Friday, 21 July 2017

The latest Black Sea Crop Tour is about to hit the road

Next week we will be driving across Ukraine and Russia assessing the current wheat harvest and adjusting our forecast if necessary.

At the same time, we will look at the condition of the spring planted crops, in particular, corn, to see how they are holding up so far and adjusting our forecasts there if required.

We will tour again in August to update our view on corn, sunflower and soya ahead of harvest.

During each tour we will post pictures, video and commentary on our dedicated tour Twitter account and follow up with a report of our findings including our latest yield forecasts.

We charge a reasonable £350 for this service which takes us through to the end of the year when we finish off the season with a final look at wheat to check out how well it has established and how it will stand up during the winter.

It’s a bit like having your own guy on the ground but at a mere fraction of the cost and you don’t have to fill out a risk assessment.

Drop me an email if you think this is something that might be of interest to you.

blackseacroptour@gmail.com

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Russia harvests 22 million tonnes of grain

As of July 19, Russia harvested 5.1mha producing 22.5mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.43mt/ha.

At the same point last year, farmers harvested 7.1mha collecting 29.3mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.15mt/ha.

Canola stands at 700,200 hectares harvested producing 2.8mmt with an average yield of 2.05mt/ha.

Early potatoes harvest is 87,100mt at a yield of 25.4mt/ha.

Sign up to our crop tour service to receive up to date, independent information on the cereal harvest and forecasts on late spring crops prospects.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Estonia takes over EU Council presidency

On July 1, Estonia took over the rotating EU Council presidency for the first time ever.

With the exception of Foreign Affairs, Estonia will now schedule and chair all ministerial meetings including agriculture.

Estonian said they will focus on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), based on the outcome of the public consultation launched by the European Commission on CAP reform.

What public consultation?  Did you hear anything about it?  I didn’t, while I admit I don’t read everything I should, I’m certainly not hiding under a rock when it comes to agriculture.

For the record, the consultation opened on 2nd February and closed 2nd May.

That was twelve weeks to spot a consultation on CAP was happening, twelve weeks to find out how to participate and twelve weeks to formulate a response.

The CAP is one of the EU’s longest-standing policies and is the only EU policy that directly affects every citizen of Europe yet twelve weeks was considered long enough for a public consultation.

The EU really needs to get off its high horse and start engaging with people otherwise Brexit might just be the start.

Russian cereal harvest will exceed 105mmt

Earlier today, Russia's Vladimir Putin heard a report on harvest progress and production forecast from the Minister of Agriculture, Aleksandr Tkachev.

The Minister reported on the completion of the plantings and an increase of 300,000 hectares on last year to 80 million hectares.

He also recalled low temperature in some regions delayed harvest by two weeks although the country's farmers have already collected the first 20 million tonnes of grain.

"If it is a warm and dry autumn, and we can complete the harvest of the Urals and Siberia at the optimum time, then the grain harvest will exceed 105 million tonnes or more” said an upbeat Tkachev.

The anticipated level of production and expected domestic consumption (70 million tonnes) will leave a surplus about 35 million tonnes for export said the Minister.

I’m now looking forward to Michael Gove’s equally upbeat and widely reported harvest report to Theresa May, any day now…

Russia harvests 15.9 million tons of forage

As of July 14, Russia had harvested 15.9mmt of coarse and succulent fodder (hay, haylage, silage) in all categories of farms.

This means large commercial farms and smaller private set-ups so the quality of that conserved forage will vary from very good to barely digestible.

The total demand for the 2017-2018 winter is estimated to be 30.1mmt.

Harvesting has not yet started in the Siberian and Far Eastern Federal Districts and I assume there will be further cuts of silage elsewhere.

Russian poultry production up 5.2%

Russia’s production of poultry for slaughter in live weight from January to June this year in farms of all categories amounted to 3.17mmt, which is 5.2% more than the same period in 2016.

The Ministry report that agricultural production increased by 5.4% and amounted to 2.99mmt which I take to mean commercial farms not including home reared birds.

If you ever get the chance to visit a village in Russia, one of the first things you notice is it’s basically one big petting zoo, there is livestock everywhere.

Egg production in all types of farms was 22.37 billion (+ 2.5%), and in commercial farms, 17.77 billion (+ 3.6%).

