GrowHow announces new season fertiliser price

The new season price for 34.5% domestic ammonium nitrate delivered to farm in June has been set by GrowHow at £210-215/t, with a further increase of £3/t for July.

The figure matches that of continental early season prices reported in last week’s Farmers Weekly. Offers at those prices were rapidly taken up in France and the price there has increased by a further €5/t.

Naturally the response by UK growers is mixed; some hoped for a sub-£200/t price but many understand the global forces at work these days and will rapidly move to take the early season discount of £23/t over May prices.

“We’ll be Ok with wheat at £100/t,” says north western agronomist, Paul Sweeney. “We were hoping for sub-£200/t but at this price we will still put our name on a few loads.”

The important thing is that there is every reason to expect that the early buyer will benefit. This is certainly the intention of the fertiliser producers, and farmers have benefited in eight years out of 10, but growers must appreciate that they operate in a volatile market.

Last season the market kicked off at £176/t, ending at £234/t. However there were 1m tonnes of nitrates in stock in Europe; this year there is nothing. Today, global demand is good, Brazil is currently in the market and stocks and production in the Baltic are low.

Today’s price simply reflects the wider world of fertiliser.

However, Stewart Allison, fertiliser chief for Frontier, Britain’s largest retail supplier, says that the price curve this season may well be flatter than the £60 hike seen last year, given the low starting point for urea and its expected $50/t rise.

But if urea is indeed “cheap” it nonetheless started its price rise with a hike of $10/t only this week, and while committed users will find today’s price attractive when set against AN, the “waverers”, says Mr Allison, seem yet to be convinced having suffered agronomic set backs in previous dry weather.

Imported AN prices will no doubt now be set shortly, but supplies may be difficult for a while. We should never forget that the UK will at some point this season take a significant proportion of its nitrogen requirements in the form of imports, as domestic industry can only produce around 60% of our requirements.

Phosphate, potash and compound fertiliser prices currently remain unchanged. Sulphur is still a cheap nutrient and should never be neglected, according to Mr. Allison.

June 2010 (£/t delivered)*
UK 34.5% N NK Silage grades Imported urea Imported AN
£210-215 £255 £215-235 No stocks- awaiting pricing
Complex 25.5.5 Complex 20.10.10 Phosphate (TSP) Potash (Muriate)
£252 £267 £325 £325
*All illustrated prices are based upon 24 tonne loads for cash payment month following. Prices for smaller loads and 50kg bags will vary considerably