Ukraine's wartime spring crop sowing campaign nears its end

26 May 2022 | Yana Suharskaya

Ukrainian wartime spring crop sowing campaign is approaching an end and has reached 12.64 million hectares, or 89% complete, as of May 26, according to the latest update from the country's agriculture ministry.

Overall, Russia's ongoing invasion means that it will not be possible to sow about a third of the total typical area available to Ukrainian farmers, leaving a total area of up to 12 million hectares approximately.

Although to date Ukrainian farmers have sown more than originally planned, further progress is expected to be limited.

The reduction of the sown area was down to partial occupation of parts of Ukraine by Russian troops, close proximity of farmland to hostilities, impossibility of sowing due to landmines in fields and damaged ordnance, tanks and other material in the liberated territories.

Since the last reporting period, the spring crop sowing campaign advanced by three percentage points, or 391,500 ha, in the May 23-26 period.

With spring sowing now coming to an end, it is already possible to make estimates on a potential harvest for 2022.

Spring wheat planting sligthly progressed during the reporting period and was in its final stages at 99% of the forecast total acreage sown, reaching 189,300 ha, compared with 91% at the same time last year.

Spring barley planting was broadly unchanged and stood at 928,400 ha, or around 70% of the 2021 area, compared with 100% complete this time last year.

Spring rapeseed sowing gained momentum and reached the finish line, progressing through the week by 10 percentage points to cover 31,700 ha or 96% of the forecast.

The planting of oats planting was largely unchanged and stood at 156,900 ha, or around 88% of the 2021 area, compared with 100% complete this time last year.

The progress of pea sowing also remained limited, with the areas completed so far standing at 125,900 ha or 52%, compared with 95% on the same date last year.

Buckwheat planting again showed the most progress through the reporting period, progressing 11.5 points, having reached 68.7% complete of the forecast total acreage sown, above 61% last year progress.

Millet progressed at a steady pace, adding 6 points and reaching 41,300 ha or 52.8% planted, versus 100% complete at the same date last year.

Corn sowing registered on 4.4 million ha or 81% of the planted area in 2021, up from 2.1% at the last reporting date.

At the same point last year, 94% of the planting was complete.

The progress of the sowing campaign for sunflower was sluggish, however, adding just 2.4%, with the areas completed so far standing at 4.3 million ha or 66%, versus 94% in last year's pace.

Finally, soybean planting reached the finish line with a 7.4 percentage point increase taking area to 1.1 million ha, or 90% of the planted area in 2021, against 95% last year.

According to the forecast from the Ukrainian Club of Agrarian Business, in 2022 Ukraine can harvest close to 50 million tons of grain and 16 million tons of oilseeds crops. The following harvest expectations are in 2022:

mln mt 2021 2022 changes
Wheat 32.2 18 -44.0%
Corn 42.1 25.7 -38.9%
Barley 9.4 5.2 -44.6%
Other grain crops 2.3 1.4 -39.1%
Sunflower 16.4 10.6 -35.3%
Soybeans 3.5 3.0 -14.2%
Rapeseed 2.9 2.7 -6.8%

"As can be seen from the above data, soybeans and rapeseed show the lowest topics of gross harvest reduction. This is due to the relatively small weight of the crop combined with the high price of it, which facilitates logistical issues in exports. Therefore, some farmers have increased crops under these crops," said Svitlana Lytvyn, a Ukraine-based analyst at UCAB.

"The gross harvest will be reduced both due to sown areas and due to yields," Lytvyn said.

At the same time, the yield is expected to be 10% lower than the average due to non-compliance with all technological procedures.

"Due to the inability to further export and lower prices for major crops in the domestic market, farmers do not have enough funds to purchase fertilizers, PPE and other components of high yields. The only exceptions are winter crops, which managed to feed in most areas before the war and there is expected to reduce yields by 5%. And the condition of winter crops is good now," she said.