DTN Fertilizer Outlook

All Retail Fertilizer Prices Higher

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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The average retail price of anhydrous is 9% lower than it was at the same time a year ago. Anhydrous was $490 per ton the fourth week of February 2017. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Retail fertilizer prices continued to rise the fourth week of February 2017, albeit at a slower rate than in recent weeks, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This is the fifth-consecutive week prices have moved higher.

All eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, marking the first time in several months that all price moves were to the higher side. While all fertilizers were higher, none of the eight were up any significant amount.

DAP had an average price of $433 per ton, MAP $452/ton, potash $332/ton and urea $359/ton. 10-34-0 had an average price of $440/ton, anhydrous $490/ton, UAN28 $241/ton and UAN32 $276/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

As retail fertilizer prices rise, it puts more pressure on farmers' crop budgets, making it more difficult to stay in the black with lower commodity prices. Some farmers have decided to cut back on inputs, while others have invested in newer technologies to make their operations more efficient.

One farmer who has invested in newer technology is Maria Cox, who farms with her father, Ethan, near White Hall, Illinois. This is the first year they have used variable rate technology (VRT) on the dry fertilizer applied to their fields. Dry fertilizer is usually applied in the fall, but they waited until this spring to apply so new soil tests could be done and yield removal information from the combine could be analyzed.

"We might be a little behind on the VRT fertilizer trend, but I can see that we will be doing this from now on," Cox told DTN. "We didn't price shop for fertilizer this spring, but we are going to save big on inputs."

Cox said, instead of a blanket dry fertilizer application, the fertilizer will only go on spots in their fields that really need nutrients. Soil tests have also changed as she moved to smaller grid samples, which she said was needed to find out what levels of fertilizer were in their soil.

The move to precision fertilizer application did come with some additional costs, as it is a few dollars per acre more expensive for VRT applications. On the other hand, Cox said they are saving money by not having the mixing costs associated with a broadcast application of fertilizer.

"We do have to pay for more precise soil tests and VRT, but we think the benefits outweigh the costs," she said.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Only three of the eight major fertilizer are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago while both potash and UAN32 are 11% less expensive. Both DAP and anhydrous are 9% less expensive, MAP is 8% lower, UAN28 is 7% less expensive and urea is 3% compared to 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 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
Feb 22-26 2016 477 492 373 371
Mar 21-25 2016 475 501 371 390
Apr 18-22 2016 477 502 366 388
May 16-20 2016 476 501 365 384
June 13-17 2016 469 496 359 367
July 11-15 2016 467 496 358 360
Aug 8-12 2016 453 482 344 345
Sept 5-9 2016 446 464 325 325
Oct 3-7 2016 438 451 312 315
Oct 31-Nov 4 2016 436 451 314 319
Nov 28-Dec 2 2016 435 445 318 331
Dec 26-30 2016 431 443 321 336
Jan 23-27 2017 429 443 322 347
Feb 20-24 2017 433 452 332 359
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Feb 22-26 2016 566 536 260 309
Mar 21-25 2016 561 569 276 312
Apr 18-22 2016 561 588 274 322
May 16-20 2016 558 588 274 321
June 13-17 2016 555 566 266 305
July 11-15 2016 538 547 266 306
Aug 8-12 2016 528 522 249 299
Sept 5-9 2016 478 502 228 274
Oct 3-7 2016 454 472 224 263
Oct 31-Nov 4 2016 452 471 244 262
Nov 28-Dec 2 2016 447 465 217 256
Dec 26-30 2016 437 466 217 254
Jan 23-27 2017 436 480 235 268
Feb 20-24 2017 440 490 241 276

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

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(AG/SK)

Russ Quinn