Fertilizer Prices Continue to Soar

According to DTN’s weekly survey of ag retailers, fertilizer prices are continuing to move higher. Potash and urea were both up 17 percent from one month ago. MAP was ten percent more expensive. UAN28 and UAN32 were eight percent higher than last month with UAN 28 topping the $400 per ton level for the first time since May of 2013. Anhydrous prices are now averaging over $800 per ton, up seven percent from a month ago. DAP prices are up five percent.

STB Chairman Expresses Concern Over Container Supply Chain Issues

The global container-based supply chain serving U.S. exporters and importers is continuing to experience unprecedented challenges, congestion, delays and cost increases at virtually every step in the system: overseas and North American ports, railroads, shipping lines, inland rail terminals, trucking and warehousing, noted Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance (SSGA) in a recent transportation update.

Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Martin J. Oberman, on July 22, sent a letter to all Class I railroads expressing his concern over persistent problems with congestion in the international intermodal supply chain and significant container storage fees that some shippers are being required to pay in order to receive their containers.

Shortly before the start of the pandemic there was a slowdown in the container industry, and still today the biggest losers continue to be the shippers. There were major reductions in container shipping in February 2020 due to quarantines of port operations and manufacturing in China was halted.

“That was followed by a rash of canceled blank sailings in March and April as severe cutbacks in import demand emerged, as the economic impact on global business operations due to the virus came to fruition,” said Bruce Abbe, strategic adviser for trade and transportation. (A blank sailing refers to a sailing skipping one specific port while still traversing the rest of the scheduled route or the entire sailing being canceled.)


A Slow Start to Spring

After a long, tough fall, farmers are hoping for an early spring. DTN meteorologist Bryce Anderson did not paint a very optimistic picture during the Northern Corn and Soy Expo. “I’m concerned about spring being late to get underway. We’ve had a big influence by a pretty large-scale round of low pressure, and there is fairly extensive snow cover.”
In many cases, farmers were not able to apply fertilizer this fall. “For our company, we had about 40 percent of an average fall,” said Paul Coppin, general manager, Valley United Cooperative. “That puts the pressure on everybody this spring; we’re against the gun here and are hoping and praying for a nice early spring.” 
Farmers are encouraged to discuss their 2019 plans with their input suppliers, but “it’s hard to talk seed and fertilizer when they’re looking at snow and more snow.” The unrelenting snow has also impacted the farmers’ ability to haul grain to their local grain elevator.
Anderson goes on to say the weather for the growing season itself looks better. “For May, June and July, I think we will have fairly mild temps that will allow Growing Degree Days to accumulate. The biggest issue is getting crops into the ground.”