Fertiliser Shares Slump Thursday

With grain prices falling and the credit crunch biting farmers' ability to get cash for next year's planting season is under scrutiny.

This promped a large-scale sell-off in the agri-sector Thursday with fertiliser manufacturers leading the way down.

These boys have been raking it in over the last 18 months, and despite grain prices tumbling, the cost of inputs like ferts has continued to rise.

Shares in Mosaic tumbled almost 40 percent late on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange while peers CF Industries shed 37 percent; Intrepid Potash dropped 14 percent; Terra Industries tumbled 24 percent and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan fell 27 percent.

Farm-equipment makers were also hit with Deere & Co's shares down 15 percent .

Shares of Monsanto Co fell almost 20 percent. The herbicide and biotech seed producer announces fourth-quarter results next Wednesday.

Other shares in the ag-sector that took a beating Thursday included Corn Products International down 21 percent and ADM down 13 percent.

Shares of fertilizer companies had surged in the first half of 2008 as grain prices soared. However, since mid-June the sector's valuations tumbled due to a sell-off in commodities and a pullback in grain prices.