An exceptional dry spring and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are both likely to reduce the size of Ukraine’s grain harvest this year, says the Agricultural Ministry, which is forecasting 60mn tonnes for the year, down from last year’s bumper 75mn tonne harvest.
Mike Lee, an agricultural specialist who travels through the region every year to inspect the crops, was recently in Ukraine and reported via Twitter that the dry weather is already having a noticeable impact on the crops there.
The whole Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has seen a shortage of rain this season, although the forecasts are that rain is due to come this week.
The pandemic has also disrupted the work of farms and is likely to have a negative impact on crop yields this year, says the ministry.
The Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine has predicted that Ukrainian farmers in 2020 will harvest 60mn tonnes of grain and leguminous crops compared with the previous forecast of 65-70mn tonnes.
"According to the adjusted forecasts of the Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture in 2020, due to lack of moisture and economic factors caused by the coronavirus disease COVID-19 pandemic, farmers will harvest 60mn tonnes of grain and leguminous crops," the ministry said in a statement published on April 24.
In spite of the dry weather conditions farms sowed another 3mn hectares of spring grain, leguminous and industrial crops during the week of April 16-23. Field work was carried out over an area of 7.8mn ha of the projected 15.3mn ha as of April 23, and the following crops were sown: spring wheat 119,000 ha out of the projected 132,500 ha; spring barley 1.07mn ha out of 1.1mn ha; corn 2.4mn ha out of 5.4mn ha; sugar beets 199,800 ha out of 209,000 ha; sunflower 3.2mn ha out of 6.2mn ha, and soybeans 237,000 ha out of 1.4mn ha.
According to the ministry, the leaders in the sowing rate this week were agricultural producers of Mykolaiv (314,000 more ha), Poltava (274,000 more ha) and Kirovohrad (257,000 more ha), Odesa (247,000 more ha) and Zaporizhia (218,000 more ha) regions.
The ministry also proposed that the ceiling of 29.3mn tonnes for exports of corn in the 2019/2020 agricultural year (July-June) is set in a supplement to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the grain market players.