Monday, 19 March 2012

Please do not leave your valuables unattended

Passing plenty of trucks on the road loaded with big bags of nitrogen.

The season is getting underway as the first top dressing goes on.

Either that or it's being nicked.

Rumour has it that one large ag company, who shall remain nameless, were losing over half their inputs over the course of a season.

Make scousers look like mere amateurs.

I told you it was wet

Wheat in the north earlier today; see how wet it is as the ice melts.

Funny thing is even though you can't walk on this and driving is a bit like trying to herd a cow on ice, given a couple of good drying days you will see dust picking up.

Water just slides straight through with little organic matter to hang on to it you see, typically 2-3%.

We need to talk about Kiev

Lovely weather in Lviv this weekend; almost shirt sleeves with people out and about on the streets enjoying a beer in the warmish sunshine.

Crops are starting to wake up and recover from the worst of the winter excesses; sunshine and nitrogen do wonders at this time of year. 

Incidentally nitrogen fertiliser price seems to have dropped a smidgen as farmers have delayed purchases.

Spring is sweeping in from the west with snow and ice rapidly melting the further north and east you travel; correspondingly conditions are wet underfoot as the ice thaws but dries quickly in the wind.

My biggest concern is that we have not received sufficient winter rain or snow to replace soil moisture depleted by autumn drought. 

Coupled with poor root development particularly amongst the cereals it won't take long before we are looking at drought stress. 

Hard to believe right now but if we don't see some rain soon then we may be talking drought sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Update from Russia #2

Further south this time from Stavropol. 

My mate who sent me the picture said he went out with a broom and brushed the snow off the crop and was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the wheat underneath considering it hadn't seen daylight in four months. 

I read a recent insightful weather report from Russia that suggested it was going to remain cold and then get hotter. 

Like it does every year then?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Russian wheat update

Here is a picture of wheat in the Russian region of Kursk taken yesterday. 

If what we are seeing in Ukraine is anything to go by then that level of snow cover will have given more than adequate protection from the very low January temperatures.

I'll strive to update on Russia once the snow disapears.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The seasons are a changing

It's true but how fast and when is it time to plant?

Here is the soil temperature for central Ukraine; by taking a trend line it is possible to estimate the planting times for sunflower and maize. 

Assuming a soil temperature requirement of 6 degrees for sunflower and 10 degrees for maize the current trend line indicates we will reach those temperatures on 27th March and 4th April.

But you need to apply some farmer wisdom to the data; from experience we are usually in to the second week in April before the soil has warmed up enough to give confidence at planting. 

The temptation is always to go early in a bid to get started and when you have 10kha of planting ahead you can understand why.

Friday, 9 March 2012

At last! The internet has a purpose!

Last night I went to a seminar at Kansas State University on Nitrogen Performance and Losses hosted by agronomy professor, Barney Gordon Ph.D.

I say I went, what I actually did was sit in my kitchen and log on to a webinar event then listened to Barney while watching his slides. 

No travelling, no overnight, I was able to have me dinner at the same time and it was possible to ask questions; brilliant!

My question which phased them a bit as it came from "the Ukraine" was; could Barney elaborate on the implications of applying nitrogen to winter wheat on to snow covered fields like they are currently doing here in Ukraine.

In a nutshell Barney said not a good idea.

Maybe I should do a webinar?  Drop me a line if you think it's a good idea, if there is sufficient interest perhaps I could do an update from Ukraine.

Webinars; brilliant idea, crap name.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Womens day in Ukraine

Today is a very important day in Ukraine; today is women's day!

Essentially it is a day off work when women receive flowers and chocolates and men get drunk.

The day off work runs in to a couple of day so that's the weekend then, back to work on Monday. 

Seemingly random holidays occur throughout the calendar in Ukraine, I don't begrudge a holiday or two but I estimate that productivity runs at about 70% because of all the holidays.

There are about three separate Christmas's for starters, then there's Women's Day (men's day isn't a holiday); Defenders of Stalingrad Day; Red Army day; Labour Day; Victory Day; each city has a City Day; Constitution Day; Independence Day (I thought that was a film with Will Smith); Day of Knowledge Day; October Revolution Day; Fat Yuri Sings the Blues Day; Named Days; Tractor Drivers Day; Pig Farmers Day, Traffic Police Day (that is a holiday I support) and so it goes on.

Anyhoo congratulations to Wives, Mothers, Daughters and Sisters everywhere and remember; there is one thing worse than a male chauvinist pig and that's a woman who won't do as she is told.

Monday, 5 March 2012

It's alive!

Check this out; tiny oilseed rape plants four days after the snow melted having survived sub-zero temperatures.

I would have put my house on plants this small not surviving an average Ukrainian winter let alone one with temperatures down to minus 30.

I reckon this stuff would grow in the Arctic if you could get a subsoiler to break the pan first.

Cold pork

Temperatures dropped a little at the start of this week which shouldn't do any harm to the plants emerging from the snow.

The great thing about the cold is that the muppet traffic police have to stand out in it and freeze their doodads off in an attempt to extort their monthly quota of bribes and made up on the spot fines.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Freeze punk!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Harvesting corn in March is snow joke

Here is a crop of standing corn taken yesterday when the snow was still about. 

There is a fair bit of corn left from last year which will add to 2011 stocks once it's cut and at today's CPT price of 1,900UAH (237USD) I suspect a lot of it will get cut.

No idea what the quality will be like, I'm told it should be fine and that it is common practice to leave un-harvested crops standing through the winter in Iowa.  Is this true?

Spring has arrived!!!

Driving in to the office this morning which currently involves a two hour commute along some of the worst roads imaginable and I was greeted by the sight of green'ish fields completely free from snow.

How very strange because the day before it was white out with Arctic like snow drifts coming off the fields and falling snow. 

They say 24 hours is a long time in politics, it also seems to be true of agronomy.

I pulled over for look at some oilseed rape and it didn't look half bad at all, I may even go as far to say it looked the best I've ever seen coming out of a Ukrainian winter for some time. 

It was only about 200ha so not exactly a representative sample but as early indications go I think we may have a decent foundation for the 2012 crop.