Tuesday, 27 July 2010
I have made the short trip back to Blighty and the first thing that struck me was how darn helpful everyone has been. I went to the bank to give them a roasting but they immediately fixed my problems which kind of took the wind out of my sails. People in shops have been helpful and friendly. It really is easy-peasy in the UK.
The other thing that struck me was how dry it has been, eveything is brown and crispy which can't help matters. While we have had it hot and dry in Ukraine there has been frequent rain events during May and June which has kept everything much greener.
The final thing that struck me was how fat everyone is looking. That's not good.
Wheat selling this week at 1,300UAH for grade 4, OSR 3,200.
OSR combining finished, on to the wheat.
Off to the beach, ciao.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Markets have picked up momentum as Russia started selling off 3MMT of stocks; Paris closed at €175 and London at £129.50.
My contacts in Russia tell me the drought induced impact on crop production is set to get worse.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Prices dipped slightly again as markets closed last night, but still more than acceptable.
This hot weather may have improved the quality of wheat with our first samples achieving Grade II.
"We are getting yields of 40 quintals [400kg] a hectare and we hope to achieve 53 quintals very soon" – I would be bricking my kecks if we only got 400kg.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Oilseed rape price still holding, latest local quote as of five minutes ago 3,200грн (314€).
“Generally the roads are in very good condition, even in small villages. The main motorways are in top condition and it is one of the nicest places to drive in Europe as not only no speed cameras and no police but also very little traffic. There is a $1 toll to pay on the M1 motorway but you can only pay in dollars, Euro or Russian roubles but not Belarussian roubles. It meant I had to pay by credit card twice so am interested to see how much my $1 will cost.”
“Crops looked good and I did not see a single weed in the fields. Mostly barley, wheat and maize (probably for forage). The maize looked tremendous and better than any I've seen in Ukraine. Generally the whole country is very tidy and clean. However still state farms and still with about 450 staff employed per one farm of 2,000 to 3,000 Ha. Obviously the cost of production is really high. Belarus has focused on livestock production and plenty of large herds of cows out grazing, under electric fences. Probably Belarus does not have much impact on international trade as most of the grain is fed to livestock.”
“From 12-14 July I saw 6 combines working (including 2 Claas mega) on rape but there was actually very little rape grown which is surprising as Belarus has good rainfall and generally light land like Western Ukraine. However Lukashenko, either does not count rape as a crop, or these guys were out of line as Lukashenko has ordered that the Belarussian harvest starts on July 25th. Don't be late!”
“Belarus is liberalising fast and has jumped up the World Bank / IFC 'Ease of doing business' about 50 places to just above Spain. Miles above Ukraine which is down at 115 or so. I can't see any foreigners investing in Belarus (3 McDonalds in Minsk is about it) so not sure how practical their liberalisation is on the ground.
“Interesting to find out how they survive. One way is obviously by printing money and a quick shop in the supermarket (we only saw one large supermarket) cost 250,000 Belarussian roubles! Some of the cashpoints even give 1 million! It's 3,000 to $1. Prices are like in Ukraine, petrol a bit more and cigarettes really cheap. There are NO soviet cars In Minsk but less jeeps than Kiev and generally cheaper than Kiev cars (Opel, Ford etc).”
“Interesting country and worth keeping an eye on it.”
Indeed it is, many thanks Richard.
Most markets closed slightly lower last night. Does that mean the fun is over?
My mate Fat Yuri reckons that “we are seeing short specs just holding back the market as seen with last nights close in what will continue to be an increasingly desperate rally as the full extent of the Russian, Kazakhstan drought is felt and significantly lower than expected harvest results start filtering in from western Europe.”
Monday, 19 July 2010
There has been a machinery shortage in Ukraine since I first came here over ten years ago and yet it’s never really been an issue.
The level of productivity achieved with what would be considered scrap in other countries never ceases to amaze me. Necessity is the mother of invention and these boys know a thing or two about sticking machines together with elastic bands and chewing gum.
Plus we were asked if we needed more combines at the weekend and four miraculously appeared.
So I really don’t think a shortage of machinery is a new issue or one that will make that much of a difference to this harvest or to the next.
But it does contribute to the overall level of nervousness in the grain trade which will just continue to push the price up farther so perhaps I shouldn’t complain too loudly.
Land has even been worked ready for the next crop. I wonder how much oilseed rape will be sown over the next few weeks on the back of this rally?
The weeds correspond to areas of pooled water that froze to around six centimetres thick for three months and killed the crop. The weeds have filled the gap left by the crop.
The odd thing is in an adjacent field drilled at the same time, same seed rate, same variety, same everything there was very little or no winter kill. Also on slopes the level of losses is notably less.
What can you deduct from this? That oilseed rape will survive very low winter temperatures and is a viable crop in Ukraine even in a very cold year but can not tolerate being locked in to ice for extended periods of time? Possibly.
Would sub-soiling have helped? It might have allowed some of the melt water to drain away slightly quicker and reduced the depth of pooled water that re-froze to cause the higher than average levels of winter losses we saw this season.
Does that mean that sub-soiling will reduce the level of winter kill?
