High street retailers bemoan the fact that shoppers currently resist purchase in the hope of last minute bargains.

Exactly the same situation applies to farmers and fertiliser purchase.

The Christmas period has for years been a notoriously dead period for fertiliser trading. Merchant and manufacturer alike seem to take increasingly long mid-winter breaks.

The only difference this year is that, with rocketing gas prices and both Terra and Kemira ammonia plants shut down, there will be precious little extra cash for skiing trips.

January will be a quiet month. Thereafter the market will start to become very interesting.

Nitrogen producers insist that they require in excess of £170/t for spring sales and they might, just, get it.

Much depends on the flow of imports and their competitiveness. Because market size remains an unknown, importers are still loath to commit.

Compounds, however, are a different matter. UK manufacturers of complex compounds rely on their own ammonia and nitric acid technology to produce NPK.

Blenders, however, have recourse to cheaper urea as well as AN prills and, additionally, have stocks.

They, therefore have the option to sell reduced volumes at higher margin, or reduce prices to secure market share.

The compound market may, therefore, just begin to swing in favour of the buyer.

Nitrogen producers will be happy just to survive this season and start afresh with lower early buyer prices when spot prices for gas drop to a more sensible level.

CURRENT PRICES (£/t)

Great Britain

Straight

Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5

Dec £163
Jan £178

Imported AN (Russian)

£155-160

Imported urea

£175 prills

Liquid UAN
37kg/100litres (29.6%N/t)

No market

TSP (47%P2O5)

£150+

Muriate of Potash(60%K2O)

£150+

Compound

 

Complex

Blended

25.5.5

Dec £158
Jan £168

From £151

15.15.20

Dec £172
Jan £181

 

20.10.10 / 27.5.5

Dec £161
Jan £168

From £153

17.17.17

Dec £177
Jan £186

 

Aftercuts NK

 

No market

27.6.6 (imported)

 

 

32.5.0 (imported)

No market

Autumn grades (PK)

 

£140

Trace elements

Copper, zinc, selenium,
cobalt Iodine and sodium

£11.80/acre pack


Ireland

Straight and compound

 

Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland†

Urea

No market No market
CAN £150+ €170+

24.6.12 aftercut*

No market

No market

25.5.5

£170

 

27.6.6 complex**

£180+

€245-250+ (CCF)
€215 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