DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Fertilizer Prices Slip Again

Potash prices average about 7% below 2014 levels at this time last year, DTN's surveys show. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Prices of potash continued to fall to record-breaking lows, dropping another 5% in the past week compared to month-earlier averages, according to DTN's weekly retail fertilizer survey. Prices of all other major types of fertilizer remained unchanged or with only small price adjustments of $1 per ton up or down.

DAP averaged $547 per ton, MAP $564/ton, potash $440/ton, urea $418/ton, 10-34-0 $584/ton, anhydrous $640/ton, UAN28 $295/ton and UAN32 $338/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.45/lb.N, anhydrous $0.39/lb.N, UAN28 $0.53/lb.N and UAN32 $0.53/lb.N.

Compared to year-earlier prices, only starter fertilizer remains more expensive than a year ago. 10-34-0 averages about 5% higher. Prices of urea are a substantial 18% lower, with UAN28 prices also falling 10% below last year. Prices of UAN32 fell 9%, anhydrous 8%, potash 7%, DAP 6%, and MAP 5%

COMMODITY, OIL INFLUENCE

Jerry Bremer, president of Agricultural Services Inc. in Grand Island, Nebraska, said he believes future fertilizer prices will likely depend on the price of commodities and oil, especially since corn prices seem to follow the movement of oil prices.

Prices are down for some types of fertilizer, but not for others, Bremer said.

For instance, the urea market is down, but it is going to be the "heavy weight" when it comes to sales in the future, as there is more urea production being built, he said.

While foreign phosphate prices seem "barely reasonable," Bremer said that domestic phosphate is lower than last year, but probably not as cheap as it could be. Potash is also reasonably low at present.

Phosphoric acid is higher priced compared to last year, he said.

"The only thing that's making that reasonable is that the ammonia used to convert the phosphoric acid into 10-45-0 is cheaper than it was last year," he said. "But we're not a lot cheaper in manufacturing 10-34-0 than we were last year."

Sulfur, whether thiazol or ammoniate sulfate, is actually higher priced than it was last year, Bremer said.

Bremer said he has not had anybody lock in fertilizer yet this fall, as farmers are still picking corn and are about 10 days behind normal with harvest.

"We probably won't see much action until the first part of November as far as anybody looking at doing some kind of pre-pay sale for the coming year," he said.

As far as fall application, Bremer said farmers will be putting on phosphorus and potassium, but his area's Natural Resources District doesn't allow nitrogen to be put on between Nov. 1 and March 1 of the following year. With the harvest schedule 10 days behind, that will likely prevent farmers from applying anything until next spring.

Bremer said he is slightly concerned about supplies of thiazol, or liquid sulfur. He said what liquid sulfur he is getting in now is coming on rail, but in short-loaded cars. Normal 100-ton rail cars are coming as low as 88 tons.

"In my experience, when that happens, they're basically allocating that out to everybody. You can order X amount of railcars, but it won't be the tons you wanted," he said. "If you want more sulfur in, you're going to have to ask for it."

Domestic phosphoric acid will also likely be in short supply again this year, he said.

Bremer said he is concerned about upcoming new regulations by Occupational Safety and Health Administration on ammonia. Also, the Department of Transportation is putting new rules in place on nurse tanks and took a good number of tanks out of service.

"The rules are going to make it tougher for everybody to handle. Some of these rules are going to be to the point where some people aren't even going to be in the ammonia business anymore," he said.

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 November 2008 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
Oct 13-17 2014 583 599 477 508
Nov 10-14 2014 579 598 480 498
Dec 8-12 2014 570 591 481 483
Jan 5-9 2015 566 594 485 464
Feb 2-6 2015 569 597 488 473
Mar 2-6 2015 570 597 489 471
Mar 30-Apr 3 2015 569 598 491 462
Apr 27-May 1 2015 571 598 492 455
May 25-29 2015 570 597 492 459
June 22-26 2015 572 597 490 469
July 20-24 2015 569 594 487 469
Aug 17-21 2015 568 587 477 448
Sept 14-18 2015 563 579 462 432
Oct 12-16 2015 547 564 440 418
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Oct 13-17 2014 557 696 329 372
Nov 10-14 2014 559 720 336 368
Dec 8-12 2014 571 709 323 368
Jan 5-9 2015 577 707 323 364
Feb 2-6 2015 589 707 329 369
Mar 2-6 2015 626 706 331 371
Mar 30-Apr 3 2015 642 708 333 370
Apr 27-May 1 2015 652 711 332 371
May 25-29 2015 650 710 332 371
June 22-26 2015 641 690 330 369
July 20-24 2015 636 689 324 354
Aug 17-21 2015 611 667 309 349
Sept 14-18 2015 593 653 300 345
Oct 12-16 2015 584 640 295 338

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at cheryl.anderson@dtn.com

(MZT/AG)