Ukraine’s farmers are growing more spring wheat this year, with the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine reporting that there has been a 7% increase in the number of hectares of the crop planted as of 12 May 2022, when compared with the same date in 2021.

In total, some 187,500ha of spring wheat was planted in Ukraine by 12 May compared with a lower 174,700ha planted at the same stage in the planting campaign last year.

Overall, Ukrainian officials suggest that Ukrainian farmers are planning to plant 105% more spring wheat this year by the end of the planting season when compared with last year’s crop.

They say that 15% of Ukrainian tillage farmers planting additional spring wheat are doing so instead of corn, 19% as a means of fulfilling the national food programme rolled out by the government to ensure food security, 11% due to the better access to sales markets for the crop and 11% because of the availability of wheat seed.

Drop in spring barley

However, the increase in the planting of spring wheat has come at the expense of other crops, with spring barley planting down 31% on the same period last year, according to data reviewed by the Irish Farmers Journal.

As of 12 May 2022, Ukrainian tillage farmers had planted some 918,800ha of spring barley compared with 1,332,700ha on the same date last year.

However, with the retreat of Russian forces in some parts of Ukraine and government-led supports for farmers, officials suggest that, overall, the spring barley planted area will be up by 9% in 2022.

A number of other crops have seen planting levels reduce due to the war, with oat, pea, corn and sunflower areas planted back some 12%, 46%, 17% and 29% respectively on 12 May 2021.

Closure of sea ports

While the area planted with soybeans is up by 16% on 2021 figures as of 12 May, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy predicts that, overall, this will be back by 30% at year end.

Some 13% of those Ukrainian farmers who would have planted soybean crops say this is due to the closure of sea port export routes, while 9% and 6% say their decision has been due to increase planting of other crops and a lack of seed availability.

One quarter of the sunflower oil on the international market is thought to come from Ukraine and the war has brought about significant disturbances to availability.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Agrarian Policy says that, overall, the area planted with sunflowers will be back by 20% for 2022, with war hostilities, a lack of profitability and inability to access markets all contributing factors to farmers’ decisions to plant less.

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