Monday, 20 June 2011

Harvest has started... Crimea with the first 35,000MT already in the bin or more likely piled up in heaps in open sided sheds, not much call for driers and bins in Crimea you see, too hot and dry to need anything so complicated.

The minister for agriculture held a press conference to announce the start of harvest but would not be drawn on putting a figure to yield estimates for this years harvest despite having already done just that about four weeks ago.

He acknowledged that high temperature and dry weather of late might have done for his initially optimistic 45MMT of grain. 

Here's another picture of the maize I mentioned earlier, perhaps the minister should get out more.

Weather update

The weather data for central Ukraine certainly seems to correlate with what we are seeing on the ground as per the picture in the previous post.
You can see the full data set at the USDA website here for all parts of Ukraine but the information is essentially the same in all regions; dry.

Rain has started to fall but it tends to be localised thunderstorms at this time of the year; localised as in it might fall in one village and not in the next only 5km away. 

Any rain we are getting is very welcome but for many crops will be too late to lift yields.

Who said farming was easy?

Amazing it ain't

Check out this picture I took of maize sitting somewhere in eastern Ukraine, click on the picture to make it bigger.

I made a road trip at the weekend from Kiev to Russia, all 500km there and 500km back and most of the maize looked like this. 

To put a figure on it I would estimate that 70% of what I could see from the road between Kiev and Sumy was in this condition or worse.

The dry weather has affected establishment, subsequent growth and pre-emergence chemicals have failed to activate.

A lot of the wheat wasn't doing too well either. 

Friday, 10 June 2011

Top idea of the week

The ministry of agriculture has proposed to the government that they should increase the basic value of farmland by 70%.

You can tell the min of ag is just brim full of bright sparks sitting around all day conjuring up one cracking idea after another; but how do they propose to follow up on this particular superlative idea?

When I sold my house I proposed that it was worth oodles of cash; unfortunately the buyer disagreed and offered me a price based on recent market transactions of similar gaffs in the area.

Isn’t that how markets work?

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Crop Update - wheat

Winter wheat is in flower with the earliest crops forming grain.

The dry weather has kept disease development subdued and the majority of crops are looking clean with large green flag leaves doing their job.

Mildew that was about earlier in the season has failed to move and if it is in a crop it is low down in the canopy and at low levels. Still worth keeping an eye on though as it can move quickly if weather changes.

The dry weather is just starting to stress plants particularly in the middle of the day when heat and light intensity mean transpiration rates exceed water uptake rates and the stomata close down in order to regulate water loss.

Harvest estimates at this stage are still good.

Farming is farming is farming

A regular comment I hear from my Ukrainian farming colleagues is "...that's all well and good in Europe but here in Ukraine the soil/sun/rain/snow is different so it won't work here!"

Distilled down to its essence, crop farming is the act of putting seed in the ground, nurturing it and harvesting the results. 

Doesn't matter where in the world you are, that's it. 

What changes is the timing of putting the seed in the ground and the nurturing and the harvesting but the fundamental act remains the same.

To that end I noticed that poppies are now in full flower in Ukraine as they are in England which suggests that any difference between timing is actually very small. 

Which to my mind suggests that modern farming practices and techniques are equally valid in Ukraine as in Europe and America and Ukraine is not some special place that only local agronomists know how to farm.

Remind me again what average yields are in Ukraine? 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Local land for sale to local people, are you local?

Interesting turn of events, the Ukrainian government has said that when they finally lift the moratorium on land sale sometime next year it will only be to Ukrainian nationals.

The thought is that they want to stop the mass acquisition of Ukraine land by foreign companies.

You’re not going to lose any votes with that one but I suspect in reality it will be more complicated if not impossible to implement or enforce.

If a company is registered in Cyprus does that mean it’s still local?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Now that is a coincidence

Ukraine and Russia announce in the same week they will be lifting their respective export restrictions.

The more sceptical amongst you might suggest the two separate items are indeed actually connected.

I couldn’t possibly comment.

The grain export ban is finally lifted…

…to be replaced with export duties which I’m sure still contravene WTO rules but hey, you can’t have everything.

Duties are 9% for wheat, 12% for maize and 14% for barley.

The bullish crop reports coming out of Ukraine, which will no doubt be helped by the end of then ban are based on uncorroborated announcements from ministries and government bodies that estimated yields and crop areas are up this year.

Crops do look very good at the moment but they always do in May and June and last year it was the weather conditions in late July and August that did for yields.

Plants are not showing signs of drought stress just yet but rain would be welcomed.

There is still a long way to go to harvest.