Monday, November 2, 2009

"Fertilizer Markets Remain Mystery" (MOO; MOS; POT; TNR)

A note from farm country via Maril Hazlett at the Climate+Energy Project*.
From The Progressive Farmer:
Empty Pipeline for All Major Fertilizers Could Lead to Slight Volatility in 2010

The roller coaster that has been the U.S. fertilizer industry may have moved away from the worst of its stomach-lightening fluctuations. But the ride will in no way be boring for the next few seasons, according to speakers at the 2009 Fertilizer Outlook and Technology Conference.

Fertilizer industry leaders hoping for a sign of calmer times heard repeatedly that there was "no consistency on the horizon."

The only predictability will be that farmers will be carefully watching prices and crop needs, and be slow to commit to anything beyond basic soil maintenance levels.

Phil Cochran, Cochran Agronomics, Inc, Paris, Ill., said his growers are barely beginning to harvest corn, but expects them to continue to be judicious, even at fertilizer cost levels a third of 2008 prices. For the 2009 season, he worked with eastern Illinois growers to consider two fertilizer application rates: 50 pounds of phosphorus and 350 pounds of potassium (K) per acre and 70 P and 400 K per acre. Both are much lower than normal individual annual rates, "but these were based on the farmer's pocketbook, what he could afford to spend, not on agronomics."

In one example, Cochran showed that staying with low-to-barely maintenance levels saved a grower $20 per acre on P alone, twice that on P, K and N levels that would correspond with a higher fertility scheme....MORE

Doc Hazlett's latest post on the CEP blog is "Ag and the climate bill – farmers caught between climate legislation and climate change", which title I like, it reminds me of the Devil and the deep blue sea.