Wednesday, 21 August 2013

USDA weekly weather bulletin August 20

Scattered showers (5-25 mm or more) and seasonably warm weather in the Baltics, Belarus, western Ukraine, and the western Central District in Russia continued to benefit immature spring grains and summer crops. 

Elsewhere, hot, mostly dry weather in eastern Ukraine, the Southern District in Russia, and southern and eastern portions of the Volga District in Russia hastened crop development and amplified evaporative losses, aiding small grain maturation and harvesting but increasing stress on immature summer crops. 

Temperatures in these latter regions averaged 3 to 6°C above normal, with daily maximum temperatures routinely in the lower to middle 30s degrees C.

Drier-than-normal July weather accelerated the harvesting of winter grains and oilseeds from northern Ukraine into western and southern Russia. 

Meanwhile, spotty showers in central and eastern Ukraine provided some soil moisture for reproductive summer crops, although a lack of stressful heat maintained overall favorable corn and sunflower yield prospects. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Harvest and planting update

Weather conditions have generally been kind for oilseed rape and wheat harvest with both crops now all but finished.

Oilseed rape gross yields are reported somewhere around 2.3mt/ha, similar to last year.

According to ministry 61,000 hectares or 7% of the forecast 924,000 hectares of winter oilseed rape has already been planted. 

My records suggest that’s a slight decrease on last years planted are but we still have a three week planting window to go.

Current local spot price for oilseed rape is a paltry 3,100uah/mt (382usd/mt); this time last year oilseed rape was selling at a more respectable 4,400uah/mt (541usd/mt).

Wheat yields are up on 2012 with the ministry of agriculture’s current official estimate hovering around 3.4mt/ha (last year it was 2.9mt/ha).

Local spot price for 3rd class wheat is 1,200uah (148usd/mt) compared to 1,700uah/mt (210usd/mt) at the same time last year.

Corn is looking good at the moment with this season’s weather playing a big role in helping the crop germinate, grow and pollinate well.  A recent cool spell coincided with corn pollination which helped seed set. 

Current estimations are pegging corn at 5.95mt/ha although the feeling is the price will be low.

Sunflower harvest is away in the south with early yields coming in a smidge over 1.0mt/ha.

Soya is looking good as it generally does at this time of year and early predictions are for a reasonable crop but who make money on soya in Ukraine?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The problem with Ukraine is...

Ukraine has land, lots of it; 32 million hectares of large flat arable fields.

Ukraine has a great climate; an intense growing season that turns the country from drab winter greys to a vibrant green jungle inside of a week and allows all the major commodities to flourish.

Ukraine has soil; deep, fertile, easily worked stuff, even the Nazis, not best known for their agronomy skills, recognised the potential, shovelled it in to wagons and carted it back to Berlin.

Ukraine is perfectly located to market; 400m next door in soon to be annexed Europe, 140m in the former colony Russia and a further 500m hungry souls just though the Bosporus in the Mediterranean and North African countries.

So why does Ukraine's agricultural productivity not reach the much hyped potential?

I could write a thesis on the subject but today I am going to pick specifically on contractors.

There aren't any.  At least not any that behave like contractors.  There are farmers and chancers that portray themselves as contractors but in reality no contractors.

Take one contractor I use for example - I'll call him Sergey.

Sergey has no problem turning up late; not turning up at all; turning up with discs that have discs missing leaving an uncultivated strip running down the middle and doesn't see why this is a problem; cultivating too shallow so he can speed through the hectares; stealing diesel; stealing fertiliser; overcharging; making up invoices; charging twice for the same job; all in all just being an out and out dick.

Before you ask why use him, the others are the same but turn up drunk.

There is a huge opportunity for young budding entrepreneurs to establish a contracting business here in Ukraine, providing a normal standard and normal quality of service to established large farming entities.

Many, me included are looking to fund capex and outsourcing machinery services in partnership with a proper contractor is a very real option.

To my mind initiatives like this will lead to increased productivity and improved profitability and the likes of Sergey will go the way of the dinosaurs.

Forced to eat his own defecate as he runs out of food.