High fertilizer prices could mean smaller crops for farmers

Farmers across Mississippi are having to adjust to a steep rise in the price of fertilizer

COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Farmers across Mississippi are having to adjust to a steep rise in the price of fertilizer.

The Mississippi State Extension Service recently released a study about how farmers are coping with fertilizer prices approaching record highs, WCBI-TV reported.

“Mississippi is such an agricultural state,” said Jeff Hays, who is in the farm supply business. “Anytime you see our production drop, it goes everywhere. From your production, your co-ops, your tractor dealers, to fuel suppliers. Everybody’s impacted.”

A bag of fertilizer that would’ve sold for $11 in 2021 is now going for about $19.95 in 2022.

“The prices doubled, needless to say, our volume of sales in tonnage has dropped off in correspondence to those prices,” said Hays, who has been the manager of Lowndes Farm Supply since 2010.

Potash is close to an all-time high of $800 per ton, according to the Mississippi State study released this month. The ongoing supply chain disruption has caused the main chemicals in fertilizer — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash — to rise since spring of 2021.

“This is a moment for patience as the storm swirls,” Larry Oldham, soil specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said in a report from the extension service.

Growers trying to make crop decisions for the 2022 season can take steps to limit their costs, Oldham said in the report. Farmers should be efficient with fertilizer application by doing careful soil testing, which can help determine fertilizer needs and avoid overapplication. Applying at the best time and in the best way for highest efficiency is also key, he said.

Hays said the high prices will lead to farmers buying less fertilizer, which likely means a smaller harvest. He believes prices could return to normal sometime around June, while the MSU study says it could go until next winter.

The last time fertilizer prices shot up was between 2007 and 2008. The current fertilizer price per ton has already exceeded those previous numbers, Hays said.