The weather has been a major factor in the progress of the fertiliser season over the last month.

The late spring has delayed the onset of applications and still there remains little interest in purchasing fertiliser at the farm gate.

But this year, the late spring has had an unexpected affect on British fertiliser manufacturers because, with the cold snap in March came even more artificially high gas prices.

These were brought about by speculation on the forward market and with gas in excess of £2/therm it again became prudent to shut down gas consuming plants and buy ammonia on the international market to make ammonium nitrate.

For a while, more money could be made in trading gas than using it to add value in fertiliser production.

Now, thankfully, gas is priced at a more comfortable 45p/therm and it is hoped that there will be no more prolonged wintry spells.

Competition in the marketplace, chasing non-existent sales, has eased the domestic AN price by £5/t or so, but the pressure on prices is still high.

There is no great interest in imports either, so the manufacturers have confidence that AN prices will hold through the spring.

So, small comfort for arable farmers who may need to top up on nitrogen before next season. These people are widely expected now to hold on for a long as possible.

The picture in the grassland, largely compound, market is different.

Here the long winter has made many stockmen run short of silage and grass growth for turnout has been slow. Farmers need to fertilise for a crop of grass as soon as possible.

Keen competition for market share, particularly between the blenders, has forced compound prices down over the last six weeks.

The industry seems to have lost confidence in the size of this sector of the market – the level of cattle numbers is unknown.

If the market proves to be buoyant, but late, we could see compound prices start to rise again. Should it remain depressed then prices will remain low.

An argument, perhaps for buying at least some spring compound straight away.

In both the North and the Republic of Ireland the market remains quiet even at this late stage with merchants unwilling to name prices until demand really starts.

As always, fertiliser sales there will be one mad rush.

Job losses at Kemira have been confirmed with closure of plant in Northern Ireland and Sharpness and the loss of some 20% of commercial staff.

CURRENT PRICES (£/t)

Great Britain

Straight

Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5

Apr £165

Imported AN (Russian/Lith)

£145-148

Imported urea

no trade 

Liquid UAN
37kg/100litres (29.6%N/t)

no market

TSP (47%P2O5)

£153

Muriate of Potash(60%K2O)

£153

Compound

 

Complex

Blended

25.5.5

£156

From £149

15.15.20

£174

 

20.10.10 / 27.5.5

£158

From £151

17.17.17

£178

 

Aftercuts NK

 

no market

27.6.6 (imported)

 

 

32.5.0 (imported)

no market

Autumn grades (PK)

 

£145

Trace elements

Copper, zinc, selenium,
cobalt Iodine and sodium

£11.80/acre pack


Ireland

Straight and compound

 

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland†

Urea

£215 no market
CAN £150+ €220+

24.6.12 aftercut*

no market

no market

25.5.5

£171

 

27.6.6 complex**

£181

€280 (CCF)
€240 import blend

Note in the Republic of Ireland nutrients are expressed as elements not oxides.  Analyses will not be directly comparable with those used in the UK.
*Known as 24.2½.10 blend in the Republic of Ireland
**Known as 27.2½.5 in ROI

Note All illustrated prices are based upon 24 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.

Source: Bridgewater