Slowly and confidently soybeans are becoming more and more significant for Ukrainian agriculture. According to APK-Inform data, in the current the planted areas under the oilseed totaled 1.6 mln ha. To remind, 10 years ago the planting areas under this crop in our country were 16 times lower. The main reason of soybean production growth is the export demand, usually European countries, North Africa and Middle East buy our oilseed. The volumes of the domestic crush of soybeans are not very high, but they increase too. However, the unstable yield of soybeans and the high production expenditures are the main challenges for the domestic producers of soybeans. In this article, we will discuss the main factor of soybean yield — quality seeds.
As for today, Ukraine is one of the 10 largest global producers of soybeans in terms of the planted areas, and takes the leading position in Europe. The main regions of soybean production in Ukraine are such oblasts as Poltava, Khmelnytskyi, Kyiv, Kirovograd, Zhytomyr, Sumy. Herewith, the maximal yield in 2018 (according to the official data) was received in Zaporizhya oblast (3.2 t/ha) and the minimal — in Mykolaiv oblast (1.33 t/ha). So the yield is a key object of interest of the Ukrainian soybean producers, its irregularity influences both the financial results of the farm and the further planting plans.
If we speak about the country in general, in recent years the average soybean yield was not robust and varied largely within 1.3-2.5 t/ha, herewith the experts estimate the potential of the soybean yield in Ukraine within 3.5-4.8 t/ha. Suzanna Grigorenko, the CEO of the Seed Accusation of Ukraine, believes that the fulfilling of this potential is the main challenge for the farmers and the suppliers of the inventories, especially for the producers and the suppliers of the seeds. And the issue of the growth of the certified and quality seeds share remains to be the main one.
In particular, according to the annual seeds panel of APK-Inform Agency, the share of the certified soybeans seeds totals nearly 75-82%, however, some experts suspect that this figure totals 50-60%, especially among the middle and little farms. Using their own, non-certified seeds the farmers decline the productivity and increase the risks of soybean production. We should note that the market of seeds suppliers in Ukraine is saturated and the agriproducers have the wide range of certified seeds to buy.
According to Suzanna Grigorenko, the CEO of the Seed Accusation of Ukraine, there are foreign selection seeds presented on the Ukrainian market — from the companies in France, Canada, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Argentina, the USA. Herewith, the farmers do not always hurry to purchase foreign seeds, preferring domestic or self-made seeds. In terms of the soybean prime cost structure, the cost of the seeds takes 10% at the most. The expert notes that the yield of soybean on the large farms is significantly higher compared to small farm, which shows that it is possible to increase notably the yield in Ukraine by means of quality seeds and the optimization of the agritechnologies.
Under annual poll of the farmers, conducted by APK-Inform Agency (N=850 farms all over Ukraine), in 2018 Ukrainian farmers were growing mostly early-maturing and middle early-maturing varieties of soybeans, and the share of the early-ripening varieties totaled nearly 28%. The middle early-maturing varieties were least favorable (5.5%).
The poll showed that the TOP-10 producers of the certified soybean seeds used by Ukrainian farmers included the representatives of the Seed Association of Ukraine such as Prograin (which increase its presence on the market), Saatbau, Euralis, RAGT. Apart from these companies, the list includes also several institutes, Ukrainian producers of the seeds, etc.
However, besides the quality seeds, the high production of soybean depends also on the farmer’s compliance to the modern agritechnologies. In particular, it is very important to provide seed treatment and inoculation. It is mass inoculation (and not only GM-seeds) which is one of the main factors of the high quality and quantity characteristics of the crop production in South America.
Speaking of the prospects for the new soybean crop, the peculiarities of this year for the soybean producers was the delay of the planting campaign and decline of the planted areas, due to several factors — first of all, new law on VAT and the price lowering for soybeans, due to the trade war between China and the US.
According to the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center, in June soybeans were leafing and stem shoots were appearing depending on the planting period, sometimes in central oblasts the oilseeds were flowering. In separate areas in northern and western oblasts, the planted areas were damaged by pests and due to fertilizers overuse. The average number of the plants per 1m2 varied within 40-90 pc. The crops were mostly in good condition. For now, APK-Inform Agency forecasts the yield of soybeans in Ukraine at 2.5 t/ha and the production at 4 mln tonnes. Therefore, we wait and see whether the weather will be favorable for the Ukrainian soybeans this summer.
Svitlana Synkovska, APK-Inform Agency