Grain and oilseed growers in western Ukraine will start cropping for the 2022 season in the very near future.

That’s according to Irishman, Jim McCarthy, who farms in neighbouring Romania.

He explained: “The stores in that region have opened their doors to sell crop inputs. Ukraine accounts for 50% of the global trade in sunflowers.

“Palm oil and sunflower oil compete on the same markets. Those involved in the palm oil business are having severe problems as a result of dry weather at the present time. Covid-19 has also had a major impact on that sector.

“The oilseed rape industry is also booming at the present time. Prices have gone up by €100/t in the space of a week.

“There’s bits of trade being done for rape in Romania at the moment for €700/t,” he said.

Grain in Ukraine

McCarthy farms 20,000ha in Romania. The grain that he produces is taken by truck and train to the port city of Constanta.

He further explained:

“Our organic produce goes north by truck to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A lot of our wheat goes into the local trade.”

There are large stocks of grain in Ukraine at the present time, given the impact of the Russian invasion.

McCarthy is of the view that Constanta could be used as an export centre by Ukrainian grain business over the coming weeks.

“The Ukrainian government has banned exports just for the moment. This is to make sure that they have enough food going forward,” McCarthy said.

“But that will change shortly. A number of the farming businesses in western Ukraine have started seeding their crops for 2022. They are also putting fertiliser in store.”

McCarthy explained that all of southern Europe has just experienced one of the driest winters in living memory. And this factor may have just impacted on future yields as will the price and availability of fertiliser.

Commenting specifically on the availability of fertiliser in eastern Europe, McCarthy said that his own business has all its requirements now in store.

“As a matter of policy, we start buying in late July and August in preparation for the year ahead.

“We need a very good source of phosphorous for the rape and wheat in the autumn. Winter crops account for about a quarter of our total output.

“We will be planting out 12,000ha of land over the coming weeks. The target sowing date for sugar beet is March 24. The other spring crops then follow,” he said.