Fertilizer prices generally headed higher

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click image to zoom The spring fertilizer application season is heating up and the demand is pulling fertilizer prices higher. DTN surveys retailers weekly to get a fix on fertilizer prices. As of last week the price for urea was reported at $628 per ton, compared to $574 per ton in late February and $493 per ton in March of 2011. The urea price in March of 2010 stood at $416 per ton.

Prices for potash are also up significantly this month. The retail price for a ton of potash was up $50 per ton compared to the price in February, to $695 per ton. This is an increase of about $100 per ton compared to the price last year at this time and is nearly $200 per ton higher than it was in 2010. Potash prices are still well below the record high levels recorded back in 2009 though.

DAP prices declined a little from February to March. The price drop was pretty small, at $5 per ton, but DAP prices have been declining steadily since November. DAP prices last November stood at $714 per ton, compared to $645 per ton last week. In March of 2011 DAP prices were reported to be $680 per ton.

Cash corn prices have rebounded recently, but they are currently below the year-ago level. With fertilizer prices generally higher and corn prices lower, the fertilizer-to-corn price ratio has increased. That makes fertilizer use a little less attractive this year than at the same time in 2011. But the fertilizer-to-corn price ratio has declined compared to the fall application season. However, if we base the comparison of retail fertilizer prices to new crop futures prices, the urea-to-corn price ratio now is higher than it was in the four previous fertilizer application periods.

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