Monday, 31 May 2010

Harvest Guesstival

The superbly named Hydrometeorological Center of Ukraine are the latest punters to have a stab at what they reckon the 2010 grain harvest will be coming in with winter grain production of nearly 21MMT.
Last week the vice Premier for agriculture Viktor Slauta said wheat production will fall by "about 15%" on last season which would suggest a wheat crop of less than 18 MMT.
I’ll weigh in with my best randomly plucked guesstimate of 19MMT and call it a meal at the rather excellent Da Vinci Fish Club restaurant to the winner.

Sunflower disease outbreak?

I am starting to receive reports of higher than normal diseases levels in sunflowers. I looked at several fields last week and didn’t notice anything untoward, some grey/brown lesions on the lower leaves which was more than likely abiotic caused by water on the leaves and bright sunshine. Mind you with the wet and warm weather we have been having this month it would be surprising if we didn’t see more diseases developing. I will be looking at sunflowers later in the week and report back.

Zoo update, the plot thickens

You will never believe this but now the bison as kicked the bucket! The mayor has suspended the zoo director, ordered 24 hour guards and video camera surveillance to watch over the few remaining and presumably scared witless beasts.

A credible Japanese performance

Didn’t I say Japan were the tournaments underdogs and shouldn’t be discounted? They even managed to score all the goals in the friendly against England at the weekend. Admittedly England were crap and Japan actually lost 2:1, but they gave England a run for their money and they will have learnt from the process and will put that learning in to action come kick off for real in 10 days time.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Business idea #1

I’m sure the old MAFF used to give you five quid if you happened upon one of these beasties in the UK. Just seen my first one of the season and here he is. If anyone fancies going in to business I can get my hands on thousands of the buggers, pop them in the post, you then slip along to your local DEFRA office looking all innocent and helpful like and we split the proceeds. Brilliant!

New machinery

We took delivery of a brand new John Deere MAD MAX combine earlier in the week. Whadya mean it’s not a genuine JD?

Crop Update

Winter wheat starting to flower (GS60-61), most crops looking clean and free from disease.

Pod Midge larvae (Dasineura brassicae - Стручковий капустяний комарик) in oilseed rape crops, we have been applying an insecticide to control Pod Weevil, these are the chaps that create an entry hole for the following Pod Midge.

Sunflowers are up to 6 leaves and looking good, inter-row cultivating here to control sow thistle.


Earliest soya is showing the first tri-foliate leaf, we need three leaves before we apply Basagran.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

BEF looking for funding

Black Earth Farming are talking takeover (here) presumably to generate operational funds. Analysts are talking about year end net debts of $23m which on a land bank of 330k ha is only $70 per hectare. Looks like an interesting proposition if you have the readies.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Out of Office

Off out and about tomorrow for a good look at the crops, I will report back on my return at the weekend. Maybe I shouldn't advertise that I'm leaving the apartment empty for a few days, apart from the two Rotweiler's that is.

Ukraine warns over winterkill losses in wheat

Not sure what to make of this latest item in Agrimoney. “Ukraine has warned of a deeper-than-expected drop in its wheat harvest this year, signalling that winterkill may have wrought worse damage to the Black Sea grain powerhouse than analysts have factored in” they report.

With wheat coming in to ear it seems a bit late in the day to decide that winterkill levels are now an issue. They might just be trying to talk up the market of course which is fine with me as we will have 4,000 tons of the stuff to shift come harvest.

I reckon the USDA just about nail it when they say "various forecasts over the past two months have estimated winterkill at anywhere from 3-30%". In other words no one knows. Unfortunately they then go and blow any creditability by saying “many farmers have taken to sowing winter crops late, to narrow the window before winter in which they are susceptible to insect pests and disease, and so enable savings on pesticide bills”. Yeh, right.

Ukraine stood up by the IMF

The Deputy Finance Minister reckoned they were due in yesterday; the Deputy Prime Minister had May 17 in his diary while Conny Lotze from the IMF said “we have no mission planned at the moment”. Oops.