Sometimes the answer we seek is not in an obvious place.
We are nearing completion of the rape harvest; here is a load of the stuff in a shed waiting for a buyer, drop me a line if you’re interested, serious offers over 3000грн will be considered.
We have started on the wheat with first yields off one of our poorer fields is coming in at a shade over 4t.
“A” group soft wheat:
1st grade 1320 -1584грн (130-155€)
2nd grade 1235 -1482грн (121-145€)
3rd grade 1150 -1320грн (113-130€)
“B” group soft wheat:
4th grade 1011 -1213грн (99-119€)
5th grade 975 -1170грн (96-115€)
6th grade 960 - 1101грн (94-108€)
1st grade 1452 -1742грн (142-171€)
2nd grade 1364 -1637грн (134-161€)
3rd grade 1243 -1492грн (122-146€)
4th grade 1142 -1371грн (112-135€)
5th grade 1101 -1322грн (108-130€)
Sunday, 18 July 2010
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Moisture content now down to 8-9%.
Blue skies, 30 degrees, settled.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Well my mate Fat Yuri reckons they can and this is what he said on the matter; just before he slipped in to a vodka induced marathon sing-a-long and once he’s on one of those you just can’t get any sense out of the bugger, sometimes for days on end.
“You can make about 1,250 standard loaves out of one tonne of wheat which is worth about €1,500 retail” he said.
"Wheat is trading today at a 22 month high of about €175 per MT” continued Yuri.
“Mr Farmer has huge amounts of capital tied up so he can plant seed and nurture it risking ice, snow, frost, rain, drought, hail, pest, disease, fire and theft to sell at just above the cost of production which might be less if the Government decides to mess about with the market.”
“His wheat is then turned in to a loaf and sold at about 850% mark up.”
He went on, "half the environmental damage today is caused by farmers having to produce food at the lowest possible unit cost in order to try and achieve some sort of margin so they can carry on trading and if wealthy consumer spent more on their weekly shopping bill rather than fags, booze (I thought this was a bit rich) and glossy magazines then the world would be a much, much better place!” Blimey Yuri.
Fat Yuri then went on with “If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum…all day long I'd biddy biddy bum…if I were a wealthy man.”
I lost Yuri at this point, but you get his sentiment.
While they have had a wet time of it in Crimea it’s worth bearing in mind that Ukraine is a big country; it extends 820 miles from west to east and almost 660 miles from north to south and it’s blue skies and “combines are go” status elsewhere.
It’s a bit like basing harvest conditions for England on reports from the Isle of Wight.
Combines still working, moisture rose through the night as you would expect but on average around 9%. No drying costs.
I will have some yields later today as the daily harvest reports come in.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Unless you have an order to fill but for the time being the humble farmer is set to make a few quid. Don't worry though as the trade will get it all back later.
I'm just waiting for seed, fertiliser and pesticide prices to start moving upwards.
Todays close; Paris Nov delivery oilseed rape 370.75 EUR, wheat 176.75 EUR.
Combines working through the night.
Getting munted to the point that you forget you can’t swim then going for a swim and drowning is pretty common place by all accounts.
My mate is a murder detective in Moscow and the stories he has around this time of the year as they fish one bloated body after another out of the Moscow river make you want to heave.
Ukraine currently 31 degrees in the shade and plus 40 in the sun, combines going flat out.
Forecast is for continued settled weather over the weekend, perfect harvest weather.
Combines started this morning and look set to have a clear run for the next few days.
Where will it all end? Probably in tears but let’s enjoy it for now.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
This latest report is on the back of Germany cutting harvest estimates and the ongoing reports of catastrophe in Russia; have a look at the (rather amateurish) Russia Today report posted by Nogger on his blog (here).
Agrimoney go on with "...the crop downgrades just keep coming, and that is maintaining investors' interest [in wheat]," a City analyst told Agrimoney.com.
A City analyst? That's a bit vague isn’t it?
Combined in to the night, unverified oilseed rape coming in at 2t.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
I tell you what, it’s a good job we don’t plan our lives around these weathermen muppets or we wouldn’t get anything done.
I blame Michael Fish. In 1987 he famously said: "Earlier on today a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way... well, if you're watching love, don't worry, there isn't!".
Hours later the worst storm since 1703 hit Britain, flattened millions of trees and killed 18 people.
Ever since weather forecasters have been erring on the side of catastrophe just in case.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Where it remains dry combines are cutting rape at around 11%mc.
Oilseed rape currently going for 2,850UAH at 8%mc and 2% admix. I reckon that's cheap and we should see a continued firming of that price.
Forecast is for a wet week with heavy rain over most parts of Ukraine.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Might as well watch the WC final with two LFC players and one English ref making an appearance.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
The above average data fits in with what we have experienced on the ground.
Friday, 9 July 2010
This time last year they reported 6.5MMT harvested.
We took a combine in to a field this afternoon and I would have put my house on it being ready but it came out at 18%mc.
This is probably why we haven't spied (probably shouldn't use that word given the latest cold war games in the US) many combines around at the moment.
It's raining in the south and harvest has stopped.
