Fertilizer price changes

Most N, P and K fertilizer prices were cheaper in May 2014 compared to May 2013. The price of urea was higher due to supply shortages.

The May 2014 approximate retail prices for bulk purchases of major fertilizers per ton compared to May 2013, published in the USDA Illinois Market Report are shown in Table 1. All major fertilizers except urea were cheaper in May 2014 compared to a year ago.

Table 1. Prices of the big three fertilizer nutrients in May 2014 compared to May 2013

Fertilizer

May 2014

May 2013

Anhydrous ammonia

755

888

Urea

541

527

Urea-Ammonium Nitrate (UAN 28%)

372

392

Potash

465

567

Diammonium phosphate (DAP)

597

600

Monoammonium phosphate (MAP)

590

614

Source: USDA/Illinois Market report

The year-to-year price variations during this period are shown in Figure 1. As expected, most fertilizers rallied from dramatic off-season price drops that started in August 2013.

Industry specialists, such as David Asbridge, president of the NPK Fertilizer Advisory Service, believe that the strong urea market was due to shortages in supplies. The Russia/Ukraine situation has hurt some production out of Eastern Europe. Also, urea imports into the U.S. have been lower than expected in the Gulf Coast as well as from Canada due to the railroad issues and frozen rivers in the cold winter. The expectation is that urea prices will weaken during the summer lull. Also, the Chinese are set to export a record 8.5-9.5 million tons of urea this year, which will depress the market as well.

Michigan State University Extension would like to emphasize that despite the current favorable fertilizer market, any unforeseen deterioration in global economic and political conditions can cause dramatic price shifts, impacting local farmers.

Figure 1. Monthly fertilizer prices from May 2013 to May 2014
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