rising diesel prices.

“The worry is that as we get into fall, we are going to start seeing heating oil demand go up, and heating oil and diesel are essentially the same product,” explained Patrick De Hann, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “That’s going to put upward pressure on the price of diesel.”

As winter approaches, refineries gear up for maintenance, which could limit their ability to ensure an adequate supply of diesel before the peak of heating oil season. De Hann said this refinery maintenance could also contribute to the diesel price surge, saying producers can expect to see a jump at the pump around October.

“September might offer a little bit of calm before the storm for diesel prices, but by October, there’s a lot of maintenance happening, especially along the East Coast,” he said. “That could have a ripple effect here in the Midwest. So, I think diesel prices will likely continue inching up. We could see diesel prices by the end of the year anywhere from 20- to 35 cents a gallon higher than today.”

Traditionally, gas prices tend to decrease as we transition to cheaper winter blends, but this year seems to be an exception. Currently, the average price for a gallon of on-road diesel stands at $4.58, a number that is already causing farmers to reevaluate their budgets. Meanwhile, a gallon of regular gasoline is not far behind at a current average of $3.88, marking the highest September price on record.

Farmers and consumers alike are bracing for the impact of these rising fuel costs as they navigate the challenges of the upcoming harvest season.

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