Indications and reports out of Ukraine and Russia is that crop condition is good, mild weather and rains have boosted the chances of producing if not a record crop then a close run thing.
Rusagrotrans, Russia's rail freighting holding company, have just increased their grain production forecast for Russia from 103mmt to 105mmt.
Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture go slightly further with their latest forecast pegged at 106mmt including 62.5mmt of wheat which would be the second highest crop on record.
Across the border in Ukraine they are putting an equally positive spin on harvest potential with the ministry reporting that 82% of the winter crop was in good and satisfactory (they actually go on to say 18% is in poor condition and there are 2% losses which adds up to more than 100% but you get the general idea).
True enough some of Ukraine’s wheat crop took a hit last autumn and winter with the number of hectares down around 13% on last year but what was left didn’t look too bad when we toured the region in April.
Not entirely clear what that shortfall will be made up with in Ukraine, probably corn, but spring plantings in both countries has taken advantage of good weather and are ahead on last year which further bodes well for good yields.
Not wanting to be the one that rains on this particular parade but I am receiving reports from several independent sources across Ukraine and Russia that rain has delayed fertiliser and fungicide applications on winter crops which in itself shouldn’t put too large a dent in yields but will still have an impact none the less.
A couple of farming contacts have quietly mentioned the crops are growing tall and they hope that a) they don’t start falling over and b) all that biomass translates into grain and not just straw.
I’m currently planning Crop Tours III and IV of the season which are due to kick off at the end of this month, primarily to look at post planting conditions of spring planted corn, sunflower and soya but we will undoubtedly be taking a view on the condition of wheat.
I’m not for a minute saying we aren’t going to see a large wheat crop particularly from Russia but it’s still a long way to harvest and lodged crops with increased disease pressure, perhaps with an added heatwave later in the season and a wet harvest might just conspire to keep records safe for another season.