Mission to the Moon

Mar 19, 2021

Talk to a U.S. row crop farmer today and you’re bound to hear stories about rocketship rides.

But they won’t be talking about Elon Musk heading to Mars.

Skyrocketing fertilizer prices are front and center as producers execute their spring fertility plans.

Phosphate prices in the U.S. are nearing levels not seen since 2012. And anhydrous ammonia prices have almost doubled since last fall, topping $600 per ton in some areas.

The Liftoff: Boosted by higher crop prices and mild weather, farmers spent extra cash on fertilizer applications in the fall, burning through much of the inventory retailers had on hand. Throw in production disruptions from the arctic blast in February and suppliers have been left with one plan: strap fertilizer prices to the nearest starship and send them skyward in hopes of slowing demand.

And current global dynamics are adding extra rocket fuel.

Shuttered phosphate imports from Morocco and Russia plus China’s energy problems and slowing output haven’t helped.

To Infinity and Beyond? Forecasts moving forward are a bit mixed, but most agree the higher prices are likely to stick around for most of 2021. Mother Nature is primed for an early planting season which would mean continued pressure on supply and no production window to catch up.