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Corn Planting Enthusiasm Drops in Ukraine

The planting season in Ukraine has started with some advance in time. The decrease in planting area for winter crops by 1 mln hectares to 7 mln hectares was caused by the shift to most profitable (during the last five years) crops – corn, sunflower, and soybeans. Anyway, the current political risks limit the producers’ desire to sharply increase the planting area.

So the latest forecast for the grain in Ukraine according to the APK-Inform agency is 57.3 mln tons. The forecast for oilseeds is 15.2 mln tons: sunflower – 9.7 mln tons, soybeans – 3.1 mln tons, rapeseed – 2 mln tons. The yield of oilseeds will be a little lesser than last year.

This forecast excludes the crop in Crimea that will be in the range of 1.5-2 mln tons of grain. There is no production of oilseeds in Crimea.

The planting of corn will start in one to two weeks.

While there begins to develop the deficit of moisture in the South regions of Ukraine, these regions are not the most important in the grain production. The principal corn producing regions are in the Central and North-East parts of Ukraine where the moisture content at the moment is considered as satisfactory. According to meteorologists, the planting conditions in the coming weeks will be favorable.

The prices for crops (provided there will be no war) will follow the prices on the world markets.

Risk of war

The risk of full-scale invasion of Russian troops to Ukraine still remains high. Despite the promises of the Russian president Mr. Putin to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border, their number is still threatening. The troops are equipped with tanks, anti-aircraft battalions, bombers and fighters, armored vehicles, heavy artillery, etc.

Putin’s initial plan of blitzkrieg failed: Russia managed only to grab Crimea. By itself, Crimea is a big burden: without the logistics from the coastal Ukraine, Crimea is just a big island. The cost of shipping all necessary goods to Crimea by sea is overwhelming.

That is why Russia strategically is interested in moving further and occupying the whole South of Ukraine from Rostov oblast to Transnistria. This way Russia also cuts Ukraine from the Black sea ports.

The military experts say that the most crucial days for Ukraine will be from now till the end of May.

The dry and warm weather in the South Ukraine now allows the movement of the heavy military weapons like tanks, anti-aircraft mobile radars, etc. Also, experts say that the invasion is unlikely before April 20, since on that day Russians and Ukrainians celebrate the Orthodox Easter.

The final term as of the end of May is because May 25 is set for the presidential election in Ukraine.

The main idea is to disrupt the elections since until now, Russia has considered the Ukrainian power - and especially the acting president - as illicit. This goal, namely the disruption of elections, may be achieved by provoking the turmoil in the East and South Ukraine with the further invasion of Russian army ostensibly to defend Russian-speaking people there. The possible dates for such turmoil are May 1 (the International working people solidarity day), May 9 (the Victory day), and days just after the elections.

Ukrainians are stressed

The whole population of Ukraine is now under huge psychological stress and praying only for peace. But each day, the Ukrainian army restores its strength. So it seems that the Russian invasion will not be easy and bloodless though nobody in Ukraine wants to test the army’s strength on the battlefields.

Provided there will be no full-scale war, the prospects of Ukrainian agriculture looks good enough.

Beginning May 15, the EU opens its markets for the Ukrainian agricultural commodities and products for at least half a year. This is going to help to export some foodstuffs that were previously exported to Russia. First of all these are poultry, eggs, confectionary, beer, and strong liquors. The quality of Ukrainian pork and beef as well as dairy products do not allow for them to be exported to EU. On the other hand, this is a good stimulus for pork, beef, and dairy producers to significantly improve their production.

The Ukrainian ports even without the Crimean ones and ports in the Azov sea are capable to handle all exports/imports, and there are plans to invest in developing the export/import infrastructure in the Danube region.

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