The government wants to discuss a $19 billion loan that would replace an existing agreement of $16.4 billion. The IMF hasn’t confirmed the new loan. Double oops!

Organising drinking sessions in breweries springs to mind.

Zoo update

Now the camel has pegged it!

Who's in hot water? Me!

When I was a kid I thought that by the year 2010 we would be holidaying on Mars or at least we all would have flying machines and live underground.
Yet here I am celebrating the return of hot water after a two week absence. We put a man on the moon in 1969, what went wrong?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Black Earth Farming

Didn’t I just say farming is tough? BEF who farm across the border in Russia apparantly have only 800ha out of 8,500ha of oilseed rape make it through the winter and cold spring. Blimey, I thought our 15% winterkill was a tad high; you’ve got to feel for the guys.

Not that it was asked for but my advice would be to look after what you have, get it through to harvest by spending a bit more, which I know is difficult to stomach when you have lost so much already, but I reckon come harvest what you have will be worth a few quid. And ignore what the shares are doing, it will only depress you, take your eye off target and they don't matter anyway.
Good luck.

Monkey business at the zoo

I mentioned last week about some strange goings on at the Kiev Zoo. Well it turns out there’s more to it than just elephanticide.

Since 2008 the zoo apparently received over 140 million Hr (£12 million) from the state for development and reconstruction only for the director of the zoo to publicly announce in October last year they had no cash and precious little development or reconstruction had taken place.

Then there are stories of zoo workers being beaten up and forced to take polygraph tests and phone calls threatening to poison animals and you think what on earth is going on. It slams in to focus with the casual mention of building cottages on the 35 hectare site the zoo occupies. For “cottages” think multi-million pound luxury mansions and you get the picture. RIP Nellie.

Weather update

The weather is currently mild with plenty of showers and the forecast is more of the same for the rest of the week.

Plenty of moisture about for spring sown crops to get up and away and if you could find a land drain outlet I suspect that some fields would be at field capacity. Plenty of moisture at this stage often means the roots won’t go searching for it and don’t go down as deep which can have consequences later in the season.

Oh, and I’ve seen some hail damage on winter wheat. It’s bloody tough is farming!

Monday, 24 May 2010

US department for stating the bleedin' obvious latest report

"Of all the major grain-producing countries, Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan appear to have the most potential to substantially increase wheat production and exports," said Sherlock at the USDA.

He then goes on to say that "uncertainty exists as to the degree to which the three former Soviet Union countries will increase their wheat exports and that bears have been seen defecating in the woods”.

He also says that yields will rise 17% in Ukraine by 2019, helped by increased use of fertiliser and the expansion of efficient corporate farms and top notch agronomy advice from mugs living in Ukraine but with years of experience of high input farming systems he probably was going to say before he ran out of space.

I can’t find the actual report on the USDA website, I lose the will to live if I spend too long there but you can find a report at Agrimoney.

Ukrainian-EU free trade zone

Whatever you may think about the ex-electrician turned President of Ukraine and let’s face it there is a lot to be concerned about, at least some development is finally taking place.

Amongst the plethora of initiatives you normally associate with a new administration, Yanukovych has promised to adopt legislation necessary for creation of a free trade zone between Ukraine and the European Union by March 2011.

Not sure of any specifics but anything that promotes trade between Ukraine and the EU has got to be a good thing surely? It sounds like the EU is up for it too, but then again the EU is always up for it!

Bank holiday idea No.4

Stuck for something to do this bank holiday weekend?

Here's an idea that beats yet another moronic visit to B&Q. Nip over to Kiev on the early Saturday morning flight, half an hours drive north and bingo; you’re at the site of the world’s worst physics experiment.

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s all in the genes

As wheat is coming in to ear I thought it would be timely to look at the performance of Ukrainian varieties.

Cereal yields come from three places – the number of ears you grow, the size of the individual grains and the number of grains per ear.

