Monday, 25 July 2011

How long will it take to load?

Ever bought grain from Ukraine and wondered why it took so long for it to be delivered? 

This picture might go some way to answering that question.

This is fairly typical and goes someway to illustrate the not insignificant investment required to bring the industry up to speed.

Harvest update

Harvest is a bit stop start with the odd shower slowing things down but not to the point that we would call it a wash out. Not yet anyway.

Reported yields are variable but seem on the upper side so we might see a half decent crop this year and the price is not looking too shabby either.

What effect the newly imposed export tax has we will have to wait and see but Black Sea grain is currently priced keenly or is that just all the spare old grain they have suddenly found in Russia?

Are they watching me?

My blog is essentially me wittering on about farming in Ukraine and other stuff that gets my goat. 

Every now and then I get sneaky feeling that I'm being watched and wonder if they authorities take the same tongue in cheek view of my opinion as I do. 

This boat has been parked outside my house for three days now.  Do you think they are watching me?

Monday, 18 July 2011

Harvest roundup

My contacts from around the regions are telling me that winter wheat is starting to come off at:

Central - 3.0MT/HA
SE - 3.0MT/HA
SSE - 2.8 MT/HA
Central West 5.0MT/HA
West 7.0MT/HA

So what can we deduce?  Not a lot other than some farms are much better than others and there is a great deal of variability behind the headlines.

I will update this as I get further reliable reports.

Sunflowers are in the sun and in flower

Sunflowers are well in flower with the later sown crops catching up in the sun and heat, currently 30 degrees plus during the day.

Should we spray a fungicide against sclerotinia and botrytis?

Many are recommending that we do; my feeling is that it is unrealistic to expect a few grams of active to penetrate and translocate through such a large plant to do any good.

Also the average yield for nine of the top producers in Ukraine was 2.3MT/HA over the last two years with a range from 2.1 to 2.6MT/HA.

I just can’t see applying $60 to $70 worth of chemicals at this stage will be economic.

I would appreciate any thoughts from those who have been growing SF for longer that I have, drop me a line at

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Wizard of Oz?

The all knowing Ministry of Agriculture has reported that grain has sprouted on 1.5% of crops, 5.2% has fallen over and 1% just died.

Surely they didn't just make that up?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ukraine’s a weird place sometimes

Driving between two farms last week, literally in the back end of nowhere (not far from Chernobyl as it happens) when I passed the Olympic torch carrier.

OK so it wasn’t the Olympic torch as that won’t be coming out of the UK after the Chinese PR catastrophe when they took it around the world and had to fight off demonstrators along the way.

No idea who this guy was but there was a police escort and support group and he seemed really pleased that I stopped and took a photo.

Maize is looking good

Unlike the News of the Screws which has finally been chucked in to the bin of obscurity where it should have been relegated to about three decades ago along with those other beacons of good taste and tolerance, Love They Neighbour and Jim Davidson.

The rain has really pushed the maize along and many crops are evening up and filling out (see picture); are we about to see a bumper 2011 crop?

Tempting to say yes but we still have a long way to go.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Caught by the fuzz!

Regularly getting stopped by the police and paying a bribe goes with the territory but every now and then it goes beyond a joke.

It was 5:30am just outside Lviv at the police checkpoint (yes, they still have checkpoints along with gates to close the road; behaving like an occupying force was a characteristic inherited from soviet times).

The reason I’m on the road in the pouring rain at 5:30 in the morning is because I am working.

Arguably so was this guy but unlike him while I am working for personal financial gain I am also contributing to society.

I am growing food; grain, meat, milk, sugar, oil, at the same time creating jobs, prosperity and well-being for many, many, many individuals which goes towards improving the overall economy by spreading wealth, security and opportunity throughout the wider community.

Pebbles in pond if you will.

Numb nuts of the Yard on the other hand is a drunk, fat, illiterate, work shy, barely educated, bigoted leach of a man who preys on the very people he is supposed to be serving for nothing more than his own personal greed and contributes the sum total of nothing to the greater good of society.

He is universally hated and loathed by everyone, is surrounded by choking negativity, despised by all he comes in to contact with, has no friends outside the job, wears a crappy uniform to work that involves nothing more cerebral than standing on the side of the road bullying people.

In short he is a vacuous loser with halitosis and a 70’s moustache.

That feels much better.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Sugar beet

Is looking good and will have enjoyed God’s irrigation.

Like with all spring crops this year, pre-emergence weed control has not worked well lacking moisture to activate it.

Sugar beet unlike other crops however, does compete reasonably well once canopy closure occurs.

I think we might be looking at the makings of a decent sugar yield.


Are starting to flower, at least the very earliest crops are and their cheery little yellow faces have lifted the otherwise grey conditions of last week.

The main crop (pictured) is still a little off flowering but generally looks good.

We will need to keep an eye on botrytis after the recent rains; I’m not sure how much of a risk that is likely to be.

Disease update

All that wet weather has encouraged the usual appearance of late diseases in the cereal crops with sooty moulds, septoria and fusarium all vying for space on the ear.

This seems to be a perennial issue in Ukraine and some crops I have seen have had a full and robust fungicide programme so I’m not sure what more you could do about it.

This may be one of those specifically Ukrainian issues that limit the yield potential until we do a bit more research in to how to manage late ear diseases in a wet continental climate.

Expect to see a yield penalty as a result.

The rain has stopped...

…and the sun has come back out.

Reports coming from the min of ag that suggested harvest was going to be a wash out might have been a little premature as we return to near normal weather with forecast of 30+ over the weekend.

I even spotted some harvested barley (pictured) yesterday in Zhitomir oblast.

Earlier this week I was wearing a jumper and waterproof jacket and just for a minute as I sat in the car watching the rain pour out of the sky I actually thought it was autumn and four months had mysteriously disappeared from my memory.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

This weeks Numb Nuts award goes to...

...Yuri at the Apple store in Kiev.

I need a new phone and I decided to take the plunge and invest in an iPhone, so I visited the Apple Store in Dreamtown (a particularly garish shopping mall along the lines of the American model, I imagine) to buy a phone.

"We don't sell iPhone 4" says Yuri "cos they're illegal in Ukraine."  Eh?

"But we do sell iPods." 

Which admittedly do look a bit like an iPhone with one minor difference. 

It's not a phone.  Classic.

Weather update

It has been raining quite a lot over the last week or so; enough to make a difference to many spring planted crops which are now looking much better.

Coupled with cooler temperatures of late and we currently have a very good growing period.

The dry weather at spring planting and emergence will have encouraged roots to go deep looking for moisture which will mean the root system will be better suited to keeping the crop growing longer during the dry period that will inevitably return.

This is in direct contrast to last years wet spring in which roots didn't go deep because they didn't have to so when the drought hit plants couldn't find water and struggled to keep growing.

That's the theory anyhow.