U.S. farmers may fail in fertilizer face-off
"If the season breaks early, then we could see this jump in purchases at the retail level," said David Asbridge, president of NPK Fertilizer Advisory Service. "We could see a price spike."
That could derail expectations for large corn plantings.
Farmers could plant soybeans, instead of corn, if they can not get their hands on fertilizer or decide prices are still too high. Soybeans require less fertilizer than corn and are planted later in the spring.
Still, many industry members, including Asbridge and The Fertilizer Institute's Vroomen, are sticking with forecasts for large corn plantings because corn prices remain historically high.
Analysts predict corn plantings will reach a 68-year high of 94.2 million acres, up 2.5 percent from 2011, according to a Reuters survey. They project soybean plantings will rise 0.4 percent to 75.3 million acres.
Georgi, the Indiana farmer, is in no rush to lock in his fertilizer. He said he was confident he will be able to buy the supplies he needs and has already seen nitrogen prices in his area fall about 7 percent since the end of November.
The only other time Georgi waited so long to buy his fertilizer was during the price spike of 2008-09. He said his patience saved him money that year and he will not finalize purchases this year for at least a few weeks in case prices continue to weaken.
"There's room for them to come down," he said confidently. (Reporting By Tom Polansek; editing by Jim Marshall)