By Roger Chesher

AS manufacturers and merchants wind down for the increasingly long break of Christmas and New Year, it is surprising to find movements of fertiliser continuing.

These are mainly NPK products, especially those high in nitrogen, moving primarily on to farm, but also into merchants stores.

The majors have not offered storage deals to their merchant customers this year, so product which finds itself in store is as a result of the dealer paying cash and bearing the cost of storage himself.

This implies confidence in the higher spring price.

The book for December is now closed, so the only way to avoid the big jump in prices is to find a merchant with a collection tonnage booked who will still have access to December prices until the end of the month.

The major manufacturers now deliver some 70-75% of fertiliser sales direct to farm, and once that tonnage is fulfilled each month, the next months price ruling applies.

Unless, that is, product has been booked for collection, in which case the purchaser has to the month end to complete the transaction.

So, with the biggest monthly jump in prices (6/tonne) now imminent, we enter the most interesting phase of the market, the point at which those buyers anticipating a price collapse may, or may not, find their hopes or expectations realised.

No doubt there will be a period of taking stock in early January before any significant movement occurs.

But, with an estimated 1.05 million tonnes of nitrogen still to be delivered, only half the anticipated spring imports on our shores, a more balanced manufacturing capacity and huge increases in feedstock costs, it would be highly surprising to see prices fall significantly.

CURRENT PRICES

New-season nitrogen (SP5) 34.5% Anticipated spring price nitrogen Imported urea (if available) Imported AN (new season) Blended 20.10.10 and 25.0.16 Blended 25.5.5 Liquid nitrogen, 37kg/100l or 29.6% N/t
January 130 February 132
March 134
Granular 140-144
Prilled 130
118 (Quality)
118-120 (March)
118-120 115-118 No market
NPK December – very limited January, pay cash April, pay cash (forecast)
Complex 25.5.5 124 126 134
27N30S 126 132
20.10.10/29.5.5 127 129 137
17.17.17 144 146 152
After-cut NK cash 0.24.24 TSP (47% P2O5) Muriate of Potash (60% K2O)
118 106-115 130 122

 

IRELAND

  Imported urea

CAN

24.6.12

0.16.36

Complex compounds
27.6.6

Northern Ireland Not available 120-125 No prices No market No prices
 

CAN

24.21/2.10

Urea, imported

27.21/2.5

Republic of Ireland* 145 180 Not available 177

*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.

*Prices in the Republic are IR

  • IR1=UK78.37p; US$1=UK68.12p on 20 December

     

    Note All illustrated prices are based on 20-tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.

    Source: Bridgewater Partnership