Autumn fertiliser price on the way up

New season fertiliser prices are creeping upwards after GrowHow announced a £4/t increase in its early autumn price.

Nitram (34.5%N ammonium nitrate) is priced at £190/t delivered for October, based on 24t loads and including merchants’ margin. The £4/t increase on September’s £186/t represents a bigger step up than the £2/t monthly increments in summer prices announced at the start of June, largely due to higher gas costs during September to December, GrowHow’s marketing manager Ken Bowler said.

“Gas prices are pretty flat in the summer months, but during the winter they almost double. The real cost rise should have been higher than that [£4/t], but we’ve had to take a pragmatic view.”

The firm did not yet want to commit to prices beyond October. “Beyond October it will be a lot trickier,” Mr Bowler said. “We’ve got upward cost pressure and downward market pressure. The pound is strengthening against the dollar, which effectively reduces the cost of imports. There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

He denied claims that GrowHow had limited the early season tonnage available to distributors and insisted that production at its Billingham and Ince plants was running flat out. “We’ve offered all our volumes that are in stock and what we plan to produce. We’re not holding anything back; I think we’re just seeing more buyers than supply can keep up with.”

Yara UK managing director Tove Andersen shared a similar view and insisted the firm’s plants in Holland and Germany that supply the UK were also running at full capacity and none was being held back from the market. She said Yara would release its October price shortly.

But Gleadell‘s fertiliser trader Calum Findlay said tonnage allocations were down at a similar level to last year and the firm had already sold all of its June to September allocation. “We could probably sell a lot more than is available to us, but they [fertiliser companies] don’t want it all going out of the gate in June, July and August. They came in at the right price, but restricted the tonnage.

“At the end of the day, it is a more managed market, so I don’t think we’ll see the £10-15/t spikes like last year,” he added. “With the autumn increases, we’re still likely to be sub-£200/t by the spring, which from a farmer’s point of view isn’t such a disaster as last year’s £400/t.”

FW has linked up with the NFU to reluanch the price inputs monitor, which is designed to generate better information on the cost of farm inputs.

The IPM is an online survey that involves farmers filling out a simple form, declaring on a strictly anonymous basis how much they are paying for basic inputs such as feed, fuel and fertiliser. Click here to take part

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