Friday, 25 March 2016

The Black Sea Crop Tour finally gets underway

The latest official winter crop condition for Ukraine published yesterday show that from the 6.9mha of crop that emerged in the autumn 5.1mha or 75% are in good and satisfactory condition with 1.7mha or 25% in poor condition.

Which doesn’t sound good and even more so if you recognise there is a tendency to embellish the positive when collecting data so things could actually be much worse.

With that in mind I have planned a crop tour route through Ukraine’s more harder hit regions in southern and eastern oblasts to take a view on the situation there myself. 

But before that I set off to Russia in the morning to assess the post winter crop condition there which has so far been reported as generally good with no significant issues.

There is still plenty of time to subscribe if you would like to follow the tour in real time as I post pictures and commentary on our dedicated Crop Tour Twitter account, just drop me a line and I’ll send you details by return.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Latest news for Black Sea Crop Tours 2016

After a hectic few weeks sorting out visas, flights, vehicles, drivers, security, routes, accommodation, I can finally announce the first Black Sea Crop Tour of the season is go.

I am currently in London with passport & visa and will be flying to Moscow on Saturday to kick off the Russian leg of the tour on Sunday.

The plan is to head east to look at the condition of winter wheat in the areas where I believe it has been at most risk.

We will leave the southern regions until the May tour as all indications are there are no particular issues there at this time.

After four days we will return west and cross into Ukraine before heading to the southern regions to take a look at crops there which have suffered from a dry autumn and difficult winter before heading north through the centre of the country.

You’ll appreciate why we are being a little vague with our travel plans but we intend to cover around 3,000km over eight days of what I believe to be the key winter crop areas requiring assessment.

I will be reporting the crop condition in real time to subscribers via our member’s only Twitter account (not yet live) and will follow up the tour with a full report of findings, analysis and comment.

There is still time to sign up (details on the Crop Tour page, above) and to those of you who have yet to hear back from me, I will be in contact today/tomorrow.

After this tour we will have a short break before running the second tour of the season to look at the condition of the emerging spring crops with particular interest in corn, sunflower and soya.

Any questions email me at the usual address or via the contact form on this page and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.

Wish us luck.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Black Sea Crop Tour 2016; update

A weeks a long time in politics and, so it seems, in planning a Crop Tour.

Thanks to all those who have registered an interest in subscribing and supporting this years Crop Tours.

I am working my way through getting back to you all as quickly as I can, expect an email over the weekend if you haven't already heard anything from me.

I tend to forget the time it takes to plan and execute a Crop Tour, the logistics, planning, organisation, visa, vehicles, drivers, security, tools etc but we are now getting everything in line for a kick off later this month.

Early reports are conditions are not too bad across most of the Black Sea region, an early spring with an early fertiliser will give the more backward crops a boost although it should be noted that it can still turn bitterly cold in March.

Spring cereal planting is underway with Ukraine reporting 82,800 hectares or 3% of the planned area completed while Russia has 219,300 hectares or 0.4% in the ground.

None of which will do anything to dissuade the bear market although reports that a third of the Ukraine crop is in poor condition will no doubt sit a little uncomfortably in some peoples minds.

It would only take the hint of a dry spring before the crop which is already down 10% on last year and with 33% in poor condition could start to look like a problem.

Reports that soil moisture is plentiful shouldn't be taken too literally either; chernozem and the like doesn't hold on to water all that well, wet soil can turn to dry soil and very dry soil very quickly.

Still plenty of time to subscribe, follow and support us on our second Black Sea Crop Touring season, just drop me a line.

Latest USDA weather update for western FSU

Unsettled, unseasonably warm weather prevailed over the region, accelerating southern wheat development and keeping most crop areas uncharacteristically devoid of snow cover.

Precipitation for the week totaled 10 to 30 mm from Belarus and northern Ukraine into central Russia, boosting moisture reserves for dormant winter crops.

Precipitation was lighter in southern portions of Ukraine and Russia, where 2 to 13 mm was reported; however, soil moisture supplies remained abundant for winter wheat following a wet winter.

Temperatures averaged up to 10°C above normal, with daytime highs above freezing (3-8°C) in the north and the lower 20s along the Black Sea Coast.

Consequently, snow was confined to the Volga and northern Central Districts in Russia, in sharp contrast to the end-of February climatology of a region-wide snowpack.

Furthermore, winter crops in Krasnodar Krai (located in southern-most portions of the Southern District) continued to develop well ahead of normal.

While the recent spring like warmth has not been detrimental to winter wheat, the early development and lack of protective snow cover have left crops more vulnerable than usual to potential incursions of late-winter or early-spring bitter cold.