In Ukraine, annually agrarians plant winter varieties of wheat, barley and rye throughout nearly 50% of the planted areas under grain crops, which highlights the high importance of winter crops areas in formation of the general grain harvest. Expansion of the planted areas by 7% compared with the last year figures, as well as the favourable weather conditions for overwintering, became the characteristic features of the segment of winter crops for the harvest-2019 in Ukraine. You can become acquainted with more detailed figures about the features of winter crops areas and prospects of the future harvest in the current article.
Structure of the planted areas
According to the official figures of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, agrarians planted four major winter crops the harvest-2019 throughout almost 8.9 mln ha, up 7% compared with the harvest-2018 (8.3 mln ha). In the structure of crops, the rapeseed segment demonstrated the largest increase, and the planted areas increased by 28% — to 1.3 mln ha, against 1 mln ha in the previous season. Also, the planted areas under winter barley increased by 22%, and winter wheat — up 3% only. Rye areas continued reducing, and for the harvest-2019 the planted areas demonstrated the record low level, which was estimated at 115 thsd ha only (down 23% compared with the previous season). It should be noted that in Ukraine winter crops form almost the whole harvest of rye, and spring varieties of the grain traditionally cover nearly 1 thsd ha only.
The analysis of regional distribution of the planted areas under winter crops for grain showed that the largest upward trend in crops is typical for oblasts of the steppe zone. Thus, Zaporizhia oblast demonstrated the maximum increase of the planted areas (up 49.7 thsd ha) for the harvest-2019. In Mykolaiv oblast, the planted areas under winter crops increased by 38.2 thsd ha, and in Kherson oblast — up 34.9 thsd ha. Odessa oblast remained the leading oblast by the winter crop areas, where agrarians planted crops for the harvest-2019 throughout 805.8 thsd ha (up 4%, or 28.5 thsd ha in absolute terms). Generally, the TOP-10 of oblasts covered 70% of the whole planted areas under winter crops in the country.
As for the regional changes by planted crops, then Donetsk oblast reached the largest increase of the areas under winter wheat (up 28.1 thsd ha, compared with the wheat areas for the harvest-2018, or 1%). Wheat areas in Zaporizhia oblast increased by 26.5 thsd ha (up 4%), and the areas in Ternopil oblast — up 23.3 thsd ha (up 13%).
In the current season, the areas under winter barley in Mykolaiv oblast demonstrated the most significant upward trend (up 32.8 thsd ha, or up 17%), Kherson oblast (up 26.4 thsd ha, or up 43%) and Zaporizhia oblast (up 23.7 thsd ha, or up 55%).
Also, winter rapeseed areas mainly increased in southern oblasts. So, in Odessa oblast the areas under the oilseed increased by 55.9 thsd ha or up 36%, in Mykolaiv oblast — up 41.2 thsd ha, or up 95%, and in Zaporizhia oblast — up 36.7 thsd ha, or up 2.1 times.
The good agro-climatic conditions in the autumn period, which agrometeorologists estimated as the most favourable terms in the recent decade, became the main factor, which led to expansion of winter crops areas in Ukraine.
Characteristics of seeds
In addition to the weather conditions, the variety assortment of seeds provides the key influence on formation of the harvest of agricultural crops.
According to results of the study provided by APK-Inform experts, the majority of Ukrainian agricultural producers are satisfied with both quality characteristics and price of used seeds, but at the same time they actively provide the variety changing operations. It should be noted that the companies cultivating winter rapeseed often revised the varietal structure of their areas (nearly 47% of respondents). Also, more than 15% of the surveyed agrarians specializing in the production of grains, changed their seed varieties for the harvest-2019.
The polling demonstrated that the agrarians who cultivate winter crops, mainly prefer using seeds of Ukrainian selection. Thus, agrarians mainly planted winter wheat and barley with seeds produced by Ukrainian companies, and the varieties of German selection covered one quarter of the areas only.
Among agricultural producers of winter rapeseed, the seeds of German companies are most popular (nearly 56% of the planted areas).
At the end of the calendar winter, it can be noted that it did not bring any unpleasant surprises to agrarians in the form of abnormal or critical agrometeorological conditions. Rather high average daily temperatures, which turned out to be much higher than the average long-term figures, as well as the increased precipitation depth (up 16% compared with the standard), became the characteristic features of the completed winter period.
Rather favourable factors in the period of overwintering included the slight freezing of the soil and sufficient snow covering, which allowed to ensure the good condition of winter crops after getting out of the winter dormancy period. According to agrometeorologists, in some raions of northern and central oblasts, the snow cover was rather large, and a slight freezing of the soil did not provide the sufficient ending of the growth processes in plants, which provided the certain risks of reducing the yield of such crops and development of various diseases. But, such phenomena were observed throughout a very small part of the crops.
Forecast of the structure of crops for the harvest-2019
Taking into account the above mentioned factors, as well as the current market trends, APK-Inform analysts made the preliminary estimations of planted areas under the major agricultural crops in Ukraine. Taking into account the remaining winter crop areas, the general areas under grains and major oilseeds for the harvest-2019 are estimated to be slightly less than 24.2 mln ha, up 1% compared with the previous season.
The reporting estimations are preliminary only, and can be significantly updated, depending on the agro-climatic conditions and the planting campaign rates.
In accordance with the key factors of crop formation and the estimated planted areas, APK-Inform Agency formed the first forecasts of grains and oilseeds production in 2019. Thus, APK-Inform analysts formed the forecast of the general harvest of grain crops in the new season at the level of 68.5 mln tonnes, down 2% only compared with the record harvest in the current season. At the same time, the harvest of three main oilseeds will reach 22.9 mln tonnes, up 4% compared with the harvest-2018.
Andrei Kupchenko, Mirra Lubenets, APK-Inform Agency