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Commodity Intelligence Report
January 10, 2014

Ukraine:  Early Conditions for 2014/15 Winter Grains

According to data from the State Statistical Committee of Ukraine, the total sown area for 2014/15 winter crops (including wheat, barley, rye, and rape) decreased by 4 percent from last season. Wheat, which typically comprises about 80 percent of Ukraine’s winter-grain area, was planted on a reported 6.34 million hectares compared to 6.70 million last year. Winter crops were in generally good condition as of early January, although the widespread lack of protective snow cover increases the risk of potential frost damage in the event of unusually low temperatures.

The fall sowing campaign was marked by significant rain-related planting delays during September. Planting accelerated during October, but final sown area decreased from last year for all winter crops except barley, which is the last crop to be planted. The reported rye area decreased from 0.30 last year to 0.20 million for 2014/15, rape area decreased from 1.03 million to 0.95 million, and barley increased from 1.10 million to 1.25 million. [Insert map links.]  Warm weather during October and November enabled winter crops to compensate for the late planting, and conditions for emergence and establishment were favorable.

A mid-December assessment report from the Ukraine Ministry of Agricultural Policy estimated that 92 percent of the sown 2014/15 winter-crop area was in good or satisfactory condition. The rating is similar to most other recent years except for 2006/07 and 2012/13, when excessive fall dryness severely hampered the emergence and establishment of winter crops.

Satellite-derived vegetative indices (NDVI) indicate that winter-crop conditions in most areas of Ukraine were generally better than average in late November, shortly before the crops entered dormancy. (See NDVI maps for November 24 and December 2.) Only in a small area of south-central Ukraine, centered in Kirovograd oblast, do the NDVI indicate below-normal conditions.

Daily temperature data indicate that winter crops remain dormant throughout most of Ukraine, but local reports suggest that early-January temperatures in parts of southern Ukraine were approaching the level that could enable crops to break dormancy. Although this would not in itself cause damage to winter crops, an extended period of premature vegetative growth could cause plants to use up some of the accumulated carbohydrate reserves that will be needed to feed the plant when full vegetative growth resumes in the spring. Furthermore, the loss of dormancy would leave winter crops more susceptible to frost damage in the event of unusually cold weather. MODIS satellite imagery indicates steadily diminishing snow cover in recent weeks coincident with the arrival of above-freezing temperatures in mid-December. According to microwave satellite imagery and weather data, a large portion of Ukraine was without protective snow cover as of January 7.

The USDA will release its initial estimates of 2014/15 global crop production on May 9, 2014.  Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD’s Agricultural Production page, or at PSD Online.

For more information contact Mark Lindeman | | (202) 690-0143
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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