Most well grown crops will produce an appropriate number of ears; you should aim for around 500 ears/m2 although there is a tendency for tillers to abort late in the season making this a bit of a challenge to consistently achieve.

The weight of individual grain – the thousand grain weight – is affected by the amount of available moisture around at grain filling time and can be influenced by deep cultivations to encourage deep rooting and good disease control to keep the plant transpiring and growing for longer.

The number of grains per ear is an issue that Ukrainian plant breeders can do something about. The picture below is of a UK variety (left) and a Ukrainian variety (right) from last year. If I am being charitable the Ukrainian variety has about 50 grain sites whereas the UK variety has about 70 grain sites per ear. That’s 40% more grain sites per ear.

That, in my humble opinion will be where a significant part of the UK average 8t/ha yield comes from and where the Ukrainian average 2.9t/ha yield is lost.


Saturday, 22 May 2010

Oilseed rape

We missed the timing for the sclerotinia spray due to logistical reasons but with dry weather followed by plenty of showers petals have failed to stick to leaves and stems so I am not unduly worried.

Will be applying a fungicide to keep pods clean of alternaria and botrytis plus an insecticide for pod weevil and the subsequent pod midge and that should just about be it until desiccation and harvest.

Update from the village

Spuds, beans, salad onions and radishes well up and growing away.

Always worth keeping an eye on what is going on at grass roots level; the local villagers know a thing or two about growing crops and much can be learnt by watching what they get up to.

Aphids at large

Spotted my first aphid of the season, here she is lurking away in an ear of freshly emerged wheat.

Probably a grain aphid (Sitobion avenae) or similar sub-species, not normally an issue but I will be keeping an eye on them and may well include an insecticide in with the ear wash.

Crop Update

Back from the farm with a brief round up of crop conditions.

Early winter wheat main stem, ears well emerged (GS57-59) with tillers and later drilled wheat just behind at booting (GS45) and flag leaf sheath open (GS47). Plenty of mildew knocking about in the base of some varieties and starting to move up were crops haven’t been sprayed.

Winter oilseed rape coming to the end of flowering on the main stem and pod development is well under way (GS48-53).
Sunflowers emerging with earliest drilled crops at three to four true leaves.

Soya just coming through the ground.

Maize up and starting to sprint ahead.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Out of Office

Off out and about looking at crops for a couple of days; will report back with an update on my return. That is assuming traffic Plod doesn't arrest me and lock me up and it has happened before you know. Two days freezing my armpits off in a one horse, poor excuse of a town trying negotiating with an illiterate Freddy Mercury look alike. Oh how we laugh about it now, not.

Something’s going on down the zoo

Last month the elephant in Kiev Zoo was poisoned and died. Last night someone threw dodgy grub in to the Yaks enclosure after which they needed urgent resuscitation and they reportedly had the same symptoms as poor old Nellie (actually he was called Boy), presumably without the death bit.

I went to the zoo the other week, I used to do a bit of animal psychology and have spent some time studying animal behaviour and these guys looked pretty content so why anyone would want to poison them beats me.

Spare any change Guv?

A bit of news from Stamford Bridge that has rather taken the shine off the double. Apparently Mr Abramovich is still owed £726 million by Chelsea despite reports that he had written off the loan. You don’t get to be the richest guy in the world by writing off debts, better dig deep chaps, no pun intended.

As an aside, I’m no fan of Chelski but I was genuinely sorry to see Michael Ballack out of the world cup through injury.

Isn't soil expensive

I have been looking at land prices here and thought I would make some comparisons with the UK.

Admittedly it’s been a while since I had anything to do with land purchases in the UK but blimey, I didn’t realise it had gone up by that much! According to DEFRA one hectare of prime English farm land will set you back 14 grand and that was 2008 prices! Makes $650 per hectare here look a tad more palatable.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Phew, what a scorcher!

