Coronavirus and the Pending Planting Season

Posted on 03/04/2020 3:38 PM

 

With spring planting underway in far southern regions and looming in the warming Midwest, a lot of questions have surfaced about the impacts of the coronavirus on fertilizer supplies. I would begin by reminding we are 100% filled on spring phosphates and 50% filled on spring/summer nitrogen. If you have not locked in phosphates for spring application, I would advise you do that right away.

Phosphate carries the most amount of risk among the fertilizers in our regional price survey. China's phosphate production will likely soften as a generous portion of the Phosphate produced in China comes from Hubei Province, where the virus originated. But just a few weeks ahead of the outbreak, a report surfaced that North America's MosaicCo. plans to restart some phosphate production that was stalled to maintain offseason margins. Increased North American phosphate production will help offset any shortfall coming out of China. Middle Eastern producers will also be quick to answer supply gaps. Be that as it may, get your spring phosphate needs covered at current prices to front-run the potential for some price volatility.nci and encr chart

China used to be the world's nitrogen price leader based on the huge tonnages that nation used to sell on the global export market. That is no longer the case. China has curtailed its urea exports in recent years and is no longer the price leader it once was in the nitrogen space. China is also a net importer of ammonia. This may actually work in our favor. If China's manufacturing sector continues to struggle, ammonia demand for fertilizers and other industrial uses may be forced to look for another home. That could lead to an ammonia supply glut that could weigh on NH3 prices ahead of spring applications.

While we are not expecting a sharp rise in anhydrous prices, we still advise you keep a close eye on the market. If you are not 50% filled on spring/summer anhydrous, I would advise you catch up with our advice. But there are factors that could pressure anhydrous into spring. We have got to consider seasonal tendencies and the idea that demand-based support could roil NH3 prices. As far as I'm concerned, that is where the true risk to anhydrous ammonia lies. Urea is still a bit of a wildcard and is currently overpriced when compared to NH3. UAN solutions will continue to seek the midpoint between anhydrous and urea.

UAN32% is currently overpriced, but 28% could be considered a value. But, again, we are not yet ready to pull the trigger on spring UAN or urea as we believe there may be some room to the downside. Stay tuned to your Inputs Monitor, check the map on profarmer.com to get the latest white-board fertilizer pricing in your crop district. Call you preferred retailer and shop around to find the best deal possible.

Some are predicting 96 million acres planted to corn this spring. That would bring in enough demand to support higher N prices, but that will not be known until the market has already taken off to the upside. So be ready to book aggressively when the market signals a turnaround. But for now, we are content to take our chances for at least another week before locking in spring/summer nitrogen needs.

  • Fertilizer prices were mostly lower with urea and UAN28% finding support on the week.nitrogen indices chart
  • Our Nutrient Composite Index (NCI) softened 0.62 points this week to 530.83.

Nitrogen

  • Anhydrous ammonia led declines in the nitrogen segment this week with South Dakota off $14.92 and Minnesota falling $5.63. Most states were lower or unchanged but Nebraska gained $2.30 and Iowa firmed a nickel per short ton.
  • UAN32% was lower as well with Illinois and Indiana leading the way downward. Kansas was our sole gainer in 32%, up 35 cents per short ton on the week.
  • UAN28% led gains in the nitrogen segment with South Dakota up $3.83 and Minnesota up $1.91. Most states were mildly higher, but North Dakota softened $1.62.
  • Urea fell 33 cents by the short ton regionally. Nebraska fell $2.57 and Wisconsin softened 35 cents. Michigan and South Dakota each firmed roughly $3.50 on the week to lead to the upside.

Phosphatep and k indices chart

  • Phosphates were slightly lower on the week with Michigan MAP down $11.80 and Minnesota MAP off $2.68. Gains in MAP were led by Indiana and South Dakota.
  • DAP fell just 11 cents regionally with Illinois down $2.97 and Wisconsin down 35 cents. Ohio led gains firming $1.60 as Indiana rose 56 cents per short ton.
  • According to MosaicCo., wholesale phosphates were mostly sideways to higher in the week ended February 28.

Potash

  • Potash softened on the week.
  • Minnesota softened $1.44 and Nebraska fell $1.44. Most states were mildly lower, but South Dakota firmed 71 cents as Ohio firmed 24 cents per short ton.
  • When considered on an indexed basis, potash is currently priced in-line with our Nutrient Composite Index but holds a decent premium to retail anhydrous ammonia, suggesting upside risk for NH3.
  • Wholesale potash prices were sideways at NOLA and lower at other U.S. terminals during the report week according to MosaicCo.

Corn Futures

  • December 2020 corn futures closed Friday February 28 at $3.77 putting expected new-crop revenue (eNCR) at $619.52 per acre.
  • With our Nutrient Composite Index (NCI) at 530.83 this week, the eNCR/NCI spread narrowed 15.22 points and stands at -88.69.
Fertilizer
2/17/20
2/24/20
Change
Current Week
Fertilizer
Anhydrous
$504.37
$509.48
-$2.19
$507.29
Anhydrous
DAP
$420.71
$417.89
-11 cents
$417.77
DAP
MAP
$411.80
$406.43
-19 cents
$406.24
MAP
Potash
$362.66
$359.49
-34 cents
$359.15
Potash
UAN28
$238.77
$237.15
+45 cents
$237.60
UAN28
UAN32
$276.88
$277.62
-$1.31
$276.31
UAN32
Urea
$356.97
$361.80
+33 cents
$362.13
Urea
Composite
532.04
531.45
-0.62
530.83
Composite

nutrient composite index chart

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