DTN Retail Fertilizer Trends

By Russ Quinn
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- Average retail fertilizer prices continued to shift higher the second week of January 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. The good news for farmers facing higher fertilizer prices is a majority of farmers appear to have already purchased at least some of their needs for the upcoming growing season, according to a recent DTN Twitter poll.

On Twitter earlier this week, I created a poll asking farmers this question: "With retail fertilizer prices on the rise, what best describes your fertilizer buying for the 2018 growing season."

The poll ran for 24 hours from the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 16, to the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 17. The final tally showed there were 356 total respondents.

Leading the way with 70% of the vote was "Already bought fertilizer." Second, with 20%, was "Wait and buy in the spring," followed by 6% with "Going to buy in January," and 4% with "Going to buy in February."

The results of the poll were not really that surprising on a couple fronts.

First, with prices historically low for much of 2017, a higher percentage of farmers apparently locked in at least some of their fertilizer needs. Also helping was mild fall weather in many Corn Belt locations, which allowed much fall application of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potash (K).

The second takeaway from the results of the poll is that those who didn't buy fertilizer already are not going to lock in prices anytime soon this winter. This makes sense with retail fertilizer prices on the upswing since November 2017.

It will be interesting to see what happens this spring with prices. Will prices continue to rise, or will they level off?

It could be a bad news/good news situation for farmers this spring. The bad news is prices could be higher than in recent years. The good news is quite a bit of N, P and K were applied last fall, so shortages in fertilizer supplies this spring should not occur, at least in some locations.

For the second week in a row, average retail prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, according to DTN's survey of retailers. However, only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. As has been the case in recent weeks, anhydrous was up 10% compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price is $479 per ton.

The remaining fertilizers were up by smaller amounts. DAP had an average price of $456/ton, MAP $491/ton, potash $346/ton, urea $352/ton, 10-34-0 $410/ton, UAN28 $220/ton and UAN32 $258/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent weeks. Anhydrous is 3% higher, urea is 4% more expensive, DAP is 5% higher, potash is 8% more expensive and MAP is now 12% higher.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are 1% lower, while 10-34-0 is 6% 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):

Jan 9-13 2017 432 441 320 338
Feb 6-10 2017 431 448 330 354
Mar 03-10 2017 436 460 336 361
Apr 3-7 2017 438 466 338 354
May 1-5 2017 436 466 339 351
May 29-Jun 2 2017 436 471 340 339
Jun 26-30 2017 437 470 340 333
Jul 24-28 2017 434 462 338 308
Aug 21-25 2017 434 458 338 304
Sep 18-22 2017 429 452 345 312
Oct 16-20 2017 432 452 348 340
Nov 13-17 2017 435 459 342 339
Dec 11-15 2017 439 479 343 340
Jan 8-12 2018 456 491 346 352
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
Jan 9-13 2017 437 467 222 258
Feb 6-10 2017 440 485 238 273
Mar 03-10 2017 441 503 246 279
Apr 3-7 2017 441 505 248 280
May 1-5 2017 436 508 247 280
May 29-Jun 2 2017 436 503 248 280
Jun 26-30 2017 435 484 238 268
Jul 24-28 2017 425 423 229 265
Aug 21-25 2017 419 417 216 248
Sep 18-22 2017 416 402 211 248
Oct 16-20 2017 413 397 205 262
Nov 13-17 2017 403 410 216 272
Dec 11-15 2017 403 434 218 256
Jan 8-12 2018 410 479 220 258

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

Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN


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