Earlier this week the Russian Ministry of Agriculture reported that 21% of the winter crop is estimated as poor.
The spokesperson reminded us that Russia had planted 16.8mha of winter crops for harvest 2015 so that makes 3.5mha in what they describe as "poor and thinned condition or without crop sprouts".
As a measurement “poor and thinned” is subjective and tells me jack all about the condition and I have no idea what “without sprouts” means; failed to emerge, no tillers; no main stem, what?
As a minimum I would like to know the plant population and growth stage particularly the number of leaves and tillers (although Russian wheat doesn't tiller that much) to get some objective measurement of crop condition.
Ideally also the seed-rate and thousand grain weight would enable me to base reference how much seed was planted and compare that to what had emerged and established thus giving me some insight in to what had happened to the crop since planting.
I mean if the crop was planted thin then it will be thin so that's no indication there has been a problem.
Additional information like the green area index (how much green material there is), the incidence and severity of any pest or disease present, damaged or dead leaves, weed type, growth stage and type and a general overview looking at the colour, root growth, seedbed and soil conditions would be extremely helpful.
I've worked with a lot of Russian agronomists and great chaps they are too, but not one could calculate the plant population or identify the growth stage when asked. Not their fault, that sort of information was neither required nor taught in former times when the main goal was to put stuff on to a crop and hit production quota.
So the information from the ministry is subjective at best and bearing in mind the condition of the fields right now – the attached picture is a wheat field in Kursk yesterday – how on earth can anyone make any assessment at all?
On the one square meter out of 16mha we looked at yesterday, we can confidently report that 100% of winter crops look boss.