Will crop nutrient availability improve in 2023?

December 13, 2022
Todd Dysle, product manager for UAN and ammonia at CHS, discusses crop nutrient availability for the 2023 growing season.

Securing crop nutrients could be challenging for farmers who delay fertilizer decision-making for the 2023 season. Todd Dysle, the product manager for UAN and ammonia at CHS, says several factors contribute to uncertainty around crop nutrient availability and price for next year.

Global issues affect nutrient supply and price

The war in Ukraine continues to affect global crop nutrient supplies. Dysle says many countries that typically export crop nutrients are limiting trade to ensure their own needs are met. Those limited supplies, combined with high European natural gas prices, drove the cost of some fertilizers to record highs over the past year.

“Typically, 10% of global nitrogen production occurs in Europe. At one time, 70% of those plants were offline, causing Europe to become a huge net importer of nitrogen,” says Dysle. With European exports down, the U.S. has become a net exporter of nitrogen, which generally doesn’t happen, according to Dysle. He says minimizing exports and maintaining adequate nitrogen supplies in the U.S. between now and spring will be critical to meeting domestic 2023 demands.  

Postharvest demand for nutrients remained high

Dysle says there was high demand for phosphate and potash this fall, even with higher fertilizer prices.

“Anhydrous ammonia was also in high demand in most areas of the U.S., but we are beginning to see that purchases of urea and UAN are lagging compared to a year ago. ” he says.

Logistical challenges complicate supply availability

In addition to the global events affecting nutrient supply, logistical challenges in the U.S. complicate supply availability.

“Low water levels on the Mississippi River have slowed shipment of crop nutrients moving north, and service along the rail system has been questionable. Additionally, trucking companies are short on qualified labor to haul goods. So pre-existing supply chain disruptions have been exasperated this year by logistical concerns,” explains Dysle.

While market conditions may leave some growers worried about fertilizer availability for spring, Dysle says there is still time to get ahead of the supply situation with proper planning.

“If growers can decide now what they’re going to plant and what crop nutrients they will need next spring, that will give us enough time to get the appropriate products in place. The grower is the key to starting that flow of information, so we can secure the volumes needed to meet seasonal demands,” says Dysle.