Nutrient prices continue to fall with the exception of ammonia. During the fall application season, what little nutrient is moving comes largely from retailers' existing supply, and, so far, retailers are waiting to resupply.
- Potash remains largely unchanged to slightly lower since Oct. 1.
- Phosphates are stagnant when it comes to delivery and prices here continue to fall on weak demand.
- Ammonia prices are still testing the ceiling, but with very little product moving, the price signals may be misleading.
China and India failed to make their expected potash purchases from Canpotex earlier this year. China was holding out for $470/ton potash and passed on Canadian potash in favor of Russian nutrient from Belarusian Potash Company (BPC). But BPC cannot keep up with China's demand. According to Uralkali data, the inventory just isn't there. China will come calling for their Canadian potash and India will follow. Reports are now that China wants the nutrient for less than $400/ton. If Canpotex gives China the nod at $400, prices for everybody else could make up the difference -- pushing potash higher in the spring.
From the buyers perspective, the nutrient outlook is good -- but highly uncertain. The bulk of North American growers will apply most of their nutrient in the spring. If North American growers and China and India all show up at the same time, knocking on doors for springtime nutria, prices could catch a draft to the upside on intense demand and low downstream inventory.
At the present time, prices are low across the board and weak demand suggests there may still be some room to the downside. We are not quite ready to call it a buying opportunity, but be advised: Growers that wait to purchase nutrient in the spring may find themselves in a bidding war with the rest of the world.