DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

Fertilizer Prices Shift Higher Again

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
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Urea prices increased 5% from last month, jumping $17 per ton. Compared to this time last year, urea prices have gained the most of the eight major fertilizers tracked by DTN. The average retail price is 23% higher than last year. (DTN chart)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Over the past several weeks, retail fertilizer prices appeared to be beginning their seasonal move lower, but that trend reversed this week. All eight major fertilizer prices tracked by DTN increased in the second week of September compared to last month.

The price of urea jumped significantly higher compared to last month, breaking with the trend of only minor price movements. Urea is up 5% compared to the second week of August with an average price of $380 per ton.

The remaining seven fertilizers were all higher from last month, but their move to the high side was fairly small. DAP had an average price of $491/ton, MAP $518/ton, potash $362/ton, 10-34-0 $449/ton, anhydrous $487/ton, UAN28 $238/ton and UAN32 $278/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.41/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher, many farmers are analyzing their fall fertilizer application needs from a profitability perspective.

University of Minnesota Extension soil fertilizer specialist Daniel Kaiser and researcher Jeff Vetsch looked at some frequently asked questions about fall fertilizer decisions in a blog post.

The first question many farmers ask is: Do I need it or not?

Recent Minnesota research has shown fertilizer is needed to increase yields in fields testing low in phosphorus (P) and potash (K). However, the same research has shown no inherent benefit to maintaining high- to very-high-P-testing soils.

"Some may argue their highest-testing soils are their best-producing fields, but remember fertilizer is not the only thing dictating yield levels," the post said. "Reducing inputs on very-high-testing fields is the best way to use soil testing to improve a farmer's profitability."

Another common question the authors address is whether farmers need to apply potassium. Research in Minnesota has shown that potash can be a yield-limiting factor.

For soils higher in clay, like loam and clay loam soil, the potash soil test can over-predict availability in soils, which can lead to under-application of K. UM Extension suggests growers in central and western Minnesota use 200 parts per million (ppm) as a critical level for soil test K if they are using a maintenance strategy.

"On silt loam soils in the southeastern part of the state, a critical level of 160 ppm is enough," the post said. "On very sandy soils with cation exchange capacity (CEC) of 8 or less, our research has seen no yield response in corn or soybeans when soil test K is less than 100 ppm."

Other questions included in the blog post were about MAP versus DAP applications, using co-granulated products and base saturation with K. The entire report can be viewed at http://blog-crop-news.extension.umn.edu/…

All eight major fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher throughout the year. Both potash and 10-34-0 are now up 8%, UAN32 is 12% higher, UAN28 is 13% more expensive, both DAP and MAP are 14% higher, anhydrous is up 18% and urea is 23% higher compared to last year.

The remaining three fertilizers are lower in price compared to a year prior. Both 10-34-0 and UAN32 are 1% lower while UAN28 is 2% 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
Sep 11-15 2017 431 456 336 310
Oct 9-13 2017 432 453 347 325
Nov 6-10 2017 434 459 341 338
Dec 4-8 2017 438 471 343 344
Jan 1-5 2018 452 490 345 350
Jan 29-Feb 2 2018 458 492 344 355
Feb 26-Mar 2 2018 461 497 346 361
Mar 26-30 2018 470 506 350 370
Apr 23-27 2018 485 504 353 367
May 21-25 2018 483 504 354 364
Jun 18-22 2018 485 505 354 364
Jul 16-20 2018 486 505 354 366
Aug 13-17 2018 487 508 356 363
Sep 10-14 2018 491 518 362 380
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Sep 11-15 2017 416 412 210 248
Oct 9-13 2017 413 397 206 253
Nov 6-10 2017 403 409 216 272
Dec 4-8 2017 404 424 215 251
Jan 1-5 2018 409 474 219 256
Jan 29-Feb 2 2018 415 491 227 261
Feb 26-Mar 2 2018 416 496 233 279
Mar 26-30 2018 425 507 237 272
Apr 23-27 2018 431 507 241 277
May 21-25 2018 439 504 241 276
Jun 18-22 2018 440 503 242 277
Jul 16-20 2018 442 503 243 279
Aug 13-17 2018 446 481 233 271
Sep 10-14 2018 449 487 238 278

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

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(KD/AG)

Russ Quinn