With the new season starting a month earlier than usual, farmers have been busy buying nitrogen.
Sales tonnages have equaled last year to the relief of manufacturers who saw some very poor first half year sales.
Production capacity for both June and July has already been sold and the order book for August tonnage is now being started.
But anticipated price rises of £3/t between June and July failed to materialise and manufacturers will find it difficult to make the August price of £158/t stick.
This was particularly bad news for Terra who is still manufacturing ammonium nitrate from purchased ammonia following the burst pipe in its own ammonia plant.
Its equivalent gas cost is in the region of 50p/therm, compared with the current cost of 30p enjoyed by Kemira.
The cost of gas is still a major issue to the industry.
Prices are higher in mainland Europe than the UK, a factor which has forced Yara to mothball its ammonia plant at Le Havre and cease the production of 350,000 tonnes of urea from the associated plant jointly owned with Grande Paroisse.
Fortunately, this will not affect UK supplies of Yara fertilizers.
Britain has enjoyed a run of low price of granular urea from Egypt, Venezuela and Bangladesh.
At £160+/t it has been a very good buy.
Even Russian AN cannot compete at these levels, with leading importers citing the EU anti-dumping levy of €46/t as the main reason.
Without the levy Russian AN would be £117/t, at least on paper, but one cannot help thinking that this equation is somewhat naive.
Russian AN always tends to pitch in some £10 below the UK branded material and the difference would probably end up in Russian pockets.
According to published price lists, UK AN should go on farm at £158/t until September when it rises to £161/t, then £167/t in October with an additional £2/t in November and December.
In reality the market may go somewhat dead until the end of harvest and holidays, after which manufacturers will try to develop prices in line with huge increases in energy costs.
With the focus firmly on nitrogen pricing, the compound market has run along quite steadily.Reasonable business is being done on grassland grades, with the usual differential between complex compound and blended compound prices.
Trade has been very busy in Ireland, both north and south with some keen pricing, typical of this essentially spot market.
However, price increases in the region of £5/t were posted at the end of June and, as in Britain, the big question is whether they will stick.
There is no doubt that prices generally will increase significantly before Christmas.
The only question is how soon?
|Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5||August pricing now £158|
|Imported AN Russian Lithuanian||Poor supplies £148|
|Imported urea||Granular £160+|
|Liquid UAN 37kg N/100litre
|£168 pay December|
|Muriate of Potash (60%K2O)||£158|
|20.10.10 / 27.5.5||£152||From £145|
|Aftercuts (NK)||£148-(low analysis£ 140)|
|32.5.0 (imported)||No market|
|Autumn grades (PK)||No market|
|Trace elements||Copper, zinc, selenium, cobalt Iodine and sodium £11.80/acre pack|
Straight and compound
|Northern Ireland||Republic of Ireland†|
|Urea||No market||No data, but competitive|
|27.6.6 complex**||£180||£148-(low analysis£ 140)|
†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.