DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Prices Slip Again But May Be Turning Corner

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Prices for the liquid nitrogen UAN28 have collapsed 22% over the past year in DTN retail surveys. However, some retailers report higher wholesale prices for UAN at river markets. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Average retail fertilizer prices continued to move lower the fourth week of February 2016, according to fertilizer retails surveyed by DTN. However, retailers report there are signs these lower fertilizer prices could reverse in the coming weeks and months. With spring application season gaining steam, DTN Fertilizer Columnist Ken Johnson's Feb. 29 report also confirms that UAN and anhydrous prices will likely begin running steady to higher over the next few weeks.

As was the case last week, all eight major fertilizers were lower compared to a month earlier with three fertilizers down some significance.

Anhydrous slid 6% compared to last month and the nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $536 per ton. Both MAP and potash dropped 5% compared to the fourth week of January. MAP averaged $492/ton and potash was at $373/ton.

The remaining five fertilizers were lower, but just slightly. DAP had an average price of $477/ton, urea $371/ton, 10-34-0 $566/ton, UAN28 $260/ton and UAN32 $309/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.33/lb.N, UAN28 $0.46/lb.N and UAN32 $0.48/lb.N.

Retailers tell DTN that some of the current fertilizer prices they are seeing from their suppliers are higher in price, not lower.

Storm Sammon, regional sales manager for Central Farm Service (formally Central Valley Cooperative) located in Owatonna, Minnesota, said he has seen some higher fertilizer prices in recent weeks.

"Anhydrous was up like $10/ton and UAN like $15/ton. That is not a lot, but I know urea has been up $40/ton on the river open," Sammon said. "We know some anhydrous is going on Missouri, so this could be pushing prices higher."

Sammon acknowledges farmers have been less than willing to purchase fertilizer this winter with the lower fertilizer trend and profitability concerns. Despite this fact, he said he is only a little behind on his normal farmer fertilizer purchases this winter.

One of his customers brought up an interesting question to him recently, he said. Would some farmers be willing to apply more fertilizer with low retail prices and lower commodity prices? Sammon said he thinks some may be thinking this way.

"I guess it just kind of depends on each person, how they look at their situation and how much money they have to spend," he said. "I know when commodity prices were higher, farmers didn't hesitate to buy fertilizer, but I think you just have to make sure you have more coming in (as income) than going out (as expenses)."

With retail fertilizer moving lower in recent months, all fertilizers have sunk below year-ago levels. All but one fertilizer is now double digits lower. The only fertilizer not down much is 10-34-0, which is down 5%.

DAP is now 16% lower, UAN32 is 17% less expensive and MAP is 18% below a year ago. In addition, both urea and UAN28 are 22% less expensive while both potash and anhydrous are 24% lower compared to a year earlier.

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
Feb 23-27 2015 568 597 488 472
Mar 23-27 2015 570 598 490 467
Apr 20-24 2015 570 598 491 453
May 18-22 2015 570 597 492 459
June 15-19 2015 571 597 490 467
July 13-17 2015 569 593 488 470
Aug 10-14 2015 568 591 479 457
Sep 7-11 2015 563 580 467 433
Oct 5-9 2015 548 564 446 418
Nov 2-6 2015 546 560 430 405
Nov 30-Dec 4 2015 541 559 421 400
Dec 28-Jan 1 2016 494 531 398 383
Jan 25-29 2016 495 515 391 380
Feb 22-26 2016 477 492 373 371
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Feb 23-27 2015 598 706 330 370
Mar 23-27 2015 639 706 333 371
Apr 20-24 2015 650 711 329 371
May 18-22 2015 650 710 332 372
June 15-19 2015 642 706 330 369
July 13-17 2015 639 691 323 359
Aug 10-14 2015 631 677 315 356
Sep 7-11 2015 594 656 301 346
Oct 5-9 2015 584 639 294 338
Nov 2-6 2015 583 633 291 332
Nov 30-Dec 4 2015 578 627 286 332
Dec 28-Jan 1 2016 570 590 273 317
Jan 25-29 2016 571 569 271 317
Feb 22-26 2016 566 536 260 309

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

(MZT/AG)

Russ Quinn