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August 16, 16:56 Source: APK-Inform Views: 311

Preliminary results of the harvesting campaign in Ukraine - lost records

The harvesting campaign of early crops in Ukraine is almost completed, and therefore, APK-Inform Agency can sum up the first preliminary results. Weather conditions in the current season were quite favorable for both winter and spring crop areas. According to preliminary forecasts, agrarians expected to receive a good harvest in the current year. And APK-Inform experts investigated how the reporting expectations came true.

 

Yield: ingredients for success

In the current year the summer became the real surprise for most agrarians. According to many respondents, rainfalls in the spring-summer period became the key factor determining the yield indices in the current year. Therefore, agrarians mainly associated increasing of the yield indices in 2014 with a sufficient level of moisture content in the soil for vegetation and ripening of crops, and the moderate temperature regime.

It should be noted that the mass harvesting campaign of grains in the current season in Ukraine started in 2-3 weeks later compared with last season. Not only rainfalls, which prevented the harvesting works, but also slower ripening of crop areas, became the major reason for such situation. According to agronomists, the average air temperature in June 2014 was even lower than in May.

In particular, the reporting feature was characteristic for northern and western oblasts of the country, as well as the some central oblasts. In the southern region the harvesting campaign started on the same date as last year. It should be noted that according to agricultural producers, slippage of the rates of the harvesting campaign compared with the previous year, was not the delay compared with the average annual harvesting terms.

Nevertheless, beginning of the harvesting works of early grain crops took place in terms of worsening of the weather conditions. Despite the fact that the rains were very timely for late crops, they were quite late in coming for early crops, and provided mostly adverse impact, because the precipitations contributed to reduction of grain qualitative parameters (gluten washing, high humidity), cracking and shattering of rapeseed.

It is worth noting that central oblasts, and some areas of southern and northern oblasts faced heavy rains with hails and strong winds. The yield indices dropped to 3 t/ha in the fields, where the previous forecasts totaled 5 t/ha. According to agronomists, Ukraine lost 15-25% of the possible harvest, due to the weather conditions, which caused lodging and shattering of crops. According to the polling, central oblasts faced the largest yield losses during harvesting works, since at that moment the southern region almost completed harvesting early crops, but the northern and western regions has not yet begun the works. Thus, in the central region the average yield was the same as last year, although initially agrarians expected the index to increase by 10-20% compared with last year.

 

 

At the same time, in 2014 spring crops showed good field results. Thus, the yield of spring barley increased by 40-60% compared with last year. According to agronomists and meteorologists, precipitations became the major factor on increasing the yield of the grain in all regions.

 

 

Eastern region: nature and war

In the current year the eastern region attracted the most attention. Rather good weather throughout the season became the only joy for agricultural producers of the region. In most agricultural households overwintering of winter crops passed almost without losses, and agrarians provided spring crops planting in wet soil. Therefore, the yield indices of winter and spring grains, and winter rapeseed, were expected at rather high levels.

At the same time, the rains brought not only positive impact to agrarians of the region. As in other regions, heavy rainfalls significantly slowed down the harvesting rates. But according to agrarians, the unstable political situation, especially in Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts, provided most barriers to the harvesting campaign.

The major difficulties with harvesting works were in the fact that there is the military operation right at the fields or nearby. Many agrarians were forced to stop harvesting works, and some households reported that they harvested grains even under fire. Also, there are fields, which future harvesting is not possible at all, as they are dotted with warheads. Some of them were not blown up, and can react in any moment. Therefore, some share of the harvest is lost.

In turn, agricultural producers, which farms are located outside the zone of the anti-terrorist operation, started harvesting early grains in the third week of June. It should be noted that the rates of harvesting works were rather active, due to the tense situation in the region, and favorable weather conditions as of the beginning of works. However, worsening of the weather conditions (rainfalls) in early July led to some stoppage of the harvesting campaign. In addition, prolonged rainfall also affected the qualitative parameters of grains.

Also, the region has some difficulties with transportation of the harvest volumes, due to blocked roads. However, even in case of successful delivery of the harvest to storehouses of the enterprise, there is the second difficulty - selling. As agrarians need their working capital, it is vital for them to sell grains. At the same time, nobody wants to go to the trouble spot. Many companies purchasing grains, which are located directly in Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts, stopped their activities, and the remained ones buy grains at very low prices. Besides, no one wants to take the risks associated with transportation. Agrarians themselves have to look for new delivery mechanisms. Some sections of the railroad lines are damaged, and it is too risky to export grains by cars, due to the fighting. In addition, high prices for fuel and supply breaks added some difficulties.

Taking into account the abovementioned factors, one can only imagine what losses the Eastern agrarians will face, due to the military operation. In addition, the planned holding of the winter crops planting campaign in the eastern region provides absolutely helpless situation to agricultural producers. In order to found the future harvest, agrarians need not only money resources, but also calm situation in the region.

 

Some statistics

The following table shows comparative data on the yield of early grains, pulses and oilseeds by the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine as of August 7, 2014.

The yield indices of all crops really exceed the last year results. It should be noted that the yield of winter wheat and barley is higher compared with last year in the southern, eastern, northern and western oblasts, in the central ones - at the last year level. The yield of winter rapeseed is higher compared with last year only in the eastern, northern and western oblasts, in the southern ones - at the level of last year indices, and in the central ones - even lower.

 

Average yield indices of grains and rapeseed in Ukraine, c/ha

 

Winter wheat

Winter barley

Winter rapeseed

Spring barley

Spring wheat

2014

39,4

31,6

24,5

29,7

35,1

2013

35,7

29,4

23,2

22,2

26,4

Source: Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine

 

At the same time, the expectations of agrarians on high grain quality indicators did not materialize in the current season. Initially, there were all prerequisites to obtain high-quality grain indices: rainfalls during the spring crops vegetation and grain ripening, which beneficially influenced the further development of crops. However, rains during the harvesting works is quite another story. Each rain during the harvesting campaign reduces qualitative indices and increases grain moisture, which in turn increases the treatment costs. It is worth noting that the current season situation is a lot like the last year one, when the grain quality before the rains was estimated as 1-3 grade, but after the rainfalls the grain turned out to the feed group.

According to official data, the results of monitoring of wheat quality which entered the certified granaries and storehouses, and put to the Main register as of July 27, 2014, show that the share of 1-3 grade wheat totaled nearly 63%. Therefore, 4-6 grade wheat and ungraded grain formed nearly 37%. As a reminder, last year the average ratio between milling and feed wheat totaled 70% to 30% from the general harvest of the grain.

So, there were all prerequisites for the record harvest in 2014. According to many agricultural producers, even taking into account all losses, not every year agrarians manage to get such good harvest. Experienced agronomists say that in the current year the weather was perfect, especially compared with several previous seasons. But according to the polling data conducted by APK-Inform experts, many agricultural enterprises did not apply fertilizers and plant protecting agents in full measure. Some households, particularly the southern region, were forced to reduce watering or even abandon it. Of course, the lack of funding became the main reason. In the current year the problem of financial resources deficit is particularly acute, due to low prices for the old crop, UAH devaluation in the spring of 2014, which provoked increasing of the prices for materials and technical equipment, unstable political situation in the country, lack of assistance from the government, etc.

Generally, the forecast of APK-Inform on grain production in the current season totals 57.4 mln tonnes with the average yield of 3.93 t/ha, which is lower compared with the last season indices. But the forecast may be subject to the upward adjustment, depending on treatment factors, and development of late grains.

 

Natalia Stupaeva, APK-Inform

 

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