Ukraine Wheat Production Estimate Lowered

Ukraine Vice Premier for agriculture Viktor Slauta told reporters in Kiev this week that wheat production in the country will fall by "about 15%" on last season.

Slauta said that the weather conditions in March and April had considerably affected the crops, especially in the country's central and northern areas.

Overall grain production this season may not fall as much as 15% however as farmers were planting more corn this season, he said.

Damage to winter crops because of an ice crust caused by the harsh winter conditions, and the lack of humidity in the soil had some farmers switching into corn planting, he remarked.

A 15% fall in wheat output this season would be consistent with the kind of production losses now also being anticipated in neighbouring Russia. That would imply a Ukraine wheat crop of around 17.77 MMT and Russian output of around 54 MMT, a combined (nice pun!) reduction of almost 13 MMT on last season.

It is worth bearing in mind that we have had a change of leadership in Ukraine recently, and it is entirely possible that they are deliberately talking production down. Then they come back at harvest-time with a "hey, look things aren't as bad as we thought" spin.

First hand reports I am hearing do not suggest losses of this kind of magnitude in wheat. If anything conditions in Ukraine seem to be the opposite of those in western Europe from what I am hearing, and it is rapeseed output that is likely to take a sharp knock this year.