Sunday, 23 December 2012

Summary 2011-2012

Dry 2011 autumn

Cold winter

Very low levels of winter kill

Normal spring rainfall

Autumn planted crop yields down

Wet autumn

Prices up

Don't look back in anger...2012 review

The last twelve months has been busy busy busy; the shortage of blog posts attest to that.  A new baby due in the new year means I make no promises that my output will increase in 2013 but we'll see.
2012 started cold, very cold even by Ukrainian standards with temperatures in January falling as low as -35 Celsius and grain markets reacted accordingly.
One of the mysteries to me that is why does a rumour in January about a crop that can’t be seen under a thick blanket of snow, that won’t be harvested until August affect the grain price in Chicago?
That thick blanket of insulating snow meant there was no significant additional winter-kill and crops came out of the winter pretty much in the same condition as they went in.  The rumours were in fact just that; rumours.
Drought in the autumn had meant germination was patchy and poor looking wheat and rape going in to the winter still looked poor once the snow melted but it was all still there.
By the end of February temperatures returned to normal and spring weather started to arrive in March.
Soils quickly soaked up the melt water and field work started almost immediately giving some indication how dry the soils had been.
Planting started in April with record hectares of maize going in on the back of encouragement from the local administration.
Rain and warm temperatures in May saw crops speed through the growth stages with the first barley crops being cut in Crimea by the end of June.
Harvest was well underway by August with oilseed rape up on last year with official figures at 2.2mt/ha and wheat down at less than 3.0mt/ha.
New crop rape, wheat and barley started going back in to the ground in September in to pretty much ideal conditions, moist warm soils and warm weather encouraged good germination and early plant growth; very different to 2012.
October and an election saw the ruling party retain majority.
The rest of the harvest progressed through the autumn with official figures currently running at sunflowers 1.6mt/ha; maize 4.7mt/ha; soya 1.7mt/ha.
The wheat export ban came in to force in November then was off then back on again then no one seemed to know for sure.  It was reported that traders and the government agreed that once wheat exports exceed 5.5mmt a voluntarily restriction would come in to force.  At the time of writing export figures run at 5.6mmt.
Winter has arrived two weeks early with snow and sub-zero temperatures drawing the season to an early close.
In summary 2012 was a reasonable farming year but another difficult year in which to do business.