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Latest USDA weather update for western FSU

Much-needed rain improved crop prospects in central and northern Ukraine, while conditions remained favourable for summer crops in Russia.

After a protracted dry spell during the spring and early summer across central and northern Ukraine, 10 to 70 mm of rain provided timely moisture for corn, soybeans, and sunflowers approaching or entering reproduction.

Similar rainfall amounts sustained good to excellent summer crop prospects in western Ukraine, while light to moderate showers (5-20 mm) in eastern Ukraine benefited budding sunflowers.

In Russia, light to moderate showers (1-20 mm) and near- to below-normal temperatures maintained excellent yield prospects for spring grains and summer crops approaching (north) or progressing through (south) the reproductive stages of development.

In western Russia, rainfall over the past 60 days has averaged 100 to 200 percent of normal, ensuring good soil moisture reserves for crop development, though the wet weather likely slowed winter wheat drydown and harvesting somewhat.

Elsewhere, light to moderate showers (2-20 mm) in Moldova were beneficial for reproductive corn, while moderate to heavy rain (10-50 mm) in Belarus eased short-term precipitation deficits and improved moisture supplies for flowering spring grains.

Untimely heat was not a concern, although spring grains and summer crops were developing two to three weeks behind average in west-central Russia (southern Volga and northern Southern Districts) due to the recent spell of cool, showery weather.

Latest USDA weather update for eastern FSU

Good to excellent conditions continued for vegetative to reproductive small grains and cotton.

In the spring wheat belt of northern Kazakhstan and central Russia, moderate to heavy showers (10-50 mm) were beneficial for reproductive spring barley (Volga and Urals Districts) as well as jointing to heading spring wheat (from northern Kazakhstan and environs into the Siberia District).

Meanwhile, sunny skies and seasonable heat (38-42°C) promoted the development of flowering cotton (which is heavily irrigated) in eastern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Latest USDA weather update for Europe

Widespread rain further improved summer crop prospects over much of the continent, though excessive heat lingered in parts of southern Europe.

Early in the period, moderate to heavy showers (10-50 mm, locally more) from France eastward into Hungary, Poland, and the Baltic States maintained or improved soil moisture as small grains and summer crops approached or progressed through the reproductive stages of development.

The recent wet weather (near- to above-normal rainfall over the past 30 days) has eased or eliminated dryness concerns over most growing areas; moisture stress was limited to Belgium, southern portions of Spain and Italy, as well Serbia and western Romania.

However, heat continued to stress crops in southern Europe.

In southern Spain, daytime highs above 40°C adversely impacted reproductive to filling sunflowers and cotton.

In Italy, seven consecutive days above 35°C (beginning July 5) were untimely for tasselling to silking corn in the Po River Valley.

In southeastern Europe, widespread 35-degree heat (locally as high as 40°C) stressed reproductive corn and soybeans, particularly in the driest locales of the middle Danube River Valley.

(Next week I will be driving across much of Europe and hope to be able to give an independent summary on current crop condition).

Russia harvests 18 million tonnes of grain

As of July 17, Russia harvested 4.2mha producing 18.8mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.46mt/ha.

At the same point last year, farmers harvested 5.9mha collecting 24.5mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.19mt/ha.

Harvest continues in the Southern and North Caucasian Federal District and has now started some regions of the Central and Volga federal districts.

Sign up to our crop tour service to receive up to date, independent information on the cereal harvest and forecasts on late spring crops prospects.

Russia's 2018 agri budget to remain at 2017 levels

Russia’s Minister of Agriculture, Aleksandr Tkachev, took part in a meeting on agro-industrial and fishery federal budget spending for 2018-2020, chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev noted that the agricultural sector of the economy is on the rise and not only increased the level of food security, but also began to increase the supply of export of agricultural products.

He also noted that budget spending on agricultural sector support in 2018 may remain at the level of the current year. 

Ukraine grain yield down but quality up

As of July 18, Ukraine’s early grain harvest stands at 10mmt of grain from 3.1 million hectares (32% of the planned 9.4mha), with an average yield of 3.26mt/ha.

This breaks down like this:
  • Wheat - 5.6mmt, 1.6mha (25% of 6.3mha), average yield of 3.47mt/ha.
  • Barley - 3.7mmt, 1.2mha (48% of 2.5mha), average yield of 3.17mt/ha.
  • Peas – 617,000mt, 260,000ha (66% of 392,000ha), average yield of 2.37mt/ha.
Before you ask, no, we don’t have comparable data for last years as the ministry didn’t publish anything but they are saying the moisture deficit in June has reduced yields slightly.

