DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Farmers' Year-End Fertilizer Plans Vary

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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The cost of nitrogen fertilizer (per pound of N) has fallen significantly for major nutrients since mid-2015. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Retail fertilizer continues to drift lower as the year comes to an end, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of December 2015. Some farmers report making fertilizer purchases before year's end, although many are planning to hold off buying.

All eight of the major fertilizers edged lower compared to a month earlier, but none were down significantly. DAP had an average price of $519 per ton, MAP $541/ton, potash $408/ton, urea $390/ton, 10-34-0 $571/ton, anhydrous $608/ton, UAN28 $277/ton and UAN32 $330/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.42/lb.N, anhydrous $0.37/lb.N, UAN28 $0.50/lb.N and UAN32 $0.52/lb.N.

A quick survey of farmers on Twitter finds many different responses to the traditional year-end fertilizer purchasing for tax purposes.

Joel Grams (@uplandcounty), a farmer from Minden, Nebraska, said he didn't apply any fertilizer last fall and he also has not locked any fertilizer in yet. He will lock in some fertilizer in the coming months, but nothing before the end of the year.

"I need some expenses for the end of the year, but not enough to pay for fertilizer," Grams told DTN.

Quentin Bowen (@thegraingrower), a farmer from Humboldt, Nebraska, said he normally prepays for his fertilizer the summer before. However, the last two years he waited until he needed the fertilizer, thinking it was overpriced.

"Last year it never went down; this year it seems to be working down a little," Bowen said.

Bowen said he believes consolidation in the fertilizer industry has kept prices higher than they should be. Until something happens to turn commodities bullish, he feels the fertilizer companies are bucking the trend of the whole world by not deflating their prices.

"I will buy it when I need it, if I don't see an opportunity before," he said.

Not all farmers are declining to purchase fertilizer. Josh Kayser (@bigkyz), a farmer from Emery, South Dakota, said he is about half bought on phosphorus (P) and potash (K). He already applied P and K last fall.

Kayser said he will probably lock in at least 75% of remaining fertilizer needs in the next month or so.

"We are waiting for our retailers to call the bottom (of the fertilizer market)," Kayser said. "Urea is still sliding (lower) in our market."

With retail fertilizer moving lower in recent months, no fertilizers are higher compared to a year earlier. The closest would be 10-34-0, which is now 1% lower from last year.

The remaining seven nutrients are all lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. DAP is 8% lower while both MAP and UAN32 are 9% less expensive. UAN28 is 13% lower, anhydrous is 14% less expensive and both potash and urea are 16% lower compared to a year previous.

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
Dec 22-26 2014 566 593 485 462
Jan 19-23 2015 568 596 487 469
Feb 16-20 2015 568 597 495 472
Mar 16-20 2015 570 597 490 470
Apr 13-17 2015 570 598 491 453
May 11-15 2015 570 598 491 457
June 8-12 2015 571 598 491 461
July 6-10 2015 570 596 489 470
Aug 3-7 2015 567 591 482 464
Aug 31-Sept 4 2015 564 583 471 439
Sept 28-Oct 2 2015 561 573 450 424
Oct 26-30 2015 546 562 431 409
Nov 23-27 2015 543 556 422 397
Dec 21-25 2015 519 541 408 390
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Dec 22-26 2014 573 706 320 362
Jan 19-23 2015 585 707 326 367
Feb 16-20 2015 593 706 330 370
Mar 16-20 2015 614 705 332 368
Apr 13-17 2015 649 711 332 370
May 11-15 2015 653 711 331 371
June 8-12 2015 649 709 331 371
July 6-10 2015 640 695 327 366
Aug 3-7 2015 628 677 318 354
Aug 31-Sept 4 2015 602 659 304 349
Sept 28-Oct 2 2015 594 644 295 342
Oct 26-30 2015 583 638 292 334
Nov 23-27 2015 580 624 286 325
Dec 21-25 2015 571 608 277 330

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

(MZT/AG)

Russ Quinn