British farmers either have fertiliser in store now, or at least a good idea what their costs will be at the time of usage.
The same cannot be said of their counterparts in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Little fertiliser is on farm and merchants are expressing no interest in stocking up at current prices, speculating that at the time of usage prices will drop back.
They have been right in the past.
Ireland has been a trading post for bin-ends of Europe’s fertiliser for many years and farmers stick to their just-in-time philosophy.
The situation is worsened by the difficulty of predicting the size of the market yet to come.
Guidance and legislation on slurry use, nitrogen levels and phosphate directives were expected from the Department of Agriculture in Belfast, but have yet to arrive, leaving grass fertilising policy unclear.
Tillage farmers traditionally engage in reciprocal trading with the grain merchant, having one grand settling up at harvest, when grain is talked up and fertiliser down.
At £150/t plus, the price of CAN in Northern Ireland is equivalent to AN at £200/t. The GB price for AN is set to break £170/t in January.
But there is speculation whether that January price will hold, so perhaps those Irish merchants are right.
Cargoes of imported urea are being delivered to blenders in the Republic to enable them to compete when the usage time comes.
Imported high N blends are reported on the quayside at €195/t, to which €20/t must be added to get it onto farm.
Whether the price dips or not, Irish farmers are in for a shock when spring comes.
CURRENT PRICES (£/t)
Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5
Imported AN (Russian)
Muriate of Potash(60%K2O)
20.10.10 / 27.5.5
|Autumn grades (PK)|
|Copper, zinc, selenium,|
cobalt Iodine and sodium
Straight and compound
Republic of Ireland†
|No market||No market|
†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.