They are also saying the quality of grain from the southern region is good with preliminary estimates saying the share of Class 1-3 for wheat could reach 50 to 70%.

Who's in charge at Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture?

Back in May, Ukraine's Minister of Agriculture, Taras Kutovyi announced his resignation online (Ukraine's Minister of Agriculture resigns).

He has been in the post 13 months and said he was leaving to focus on attracting investment in Ukraine.

At that time Parliament said his resignation was to be authorised and a successor announced.

Six weeks later and no successor has been announced, Kutovyi is still down on the website as the Minister although, as far as I can tell, hasn’t been visible since submitting his resignation with all new announcements made by various deputy Ministers.

I say “as far as I can tell” because the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine’s website is going so slowly that it's all but not working and has been like that for weeks now.

All this at a time when Ukraine, the worlds number six wheat exporter and number four corn exporter started harvest and about when they usually sign a memorandum with the leading grain exporters agreeing the amount of grain that can be exported this year.

How long does it take to appoint a new Minister, is there something going on in Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture that we should know about?

(Update to this story, as if by coincidence Ukraine's Ministry of Agriculture have just announced a tender to develop a website.)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Russia harvests 14 million tonnes of grain

As of July 14, Russia harvested 3.2mha producing 14.4mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.46mt/ha.

At the same point last year, farmers harvested 4.3mha collecting 18.2mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.25mt/ha.

Sign up to our crop tour service to receive up to date, independent information on the cereal harvest and forecasts on late spring crops prospects.

Ukraine harvest 6.5 million tonnes of grain

Ukraine’s harvest stands at 6.5mmt of grain from 2.0mha with an average yield of 3.18mt/ha.

Ukraine are a bit rubbish at providing regular harvest information so I am currently looking at a few other sources but the yield this year is down on last year when it was running at about 3.7mt/ha.

This includes 3.1mmt of wheat from 0.90mha (14%) with an average yield of 3.42mt/ha and 2.96mmt of barley from 0.93mha (38%) with an average yield of 3.16mt/ha.

The latest USDA forecast trimmed one million tonnes off the wheat crop bringing it down to 24mmt, I dropped our forecast 1.2mmt last week on the back of lower planting figures to 26.5mmt.

We are planning to be in Ukraine next week to assess the condition of the cereal harvest and to update our forecast if necessary. 

We will also be looking at corn, sunflower and soya and will be adjusting our forecast there if required.

Email blackseacroptour@gmail.com if you would like to subscribe and receive our results, at only 350 quid it’s significantly cheaper (and safer) than trying to do it yourself.

Russia warns New Zealand of restrictions to dairy products

Russia is warning of potential restriction to New Zealand dairy products after butter tested positive for the antibiotic tetracycline, saying if they continued to find the antibiotic, it would limit the supply of milk products from New Zealand. 

Not the first time NZ have dropped the ball when trading with Russia.

In February this year, Russia banned NZ beef after the bacteria Listeria and the feed additive ractopamine was found in beef and beef offal (Russia ban NZ beef).

Back then the NZ authorities appeared to be caught off guard and sounded like a bunch of whining children saying they were “mystified” and that “NZ food standards are among the highest in the world.”  

Clearly, the Russians think otherwise.

Russian agri-news in brief

According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, Russian exports of agricultural products (excluding trade with the EAEC) increased by 18% for the first six months of 2017.  

Cereals accounted for 37.1% of the total exports, including wheat at 27.7%. 

As of July 13, the total volume of issued credit to Russian farmers for seasonal field work rose to 167 billion roubles, 6.2% more than in the same period last year.

According to the Russian Ministry of agriculture, farmers have accumulated 11.9% more fertiliser than last year.

The gross yield of Russian greenhouse vegetables was up 24% to 476kmt, including 350kmt of cucumbers (+21%) and 119kmt of tomatoes (+42%) which pretty much describes the standard Russian salad.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Russia harvests 12 million tonnes of grain

As of July 11, Russia harvested 2.7mha producing 12.2mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.39mt/ha.

