Ukraine Crop Conditions Decline

As of March 4, winter grains in Ukraine were rated 10.8% in 'unsatisfactory' condition, up from 10.0% a week ago, according to the Ag Ministry there.

Winter wheat was rated unsatisfactory on 0.69 million hectares, or 10.4% of planted area, with 10.1% of winter barley and 20.8% of winter rapeseed rated likewise.

Despite a slight increase in total grains planted area (especially barley), most pundits are forecasting lower production in 2010 due to farmers cut corners by sowing low quality varieties, and reduced and poor application of inputs due to tight credit constraints.

Winter wheat area is seen down around 4.5% according to the State Statistics Committee at 6.67 million hectares. A harsher winter may well have increased the incidence of winterkill, relative to last season which was comparatively mild. The USDA attache in Ukraine estimates yields down by 6% in 2010, producing a wheat crop of 19.1 MMT, down 8.6% on 20.9 MMT in 2009.