Supplies of fertiliser to farmers in northern parts of the UK are being delayed by several weeks, according to GrowHow.

The recent severe winter weather is largely to blame, with north-east Scotland worst affected, the firm’s marketing manager Ken Bowler said.

Most of the fertiliser delivered into Scotland is via return “backloads” on lorries that have taken their loads of timber south. Poor weather significantly reduced the number of lorries on the road during February and March, although the situation is improving, he said.

“We’re doing all we can to get more lorries on the road and we’re hoping to clear most orders by the end of the month.”

Mr Bowler said the situation had been exacerbated by a recovery in demand for compound NPK fertilisers late last year. “We’ve always encouraged farmers to order supplies early to avoid delays in the following spring, but this season we found the NPK market didn’t really get started until November. Plus we’ve struggled with plant outages and raw material supply difficulties.”

Compound demand is also up from about 900,000t last year to nearer 1.2-1.3m tonnes this year, while the straight nitrogen market continues to hover about 2m tonnes, he said.

“We do have compound and straight-nitrogen products available off the shelf now, but if farmers want specific blends, they may have to wait a bit longer for exactly what they want,” he said.