At the same point last year, farmers harvested 4.0mha collecting 16.8mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.23mt/ha.

Harvest is running about a week behind last year in terms of hectares cut, but if you ignore the different start date, the harvest is on track and yield and output are both slightly ahead of last year.

I have written a brief update on the Russian-Ukraine harvest (email blackseacroptour@gmail.com for a free copy), in it I said it will be a brave analyst who calls H17 more than H16 and that no one seems prepared to break ranks and go public with a big number.

The next day the USDA went public with a big number and increased their latest Russian wheat forecast by a whopping 3.0mmt to 72mmt, the same as last year’s record crop.

While their forecast doesn’t exceed last year’s crop, I’m starting to think it is only a matter of days before someone does.

For the record, back in early June, we pegged Russian wheat at 70.1mmt, this week we increased that 1.0mmt on the back of finalised planting numbers.

In about ten days we will start touring Russia and Ukraine again with a view to adjusting our forecast, be sure to sign up to access the full results.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Russia harvests nine million tonnes of grain

As of July 11, Russia harvested 2.1mha producing 9.1mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.41mt/ha.

At the same point last year, farmers harvested 3.2mha collecting 13.8mmt of grain with an average yield of 4.34mt/ha.

We are picking up on possible wheat quality issues and we will be touring again in about two weeks time.

Sign up to our crop tour service to receive up to date, independent information on the cereal harvest and forecasts on late spring crops prospects.

Latest USDA weather update for western FSU

Showers maintained favorable conditions for summer crops in Russia, while dryness returned to drought areas in north-central Ukraine. 

In Russia, moderate to heavy rain (5-50 mm) sustained good to excellent yield prospects for spring grains and summer crops, which were approaching (north) or progressing through (south) the reproductive stages of development. 

In Ukraine, light to moderate showers (2-24 mm) in southern and eastern portions of the country benefited flowering to filling spring grains as well as vegetative to reproductive sunflowers. 

In contrast, dry conditions (less than 5 mm) returned to north-central Ukraine, renewing drought concerns and lowering prospects for vegetative to reproductive corn and soybeans. 

However, the dry conditions were also accompanied by temperatures up to 3°C below normal, mitigating evaporative losses and crop stress somewhat. 

Elsewhere, locally heavy rain (10-45 mm) in southern Moldova boosted yield prospects for corn, while widespread showers (8-40 mm) in Belarus were beneficial for spring grains and oilseeds.

Latest USDA weather update for eastern FSU

Favorable conditions continued for vegetative to reproductive small grains and cotton. 

In the spring wheat belt of northern Kazakhstan and central Russia, widespread albeit variable showers (2-40 mm) were beneficial for reproductive spring barley (Volga and Urals Districts) as well as jointing to heading spring wheat (northern Kazakhstan and environs). 

Meanwhile, sunny skies and seasonable heat (38-42°C) promoted the development of flowering cotton (which is heavily irrigated) in eastern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Latest USDA weather update for Europe

Widespread rain boosted summer crop prospects over much of the continent, with locally heavy downpours easing the impacts of recent heat in southern growing areas. 

Light to moderate showers (2-20 mm, locally more) maintained or improved soil moisture as crops such as corn, soybeans, and sunflowers approached or progressed through the reproductive stages of development from east-central France into Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. 

Somewhat drier conditions (2 mm or less) were noted in southern and northwestern France, southeastern England, northern Italy, and Hungary; in particular, dryness has adversely impacted vegetative to reproductive summer crops in northern Serbia and parts of Italy’s Po River Valley. 

More notably, pockets of heavy rain (25-100 mm) in central Spain and the lower Danube River Valley eased the impacts of last week's heat and boosted moisture reserves for reproductive corn, sunflowers, and soybeans. 

While temperatures over most of Europe averaged 2 to 5°C above normal, there were few concerns over heat stress with highs mainly in the lower to middle 30s.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

USDA in Moscow increase Russian grain production forecast to 113mmt

The USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in Moscow increased its total Russian grain production forecast by 3mmt to 113mmt.

This would make it the second highest grain crop in Russia’s post-Soviet period, second only to last years’ record grain crop of 119.4mmt.

FAS forecasts wheat at 68.0mmt (up 2.0mmt on their April forecast) and barley at 16.5mmt (up 0.5mmt).

