Ukraine Planting Prospects for 2014/15
Current prospects for Ukraine's winter crops and spring-sowing campaign remain generally favorable. The country’s wheat crop is already in the ground, and the availability of most inputs for spring sowing (including fuel, fertilizer, seed, and credit) has not been interrupted. The use of certain imported inputs, specifically plant-protection chemicals and hybrid seed, could decrease from last year's level if Ukraine’s currency exchange rate does not improve within the next few months.
Winter crops: Winter wheat, which is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer, accounts for 95 percent of Ukraine’s total wheat output. Winter wheat was planted on 6.3 million hectares, down about 5 percent from last season, according to the State Statistical Committee of Ukraine. Conditions have been generally favorable for winter crops; the Hydromet Center of Ukraine reports that winter-crop losses will be lower than average this year. Average Ukraine wheat production is about 20 million tons, and about 40 percent of the crop is exported. The harvest of wheat and early spring grains will begin in July.
Spring-sowing campaign: Spring planting is underway but will not be in full swing until later in March. Planting typically begins in Crimea, the country’s southernmost territory, and this year was no exception. The sowing of early spring grains (mainly barley, but also wheat, oats, and pulses) advances northward and in most years is largely complete by the end of April if the weather is favorable. The planting of later spring crops, including sunflowers, corn, and sugar beets, will begin in late April and continue into early June. Corn has become Ukraine’s most important spring-planted grain, with average production of 25 million tons and average exports of 15 million tons. The harvest of sunflowerseed and corn will begin in September.
Credit: Access to the standard sources of agricultural credit for Ukrainian agricultural enterprises has not been impeded. The interest rates charged by Ukrainian banks are high (over 20 percent), so instead of borrowing from banks, agricultural producers in most cases either rely on their own resources or sign forward-sale contracts with grain trading companies in exchange for inputs. Producers can purchase seed and plant-protection chemicals from large importers on credit. According to USDA/FAS specialists in Kyiv, access to credit for these purchases has not been reduced; seed companies report that sales are proceeding as usual, and fertilizer and fuel are being delivered on time as well. Government assistance for agricultural enterprises is virtually non-existent, and commodity producers do not depend on State subsidies to procure inputs for spring planting.
Higher prices: Escalating prices for imports, resulting from a decline in the exchange rate for the Ukrainian hryvna, could have an impact on the purchase of some key agricultural inputs, including hybrid seed and plant-protection chemicals. Imported hybrid seed has been a key factor in the steady and significant increase in the yield of Ukraine’s corn and sunflowerseed crops. Typically about 65 percent of corn and sunflower hybrid seed for the spring planting season is imported by the end of March, and seed companies report that the majority of seed for this year's spring crops has already been imported. Chemical companies have not yet reported a significant decrease in the importation of products to date, but prices are being adjusted to reflect the exchange rate fluctuation.
Crimea: Crimea is a productive agricultural region although the variety of crops is fairly limited. Wheat is the major grain with average production of about 800,000 tons, roughly 5 percent of total Ukrainian output. Production of corn, sunseed, and soybean is minimal. Crimea is arguably more important as a producer of meat than of grains. Poultry production is Crimea's largest industry, and the territory accounts for 6.5 percent of Ukraine's total poultry output, along with 3.1 percent of the beef, and 2.5 percent of the pork.
The valuable contribution of Yuliya Dubinyuk and Alexander Tarassevych, agricultural specialists at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Kyiv, is gratefully acknowledged. USDA global area and production estimates for grains and other
commodities are available on the USDA/FAS Global Crop Production Analysis page,
or at PSD
Online. Initial USDA crop-production estimates for 2014/15 will be released on May 9, 2014.