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Fertilizer sales picking up in Western Canada

After low interest through November and December, farmers in Western Canada are starting to book fertilizer for the spring, according to Viterra Inc. officials participating in the company’s recent conference call.

A late harvest in Western Canada, combined with poor weather conditions and farmer uncertainty associated with declining fertilizer and crop prices, led to very soft fall fertilizer demand, according to Doug Wonnacott, senior vice-president of agri-products for Viterra.

Based on those soft fall sales and the company’s prediction that this year’s fertilizer demand will be comparable to last year’s, additional product will be required to move in the spring season, Wonnacott said.

Also, “with the anticipated shift from ammonia to urea, we’re going to see significant volumes of urea moving. There will be a change to the composition of the nitrogen requirement. With this additional demand and assuming we have a normal spring season, there are going to be tremendous logistical constraints,” he said.

“We’ve seen urea in the U. S. Gulf move from about $195 a tonne pre-Christmas to $320 a tonne and as a result of that price movement in the U. S., we’ve got growers who are now coming to their retail outlets to book their fertilizer.”

The company predicts steady ongoing movement to farms between now and March before hitting full stride in April and May, when they “expect to move an awful lot of fertilizer,” Wonnacott said.

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