The reason for the increased wheat and barley forecast is based on the reported good condition of the winter crops, which in the case of wheat is 65-70% of the total wheat crop, although winter barley is only 10-11% of the total barley crop.

The reported good condition comes from the Russian State Statistical Service (Rosstat) and as far as I can tell, no one from FAS has been out of the city limits to have a look at a crop.

They peg corn at 15.5mmt (up 0.2mmt) based on increased plantings; rye is 2.6mmt and oats 4.5mmt, both unchanged from April.

FAS forecasts grain exports in MY 2017/2018 at 38.0mmt, approximately 1.0mmt higher than their estimates for grain exports for last year which was the highest grain export estimate in Russian history.

The exports forecast include 28.0mmt of wheat, 3.3mmt of barley, 5.7mmt of corn, and 0.86mmt of other grains and pulses.

The attached picture is of our May/June team discussing the condition of crops in a field of corn in Novomikhalyovskoye, Stavropol Krai, Russia, who then went on to cover 2,500km crop touring through Russia and Ukraine.

Just saying.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Latest Black Sea crop prospects

Here are two reports from different sources on Ukraine weather conditions and crop prospects for the same week;
  • Showers maintained good to excellent summer crop prospects in Russia and eased drought in north-central Ukraine.
  • The weather conditions dominating Ukraine…were not very favourable for harvesting early cereals and growth and development of late crops.
Kind of a glass half full or half empty thing which for me only confuses the picture.

Heads-up then that we will be touring Ukraine and Russia later this month and during August, checking in on how the wheat and barley harvest is progressing, looking at the condition of corn, sunflower and soya and updating our yield forecasts.

Subscribe for results from the latest tour to find out if the glass is half full or half empty and if it's filled with homemade vodka or champanski.

Russia harvested 9.7 million tonnes of animal fodder

As of July 5, Russia harvested 9.7 million tonnes of animal forage feed.

According to the Ministry, the total demand for coarse and succulent forage for next winter is around 30mmt.

So far 2.6mmt of hay has been harvested, 6.4mmt of haylage, and 611kmt of silage.

Russia doesn't make much silage relying instead on hay and haylage to feed the national herd, both of which have lower feed quality.

Russia to reduce dependence on imported lysine

Russia’s first deputy Minister of Agriculture continues to target import substitution at every opportunity, this time it’s the amino acid, lysine.

Lysine is an essential amino acid which must be included in pig and poultry feeds, without it the animal is unable to combine other amino acids correctly and growth rates drop.

The Minister said that the consumption of the essential amino acid increased due to the growth of poultry and pig production and in 2016 Russian producers used around 100,000 tonnes of lysine with 97,000 tonnes imported.

The Minister went on to say the challenge is to increase production and to orient livestock producers in the domestic consumption of lysine and it is necessary to develop measures to reduce dependence on foreign supplies.

The annual consumption of lysine is predicted to be about 2% per year up to 2020.

Monday's Black Sea agri-business news

Engie SA, the French renewable energy developer, is holding discussions with the Ukrainian government about the possibility of building a large solar farm project in the uninhabited radioactive zone that rings the Chernobyl reactor, which blew up in 1986.

Engie is one of 60 companies to have expressed an interest in developing some form of renewable generating capacity at the site.

The Chernobyl exclusion zone is about 2,600-square kilometre of radiated land and has been largely absent of human activity for 30 years.

New York Times are reporting comments made on Friday by Francis Malige, MD at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, that if Ukraine overhauled its land legislation it could unlock $50 billion of collateral for lending to the country's agricultural industry.

Malige said there were around 45 million hectares of agricultural land in Ukraine and even by assigning a minimum value to it, that would provide "$40-50 billion of collateral you can put into the system".

Actually, there’s about 32mha of arable land of which about 20mha is cropped by agribusiness, so that would raise about $22 billion.

Talking of Ukraine agribusinesses, Kernel agricultural holding increased its landbank to 600,000 ha of leasehold farmland after the acquisition of Ukrainian Agrarian Investment (UAI) and Agro Invest Ukraine.

Last week, Russia announced they had extended the ban on imports until 31 December 2018.
The ban is on the import of certain categories of agricultural products, raw materials and food from the US, EU member countries, Canada, Australia, Norway, Ukraine, Albania, Montenegro, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The Russian minister of agriculture, Alexander Tkachev said he assumed the boycott will remain in force until at least 2020. 

