DTN Fertilizer Trends: Making Economical Decisions

Dry fertilizer spreader. ©Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Retail fertilizer prices continued to float between slightly higher and slightly lower than last month during the third week of May 2020, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

This marks the seventh consecutive week prices have not moved a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% in either direction.

Once again, five fertilizers were higher in price compared to last month, but the gains were contained to a $1-$2 range. MAP had an average price of $434 per ton, urea $387/ton, 10-34-0 $469/ton, UAN28 $237/ton and UAN32 $280/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers had a slightly lower price. DAP had an average price of $409/ton, down $1; potash $367/ton, down $3; and anhydrous $490/ton, down $2.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.42/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

In article from May 18 titled “Managing Fertilizer Costs in Times of Economic Uncertainty” by Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), author Audrey Gamble said crop producers need to manage inputs efficiently. She listed six main areas to focus on during indeterminate times.

The first is to use research-based soil test recommendations. Decades of research has been done to correlate soil-extractable nutrients with increase in yield to develop fertilizer recommendations for Alabama crops, she wrote.

Another area is to use soil sampling strategies to account for field variability.

Gamble wrote that farmers also need to be realistic about their yield goals. Nitrogen recommendations for corn, for instance, will vary according to the anticipated yield.

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“The most profitable fertilizer rate was not necessarily the rate at which the yield was maximized,” Gamble wrote. “Be realistic about yield potential in a given field to determine fertilizer rates and maximize economic potential.”

Producers also should compare nutrient rates in fertilizer products. While this is obvious for macronutrients, the price per unit of nutrient is often overlooked for less frequently applied nutrients, such as calcium and boron.

Other recommendations include making soil pH a priority and implementing a plant tissue sampling program to ensure adequate nutrients are present for crop growth.

To read the entire ACES report, click here.

Retail fertilizers are all lower in price from a year ago. MAP, DAP and anhydrous are all 18% less expensive, UAN28 is 12% lower, UAN32 is 11% less expensive, urea is 10% lower, potash is 6% lower and 10-34-0 is 4% less expensive from last year at this time.

DTN collects roughly 1,700 retail fertilizer bids from 310 retailer locations weekly. Not all fertilizer prices change each week. Prices are subject to change at any time.

DTN Pro Grains subscribers can find current retail fertilizer price in the DTN Fertilizer Index on the Fertilizer page under Farm Business.

Retail fertilizer charts dating back to 2010 are available in the DTN fertilizer segment. The charts included cost of N/lb., DAP, MAP, potash, urea, 10-34-0, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

DRY
Date Range DAP MAP POTASH UREA
May 20-24 2019 497 527 392 428
Jun 17-21 2019 496 532 392 435
Jul 15-19, 2019 497 532 392 430
Aug 12-16 2019 493 503 387 413
Sep 9-13 2019 486 482 385 407
Oct 7-11, 2019 472 473 383 403
Nov 4-8 2019 462 471 384 396
Dec 2-6 2019 445 463 379 381
Dec 30-Jan 3 2020 438 446 376 363
Jan 27-31 2020 414 435 373 359
Feb 24-28 2020 409 434 371 366
Mar 23-27 2020 409 434 370 382
Apr 20-24 2020 410 433 370 385
May 18-22 2020 409 434 367 387
LIQUID
Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
May 20-24 2019 487 595 270 314
Jun 17-21 2019 487 589 270 318
Jul 15-19, 2019 485 585 275 317
Aug 12-16 2019 475 543 258 295
Sep 9-13 2019 471 516 253 289
Oct 7-11, 2019 470 509 253 289
Nov 4-8 2019 473 499 249 289
Dec 2-6 2019 470 490 242 276
Dec 30-Jan 3 2020 470 487 238 273
Jan 27-31 2020 467 488 237 275
Feb 24-28 2020 466 490 235 277
Mar 23-27 2020 466 491 235 278
Apr 20-24 2020 468 492 236 279
May 18-22 2020 469 490 237 280

Russ Quinn can be reached at russ.quinn@dtn.com

Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

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