Slow fertiliser trade keeps prices keen

Largely static prices combined with cashflow pressure continue to see farmers holding off ordering fertiliser.

The exception is in the South West where a relatively mild autumn and winter has led to a pick-up in activity in the past couple of weeks as growers guard against being caught out by an early spring.

See also: Slow fertiliser trade on back of low volumes

Most merchants are quoting £275/t for UK manufactured ammonium nitrate delivered to farm in January, with the expectation that GrowHow will seek a price rise early in the new year.

Availability at present is not a problem although the warnings continue to be sounded about squeezing in a heavy delivery schedule in the spring.

Ammonium nitrate prices have barely moved since early November, while urea prices dropped by £6 to £9/t only to recover much of this fall in the past week or so. This puts quotes for January at £280-290/t delivered to farm.

The range reflects stock already in UK stores at the lower end of the range compared with the cost of bringing in fresh stock at the higher end. The gap between UK and imported AN prices has also narrowed slightly.

There had been some aggressive pricing in recent weeks as sellers chased tonnage in a thin market, said Mole Valley’s fertiliser trading manager Paul Longman

Farm Farmers’ arable inputs manager Andrew Merton said he saw little prospect of fertiliser prices falling in the new year and that logistics could push prices up.

Traders estimate that volumes booked so far by growers are down 10-15% on last season but the total market for the 2015 growing season is difficult to estimate because of changes in cropping expected as a result of CAP reform and economic pressures.

Growers are watching oil prices fall, have yet to sell substantial grain volumes and so have cashflow and storage issues. On the other hand, traders point to nitrogen prices rising in other European countries.

While many were thinking of holding off P and K applications for 2015, the high yields seen by many in 2014 meant that this was the wrong approach, said Openfield fertiliser manager Graham Colledge. P and K prices are static.

Fertiliser update January 2015 (£/t delivered)*

UK 34.5% N

Granular urea (46% N)

Imported AN

(Lithan)

Imported AN

(Pulan)

£272-275

£280-285

£255-260

£250-258

Potash (MOP)

Phosphate (DAP)

Phosphate (TSP)

20.10.10

(blend)

£270-275

£365-380

£295-300

£260-272

* All prices are based on full loads on 28-day cash payment terms. Prices for smaller loads will vary considerably.

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