Storage, cash and markets hit fertiliser orders

With forward orders at the lowest ever level, according to traders, fertiliser prices have seen little if any movement in the past six weeks.

Orders are limited by farm cashflow pressure and the fact that, in many areas, storage is full of grain.
Where that is not the case, the challenge of harvest is generally taking priority.

In turn, with prices static on most of the main products, growers see little incentive to place orders.  
This is leading to some keen deals in areas where stocks are high.

UK ammonium nitrate was being quoted at £231-£235/t spot for delivered full loads this week – a very similar range to that seen in Farmers Weekly’s last report (7 August). 

See also: Complete our Safe fertiliser storage academy

This season had been the quietest for forward buying, said Wynnstay fertiliser manager Dave Mitchell. “If they don’t need it tomorrow, they are not prepared to buy it,” he said.   

Although availability was tight elsewhere in Europe, there were  stocks of imported ammonium nitrate in the UK and prices were flat, said Gleadell fertiliser manager Calum Findlay.

Blenders were competing for tonnes in a quiet P and K market, he said.

Several traders pointed to the need for care with P and K levels on the back of  the high yields reported by many growers this year.

They were concerned that growers were making decisions about nutrient levels based on cash pressure rather than soil indices.

Blends of 0.24.24 and 0.20.30 are generally in a narrow range of £255-£260/t delivered, although there were reports of deliveries at lower prices.

Fertiliser update – September 2015(£/t delivered)*

UK 34.5% N   Granular urea (46% N) Imported AN (Lithan/Pulan) 0.24.24/0.20.20 (blends)
£231-£235 £238-£245 (Sept-Dec) £220-£223 £255-£260
Potash (MOP) Phosphate (DAP) Phosphate (TSP)  
£255 £380-£387 £300-£310  
* All illustrated prices are based on full loads for cash payment month following, except where otherwise stated.

Although it has been volatile in both directions over the past month, urea at about £240/t for delivery between September and December is also priced in a similar range to that seen in early August. The gap between urea and ammonium nitrate prices is just £5/t in some cases and there was nothing to indicate urea supply would be a problem, said traders.

The relative values of sterling and the US dollar are likely to be the driver of changes here in the run-up to autumn, unless supply problems do arise. 

New supply lines established last season from the Arabian Gulf looked like being available again this year, said Openfield fertiliser manager Graham Colledge.

Most traders expected nitrogen prices to rise on logistical pressure once farmer ordering picked up later in the season.

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