After seemingly months of the Brits whining on about the snow followed by “boo hoo, isn’t it cold” it looks as if we are going to have to put up with “it’s too hot” if MeteoGroup UK (nope, I’ve never heard of them either) are to be believed as temperatures are "set to soar” to ten degrees above the average for the time of year says “a forecaster”. A forecaster! What kind of reporting is that, you might as well say “some random bloke off the street”. Still, it might boost protein levels in wheat.

Disease forecast

Weather definitely turned cooler over the last couple of days with plenty of showers about. I suspect that most crops will have received a soaking or two by now.

I have seen mildew (Blumeria graminis - Мучнистая роса) run away under these conditions -15oc, high humidity - and there is a bit lurking around in the bottom of susceptible varieties. Will need to keep an eye on this to see if it moves up the plants although free water actually inhibits spore germination so wet crops are at less risk.

The only realistic chemical option here is metrafenone which is a protectant and will needs applying before the disease spreads to the upper part of the canopy.


Update from UK and France

SW England; winter oilseed rape struggling with late frosts at mid flower; early drilled winter wheat at half flag leaf emergence (GS38), later drilled crops at leaf two.

NW France; winter oilseed rape just at end of flowering; winter wheat at flag leaf sheath opening (GS47) to first spikelet visible (GS51) and will be moving fast now that its warm. Thanks for the update from Jim Bateman who also has some land in Romania so we should get some info from there in due course.

Russian grain mountain threatens to topple over!

Those clever guys at Agrimoney are at it again and picking up on an interesting and timely story. They are reporting (here) that Russia’s grain industry might enter into a price war with Europe as it looks to find an outlet for the growing grain mountain it has taking up valuable space out on the steppe.

This might just be speculation driven by the Russian Grain Union as analysts are currently pegging the Russian harvest on the lower side due to high levels of winter kill and a cold, dry spring.

But it does raise the unpalatable scenario of low prices going in to the next MY coupled with an increasingly likelihood of low(er) yields. Once sobered up, any first year agricultural student should be able to tell you that supply and demand dictates that low yields mean high prices, right? Well not necessarily, last year we saw low yields and low prices, a situation we could all do without repeating itself again this year.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pesticide Problems Part III

Problems at the border again. Waiting delivery of soya herbicide which is currently sitting on the Polish border and has been for ten days by all accounts.

If Mr Yanukovych is serious about wanting to see Ukraine develop to its full potential then he could do worse than sorting out these border problems, particularly for agricultural inputs. Agreed that's it's no fun to have any input for any business held up in the supply chain but we work to natures clock and if we don't get this on pretty sharpish we effectively lose the crop.

An argument which I suspect is lost on Yuriy, the Customs Official.

GDP

The State Statistics Committee of Ukraine announced today that first quarter Gross Domestic Product is up 4.8% on last year. Before you go and do something rash on the back of this fantastic news it’s worth bearing in mind that GDP fell by 15.1% in 2009.

Eric and Ernie

Dmitry Medvedev or as I like to call him, Vladimir Putin, is in Kiev today and tomorrow to see his new chum President Viktor Yanukovich.
I’m reliably informed that they are planning a leisurely stroll around town with an ice-cream or two before carving up the remaining state owned assets then heading off down the river for a swim and shashlik. Nice.

Weather and crop update

We had hail mixed in with heavy rain in Kiev earlier today; I could do without that hitting the oilseed rape which is presently in full flower and vulnerable to such weather events. Ears are emerging in the earliest wheat crops, they have certainly put a sprint on this week.

It would be interesting if anyone can email me the growth stages of crops in their region/country and we could do a bit of a comparison.

Head for the shelters, we are under attack!

