Slow nitrogen trade keeps prices steady

Nitrogen business is a little lacklustre this month at only 60% of last year’s sales levels, writes commentator Roger Chesher.

There is no one reason for this – the absence of urea in the marketplace may be affecting price confidence; some farmers may have felt caught last season when competition from overseas led to prices falling later in the season to the same level as in the early season.

Others are simply hedging their bets, buying a reduced volume now, intending to top-up later. Some are simply catching up on spraying.

Farm level prices have slipped by about £5/t since the release of new prices in early June, more for large orders. With prices in France having risen again recently, Growhow is expected to be looking for another £2-4/t for July when June allocations are all sold.

With anticipation of keener import prices, some speculators in urea are quoting around £330/t as opposed to the replacement cost of £370/t for cargoes ordered today. This is contributing to the current wait-and-see ethos in the market.

Urea fertilisers in combination with an urease inhibitor have gained acceptance in the marketplace and can realise a premium over non-treated urea, putting it on a par in unit value terms with imported AN.

Another such product new to the market has a nitrification inhibitor. Gleadell has introduced Alzon 46. Compound prices remain static with falling potash costs to a degree balancing out rises in phosphate.

  Fertiliser update july 2012 (£/t delivered)*
UK SP5 34.5% N  £290-300
15.15.15  £340-360 blended  
Imported urea  £330-370  
Imported N  £280-285 
25.5.5  £315 -320 (complex) 
20.10.10 £323-337  
Phosphate (TSP)  £385 -£340  
Potash (muriate) £320 blend 
*All illustrated prices are based on 28t loads for cash payment month following. Prices for smaller loads and 50kg bags will vary considerably. 

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