Russia harvest four million tonnes of grain

As of July 7, Russia has harvested 933kha producing 4.1mmt of grain with the average yield of 4.44mt/ha.

This compares with 2.2mha in 2016 producing 9.6mmt with the average yield of 4.32mt/ha, so the pace of harvest is slower and early yield indications are lower.

Winter canola harvest stands at 28.5kha producing 54.7kmt with an average yield of 1.92mt/ha and 30.5kmt of early potatoes with an average yield of 22.26mt/ha.

Ukraine harvest two million tonnes of grain

As of July 7, Ukraine has harvested 683kha producing 2.1mmt of grain with an average yield of 3.10mt/ha; this represents 7% of the projected 9.4 million hectares and is made up of the following:
  • Wheat - 196,000ha (3% of 6.3mha) producing 615,000mt with an average yield of 3.14mt/ha;
  • Barley - 414,000ha (17% of 2.4mha) producing 1.3mmt with an average yield of 3.23mt/ha;
  • Peas - 73,000ha (19% of 383kha) producing 171,000mt with an average yield of 2.33mt/ha;
  • Canola - 41,000ha (5% of 821kha) producing 83,000mt with an average yield of 2.02mt/ha.
We don’t have much information on how this compares to last season as last year the Ministry didn’t release harvest data or released limited information infrequently, but looking back through my records I can see that as of 4 July the Ministry report 576kha of early grains and pulses harvested (502kha in 2015) so the pace of harvest is about the same.

Last year’s crop produced 2.0mmt with an average yield 3.5mt/ha (3.0mt/ha in 2015) so early overall yield indication are down although last year wheat was running at 3.7mt/ha and barley at 3.5mt/ha they are up.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Latest USDA weather update for western FSU

Showers maintained good to excellent summer crop prospects in Russia and eased drought in north-central Ukraine. 

In Russia, 60-day rainfall through July 1 has averaged 100 to 200 percent of normal, ensuring adequate to abundant moisture reserves as spring grains and summer crops approached or entered the reproductive stages of development. 

During the past week, showers and thunderstorms continued in Russia, albeit more variable, with totals in key southern corn and sunflower areas ranging from a trace to 42 mm. 

Widespread moderate to heavy rainfall (10-90 mm) was reported from Belarus into northern Russia, sustaining abundant moisture supplies for crop development.

In Ukraine, much-needed rain (10-24 mm) in central portions of the country eased drought, though 60-day precipitation totals remained below 50 percent of normal in many key growing areas. 

Elsewhere in Ukraine, moderate to heavy showers (10-40 mm) improved prospects for soybeans and corn in the west as well as vegetative sunflowers in east- central growing areas. 

Dry weather lingered over south- central Ukraine, increasing concerns over developing drought in areas just inland from the Black Sea Coast. 

Despite the much-needed rain in Ukraine, building heat (33-36°C) increased evapo-transpiration rates and largely offset the benefits of the past week’s rain.

Latest USDA weather update for eastern FSU

Favourable early-season conditions continued for vegetative to reproductive small grains in the north and cotton in the south. 

In the spring wheat belt of northern Kazakhstan and central Russia, dry, cool weather (up to 2°C below normal) was beneficial for heading to flowering spring barley (Volga and Urals Districts) as well as jointing spring wheat (northern Kazakhstan and environs); as of July 1, these same locales have reported 100 to 300 percent of normal precipitation over the past 60 days. 

In Russia’s Siberia District, well-placed showers and thunderstorms (10-60 mm, locally more) eased or eliminated short-term dryness and improved prospects for jointing to heading spring grains. 

Meanwhile, seasonably dry weather and near-normal temperatures (within 1°C of normal) promoted the development of flowering cotton (which is heavily irrigated) in eastern Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Latest USDA weather update for Europe

Widespread rain stabilized or boosted summer crop prospects over much of the continent, although excessive heat and localized drought adversely impacted southern Europe. 

Following recent hot weather, cooler conditions in Spain (1- 3°C below normal) as well as France, England, Germany, and northern Poland (1-3°C above normal, compared to up to 8°C above normal last week) eased or eliminated stress on vegetative to reproductive small grains and summer crops. 

