Not too soon to prepare for spring planting, but beware of fertilizer costs

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Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 7:49 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 11:38 PM CST

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Agriculturists are appreciating the moisture Deep East Texas is receiving this week. Still, their worries are far from over.

Fertilizer and feed prices are skyrocketing, and it’s leading to sticker shock for consumers and retailers alike.

At Lufkin Farm Supply, a cold February morning has manager George Woods selling hay, sacks of feed, and birdseed.

Over in the seed section, a display of fertilizer is a hint spring isn’t far away. Unfortunately, the fertilizer sticker price for gardeners to hay producers has more than doubled than last year’s prices.

Retailers struggle with inventories.

“Because you aren’t 100 percent sure what the customers are going to do when you are telling somebody that possibly four bags of fertilizer is going to cost $100 or a couple of tons of bulk fertilizer is going to cost them close to $2,000,” Woods shared.

Numerous factors drive costs, starting with the rising global market demand for ingredients. Compared to 2020, the price for ammonia, nitrogen, and potash has risen from 134 percent to 210 percent.

The Lone Star Feed sign towers over Nacogdoches. Fertilizer is no longer manufactured there, but animal feed is.

Joe Bob Stewart is the vice-president of feed and fertilizer sales.

“I would say feed is probably $40 to $50 a ton higher this year than it was last year,” Stewart said.

Now under the name of Texas Farm Products Nutrition, Stewart observes a global demand for grains. Other factors affecting costs are shared by industries nationwide.

“They include fuel, the shortage of drivers all drive the price of feed, " Stewart said.

Alternative fertilizers such as chicken litter and increased soil testing are coping mechanisms to rising costs.

So is a resilient attitude, notes Cary Sims, the Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent for Angelina County.

" We do it for the love of agriculture. There’s maybe some better ways to get paid, but my goodness, we cannot forget the profit motive to be productive, to be sustainable,” Sims said.

Woods said loyal customers get it and are willing to pay the prices he’s had to increase more than once. The true test will be this spring.

Home gardeners are reminded soil testing is available at Stephen F. Austin State University or through Texas A&M.

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