Ukraine warns of headwinds as spring crop sowing reaches 70% complete

13 May 2022 | Yana Sukharska

Ukrainian farmers are continuing to sow spring crops, with progress now reaching 70% complete, but authorities across the country are warning that a shortage of resources - fertilizers, crop protection agents and rapidly dwindling fuel stocks - will likely slow progress.

Alongside that, the limited prospects for storing or marketing the crop are also weighing on prospects for the upcoming season amid ongoing fighting with invading Russian forces.

In the Ivano-Frankivsk region, in the west of the country, the course of spring field work was largely suspended due to a lack of fuel, said Stepan Vintonovich, deputy director of the department of agro-industrial development.

“Agriculture is not included in the list of critical infrastructure, so the equipment is refueled for farmers on an occasional basis. The state promises to correct the situation after May 15, but spring time is lost,” Vintonovich said.

“Moreover, due to the lack of rain, there are also enough negative weather factors. Spring crops in our region have only just begun to emerge,” he continued.

On the other hand, farmers can safely use the land thanks to the efforts of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in clearing ordnance and mines - although hazards remain.

Russian forces have been forced to retreat, with only long-range weapons now able to reach the fields.

"Ukrainian services are working quickly, at present there is enough power, although at first when shells were fired at it was problematic," Yevgeny Sitnichenko, the head of the Kryvyi Rih military administration in the southeast of the country, said.

The Ministry of Agriculture of Ukraine has not given a forecast for the grain harvest for 2022, but has said it expects the area under crops could fall by 20% this year due to fighting with Russian troops in many regions.

The assessment is based on calculations of the sown area in the zone of occupation or active hostilities, the current dynamics of the sown area in the territories controlled by Ukraine, as well as the reduction in crop yields due to a lack of fertilizers and plant protection products.


Ukrainian sowing of spring crops has reached almost 70% complete since the last reporting period and has maintained its high pace with a ten percentage points advance, or 1.3 million hectares, in the period between May 9-12, according to the latest update from the country's agriculture ministry.

Now the final stage is already underway, farmers are sowing sunflower, corn and soybeans.

So far 40% of the fields remain empty, which is a normal figure on average, but by the end of the month it should be complete.

Spring wheat planting did not progress per reporting period and stood 97.6% complete on the pre-estimated area, and has now reached 187,500 hectares, compared to 91% of last year's progress.

Spring barley planting progressed slightly by 0.9 points to 918,800 hectares, or around 68.7% of the 2021 area that as a reference point, compared to 99.7% of last year's progress.

Sunflower and barley have traditionally been largely grown in southern and eastern Ukraine. The greatest lag in pace compared to last year is observed in the occupied territories - Kharkiv, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, Kyiv.

Despite the increase in areas under barley in the territory free from the occupiers, it is impossible to fully compensate for the loss of areas of these crops in the occupied territories.

The rate of sowing rapeseed is slow and progressed by just 0.6% through the period and was complete on 26,700 ha, or 80.4% of the total acreage forecasted to be sown, while by the same date of 2021 sowing still had not yet started.

The progress of the sowing campaign for oats was not evident over the last reporting period, with the areas completed so far standing at 156,700 ha or 88% complete, compared with 100% completed on the same date last year.

Peas progressed by 0.9 points and had reached 123,900 hectares or 51.2% now planted, versus 94.8% complete at the same date last year.

The progress of the sowing campaign for millet steadily increased over the last reporting period, with the areas completed so far standing at 22,500 ha or 28.8% complete - largely on par with last year's progress.

Сorn planting inched forward steadily and narrowed the gap to last year's pace, with progress registered on 3.2 million hectares or 59.2% of the planting area in 2021, up from 11.1% at the last reporting date, versus 71.7% last year pace.

Sunflower planting advanced at a standard pace by 6.3% and was complete on 3.2 million hectares, or 50.5%, versus 71% last year complete by the same date.

Finally, soybeans planting had advanced during reporting period by 11.6 percentage points to 728,600 hectares or 56.9% of the planting area in 2021, against 48.9% last year pace.