THE weather can have a surprisingly significant effect on the fertiliser market. Following the early arrival of T-Sum, the industry geared up for a rapid start this spring, but expectations were dashed by continual rain.

When orders finally did start to materialise, the industry found it had lost virtually one complete dressing. The result was high stocks and low prices.

Now that the aftercut grassland market is under way, the weather effect is more subtle and much more interesting.

With winter and early spring rainfall significantly higher than normal, sulphur levels in soils are much lower than last year.

Second-cut silage is responsive to sulphur and agronomic logic should dictate a much higher usage of NKS than in previous seasons.

Fertiliser companies have to predict market uptake and prepare stocks accordingly. If farmers were to widely exploit the sulphur opportunity this season, it is doubtful that all sulphur orders could be met.

There is no sign, however, of current demand for sulphur exceeding supply, and reading this market remains a major headache for suppliers.

Hydro Agri has announced management changes, with Klees Bleker now heading up the UK business and Doug Shaw as commercial manager responsible for pricing.

Tighter reporting relationships indicate a desire to maintain a strong commercial grip on the marketplace.

It has been a quiet week for fertiliser sales, but the Scottish aftercut market is now showing interest.

Farmers who would normally buy third-cut fertiliser and possibly mid-season grazing products, along with second-cut, seem to be currently content with just a single purchase. There is no talk of early season nitrogen as yet.

Imports remain low, with nitrogen CIF at 65 leading to FOL prices of about 68. This in turn results in on-farm delivered prices of 80/tonne. In Ireland, prices are under pressure to reduce, but holding.

CIF carriage insurance and freight; FOL free on lorry)

CURRENT MARKETS

20.10.10

complex/blend*

KN

KNS

20.5.15

AN (Import)

AN (Domestic)

England/Wales Grassland Markets

110-115/

105-110

90-95

90-95

90-95

80-84

92

England Arable Markets

No Market

93-96

93-96

93-96

80-81

Not active

Scotland

108-112/

103-108

94-97

94-97

94-97

80

93

*Complex fertilisers are those where typically all nutrients are combined in one granule.

IRELAND

CAN

27.6.6 complex

25.5.5 complex

24.6.12 complex

Northern Ireland

96-100

128-130

118-120

125-128

CAN

27.2Omega.5

18.6.12

10.10.20

Republic of Ireland*

105-109

143-147

146-150

158-162

*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

FORTHCOMING MARKETS

Anticipated general prices from 01 June

AN (Import)

AN (Domestic)

N/S (High S)

N/S (Low S)

PK. 0.24.24

78-80

88-92

92

88-92

120

BACKGROUND MARKET

Products not currently traded in volume

0.24.24

15.15.20

17.17.17

120

130-135

135-140

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

Source: Bridgewater Associates