Friday, 30 April 2010

The IMF are Coming

An IMF mission will visit Ukraine next month for talks on a new credit programme, according to the Kyiv Post.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Tigipko said Ukraine was seeking a $19 billion programme though he said the IMF had not given a firm answer on this.

I’ll give a firm prediction and I reckon its a resounding "Nyet” pal.

The IMF suspended a $16.4 billion bailout programme last year because the previous Ukrainian leadership failed on pledges of financial restraint.

If I was the IMF I would be looking for greater assurances than merely a change of Government.

We should know the outcome sometime in June, I'll keep you "Kyiv" posted.

Sugar Beet

Sugar beet looks like a viable spring crop option for this year and probably next.

Ukraine sugar beet area has decreased from 610,000ha in 2007 to 380,000ha in 2008 with a reduction in sugar production from 2.3MMT in 2007 to 1.3MMT in 2009.

From that 1.3MMT, 900,000MT is on contract to processors such as Kraft and PepsiCo. That leaves a domestic production balance of only 400,000MT.

Domestic consumption currently stands at 150 – 180,000MT/month, Ukrainians like sugar.

This means that Ukraine is effectively sugar free for 10 months of the year.

Ukraine will have to import raw and refined sugar from countries such as India and Brazil and sugar production in India has declined as farmers have opted for rice and wheat production rather than sugar cane.

After WTO accession, Ukraine negotiated a limit on the amount of imported raw cane sugar to 267,800MT for 2010. Additionally the weak Hrivner has reduced the profitability of importing raw cane sugar and will more than likely encourage exports rather than imports.

All these factors indicate a short fall in domestic supply against demand, a scenario that suggests an increase in the price of domestic sugar.

Is sugar beet an opportunity worth further investigation?

Some people obviously think so as sugar beet planting in Ukraine has jumped by 30%.

Parliament in Action

Good to see Parliament was getting down to business earlier in the week, dealing with poverty by managing the economy through reasoned democratic debate and sound argument.

This lot make John "Two Jabs" Prescott look like a right girls blouse.

Fertiliser Quality

We bought 300 tons of 16:16:16 fertiliser, had it analysed only to find it was 9:15:18! It's that sort of thing that makes farming in Ukraine difficult.

We went to have a look at another supplier who had a factory based in a an ex-Kalashnikov factory. Truly a case of swords in to ploughshares.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Out of Office

Off on me hols for a few days, back later in the week.

Thunder Storm

It's the first thunder storm of the season in Kiev tonight. "So what" I hear you say, well local wisdom has it that the first thunder storm signifies the end of winter, no more snow or late frosts. Get the maize and soya drills out boys!

Oilseed Rape Plant Populations

The following pictures are from harvest 2009.

This is a crop that had about 30 to 40 plants and yielded over four tons.

The guy who grew this crop thought he would increase the yield by doubling the seed rate, I kid you not. Double the seed rate, double the yield, right? Wrong knob head, this was over 100 plants per meter and came in at less than one ton.

Ukrainian OSR growers don't know how to grow the crop

Or any other crop for that matter, otherwise they wouldn’t be producing such low yields. Disagree? Just look at the wheat yield below.

Source: SSC and DEFRA

OSR is generally drilled at too high plant populations which looks productive but as the plants are rammed in tight together they fail to branch out and don't produce much in the way of pods and seed.

When growers see a low plant population like we are experiencing this year the urge to disc it in and start again with a spring crop such as cereals, sunflowers, maize, soya or heaven forbid spring rape becomes overwhelming.

These low plant population crops could still produced a respectable yield given the right management and fair wind or at the very least not increase the level of expenditure.

Wheat and OSR Update

A quick shuffty at wheat, oilseed rape and sunflower drilling.

Pesticide Problems

Looks like the rumours about pesticide availability might be true. 

I have been trying to source about 80 thousand quids worth of various chemicals for immediate application and I keep getting told that they are stuck at the border. 

Well known suppliers have been trying to bribe the custom officials with presumably serious amounts of wedge but to no avail. 

This could get serious.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Agronomy Update

Just got back from the farm, I will write in more detail tomorrow but a brief synopsis goes like this;

winter wheat at GS30, early drilled just moving into GS31, very clean, septoria not moved in dry conditions, no pests, looking very good;

winter oilseed rape responding to nitrogen, between GS14 & 18, largest plants at early green bud, few pollen beetle present, no disease, need to redrill about 10-15% of crops;

spring barley emerging with vigour;

sunflower drilling, fertilising and spraying well underway;

soya drilling to follow.

Weather dry, sunny but cool which is delaying plant development.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Out of Office

Car fixed, off to the farms, back in a day or two with an update.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Growth Stages

Worth reminding ourselves about key Growth Stages at this time of the year.

GS30 (Стадии роста 30) when the plant gives the appearance of going in to stem extension, hence the descriptive name, pseudostem erect .  Wheat is currently at this stage.

GS31 (Стадии роста 31), first node detectable, the main top dressing needs to go on about this time.

GS32 (Стадии роста 32), second node detectable, time to get that T1 fungicide on.

Soya Fungicides

Anyone grow soya? What, if any fungicides do you use? Last year we used carbendazim plus a conazole. I would be interested to hear from anyone growing soya to discuss fungicide options.

Back in the Office

Looks like the car will take a bit longer to fix so back in the office for the day. Better that than breaking down in in the Boondocks.

Am I alone in thinking that this volcano malarkey with the constant reports about Brits "stranded" abroad is wearing a bit thin?

I was just listening to some BBC reporter wittering on about the fate of holiday makers stranded in Spain. Stranded in Spain! I would love to be stranded in Spain, what a result that would be, "hello, is that HR, yes, sorry I can't get back from my hols in Spain, it's the volcano you know, see you in another week or so". Olé!


