Inputs Monitor's Unique Perspective -- Retail Pricing Charts
Apr 04, 2013
Your Inputs Monitor has been collecting data from retailers on the whiteboard pricing of nutrients and fuels at local co-ops and suppliers across the Corn Belt. If you had the chance to attend one of Pro Farmer's Profit Briefing Seminars, you heard me talk about charts as part of the Monitor's future. We have finally collected enough data to generate meaningful charts. One day soon, we will offer interactive charts as part of our website so that subscribers can mouse over a price and call up a variety of charts for each specific nutrient or fuel in each locale.
The Inputs Monitor tech squad is hard at work on that right now, but I have jumped the gun this week and am giving you a sneak peek at what these charts might tell us. Fertilizer pricing had been largely stable for decades until 2008 when corn prices shot up, and nutrient followed. I believe nutrient is still correcting from the all-time highs of 2008, but another development has also added to input market volatility.
World markets for finished products and feedstocks -- ammonia, in particular -- have added a global dose of volatility. Recall the production curtailments at PotashCorp that lasted from Thanksgiving to President's Day inspired by China's absence from the Canadian potash market. This delay influenced pricing by flooding potash storehouses with overflow inventory.
This first chart includes pricing data for all seven nutrients the Monitor tracks as well as an index composite figure derived from weekly state average prices.
A chart of nitrogen products shows the late summer re-coupling of UAN 28 and 32% solutions. Anhydrous moved aggressively higher as Urea fell -- NH3 still runs an average of ten cents cheaper per pound of N, but growers are beginning to consider Urea as an easily applied alternative.
Global market volatility sticks out like a sore thumb in this P&K chart. Note the dramatic slide in potash pricing just ahead of the first of 2013. Ammonia prices from Trinidad and Tobago along with natural gas "difficulties" in Egypt held DAP/MAP at the high end of their range, but scheduled maintenance in Trinidad was completed just ahead of Christmas. As phosphate production resumes in Florida and North Carolina, lower ammonia pricing should allow DAP/MAP to level off. But low North American P inventories against the five-year average will limit downside room in the short-run.
Your Inputs Monitor advised booking some farm diesel in mid-December and this chart clearly shows the dip. Meanwhile, LP has crossed over -- however gently -- the 'index high' of $1.487 to a new high of $1.499. As I have said before, seasonal increases in temperatures across the frozen Midwest should mitigate some demand for distillates and LP and we expect both farm diesel and LP to fall modestly near-term.
And there you have it. A visual representation is more my speed -- data tables are all well and good, but I am anxious for the day when we can offer you charts on demand. Look for fully interactive charts later this year, and stay tuned to your Inputs Monitor for all your latest inputs news and analysis.