Furthermore, widespread rain (10-70 mm, locally more) maintained or improved soil moisture as crops such as corn, soybeans, and sunflowers approached or entered the reproductive stages of development. 

Despite the cooler weather, irrigation requirements remained high for flowering cotton in southern Spain (Andalucía) due to an early end to the winter wet season. 

Farther east, excessive heat (35-41°C) and dryness in the lower Danube River Valley increased stress on vegetative to reproductive corn and sunflowers, though cooler, showery conditions had returned as of 3 July.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Ukraine's latest harvest update

Ukraine’s harvest of early grain and leguminous crops has started in southern and central regions including Kherson, Odessa, Nikolaev, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhya.

To date, a total of 95,000 hectares has been cut producing 313,900mt of grains with an average yield of 3.3mt/ha.

This total figure is all but pointless as it includes wheat, barley and peas combined but the Ukraine Ministry of Agriculture will insist on publishing week after week.

So far they have been kind enough to break this down into the individual crops but don’t expect it to last right through harvest.

Winter wheat stands at 10,200ha producing 28,000mt at an average yield of 2.75mt/ha;

Winter barley 80,800ha producing 275,900mt at an average yield of 3.42mt/ha;

Spring barley 2,800ha producing 6,700mt at an average yield of 2.39mt/ha;

Peas 1,300ha producing 3,200mt at an average yield of 2.56mt/ha.

Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy, commenting on his Facebook page said "Weather conditions in recent weeks is not quite favorable, leading to some reduction in yield of cereals to the record harvest last year, this reduction is not critical and will have no impact on food security, we expect high-quality wheat new crop, which will help increase exports of flour.”

Early Russian harvest lags behind last year

The current Russian harvest now stands at 85,500ha producing 380,800mt with an average yield of 4.45mt/ha.

At the same point, last year farmers had cut 486,000ha so they’ll need to push now if they are to catch up and support new crop exports to the same levels.

A couple of things in their favour that might help farmers speed up harvest.

Weather conditions in southern Russia, where the harvest is currently taking place, have improved which will help with dry down and keep combines moving.

Plus there is much less crop lying on the floor compared to this time last year which will help combines move through the crop at a faster rate and there is less straw about this year with shorter crops which will also improve the forward speed of the harvesters.

Although the pace of harvest is slower this year, the yield of 4.45mt/ha is slightly better than last year when it was running at 4.36mt/ha at the same point although it is very early to make any real call on that.

We'll continue to watch the numbers as the crop comes in.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Russia increases agri-production output

Russian poultry production for January to May increased by 5.4% compared to last year and reached 2.51mmt.

Egg production is also up 3.1% and reached 14.6 billion eggs compared to the same period last year.

Greenhouse vegetable production reached 433,500mt which is a substantial 36.3% more than the same period last year.

This included 325kmt of cucumber (+33.3%) and 101kmt tomatoes (+58%) which are now a protected industry in Russia.

Pig production increased by 5.7% compared to the same period last year and amounted to more than 1.46mmt.

Milk production increased by 3% or 181.6kmt compared to the same period last year and amounted to more than 6.4mmt.

The import substitution policy seems to be gaining traction, I wonder if we will see the same level of response in the UK post-Brexit?

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Latest USDA weather update for western FSU

Persistent wet weather in Russia contrasted with intensifying drought in north-central Ukraine.

Over western and southern Russia’s primary growing areas, another week with widespread moderate to heavy showers (5-50 mm, locally more) maintained adequate to abundant soil moisture for reproductive (north) to filling (south) winter wheat as well as vegetative small grains, corn, and sunflowers.

However, the persistent wetness raised concerns over grain quality and made early drydown and harvesting efforts difficult. 

In Ukraine, moderate to heavy showers (10-40 mm) were reported in all but drought-afflicted north-central growing areas.

As a result, crop areas bordering Russia, Belarus, and the immediate Black Sea Coast continued to experience good to excellent growing conditions for vegetative corn and soybeans (north and west) as well as sunflowers (east).

However, dryness and drought continued to adversely impact filling winter wheat and vegetative summer crops from west-central Ukraine into primary corn and soybean areas in north-central portions of the country (90-day rainfall locally less than 50 percent of normal).

Latest satellite-derived vegetation health data depicted a sharp gradient between severe crop stress in north-central Ukraine and good to excellent vegetation health from the Black Sea Coast into eastern Ukraine.

