As is normally the case, the best fertilizer prices for the upcoming growing season were likely seen last fall, says a senior agronomist with Calgary-based fertilizer manufacturer Agrium.

"If I was a farmer, the best advice would have been to buy last fall in September. It's still 19 years out of the last 23 that buying in the fall has saved you the rising market," explained Ray Dowbenko at Crop Production Week in Saskatoon last week. "We're seeing increased demand and markets moving up between now and seeding time. Unfortunately for guys that haven't purchased, they're going to face a significant increase over last fall."

He noted nitrogen prices have started rising over the last month or so.

"Long-term urea prices are relatively high compared to today - on world-basis they dropped and some of that was reflected here in Western Canada, but now the market's starting to go up and it looks like it will be stable to increasing into spring," said Dowbenko.

After declining over the past year, phosphorous prices have been climbing since fall, he said.

"It dropped last year until about September and now it's climbing again," said Dowbenko.

Potash market trends will depend on how long it takes to clear current inventories, he noted.

"The price has been relatively flat for the last little while. Long term, the world market is predicated on what's going to happen in India and China. When they start buying again we'll see an upswing in the prices here, but there's still the inventory to clear out," said Dowbenko.