We have completed the first Black Sea Crop Tour of 2018 and I don't mind admitting it was a tough one.
It started off well in southern Russia, great weather conditions, big beautiful fields of wheat, dry soil and balmy temperatures meant crop touring was a pleasure.
Then we turned north and that's when things turned challenging.
We left Rostov nice and early to cover the 800km we had planned for that day to Kursk, a necessary route if we want to cross into Ukraine as border crossings further south are either closed or not considered safe.
It took us five hours to cover 100km because...well I'm not entirely sure because of what, there was a bit of snow and a few minor roadworks but nothing you would consider capably of causing a 100km tailback.
Then the weather really started to deteriorate, freezing rain, frozen roads, near zero visibility and we still had 700km to go to get to Crop Tour HQ.
We pressed on arriving late in the evening for much appreciated food and rest before heading out the following morning to cross the border in to Ukraine on foot, dragging our possessions through the snow like defeated Napoleonic foot soldiers.
While the border crossing was freezing (it's all outside with no protection from the wind), it was fairly straight forward, the guards even cracked a few jokes and didn't seem too phased I had two chaps from Australia with me who were tagging along to get a view on Black Sea farming.
Conditions in Ukraine didn't get much better but at least the snow filled in some of the pot holes making travelling slightly less bone shattering.
We made Kyiv that evening and Odessa the following day with no let up in the weather.
Fortunately(?) I had to drive back to Kyiv and surprisingly snow had started melting overnight making some crop observations possible.
Our route covered 3,300km through Krasnodar, Stavropol, Rostov, Voronezh and Kursk in Russia and Sumy, Poltava, Kyiv, Cherkassy, Kirovograd and Odessa in Ukraine and we did meet with several farmers and traders to discuss their views on the season so far.
All in, using what observations and results we could make, having our autumn tour data to help and keeping an eye on crops throughout the winter we have been able to project a wheat forecast for Russian and Ukraine and the latest reports are now available.
If this is of interest to you or you would like to receive our reports then drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange an invoice, season long service is priced at £375.
We tour again in May to update our wheat forecast and assess the post planting condition of the spring crops, hopefully under less challenging conditions.