This was the scene from our balcony last night, I thought war had started but it was only fireworks. I seem to remember there was a rule about lighting the blue touch paper and retreating twenty yards; well this wasn't twenty yards I assure you.

video

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Weather

Plenty of rain in Kiev this morning. We are having some very good growing conditions at present, bright, warm, breezy weather with occasional showers often at night. Perfect. There is a local saying here that translates in to something like "you need three rains in May or your fecked". Well, we have had three rains already so we should be alright.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Footie records worth a quick mention

League Champions: Liverpool 18 - Everton 9
European Cup: Liverpool 5 - Everton nil
FA Cup: Liverpool 7 - Everton 5
League Cup: Liverpool 7 - Everton nil
UEFA Cup: Liverpool 3 - Everton nil

For the record Mr Nogger I make that 40 - 14

A great leap…backwards

I spend a lot of time explaining to directors, village leaders, agronomists and just about anyone who will listen that investors looking to invest in Ukraine farming are not looking to rebuild the old state run farms.

The new model has to be a much leaner, fitter and sleeker operation to survive.

I have regular requests to repair the ancient and clapped out infrastructure and I patiently explain that we can not justify repairing knackered sheds, stores, tractors or offices just to make it look like the old days. The new order is capitalism – like it or loath it, it is the system we are operating under and it’s free market rules from now on boys.

I then explain that if we can make commodity farming viable then we can look at other enterprises and added value projects to spread our risks, boost the local economy and provide meaningful employment opportunities for the village. And to be fair most of them get it.

Ukraine’s vice prime minister, one Viktor Slauta doesn’t get it at all.

He wants to merge the country's main crop buyer, which is poorly financed, and a silo operator with a reputation for losing grain to form one single state grain entity. Just like in the old times. Read a fuller account here.

C’mon guys, wake up, it didn’t work then so why should it work now? I might not agree entirely with Friedman economics and the "free market at all costs" approach but it is the system we currently have to manage our business under.

Even my one legged, gold toothed, vodka soaked, incompetent agronomist gets it.

Yield prediction

My mate and top agronomist from SAC, Mark Ballingall, reckons Scottish crops are about ten days behind with rape just coming in to flower and wheat at GS31. I’m getting this feeling that yields are going to be down this year right across Europe which means I probably should look after what I have got and spend that bit extra because it could be worth a few quid come autumn.

Flag Leaf Options

If you haven’t started yet then it’s about the right time to start T2 flag leaf sprays.

The flag leaf is the real engine behind cereal yields and will contribute up to 80% to the final yield so keeping him clean really pays dividends. If you’re going to apply only one fungicide to your wheat and barley crops this year and I reckon a lot of people will be as funds are tight, then this is the one to go for.

Chemistry options are a bit lean here in Ukraine with either old school technology, stuff that’s beyond it’s expiry date – you only find that one out when it’s delivered – frost damaged or counterfeit chemicals to choose from.

The realistic options are epoxiconazole (found in mixtures with thiophanate-methyl), tebuconazole, MBC (still worth a punt here) and available since last year but now doubled in price, metrafenone to take care of mildew.

I am going with low rate epoxiconazole + metrafenone, don’t go full rate as these guys work perfectly well at reduced rates, email me if you want my recommendations, I only charge a small fee – I gotta eat too you know and I’m giving you all this good stuff buckshee as it is!

Worth adding an adjuvant but steer clear of Trend Par which is what all the dealers will try and push, might as well wazz in the tank and keep your money – email me for my preferred option.

Ukrainian Feminist Movement

Serious point. This is a photo of the fledgling Ukrainian women’s movement, Femen, seen recently demonstrating against sexism, sex tourists and other social ills.

Might seem a funny way to protest against sexism by getting your nellie’s out but it has gained them a lot of media coverage and they are seriously talking about going into politics and running for seats in the next parliamentary election, scheduled for 2012.

This is a photo of the Cameron Glegg coalition cabinet. Do you reckon they knocked on next door to borrow a couple of emergency chairs. How many women do you see? I reckon about four out of twenty eight.

Which is the more sexist picture?

Friday, 14 May 2010

I have seen the future and it's direct drilled!

What do you reckon to this?

It’s a crop of sunflowers we direct drilled earlier this week with a JD Max Emerge drill in to burnt off maize stubble.

