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USDA GAIN: Oilseeds, Cotton, Sugar, Grain and Feed

14 August 2012

USDA GAIN: Ukraine Grain and Feed Update - August 2012USDA GAIN: Ukraine Grain and Feed Update - August 2012

Better than expected yields, despite harsh growing conditions, led to increased estimates for wheat, barley, and rye. Corn output, however, is expected to be lower than previous estimates, as conditions have been less favorable.
USDA GAIN Report - Oilseeds, Cotton, Sugar, Grain and Feed

General Information:

The harvest of wheat, barley, and rye in Ukraine was close to 99 percent complete at the time of this report. Surprisingly, having suffered extremely unfavorable weather conditions during planting and the winter season, winter crops in Ukraine have been showing better than expected yields. Accordingly, FAS-Kyiv has changed its production estimates for Ukraine. Preliminary estimates for production of wheat, barley and rye were increased to 15.0 million metric tons (MMT), 6.6 MMT, and 0.65 MMT, respectively (see Production Supply and Demand tables in the end of this report). However, production of corn was reduced to 21.0 MMT for reasons explained below.

The main Ukrainian winter crops - wheat, barley, and rye – enjoyed quite favorable spring weather conditions so that a good share of winter plantings were able to recover after the harsh fall planting and winter seasons. Cool spring temperatures in Central and Northern Ukraine along with some ‘just in time’ spring showers played a major role in this process. Sunny and warm June weather that followed added to the benefit of the crop and resulted in the higher quality grain that has been reported through the country.

The official Government of Ukraine (GOU) data on the areas planted under various crops in Ukraine is shown in Table 1.

Over 1.6 million hectares (mln ha) of winterkill areas were replanted with spring crops. Over 0.5 mln ha reportedly was replanted with corn and about 0.5 mln ha with spring barley. Some winterkill area was also replanted with sorghum and other spring crops.

There were some reports of extremely hot and dry weather occurring for up to several weeks in a row during the corn kernel formation phase in the main corn growing regions in Ukraine. The Ukrainian Hydrometcenter has recently reduced its projections for corn production in Ukraine down to 21 MMT. A number of other leading industry experts have also lowered their projections to between 20 MMT and 23 MMT. No definitive estimate can be made at the time of this report, as there is still some time for the corn crop to develop. These projections may change significantly before the main harvest season begins in October.

The new Marketing Year for grains (MY 2012/13) in Ukraine started off in July 2012 with the growing world market prices.

According to the GOU officials, Ukraine has accumulated significant ending stocks of major crops that should allow the country to fully satisfy its domestic consumption needs and to have some exportable surplus. The State Agrarian Fund has reportedly started acquiring grain for the state reserve to ensure strategic food supply is available for human consumption in the country.

GOU policy has not changed as to the export market regulation in Ukraine. In late July 2012, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine and the leading industry organizations signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing that the exports of major agricultural crops in Ukraine would not be restricted without a two month prior notice to the industry, and such action may not occur unless 80 percent of the exportable quantities of grains would have been exported. Trade representatives and the state officials have been discussing the issues that impact the trade. However, some issues remain unsolved for now, like the lack of grain transporting railroad cars in Ukraine and certain difficulties with obtaining grain quality certificates, etc., that may impact the trade activities and slow down exports from Ukraine to some extent.

Grain exports in July 2012 did not pick up significantly, compared to the previous months, the way they usually would at the start of the new season. Reports of crop damage in the US and significant reduction in production of the early cereals in parts of the EU has set the tone for the growing world market prices for agricultural commodities. This has become one of the main reasons that slowed down the trade in Ukraine. However, overall export projections for the major crops in Ukraine were raised for wheat up to 6.0 MMT and for barley, up to, 2.2 MMT. Export projections for corn were left unchanged at this time.

It is possible that some corn from Ukraine may find its export market in China as some negotiations have been in progress between the two governments. No final agreement has been reported reached at the time of this report writing. However, major market players from Ukraine have already visited China in lieu of these talks and have confirmed their interest in trade. In addition, some traditionally US corn destinations like Northern Africa may become the customers of Ukrainian corn this season.

Domestic grain prices have been increasing ever since the start of the new season. However, this has not resulted in increased sales. The farmers have been reluctant to sell cheap while the world markets continued the upward trend. Trade representatives, on the other hand, have been cautious about accumulating large stocks due to the experience with export issues of the previous years.

The Black Sea Grain Contract was launched by CME in June 2012. This is becoming more and more popular market price indicator in Ukraine. However, there is still some lack of awareness in the rural areas and some limited communication so the domestic market prices have not been reported to correlate highly with this contract price.

The forecasts in this report are based on the current projected production and stocks data and on the assumption that exports of these grains continue on with the current policy. [For Production Supply and Demand tables, please download the document]

August 2012

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