The Black Sea Crop Tours indicate another Russian record crop

Harry Siemens – Russia harvest currently stands at 109.9mmt of grains and pulses from 43.8mha (97.2%) with an average yield of 2.51mt/ha.

To date Russia has harvested 62.2mmt of wheat from 23.9mha with an average yield of 2.61mt/ha; 21.2mmt of barley from 9.0mha with an average yield of 2.35mt/ha. Next, 10.9mmt of corn from 2.4mha with an average yield of 4.56mt/ha; 8.6mmt of sunflowers from 6.1mha with an average yield of 1.40mt/ha; 1.4mmt of oilseed rape from 1.0mha with an average yield of 1.39mt/ha; 2.5mmt of soybeans from 1.8mha with an average yield of 1.36mt/ha.

Russia has planted 16.8mha of winter grains or 101.6% of the projected acres.

Mike Lee is a freelance consultant, agronomist, crop touring blogger and tweeter on farming, agribusiness and associated issues in the Black Sea region including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Mike recently released his latest crop report, and the crop in Russia is even more significant than last year’s massive crop.

“Middle of last month, we did another tour through Ukraine and Russia specifically to look at the winter wheat planted, and the condition of it as it goes into the winter,” said Lee via Skype recently. “I always like to try and get a view on the wheat as it goes into the winter and disappears under the snow so we can think about it when we start seeing some weather anomalies perhaps in January or February. So when it turns cold, we’ve got an idea of the condition of the crop as to how well it will stand up to that.”

Lee and his associates did the usual tour around central Russia, across the border into Ukraine, down to southern Ukraine, and then back up to central Ukraine before flying out. While not able to get down to south Russia, reports indicated wheat in south Russia was not emerging particularly well. It had been quite dry there, or it was slowly emerging.

“Since then, we’ve had people feed information to us to tell us that there’s been plenty of rain and the wheat’s come up as you’d expect,” he said. “Elsewhere across Russia and Ukraine, it’s looking in good condition. Slightly better than last year, but certainly in good shape going into the winter.

So, what did the 2017 crop do?

“The headline figure is the Russian wheat crop, which blew everybody’s expectations out of the water. The 2016 crop was 75 million tons from memory, and that was a record then, and that was a substantial record. With the 2017 harvest just in, they’re looking at final figures of around 85 to 88 million metric tons. That’s bunker weight, but certainly a huge uplift on the previous year, which was a record harvest in itself. So, it’s a big crop coming out of Russia,” said Lee. “Ukraine, I think, came out slightly under last year, but, again, it’s still a big crop for Ukraine. So both Black Sea countries, Ukraine and Russia, have produced large crops again this year for the second, third year running.”

Russia’s Minister of Agriculture’s just released a statement saying that exports of wheat are likely to achieve 35 million tons this year, which is a lot.

“I looked at some figures making some comparisons with the total production and the amount of export that is currently taking place in Russia, and there’s a large gap between 80, 85 million tons and 35 million tons,” he said. “I see that Russia has a lot of capacity to increase its exports even further. Reliable sources told me, it’s an infrastructure problem that slows down the quantity of grain that can come out of Russia, but there are port facilities, and companies are building grain handling facilities as we speak. If you dig into the news, you will see the occasional announcements of some of the big grain companies developing grain facilities. Trains and trucks and this sort of stuff will be or are being invested in, particularly in Russia. Less so in Ukraine. It’s an infrastructure problem in terms of the quantity they can export, not the quantity of grain they can grow.”

While some infrastructure problems the ministry is still very bullish on agriculture. It’s still pro-farming.

“A lot of that is perhaps words rather than actual support, but it’s not hindering agriculture. I’m just looking at the website this afternoon. The Russian ministry website, and, again, it’s full of stuff about positive development in agriculture. Land reclamation, increasing land area, and productivity. As we said many times, it’s continuing to increase,” Lee said.