DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Prices Higher for All But One Fertilizer

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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The average retail price of anhydrous was $461 per ton the third week of December 2017, up 12% from a month earlier. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Average retail prices for all but one fertilizer continued to move higher the third week of December 2017, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to a month ago. Anhydrous is 12% more expensive compared to last month and has an average price of $461 per ton. MAP was 6% higher, as well, with an average price of $485/ton.

The remaining five fertilizers were higher compared to the prior month, but none were up by a significant amount. DAP had an average price of $445/ton, potash $344/ton, urea $348/ton, 10-34-0 $405/ton and UAN28 $218/ton.

Just one fertilizer was lower compared to the previous month. UAN32 was 7% lower compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $254/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices have been moving higher over the last month or so, and in recent weeks, have been led higher by anhydrous. The spring prepay anhydrous price has been considerably higher than the fall price was, according to farmers.

Clark McGrath, Iowa State University on-farm research and Extension coordinator and agronomist in western Iowa, said anhydrous prices have jumped significantly since farmers locked in for the fall application season. A former fertilizer retailer himself, he heard prices for fall application ranged from $320 per ton to $380 per ton if you had locked in the nutrient.

"In season this fall it started climbing, and supply was tight in areas too," McGrath told DTN. "If you needed extra tons, or had just bought at fall pricing rather than had it locked in, some guys were seeing it run up over $400/ton for later November and December tons."

As far as prepay for spring, McGrath said he has seen retail prices run from the upper $400s per ton to the low $500s per ton. Also, it's not uncommon to hear that retailers aren't setting a spring price yet for tons not locked in, he said.

There are several reasons for the run-up in anhydrous prices in recent weeks, ranging from the high demand this fall that caused some supply issues to China exporting significantly less urea in 2017. These topics are covered more in depth in the article "N Prices on the Rise," http://bit.ly/….

In addition, some have speculated that rising fertilizer prices may be a sign that possibly fewer corn acres will be planted next spring.

McGrath wonders if there may be a little truth to the more beans-on-beans idea.

"I'm not sure how much it would impact the nitrogen price, but I've been asked to write about beans-on-beans and speak at a couple of meetings on this topic," he said.

McGrath said the good news is the price spike in anhydrous -- as well as for fertilizers in general -- is probably not a long-term feature of the retail fertilizer market. With increasing nitrogen supplies coming online from North America, after nitrogen prices bounce around some, one would think supplies would stabilize once again by mid-2018, he said.

Five fertilizers are now higher compared to last year. UAN28 is 1% more expensive, DAP is 3% higher, urea is 4% more expensive, potash is 7% higher and MAP is now 11% more expensive.

The remaining three fertilizers are still lower compared to a year prior. UAN32 is 1% lower while anhydrous is 2% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 9% lower.

DTN collects roughly 1,700 retail fertilizer bids from 310 retailer locations weekly. Not all fertilizer prices change each week. Prices are subject to change at any time.

DTN Pro Grains subscribers can find current retail fertilizer price in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to 2010 are available in the DTN fertilizer segment. The charts included cost of N/lb., DAP, MAP, potash, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

DTN's average of retail fertilizer prices from a month earlier ($ per ton):

DRY
Date Range DAP MAP POTASH UREA
Dec 19-23 2016 432 437 321 336
Jan 16-20 2017 430 443 324 346
Feb 13-17 2017 432 450 332 357
Mar 13-17 2017 443 462 337 360
Apr 10-13 2017 437 466 338 353
May 8-12 2017 437 466 340 351
Jun 5-9 2017 438 469 339 338
Jul 3-7 2017 436 467 339 325
Jul 31-Aug 4 2017 434 463 339 311
Aug 28-Sept 1 2017 433 457 338 303
Sep 15-29 2017 432 453 348 321
Oct 23-27 2017 431 453 347 325
Nov 20-24 2017 435 460 342 338
Dec 18-22 2017 445 485 344 348
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Dec 19-23 2016 442 468 217 255
Jan 16-20 2017 437 478 235 267
Feb 13-17 2017 440 491 240 276
Mar 13-17 2017 441 507 247 280
Apr 10-13 2017 441 505 247 280
May 8-12 2017 437 508 247 280
Jun 5-9 2017 435 503 246 278
Jul 3-7 2017 432 462 236 268
Jul 31-Aug 4 2017 426 418 227 262
Aug 28-Sept 1 2017 418 417 215 248
Sep 15-29 2017 413 396 208 243
Oct 23-27 2017 407 393 205 262
Nov 20-24 2017 403 410 216 272
Dec 18-22 2017 405 461 218 254

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

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(AG/BAS)

Russ Quinn