High crop prices spur fungicide, Agrium says

02 May 2008 18:33  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--High prices for corn and soybeans in particular were spurring sales of fungicides by giving farmers more incentive to protect their crops, officials at Canadian fertilizer firm Agrium said on Friday.

"We're really promoting fungicides for corn and soybeans," one of the officials said on a conference call with analysts.

"We've seen that ramp up in the last couple of years, and it will be higher this year," he said.

The official did not give any estimate of fungicide sales. The application window for the specialty chemicals will open in a month or two but will only last around 10 days, he said.

Nearby corn futures on Chicago's CME have been trading at around $6/bushel (€4/bushel) this week, up from $4 a year ago.

In its first-quarter results issued earlier Thursday, Agrium said its sales of crop protection products rose to $93m from $80m in the year-earlier quarter, with profits from that segment rising to $29m from $23m.

Overall, Agrium posted first-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $341m, up from $42m in the year-earlier period.

An official on the conference call said the company expects the final tally of acres planted with corn in the US this year will be higher than the 86.0m acres estimated in a US Department of Agriculture (USDA)  survey that was issued on 31 March.

Other fertilizer companies have also said that actual plantings may exceed the forecast, despite the slow start to spring farmwork due to wet weather in the US midwest.

($1 = €0.65)

By: Stephen Burns
+1 713 525 2653

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