Fertilizer prices continue to stumble

The prices of all major fertilizers continued their declining trend since July 2013 with a sharp drop occurring between July and August.

The approximate retail prices for bulk fertilizers per ton, published in the USDA-Illinois Department of Agriculture Market News Report for October 24, 2013, were:

The monthly price trends for the period from May to October 2013 are shown in Figure 1. A sharp decline in prices occurred from July to August. This was quite evident for anhydrous ammonia which dropped almost $170 per ton. The price trends prior to May 2013 were reported in the Michigan State University Extension article “Fertilizer prices remain steady,” where it remained relatively stable for the eight preceding months.

Figure 1. Fertilizer prices from May to October 2013 ($/Ton)
Fertilizer prices

Data source: USDA-Illinois Dept. of Ag Market News Springfield, Ill., cash prices for bulk purchases, granular form unless noted.

Given the fact that fertilizer is the single biggest input cost for corn production, this is good news for the farmers because all other inputs keep going up every year. Farmers who have on-farm fertilizer storage facilities can make the best use of prevailing prices and purchasing options. MSU recommends that fertilizer application rates are based on soil test recommendations and realistic yield goals. If your phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) soil test levels are below the critical levels in the build-up range, this may be a good time and opportunity to follow the recommendations and raise these nutrient levels to the maintenance range.

Additional information on the critical P and K levels for Michigan will be included in a follow up article on fall fertilizer practices. For more information on MSU fertilizer recommendations, please refer to the MSU Extension bulletin E2904 “Nutrient Recommendations for Field Crops in Michigan.”