I’m chuffed to bits.

First direct drilled crop we have and I am well impressed. I will keep you posted how the crop develops.

What the fu...

Sitting here this evening, diligently working away and this monster suddenly flies in through the open window. Fug me, I jumped out of my skin.

Reminds me of time when I was down the pub with a mate of mine and he gets a phone call from his misses, true story this, "You'd better come home" she says, "something flew in through the window and has bitten the littl'n, I don't know what it was but it had black and yellow fur on it and now Johnny is bleeding".

Football Results

I don't know why but I thought now would be a good time to have a look at the footie results for this season:

1 Chelsea 86
2 Manchester United 85
3 Arsenal 75
4 Tottenham 70
5 Man City 67
6 Aston Villa 64
7 Liverpool 63
8 Everton 61

I think that'll do for now, Mr Nogger.

Who's in hot water? Not me!

Kiev is a great city to live in. It's very green with plenty of interesting stuff to do and see and today it's possible to get just about anything you want. M&S are here and I suspect it won’t be long before Tescos turn up.

So why has my hot water been turned off for two weeks? Apparently so they can carry out routine maintenance on the water/heating system and it happens every year. Surely there must be other ways of carrying out routine maintenance without depriving 3 million people of hot water? Imagine if they turned the hot water off in London for a couple of weeks, people would go nuts.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Cameroon versus Japan

David Cameroons going to be a busy boy. Not only has he got a new job with his new mate to bully, he’s also playing his world cup opener against Japan in June and those guys will be no push over, believe me. Underdog favourites I reckon.

I pissed myself when I read his speech on his arrival at number ten. He wittered on something like "a country where we don't just ask, 'Where are my entitlements?' but, 'What are my responsibilities?' Where we don't ask, 'What am I owed?' but more, 'What can I give?'" Was that drivel written by a focus group or what.

They should have stuck to the original Bobby Kennedy speech and been done with it. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country”, not forgetting to change the nationality bit, although may be not.

Invest in Ukraine? You Gotta be Kidding?

My advice not to invest in Ukraine agriculture has been completely ignored once again. $350 million has just been invested in two arable farms and one egg farm. Is this a good time to talk about salmonella?

Full story in the Kyiv Post, link below and probably on some city investors websites too I suspect.

http://www.kyivpost.com/news/business/bus_general/detail/65981/

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Monster Munch Part Two

Check this guy out, he's a beauty. Very common in wheat and later on oilseed rape.

They are emerging at the moment and will increase in numbers through the next month, they buzz around at low speed and altitude hence the local name for them - bombers.

I can't speak for the larvae but the adults don't seem to do much in the way of damage although that doesn't stop the local agronomist trying to nuke them out of existence with dimethoate.

Agronomy Update

Back from the farm, if you can't be bothered watching the video below then here is a brief outline of crop condition.

Wheat at GS37 to 39, very little disease, some mildew in the base of the crop, tan spot (Pyrenophora tritici-repentis) on lower leaves although epoxiconazole should see to that;


Oilseed rape at early to mid flower and looks good, just not enough of it, no signs of any diseases and pollen beetle well controlled although plenty on neighbouring crops that have had no insecticide;


Sunflowers up and growing;


Soya drilling well underway, nothing through the ground yet;

Spring barley showing the usual signs of net blotch.

Wheat and OSR Update

A quick look at how the wheat and OSR are this week.

video

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Out of Office

Off out and about for a couple of days, will report back mid week with a crop update and video.

In the meantime here's a thought; Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine account for 13% of the worlds arable land and could theroretically feed the planet but currently produce only 6% of the worlds grain and 3% of it's meat.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Statue to Dead Mass Murderer

Victory Day parade in Kiev tomorrow. Just about the right time to unveil a statue to Uncle Joe I would think. The local Communist Party in Zaporizhya thought so and did on Wednesday.

