DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Anhydrous Prices Lead March Higher

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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National average anhydrous prices turned the corner in February and now run about $35 per ton above their recent low, according to DTN's weekly retailer survey. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Average retail fertilizer prices continued to advance the first week of April 2016, according to data tracked by DTN. Fertilizer application is in full tilt right ahead of corn planting, and activity is boosting demand.

As was the case last week, six of the eight major fertilizers in DTN's exclusive survey of ag retailers edged higher compared to a month earlier. The only fertilizer up any significance was anhydrous, which gained 8% compared to a month earlier. Anhydrous averaged $586 per ton.

Five other fertilizers were higher compared to last month, but the move was fairly minor. DAP averaged $480/ton, MAP $504/ton, urea $387/ton, UAN28 $272/ton and UAN32 $315/ton.

Two fertilizers were lower in price, but again the move lower was fairly minor. Potash averaged $369/ton while 10-34-0 was at $561/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.42/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.47/lb.N and UAN32 $0.49/lb.N.

In the FarmdocDaily post titled "Averages and Seasonality of Prices for Nitrogen Fertilizers" from the University of Illinois, author Gary Schnitkey examined anhydrous prices from 2008 to 2015. He also looked at possible price differences in the fall versus spring to see if fall applications proved more cost effective.

Using prices from the Illinois Production Cost Report published by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), anhydrous prices averaged $733 per ton during this time. The highest price was $1,161 per ton in October 2008 while the lowest price was $431 per ton the fall of 2009.

Anhydrous prices tend to be lower during the fall compared to the spring, Schnitkey wrote.

"From 2009 to 2015, anhydrous ammonia prices averaged $720/ton, slightly less than the $733/ton," Schnitkey wrote. "The September price averaged $682/ton, 95% of the $720/ton yearly average price. On the other hand, the May price of $745 per ton was 3% higher than the $720/ton per year."

He noted there can be considerable variability from year to year. Some years the price was lower in the spring, and in some years the price was lower in the fall.

Schnitkey also looked into the prices of the different forms of nitrogen during this same time period.

From 2008 to 2016, anhydrous averaged $0.45 per pound while urea averaged $0.54 per pound and liquid N averaged about $0.61 per pound. Urea had an average price that was $0.09 per pound higher than anhydrous, and liquid N was $0.16 per pound higher in price than anhydrous.

Providing the same amount of nitrogen using recommendations from the Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator for central Illinois, using all anhydrous would create a cost of $72 per acre. Using all urea increased costs by $14 per acre to $86 per acre. Using all liquid N would increase costs by $26 per acre to $98 per acre.

"Using anhydrous ammonia has a significant cost advantage compared to urea and liquid N for apply the same level of nitrogen," he wrote.

To read the entire report, log on to http://goo.gl/….

While retail fertilizer prices have reversed their year-long slide since February, all fertilizers remain lower compared to a year earlier, according to DTN's most recent weekly retail survey.

10-34-0 is now 14% lower. UAN32 is 15% lower compared to a year earlier while DAP, MAP and urea are all now 16% less expensive. In addition, anhydrous is 17% lower, UAN28 is 18% less expensive and potash is 25% lower compared to a year ago.

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
Apr 6-Apr 10 2015 570 598 491 461
May 4-8 2015 570 598 491 457
June 1-5 2015 570 598 491 461
June 29-July 3 2015 570 596 490 469
July 27-31 2015 569 594 487 469
Aug 24-28 2015 567 586 476 447
Sept 21-25 2015 562 575 454 428
Oct 19-23 2015 547 562 435 413
Nov 16-20 2015 545 559 424 403
Dec 14-18 2015 532 544 410 392
Jan 11-15 2016 495 521 391 381
Feb 8-12 2016 479 499 378 369
Mar 7-11 2016 477 494 372 378
Apr 4-8 2016 480 504 369 387
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Apr 6-Apr 10 2015 648 709 333 370
May 4-8 2015 653 711 331 371
June 1-5 2015 650 710 331 371
June 29-July 3 2015 642 705 330 369
July 27-31 2015 636 689 324 354
Aug 24-28 2015 609 667 309 350
Sept 21-25 2015 589 646 297 343
Oct 19-23 2015 582 637 291 334
Nov 16-20 2015 579 629 287 332
Dec 14-18 2015 571 612 279 331
Jan 11-15 2016 572 581 272 319
Feb 8-12 2016 569 551 261 303
Mar 7-11 2016 562 541 262 312
Apr 4-8 2016 561 586 272 315

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

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(MZT/AG)

Russ Quinn