Current prospects for Ukraine's winter crops and spring-sowing campaign remain generally favorable. The country’s wheat crop is already in the ground, and the availability of most inputs for spring sowing (including fuel, fertilizer, seed, and credit) has not been interrupted.
Winter crops: Winter wheat, which is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer, accounts for 95 percent of Ukraine’s total wheat output. Winter wheat was planted on 6.3 million hectares, down about 5 percent from last season. Conditions have been generally favorable for winter crops; the Hydromet Center of Ukraine reports that winter-crop losses will be lower than average this year. Average Ukraine wheat production is about 20 million tons, and about 40 percent of the crop is exported. The harvest of wheat and early spring grains will begin in July.
Spring-sowing campaign: Spring planting is underway but will not be in full swing until later in March. Planting typically begins in Crimea, the country’s southernmost territory, and this year was no exception. The sowing of early spring grains (mainly barley, but also wheat, oats, and pulses) advances northward and in most years is largely complete by the end of April if the weather is favorable. The planting of later spring crops, including sunflowers, corn, and sugar beets, will begin in late April and continue into early June. Corn has become Ukraine’s most important spring-planted grain, with average production of 25 million tons and average exports of 15 million tons. The harvest of sunflowerseed and corn will begin in September.
Higher prices: Escalating prices for imports, resulting from a decline in the exchange rate for the Ukrainian hryvna, could have an impact on the purchase of some key agricultural inputs, including hybrid seed and plant-protection chemicals. Imported hybrid seed has been a key factor in the steady and significant increase in the yield of Ukraine’s corn and sunflowerseed crops. Typically about 65 percent of corn and sunflower hybrid seed for the spring planting season is imported by the end of March, and seed companies report that the majority of seed for this year's spring crops has already been imported.
Crimea: Crimea is a productive agricultural region although the variety of crops is fairly limited. Wheat is the major grain with average production of about 800,000 tons, roughly 5 percent of total Ukrainian output. Production of corn, sunseed, and soybean is minimal. Crimea is arguably more important as a producer of meat than of grains. Poultry production is Crimea's largest industry, and the territory accounts for 6.5 percent of Ukraine's total poultry output, along with 3.1 percent of the beef, and 2.5 percent of the pork.