By Roger Chesher
MANUFACTURERS and merchants in England are back to work following the millennial break with expectations of higher fertiliser prices and a rush to replenish depleted farm stocks.
But despite the hype, the market remains quiet.
Scotland and Russia continue to enjoy their festivities and farmers continue to wait and see what the New Year will bring.
Next week should see an awakening of the markets in Scotland and Northern Ireland and, hopefully, some meaningful farm prices for spring NPKs from the blenders.
October, November and December were very quiet months and, with 80% of the compound market and at least 20% of the nitrogen market to be delivered before the usage period, the pressure will soon be on.
All three majors effectively withdrew their terms just before Christmas, allowing them to move to higher prices this year.
Their expected 88/t for nitrogen this month falls short of their initial hopes for 90/t, but still the merchants stand off.
However, with January imports sold out, little sign of commitment forward, granular urea unavailable and imported AN 79.50/t on-farm, all the signs point to an upward movement in prices.
Kees Bleeker, head of Hydro Agri in the UK, has been recalled to the Mediterranean to manage the companys Italian, Spanish and Greek operations.
Doug Shaw, currently Commercial Manager, will take over at Immingham.
Following Hydros announcement that it is to remove 1 million tonnes of nitrate capacity, this move has inevitably given rise to speculation that Immingham will close.
The company is keen to stress that this is not necessarily the case.
Announcements are expected soon with capacity reduction, wherever it comes, being effective in the second quarter of this year.
There is still no further indication of the long-term plans of the other majors.
So, the waiting game continues, with increasing prospects of a fairly chaotic spring fertiliser season.
Immediate delivery N (SP5)
March delivery N pay April
Imported N deliver December
Liquid N, 37kg/100l or 29.6% N/t
&prilled – no market
£79.50 higher qulaity quality
£95/100,000 litres or £76/t
January/February, pay April
N/S (High S)
N/S (Low S)
TSP (47% P2O5)
Muriate of Potash (60% K2O)
IRELAND CAN 0.23.24 0.16.36 Complex compounds
Republic of Ireland*
*Note in the Republic of Ireland nutrients are expressed as elements not oxides. Analyses will not be directly comparable with those used in the UK. *Prices in the Republic are IR£ Note All illustrated prices are based upon 20 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably. Source: Bridgewater Partnership
*Note in the Republic of Ireland nutrients are expressed as elements not oxides. Analyses will not be directly comparable with those used in the UK.
*Prices in the Republic are IR£
Note All illustrated prices are based upon 20 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.
Source: Bridgewater Partnership