Cashflow pressures at farm level continue to curtail fertiliser sales, with local merchants pointing out that quantities of nitrogen traded during January and February were “practically non-existent”.

Rather than buy during February, farmers have been looking to ease the pressure on working capital and are holding off purchases until fieldwork begins.

That could see peak spring sales condensed into a short window, most likely occurring during April.

Normally, sales are spread out over a larger window, making it easier to source, transport and deliver fertiliser on-farm as soon as orders are placed.

But a rapid surge in sales could create huge logistical problems, especially if the final volumes traded are similar to previous years. Merchants have warned that transport and the subsequent time period between orders and delivery onto farms would be impacted.

To avoid potential supply chain issues, fertiliser manufacturers are keen that merchants start to build yard stocks over March. But there is reluctance to do so without a commitment on forward pricing.

Steady prices

In the market, CAN continues to trade around £325/t, with sulphur-added products costing £15 to £20/t more. Urea is trading between £400 and £420/t, with protected urea at £460 to £470/t.

Grassland compounds such as 25-5-5 are steady at £380/t, with 20-10-10 and 24-6-12 starting at £400/t.

The general consensus from merchants is that prices are likely to remain relatively steady over the coming months, with little prospect of price cuts until the summer.

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