Nitrogen fertiliser prices were a key topic of conversation at Cereals with prices rising by about £30/t on last year.
Hutchinsons commercial fertiliser specialist Rob Jewers said new season prices announced in the w/c June 10 were in the region of the mid £250s/t.
“This is slightly higher than people expected,” he said. “Last year they were in the mid £220s/t.”
There are a few factors influencing the price rises, said Mr Jewers. “The urea price is high worldwide and our exchange rate is not favourable at the moment.
“CF, the main UK fertiliser manufacturer had a couple of plant shutdowns last year. One was planned but they both lasted longer than expected.
“At this time of year there is usually plenty of stock but there are lower stock levels and it may take time to catch up.”
Mr Jewers said there has been some uptake at these prices but that it was ‘probably not as high as in some years’.
However, he advised growers to consider covering some requirements at the early price.
“This should probably be 50-60 per cent then once they know their cropping for next year and know what the market is doing - assess accordingly.”
With urea prices likely to remain high, uncertainty over Brexit and exchange rates variable at best, prices are likely to remain high, said Mr Jewers.
To mitigate this, growers may scale back on how much nitrogen they use, and adopt a more targeted approach, he said.
“The last couple of dry seasons have made people question urea use because of losses with granules not washing in,” he added.
“To a certain extent this is the same for all solid fertiliser. We may see more, earlier applications in spring when there is more moisture in the soil to take it up.”