Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Life on MARS

The latest EU crop monitoring MARS bulletin is pitching EU-28 H14 cereal yields as good and a positive outlook for summer crops.

They are forecasting cereal yields at 5.31mt/ha which is at the same level as H13 and compares favourably with the five year average of 5.09mt/ha.

In Ukraine they state meteorological conditions are optimal and cereal yields are expected to reach nearly the same level as last year although there are a couple of significant points that might dent this bullish position.

Leaving aside the war which as we have seen lately is completely unpredictable so I won’t try, cash flow shortages and political uncertainty meant growers applied less nitrogen fertiliser in May.

While the crops might look superficially good from a satellite and even on the ground, I’m not sure this necessarily translates in to high numbers of heavy grains.

Secondly, they state that crops benefited from substantial rainfall during flowering; which is great except rainfall means cloudy conditions, cloudy conditions means an extended flowering period, extended flowering means the flower is open for longer and susceptible to fungal organisms for longer, in particularly fusarium.

Wet, cool, cloudy weather at flowering generally leads to higher levels of fusarium and for reasons already mentioned I doubt many will be applying robust late fungicide programmes to counteract this.

Meanwhile in Russia abundant precipitation in June, crop model simulations, ample biomass and adequate soil moisture are leading MARS to predict higher than average winter and spring cereal yields.

Drier conditions in Russia in July allowed the harvest to get underway as confirmed by yours truly on his trips out and about.