Despite the impact of the ongoing conflict, Ukraine managed to export one million tonnes of grain during the month April 2022. For the most part this was achieved via exports from Black Sea ports in Bulgaria and Romania.

However, a significant proportion of these shipments were first transported by rail through Poland and up to the Baltic Sea area for onward shipment.

Phelim Dolan from the Irish grain important end exporting organisation, Comex McKinnon, discussed these matters at length during his contribution to the most recent Tillage Edge podcast.

He commented:

“I was genuinely surprised to learn of the significant export-related activity achieved by Ukraine over recent weeks, given that the country’s own Black Sea ports are effectively locked up.”

Meanwhile, Russia continues to export grain to those countries willing to turn a blind eye to international sanctions.

“But Russia had been trying to restrict its level of exports prior to the conflict in Ukraine, primarily to keep a lid on grain prices domestically,” said Dolan.

“Very little Russian grain would have been exported to the EU in the past. However, current sanctions relate to all Russian owned shipping and companies.

“The reality is that the EU now takes a very dim view of any business interactions taking place with Russian businesses across the board at the present time.

“Third countries may well be taking Russian grain as per normal.”

Nervous markets over Ukraine conflict

According to Dolan, the Russian merchant fleet are major transporters of grain and other agri commodities around the world.

The Comex McKinnon representative confirmed that markets remain nervous regarding Ukraine’s ability to plant, manage and harvest its crop base in 2022.

“Fear is a very significant emotion when it comes to driving markets,” he explained.

“The official figures would indicate that farmers in Ukraine are between 25 and 30% behind the level of last year’s plantings.

“In a normal year, this would not lead to alarm bells going off. The reality is that spring planting makes up the bulk of Ukraine’s grain output.

“Corn can go into the ground, comfortably enough, until the end of May.

“Given the difficulties that Ukrainian farmers are facing at the present time, it is actually encouraging that they have managed to get on with such a relatively high level of planting up to this point.

“But there are no guarantees to the effect that farmers in Ukraine will be able to manage and harvest these crops. And these are the big issues moving forward,” he concluded.