Early spring putting the squeeze on phosphate, nitrogen supplies


The fertilizer market of yore could be relatively dependable for ebbs and flows in pricing. There were general seasonal highs and lows that storage-savvy farmers and retailers could use to their advantage.

But in the last five years, on-farm storage has been as much about secured access as it has been about cost. The year ahead looks to be full of similar volatility.

To unpack if there is dependable seasonality at all in the market, and what’s at play currently in both phosphate and nitrogen fertilizer markets, Shaun Haney spoke with James Mitchell, CEO of Crop Management Network Inc. โ€” Alberta’s largest independent crop input retail network.

Mitchell says the days of “one and done” fertilizer purchase decisions are becoming less common as the carrying costs have risen enough to make it less economical. There are also significant supply issues still cropping up in the value chain, such as the current disruption in Red Sea shipping, putting more stress on timely delivery.

Domestically, he says North American urea production has been hampered by labour shortages and plant problems.

Early spring weather in the U.S. is already showing up in demand, and if Western Canada also has an early start, accessing what they need on a tight timeline may prove difficult for farmers, Mitchell says.

Communication with retailers will once again be key this spring as farmers work to secure fertilizer supply for the seeding and planting season, he says.


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