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Crop Smart Market Update

Market Update February 2024

Well, it looks like the rain has slowed up and it appears like most of you have completed the last pass of summer spraying.  It is certainly not an El Nino like everyone had predicted but the good news is it sets up most of Southern Australia for an excellent winter cropping season.  A few regions have close to a full moisture profile which is great for soil health, microbial activity and gives everyone confidence headed into the year.


Chemical Supply

We said last month that the most expensive mistake here is not being organised and not being able to get supply, so hopefully those that missed out on product the last month while things got tight were growers not reading this newsletter!  This supply of summer product will only ease if there’s no more rain.  No wholesaler or reseller is going long on knockdown products so once again please be more organised than normal and work with the Crop Smart team to get your orders in for what you need not only for summer but also for sowing knockdown.

Pricing of key knockdown items Paraquat and Glyphosate have remained stable so there’s no reason to sit back and wait to order.  Price movement is flat for both key actives.  The good news is a lot of chemical products moving forward are priced lower than 2023 season, which will be good for budgets.  We’ve seen a big drop in Clethodim from last year to its lowest point ever which would create some good conversations about the use of this product this season with your agronomist – see the chart below.


Clethodim Price (USD/T)

Clethodim Price (USD/T)


We’ve also seen some price drops in fungicides. For example, Prosaro has halved in price for the coming season. Some Agronomists are now suggesting it replaces older fungicide technology like Propiconazole and Tebuconazole in cereals. It has proven highly effective disease control over the last two seasons over the older technology products.

Trifluralin has come back in price by 10% from last year to continue the low pricing trend in your chemical budget this season.  We have been busy organising all of our customers for sowing so if you haven’t got organised yet or need some assistance, please reach out to one of the Crop Smart team.



Recent global events such as Carnival celebrations (Brazil) and Chinese Lunar New Year and elections in India have impacted phosphate activity in key agricultural regions. In India, concerns have emerged regarding phosphoric acid availability due to shipping difficulties exacerbated by the Red Sea crisis affecting Jordanian exports. Speculation surrounds China’s potential return to exporting DAP & MAP after recent suspensions, with expectations suggesting a resumption around April (too late for Australia).

Overall pricing has been stable on MAP/DAP in 2024 and see no reason for that to change in the lead up to seeding. Some tightening on availability in certain locations for MAP & DAP with individual suppliers but in general supply OK for the moment with alternative suppliers. If you haven’t locked in your seeding requirements we strongly recommend doing so.



The nitrogen market currently reflects a standoff situation, with buyers monitoring March trends while sellers experience steady demand without an immediate urge to engage. Festivities like the Lunar New Year and Carnival contribute to the subdued market atmosphere. Anticipation surrounds the postponement of India’s import tender until the latter part of March, and U.S. spring application buying is yet to commence with very low farm-gate corn prices.

Persistent demand in regions like Australia and Southeast Asia plus tight supply conditions from Australia’s preferred suppliers in Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia has contributed to pricing remaining firm short-term.

The Australian market has gone much earlier than normal on Urea purchases for the seeding/early top dress market. Availability for new tonnes is now May/June however demand has softened across all regions in the past fortnight. Clearer price trends should emerge over the next 4 weeks however with majority of customers covered for early requirements its our view that there is no rush at moment to purchase further out for later top-dress requirements.


Ocean Freight

On February 18, the Rubymar, a Belize-flagged and UK-registered bulk carrier, was attacked by Houthi forces in the Gulf of Aden, close to Yemen. Traveling from Saudi Arabia to Varna, Bulgaria with 22,000t of phosphate fertilizers, the vessel was hit by multiple missiles causing catastrophic damage and putting it at risk of sinking.

The crew of 20 plus four security guards were forced to abandon ship after it started taking on water.

This attack marks the third phosphate-related vessel targeted amid the Red Sea crisis. Previous incidents include the Genco Picardy and MV Central Park, also carrying phosphate products.

This event underscores the ongoing security risks in maritime routes near conflict zones and the potential risks that can occur…



Recently, natural gas prices in Europe hit their lowest point since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago. On the Dutch TTF exchange, wholesale prices fell below €25 per megawatt hour (MWh), marking a significant decrease since the conflict began in February 2022.


Natural Gas Futures


Several factors contributed to this decline. There’s been a notable drop in gas demand, ample gas storage across the EU, and a milder winter than expected. Since early October, gas prices have plummeted by over 50%.

This shift is a stark contrast to the situation during the peak of the conflict, when wholesale gas prices soared to almost €350 per MWh. In response, the EU imported record amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to replenish gas storage facilities, but prices remained high compared to historical levels.

This development is encouraging news for gas consumers and signals a positive outlook for Urea prices to soften going forward.



In summary the good news is that pricing of chemical products is generally lower than last year with some actives at all time lows.  These should create some good robust conversation with your agronomist.  Supply of both chemical and fertiliser remains tight so please be more organised than normal leading into this season.  If you haven’t organised your fertiliser requirements for sowing please do so over the next week to avoid disappointment.  If there’s anything we can help with please get in touch with one of the team.  We wish you a safe and productive lead into sowing.


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