DTN Fertilizer Trends: Prices Continue Higher, Some More Than Others

    Anydrous Fertilizer tank with grain bins in the background. ©Debra L Ferguson

     Retail fertilizer prices continued to rise the last week of March 2021, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. But for the first time in many weeks, some fertilizers moved just slightly higher instead of considerably higher.

    While all eight of the major fertilizer were again higher, only five fertilizers moved significantly higher, which DTN designates as 5% or more.

    Continuing to lead the way to the high side was UAN28, which was again up 34% from last month and had an average price of $340 per ton. UAN32 was 24% more expensive compared to the prior month and had an average price of $377/ton.

    Anhydrous was up 22% compared to last month and had an average price of $685/ton; 10-34-0 was 7% higher compared to the prior month and had average price of $599/ton.

    Urea was 6% more expensive than the prior month and had an average price of $502/ton. Urea was above the $500/ton level for the first time since the first week of November 2014 when the price was at $500/ton.

    The remaining three fertilizers were higher again, but these fertilizers saw just slight price increases.

    MAP had an average price of $697/ton, potash at $429/ton and DAP $618/ton.

    On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.61/lb.N and UAN32 $0.59/lb.N.

    Higher retail fertilizer prices are naturally on farmers’ mind right now and rightful so. In a Minnesota Crop News article from March 30 titled “Why Corn Growers Shouldn’t Overreact to Rising Nitrogen Fertilizer Prices,” author and Extension educator Brad Carlson wrote that these prices have growers wondering if they should adjust their nitrogen fertility plan for the 2021 growing season.

    Carlson believes the short answer is — probably not. He points to the Maximum Return to Nitrogen (MRTN) method of figuring the appropriate N rates for corn. The price ratio of the MRTN is a simple calculation of the current cost of N fertilizer (per pound) divided by the price of corn.

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    If, for example, N is $0.25 per pound and corn is $2.50 per bushel (bu), the price ratio is 0.10. If the price of N is $0.25 and corn is $5, the price ratio is 0.05.

    “If the price of N is $0.50/lbs. and corn is $5/bu, the price ratio is 0.10, meaning the rate suggestions are the same as they were at $0.25/lbs. of N and the corn price of $2.50/bu.,” Carlson wrote.

    It is important to put the current situation in context with what has happened in the past, considering the rapid increase in fertilizer price. A closer look reveals the current ration of N price to corn price is in line with the historical relationship, he said.

    If growers are following the guidelines for the 0.10 price ratio, there is little justification for modifying N rates due to the recent spike in retail fertilizer prices. Carlson did add if someone was applying a significantly higher N rate than the MRTN, this would be a good time to dial back the N application and save some money this growing season.

    With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago.

    Potash is now 16% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 28% higher, urea is 31% more expensive, UAN32 36% higher, anhydrous is 39% more expensive, UAN28 is 44% higher, DAP is 52% more expensive and MAP 61% is higher compared to last year.

    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
    Mar 30-Apr 3 2020 408 432 370 383
    Apr 27-May 1 2020 413 433 370 386
    May 25-29 2020 410 434 365 377
    Jun 22-26 2020 404 429 363 359
    Jul 20-24, 2020 407 428 360 358
    Aug 17-21 2020 427 434 353 356
    Sep 14-18 2020 434 448 344 360
    Oct 12-16 2020 445 475 332 359
    Nov 9-13 2020 454 486 333 358
    Dec 7-11 2020 456 510 348 361
    Jan 4-8 2021 482 543 369 368
    Feb 1-5 2021 554 601 389 429
    Mar 1-5 2021 609 673 416 474
    Mar 29-Apr 2 2021 618 697 429 502
    LIQUID
    Date Range 10-34-0 ANHYD UAN28 UAN32
    Mar 30-Apr 3 2020 467 492 235 278
    Apr 27-May 1 2020 468 492 237 279
    May 25-29 2020 468 478 236 279
    Jun 22-26 2020 468 463 233 273
    Jul 20-24, 2020 466 460 225 263
    Aug 17-21 2020 465 445 220 259
    Sep 14-18 2020 455 431 219 253
    Oct 12-16 2020 457 424 209 249
    Nov 9-13 2020 455 422 208 248
    Dec 7-11 2020 464 429 210 252
    Jan 4-8 2021 464 470 209 251
    Feb 1-5 2021 502 507 239 272
    Mar 1-5 2021 560 560 254 304
    Mar 29-Apr 2 2021 599 685 340 377

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

    Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN

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