Signs of Fertilizer Recovery in 2018
For the past several years, the fortunes for the fertilizer category among the nation’s top ag retailers has been on a decided downward path. From its high-water mark of $15 billion in 2013, the category has steadily dropped back in sales volume since. At the end of 2017, fertilizer revenue for CropLife 100 ag retailers stood at only $12.1 billion – virtually the same mark it held at the start of the decade.
But there are some signs that 2018 might finally be the year that fertilizer makes a comeback. According to results from the recent CropLife 100 Mid-Year Survey, the fertilizer category is outperforming expectations the best thus far among all crop inputs/services. Overall, 67% of the nation’s top ag retailers indicate their fertilizer sales for the spring have been stronger than anticipated.
Even better, it seems as if this “good fortune” in fertilizer is carrying over into the smaller segments of crop nutrients as well. According to 23% of survey respondents, their micronutrients have performed better than expected for 2018.
As for why this is happening, most survey respondents indicated a less than expected move to soybean from corn in their areas might be the answer. According to early USDA predictions, the nation’s growers were expected to plant virtually identical acres of corn and soybeans, both hovering around the 90 million mark.
But according to CropLife 100 retailers, this trend hasn’t shown up with their grower-customers. When asked to tell if “corn was king,” “soybeans were king,” or “acreage was the same as in 2017,” 70% indicated the latter was the case in their markets. Only 25% said that “soybeans were now king” among their growers, up 4% from the results from the 2017 mid-year survey. The remaining 5% said corn continued as the “crop king” among their customers.