Cars bust, waiting for the guy to come and fix it. It might take some time as we don't have the AA out here although come to think of it that could be a market opportunity for someone.

In the meantime I understand that EasyJet are itching to get flying again but as a precaution they are issuing parachutes via their website for the first dozen flights out of Luton.

Easy'chute only costs an extra fifty quid, just click on the box next to insurance, baggage, speedy boarding etc...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Out of Office

I'm out and about from early tomorrow morning, should be back on Thursday with some more updates on crop condition and sowing reports.

It looks a bit dusty out there, which reminds me, what's the difference between Cheryl Cole and the Icelandic volcano? The volcano is still blowing Ash!

When they do declare the airspace is safe to fly, who wants to be on that first plane up?


There are some monsters lurking in Ukrainian soil, check this guy out.

Pollen Beetle

Pollen Beetle - Цветоед рапсовый - (Meligethes aeneus) has now emerged on oilseed rape and under the current dry conditions will rapidly increase. The numbers are relatively low at the moment, half a dozen or so per plant but as plants are very backwards the effect will be much more significant. We need to get an insecticide on pretty sharpish.

Pollen Beetle emerge when the soil reaches 10 degrees C, last year they emerged on 8th April so about a week behind at the moment.

And the Cranes are back, although they might be Storks!

Wheat Update

A quick look at spring barley sowing accompanied by the Soviet Army Chorus and Band and some winter wheat.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Every cloud...

Stopped only once by the police, brief document check, no bribe and a cheery "on you go, sir". And a result elsewhere!

Outside one of our farm bases there was a pretty gruesome crash involving a sleeping lorry driver and a Lada, suffice to say the Lada came off worse and he won't be worrying about his no claims anymore. Anyhow, the local constabulary needed some place to park the lorry and what was left of the Lada while they carry out some sort of investigation. As a result I met the local Chief of Police who kindly issued me with a "get out of jail card" to flash at the local plod next time they stop me.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Out of Office

I'm off to the Boondocks to see how the crops are looking and to give our sunflower planting campaign a kick start. I should be back in a day or two with some pics.

I'm taking bets on how many times the police stop me and the level of bribe. "Stopped twice, 20 quid" is odds on favourite with "stopped once, no bribe" 100 to 1 outsider and "stopped three times, thirty quid" looking strong.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Prices, Prices, Prices!

I have been collecting quotes for chemicals from a number of suppliers. What strikes me is the similarity in prices between suppliers until you start to discuss terms. And what terms. 100% deferred payment until harvest! Sounds great, sign me up, that will really help with the cash flow. That is until you see the prices hike up by 30%. Effectively a loan for five months that's gonna cost you an extra 30%. Not so great.

Health and Safety gone mad!

Legislation was passed recently that said all food items must be labelled "БЕЗ ГМО" meaning "without GMO".

Admirable I suppose as the government is trying to look after our health by making sure we don’t inadvertently scoff any nasty GMO stuff, but probably unenforceable considering the amount of GMO stuff knocking about in the food chain.

Clock this, it’s a bottle of water with "БЕЗ ГМО" stamped on it...’elf an’ safety gone mad, innit!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Agronomy Update

As if to remind us that we have not long emerged from the winter, the spring weather has turned a lot cooler. Daytime temperature are rising into double figures but wind chill on exposed sites makes this feel colder.

Winter oilseed rape has had a hard time of it this winter, growers all over Ukraine are reporting poor looking crops. While it is tempting to consider redrilling and many farms are doing just that, any income from a second crop has to cover the establishment costs of the failed crop.

However even a low yielding oilseed rape crop can still be cost effective if managed accordingly.

Oilseed rape has the ability to “bounce back” from adversity and even very low plant populations can still produce economic yields if managed correctly. The pictures from last year show the same variety in the same field but at high and low populations.

At this time the advice would be to wait and see how the crops respond to sunshine and nitrogen before a final decision is made on redrilling all but the poorest looking areas.

Winter wheat, there is a lot of Septoria about this year and it’s already spreading on to new leaves.
The timing of the T1 fungicide will be critical to ensure maximum response.

Spring cereal drilling under way as evidenced by the drills out and about.

Sunflower, Soya, Maize cultivations are now underway in preparation for the start of the drilling although not seen any drilling taking place yet, probably best to wait for soil temperatures to rise a little more.

31 March 2010

Weather and soil conditions continue improve, the last of the snow has cleared and plant growth is well under way. The warmer night time temperatures will allow soil temperature to increase.

Winter oilseed rape conditions are variable with the later emerged crops in the more exposed sites having faired the worst. Plant populations vary from very low to satisfactory.

Winter wheat is at three to four leaves with none to three tillers (GS14:23). Plant populations are generally satisfactory although there is plenty of septoria knocking about.

25 March 2010

General Agronomy Update

Early days yet but reports are starting to come in about the condition of crops as they emerge from beneath the snow.

So far it appears plenty of plants have survived the winter and it’s not necessarily bad as some sources have previously hinted.

As the land dries out over the next week we will be better able to get out on to the fields and see a clearer picture. There will be crop losses as is normal for this part of the world but it is just a matter of how much.

It should be noted that winter kill is often misdiagnosed as winter kill when it is fungal diseases such as Light Leaf Spot or Typhula Snow Rot; both of which can be managed with good agronomic practice.

We still need to see new leaves emerge to assess the vigour of plants but given this weeks warm weather that should only be a matter of days now.

Weather forecast for the next four days is warm and dry with daytime temperatures up to 15oC and nigh time around 3 to 4oC. The warmer night time temperatures will allow soil temperature to increase.