‘Holiday’ fears for fert sector

AUTUMN DRILLING has proceeded largely as planned this year, yet purchases of PK autumn fertilisers are some 25% down on previous years.

Even a dip of £5/t or so in PK prices has failed to stimulate demand leading to speculation as to whether farmers are taking a PK “holiday” this year, or plan to apply these nutrients at some future time.

Certainly the practice of application of P and K with nitrogen at the time of first top dressing in the spring has gained adherents in recent years, so the total use of these nutrients is not declining excessively.

If this continues, PK fertilisers may be sold at stock clearance prices in a few months time.

The usual pre-Christmas flush of NPKS business is not taking place, most buyers having bought earlier.

But, with stocks at a low, this is of no concern to domestic suppliers whose prices remain unchanged.

However, these circumstances fail to give confidence to importers who simply cannot afford to keep unsold cargoes on their hands, especially with global prices remaining high.

The falling value of the US dollar helps importers to source urea and phosphate more economically, but the strong value of the euro keeps potash prices high.

The only sales now outstanding in this highly unusual fertiliser season are those at the time of usage, the “spot” market in March and April.

But with uncertainty in the grass sector, some players are beginning to believe that this season is now virtually over.