Fertilizer price and cost
The tactics of fertilizer companies never changes and is never probed. The article does more than just hint about this situation.
U.S. farmers seen cutting back on pricey fertilizers, may hit corn
17-Mar-2015 10:16:20 AM
By Christine Stebbins
CHICAGO, March 17 (Reuters) - U.S. farmers will likely use less nitrogen fertilizer this season with the cost sky-high even though the price of natural gas, the key ingredient to make it, is down 40 percent from last year.
The reduction in usage should hit corn plantings more than other crops, since nitrogen is the key booster of corn yields.
"What we’re seeing this season is a reduction in rates," said Ray Carpenter, senior vice president of agronomy for Farmers Cooperative in Ames, Iowa, referring to nitrogen bookings. "Reduced rates mean reduced yield."
Fertilizer's base feedstock, natural gas NGc1, is around $2.716 per million BTU, down from $4.536 last year. The price of anhydrous ammonia - a popular nitrogen fertilizer - remains high, around $650-$700/ton.
The disparity between the steep cost of fertilizer and the lower cost of natural gas is because fertilizer inventories remain thin due to 2014 shipping backlogs and because the industry is controlled by a few big players.
"The reality is input costs don't come down as fast as the break-even price," said analyst Sterling Liddell of Rabobank.
Crops require nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, with corn the single biggest user of nutrients. It takes roughly one pound of nitrogen per acre to yield one 56-pound (25 kg) bushel of corn.
Crop specialization has made corn acres, planted year after year, increasingly dependent on nitrogen.
"I don't want to over-spend," said Iowa farmer Mark Recker, who will begin fieldwork soon. "I'm debating how much side dressing I want to do, splitting applications. I may back off compared to previous years."
Recker, an Iowa Corn Growers director, added: "When you had $6 corn, it drove me to put on a little higher nitrogen to get higher yields. Now you look at it much more economically."
Graphic-nitrogen fertilizer prices stay high in top corn
state Iowa http://link.reuters.com/jys34w
The U.S. Agriculture Department projects farm gate prices for corn this season at $3.50-$3.90 a bushel, versus $6.89 two years ago. Soybeans are projected at $9.45-$10.95, versus $14.40 in 2013.
Liddell said if farmers plant 1 million-2 million fewer corn acres this spring, anhydrous ammonia could fall $50-$100 a ton.
Some analysts are more bearish.
“The cost of gas and ammonia right now is around $100 a ton. They’re selling it in Midwest for $600 a ton,” said one fertilizer industry source.
“So there's a lot of room for prices to come down. You could see a 40-50 percent drop by the end of the year.”
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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Re: Fertilizer price and cost
Nobody cares but the coops puked out the last of their fertilizer production assets just in time for the boom.
At least in theory they'd be passing some of that $500 margin back if they still owned it.
I'll probably just start a thread full of caterwalling of grienvances against coops.
The former Farmland nitrogen assets are mostly in then possession of the Kochs, if I'm not mistaken.