Erecting a statute to one of histories greatest mass murderers on the homeland of many of his victims is perhaps not the best way to promote peace, harmony and understanding.

Young nationalists suggested that he wouldn’t be there for long.

In the Old Times!

Putin was in town last week signing deals with the new Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (the guy in the picture is Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov)

Without boring you with detail, all the deals are pro Russian and are being signed without any debate or transparency. Essentially the deals will damage how Ukraine looks to the rest of the world; no longer an independent state but once again affiliated to Moscow.

This could have fairly major implications on investment in Ukraine or it might not. We will have to wait and see.

I will keep you updated, that is until my 'pooter is seized and I am expelled from the country as an enemy of the state.

Pesticide Problems

It seems that the pesticide blockage at the border I wrote about previously has been cleared. We now have all the chemicals needed for the current spray programmes. Not sure if this is temporary or the problem has gone away. I will keep you posted.

Ukraine versus Brazil

This is an interesting article by Mark Mueller comparing Ukraine and Brazil agriculture and I have to say I generally agree with his observations about Ukraine.

http://www.agweb.com/get_article.aspx?src=gennews&pageid=157304

That is apart from removing the moratorium on land sales which most observers on Ukraine agriculture seem to cite as a need for reform and development.

The moratorium prevents the freehold sale of Agricultural land and last time I looked had been extended until 2012.

On the face of it freeing up land sales secures land tenure and allows for investment to be made.

However those wishing to invest in agriculture would have to find sufficient capital to fund the purchase which could be as much as $5000 per hectare. At the moment renting land costs about $40-50 per hectare.

Removing the moratorium would be very bad for the current landowners. A cash lump sum seems like a good idea and undoubtedly some would make great use of it; setting up a business; sending the kids to Uni; fecking off out of the village; whatever. But the vast majority would have a fantastic party and piss it all away.

Then what? No income, no land, no job. Not good for the individual and not good for the village.

Agronomy Update

Travelled right across Ukraine and in to Russia this week, hence the lack of blogs and what struck me was the lack of visible farming taking place. This could be because farms have no finance for inputs or I just missed it although over 1000km I thought I would see a bit more action in the fields.

T1 sprays going ahead as wheat reaches GS32 (Стадии роста 32), the crop looks clean and bright although striping from poor nitrogen application is starting to show up. This is a combination of crap machines and operator error, something we are working on.

Oilseed rape is loving this bright and warm weather and is receiving its first fungicide and insecticide as I write. Disease levels are low but Pollen Beetle (Meligethes aeneus Цветоед рапсовый) continues to thrive in the hot and dry weather.

Sunflower drilling completed and early drilled sunflowers are just coming through the ground.

Soya planting is well ahead and on target to finish by mid May.

Weather hot and dry, could do with some rain which is forecast for this weekend.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Oilseed rape redrilling estimates

I see the Ukraine Min of Ag has upped the amount of oilseed rape that needs re-drilling to 433,700 ha.

It’s nigh on impossible for me to estimate the actual amount of crop in difficulty and any assessment I make is based on what I see and instinct but it is fair to say that rape took hell of a beating this winter.

However let’s try and put it in to context. I am only replacing about 15% of the rape crop I have responsibility for which is only slightly above the average level of winter kill for Ukraine.

Other growers I am talking to are giving me the message that it’s not all that bad.

We have seen temperature and sun levels increase this week and crops are looking much better.

As I have said in the past, it’s not going to be a bumper year and some crops are looking very crap but OSR in Ukraine generally does look crap unless it’s being grown by competent and experienced foreign growers.

So 433,700ha of crop which was pretty ropey in the first place is not as bad as 433,700ha of quality stuff.

Football

I was out for a walk around town this morning and happened across this piece of "street art". An interesting sentiment and an ideology I agree with.

While I'm on about the beautiful game what about this for an idea. Any professional football player can change teams only three times in their career? This way your team would be a proper team and not a bunch of football players bought in to plug gaps and turn around fortunes relative to how much money the club has.