Latest USDA weather update for eastern FSU

Widespread showers in the north contrasted with sunny skies and seasonable heat in the south. 

A slow-moving cold front triggered 10 to 50 mm of rain over western spring grain areas, while more intermittent but locally heavy showers (2-33 mm) were reported in northeastern Kazakhstan and Russia’s Siberia District. 

Moisture supplies remained good to excellent for vegetative spring wheat and barley in northern Kazakhstan and neighboring portions of central Russia. 

Meanwhile, seasonably dry, hot weather (35-40°C) in Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan promoted the development of irrigated cotton, which was approaching the flowering stage of development by week’s end.

Latest USDA weather update for Europe

Dry, excessively hot weather adversely impacted spring grains and summer crops across the western half of the continent, while showers maintained favourable growing conditions in eastern Europe.

Temperatures during the 7-day period averaged 5 to 9°C above normal over western and central Europe. 

Daytime highs topped 40°C in central and southern Spain, while temperatures reached into the middle and upper 30s from northern Italy into France and western Germany. 

The heat was most detrimental on the Iberian Peninsula, where summer crops were approaching or progressing through reproduction 2 to 4 weeks ahead of average. 

In Spain, crops most likely impacted by the June heat wave included: vegetative (north) to reproductive corn was exposed to 14 days of highs greater than 35°C; budding to reproductive sunflowers in central and southern Spain were subjected to 13 days above 38°C; squaring to flowering cotton in southern Spain (Andalucía) was impacted by 8 days of 40-degree heat since June 12. 

As a result, heat and drought have lowered summer crop yield potential over most of the Iberian Peninsula, though the arrival of cooler weather on June 26 signalled an end to the record-setting heat wave. 

Excessive heat (36-38°C) also pushed into key summer crop areas of southwestern France, but corn had not yet reached the temperature-sensitive tassel stage. 

Warmth and dryness also cut the yield potential for non-irrigated summer crops in northern Italy, though the heat (31-37°C) has not been as widespread or intense. 

On the other hand, the sunny, hot weather facilitated winter crop drydown and harvesting, particularly over northern France and southeastern England. 

Meanwhile, widespread showers (3-20 mm, locally more) over eastern Europe moistened topsoils for vegetative summer crops in advance of the approaching heat.

USDA forecasts Kazakhstan wheat production down 13% on last year

The latest USDA forecasts for Kazakhstan wheat production pegs the crop at 13.0mmt, down 2.0mmt on last year’s crop, with exports remaining the same at 7.0mmt.

The reason the USDA give for the reduction is a drop in planted hectares which is in line with the government policy to reduce milling wheat hectares in favour of feed grains, presumably to convert into meat, milk and eggs for added value exports.

Another explanation could be the Kazakh Governments Master Plan for “The stabilisation of the grain market” sets various goals and targets such as increasing crop production by 30% and as feed wheat generally yields more than milling wheat, that could be one way of reaching the target.

Although having said that, the Kazakh growing season is short so yields are pretty low anyway so I can’t believe there is much difference in feed over milling wheat, in truth, I really have no idea what the Kazakh Government are thinking.

Weather conditions in the spring and early part of the growing season have largely been good with The Kazakhstani Weather Service reporting that water deposits at the depth of one meter are expected to reach optimal levels.

I’d like to get over to Kazakhstan next month to conduct a rapid crop tour of the northern regions where most of the wheat is grown to check condition ahead of harvest if we can raise the funds.

Drop me a line if you'd like to help cover some of our costs and receive a report on our findings.

Russian grain harvest officially started

The Russian harvest has officially started in Adygea, Dagestan and Krasnodar.

The Ministry report that adverse weather conditions delayed spring sowing and seasonal field work and as a result harvest has started two weeks later than last year, which I’m not sure is entirely accurate as the first crops harvested will be overwintered cereals particularly barley, which would have been planted last autumn.

As of June 26, they have cut 30,500 hectares and harvested 117.9kmt of grains with an average yield of 3.87mt/ha.

That compares with 258,800 hectares last year producing 1.1mmt with an average yield of 4.42mt/ha.

The full harvest will really get going in the Southern and North Caucasian Federal District during the first two weeks of July.

(The Russian Ministry of Agriculture also includes the Republic of Crimea in their harvest reports.)