Thursday, 19 May 2016

Gathering crop intelligence and crop tours

When trying to get a handle on crop condition, weather and likely impact on yields, remote reports and satellite data have a place but they don’t always give you the full story.

This week I have read several upbeat reports on conditions in Ukraine and Russia stating that warm, wet spring weather has paved the way for a large wheat harvest and that spring sowing is progressing well with hectares planted already up on last year.

At the same time I received a less than upbeat report from a farming buddy in Russia telling me it’s still cold and wet there, sowing is well behind schedule, they are unable to finish fertiliser on wheat and spraying is late.

Several farming pals across Ukraine and Russia are also independently telling me wheat fungicides are behind, hail has damaged some crops and the wet weather is causing wheat to grow very tall with large heads increasing the risk of falling over particularly as they missed PGR timings.

Clearly it’s not a catastrophe and there is a lot of good crop knocking about in the Black Sea region but it’s not all good news and we are still some time off the first harvest with many things that could erode yield and quality.

That black earth might be revered stuff but it doesn’t hold on to water for very long; a couple of weeks of hot dry weather with high transpiration rates and drought quickly becomes a possibility.

Those late or missed fertiliser applications will translate directly into reduced yield and late season fusarium which is always a problem will take full advantage of late fungicides.

To that end that is why our Black Sea Crop Tours have a place in gathering crop intelligence; remote reports, satellite data, expert opinion all have a place but I believe they should be complemented with an honest, muddy boots on the ground, objective and subjective assessment.

Later this month I will be kicking off the second Black Sea Crop Tour of the season specifically to look at the condition of recently planted corn, sunflower and soya but we will also be taking a look at the condition of cereals to see how good or bad things really are.

Drop me a line if you would like to sign up.