DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Inch Higher Third Week of March

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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MAP, which has been above the $500-per-ton level for the last couple of weeks, is at its highest price level since the fourth week of May 2016. That week, MAP's average price was $501 per ton. The average retail price of MAP the third week of March 2018 was $504 per ton. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Average retail fertilizer prices inched higher the third week of March 2018, continuing a trend that has been in place since last fall, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

One difference was that the price moves higher were smaller than the increases seen the previous three weeks.

DAP had an average price of $469 per ton, MAP $504/ton, potash $349/ton, urea $368/ton, 10-34-0 $422/ton, anhydrous $503/ton, UAN28 $236/ton and UAN32 $269/ton.

MAP, which has been above the $500-per-ton level for the last couple of weeks, is at its higher price level since the fourth week of May 2016. That week, MAP's average price was $501 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

For this week's column, I thought it might be interesting to look at some university crop budgets for the rapidly approaching 2018 growing season to see if the last few months of higher fertilizer prices have affected the fertilizer estimates.

The only crop budget I could find that included these higher fertilizer prices was the University of Illinois Extension crop budget, which was released in February 2018. I looked at corn production for both corn-on-corn and corn following soybeans.

In Illinois, the 2018 fertilizer estimate ranged from $113 to $139 per acre across the different geographical regions of the state. This compares to a range of $118 to $144 per acre of fertilizer costs in the 2017 crop budget.

A Purdue University Extension crop budget, released in November 2017 for the 2018 growing season, shows similar numbers. The 2018 budget has a fertilizer cost range of $95 to $119 per acre across the state of Indiana, while in 2017, the range was $104 to $130 per acre.

And what about in the Western Corn Belt?

Kansas State University Extension 2018 crop budgets, released in October 2017, are broken up by irrigated and non-irrigated fields.

Non-irrigated corn production fertilizer costs ranged from $29 to $65 per acre across the Sunflower State, while irrigated corn production fertilizer costs ranged from $84 to $89 per acre. The 2017 crop budgets were not available, so I couldn't compare the 2018 budgets to last year.

South Dakota State University Extension crop budgets, also released in October 2017, didn't break corn production into irrigated and non-irrigated fields like Kansas State's budget did. SDSU's fertilizer cost estimate was $93 per acre for all corn production. Like KSU's crop budgets, there was no data from 2017 to compare it to.

And not to be forgotten are the Northern Plains. The University of Minnesota Extension 2018 crop budgets project fertilizer costs from $105 to $115 per acre across the state. This crop budget also had some historical data. The 10-year average range is $122 to $144 per acre with the 2015 actual number being $117 to $134 per ton.

All of these budgets show us two main points. One is that crop budgets completed last fall before the recent run-up in retail fertilizer prices might be slightly higher if they were redone today. The second point is that even in the one budget -- Illinois -- that was completed later in February 2018, retail fertilizer costs per acre are not significantly higher than in 2017. The estimates for 2018 are right in line with the 2017 estimates.

So, while retail fertilizer prices have increased over the winter of 2017 and into early spring of 2018, the increases have not shown up in Midwest land-grant university crop budgets -- at least not yet.

Prices for half of the fertilizers DTN tracks are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. Both potash and urea are 3% higher, DAP is 7% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining half of fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. Anhydrous is 1% less expensive while both UAN32 and 10-34-0 are 4% less. UAN28 is 5% less expensive looking back a year.

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
Mar 20-24 2017 438 464 338 356
Apr 17-21 2017 438 466 339 352
May 15-19 2017 437 471 340 350
Jun 12-16 2017 437 470 341 338
Jul 10-14 2017 436 467 340 321
Aug 7-11 2017 434 462 339 311
Sep 4-8 2017 431 458 338 302
Oct 2-6 2017 425 453 348 323
Oct 27-Nov 3 2017 434 455 348 330
Nov 27-Dec 1 2017 435 460 342 340
Dec 25-29 2017 448 488 344 348
Jan 22-26 2018 458 492 344 353
Feb 19-23 2018 460 496 345 357
Mar 19-23 2018 469 504 349 368
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Mar 20-24 2017 441 507 248 280
Apr 17-21 2017 437 509 247 280
May 15-19 2017 436 510 248 283
Jun 12-16 2017 435 500 246 278
Jul 10-14 2017 431 451 235 268
Aug 7-11 2017 440 419 224 258
Sep 4-8 2017 418 413 215 248
Oct 2-6 2017 413 399 208 243
Oct 27-Nov 3 2017 405 401 208 262
Nov 27-Dec 1 2017 403 417 216 271
Dec 25-29 2017 407 468 216 254
Jan 22-26 2018 415 490 226 261
Feb 19-23 2018 416 495 231 265
Mar 19-23 2018 422 503 236 269

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

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

(AG/BAS)

Russ Quinn