Waiting to start again this morning, combines about to roll, I will let you know how we get on by this evening.
The USA and EU funded a complete new road traffic police force in secret and then the Government sacked the entire traffic police force overnight and replaced them. Now they are helpful and courteous and, of course, have much better salaries and equipment.
What a great idea which should be implemented in Ukraine.
*A British term. Originally Rossers referring to when a Police officer would Report on Summons hence ROS, changed to ROZZERS for ease of pronunciation.
I have a mate who is working in Kazakhstan and he keeps me informed of what he’s up to and he says it has been very dry this spring and the crops look very thin.
Coupled with recent high temperatures and it’s not surprising yield forecasts are being downgraded.
Thursday, 8 July 2010
First off Romania. He said “harvest is just starting, rape was being cut at 11% and was very variable. Wheat is looking ok but summer grasses are appearing where it’s thin or in dirty ground. Maize and sunflowers that were early planted looked superb.”
On the Hungarian Romanian border he said “they have had it very wet and I saw 3 lovely Claas combines all stuck in the same field. The rape and wheat that was close to being ready had pools of water in many of the low spots and there were a few asphyxiated crops of maize and sunflowers, yuk!”
In Austria he noted barley had just been cut and in Germany most crops were not ready though they looked best of any – unlike last nights football team – with just enough lodging to suspect they had put enough N on! Germany efficiency at its best.
The crappy crops in the East of France that he saw in the spring looked a lot better.
Back home in France six row winter barley was cut yesterday - 7t/ha at 11.5 to 12.5% mc 68 to 69 PS.
He will be back in Romania next week, I for one look forward to another update. Much appreciated, cheers Jim.
Here's a crop of "I can't believe it's not GM" soya.
...are a flippin' tall crop. Now I'm not small, probably about average in height you might say, but these sunflowers are massive and despite their nice serene image they are bloody painful to walk through, right scratchy buggers they are.
...and I'll give you the key. One for the machinery heads, here is a New Holland CX8080 filmed earlier today doing what it's designed to do.
I have just driven 300km across central Ukraine and for the record I only saw one other combine working.
This came off at an estimated 2.4t with 9% m.c. Pretty good eh?
OK, so it's early days yet and I would be foolish to think it will all be like this but I still reckon my oilseed rape will be above average.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Fits in with my mates reports and his photo I posted the other day.
Central Ukraine has seen some thin oilseed rape cut along with headlands in wheat (usually done as a fire precaution) and some fields of barley.
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Pity he wasn’t engaged to sort out the rozzers which is beset with similar issues.
I wouldn’t pay too much attention to these harvest figures as reported from the Ministry of Agriculture but for the record here they are: . The Kyiv Post is quoting the Ministry at 1.77 MMT of grain from 72,000 hectares. Tut, tut Kyiv Post, 1.77 MMT from 72,000 ha will give 24 MT per hectare. Shurely shome mishtake? . I guess they mean 2.4 MT per hectare which would be about right. . Oilseed rape is coming in at 1.4 MT per hectare which isn’t too bad but as my old school reports used to say “plenty of room for improvement”.
I wouldn’t pay too much attention to these harvest figures as reported from the Ministry of Agriculture but for the record here they are:
The Kyiv Post is quoting the Ministry at 1.77 MMT of grain from 72,000 hectares. Tut, tut Kyiv Post, 1.77 MMT from 72,000 ha will give 24 MT per hectare. Shurely shome mishtake?
I guess they mean 2.4 MT per hectare which would be about right.
Oilseed rape is coming in at 1.4 MT per hectare which isn’t too bad but as my old school reports used to say “plenty of room for improvement”.
It looks like reports of drought and high temperature has not been over exaggerated. I would be surprised if harvest will be as upbeat as some suggest based on the reports my contacts have given me.
Combines will need to wait for the overnight rain and dew to burn off which shouldnt't take too long.
Monday, 5 July 2010
Two decades after reactor #4 went fizz, bang the radiation levels in Scottish sheep has finally dropped to below the safety limits.
Chornobyl was 1600km away from
Congratulations to Nibulon for having the necessary ability and stamina to access EBRD funds - no mean feat in itself - and congratulations to the EBRD for having the balls to fund primary industry development in the face of an economic downturn.
Forget your preconceptions of Eastern European cold and perpetual snow, the weather at this time of the year is scorchio.
They even ban lorries from the centre of Kiev as the tarmac is melting.
Early harvest reports have OSR moisture content between 9 and 14%.
...have agreed a $15 billion Stand-by-Arrangement or loan to you and me. Which I think is good news but like all loans they do have to be paid back.
As you would expect there is a whole load of caveats attached but as the IMF seems rather toothless I suspect this amounts to very little.
Combines have started working in central regions this weekend.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
Glenda Jackson once visited my local Polytechnic in Birkenhead.
Friday, 2 July 2010
There was even some hail mixed in with the rain.
This is the view off my balcony not half an hour ago, isn't technology brilliant! Make sure you sing "rain drops keep falling on my head" as you watch to get the full experience.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
I sent a question to US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton if she would ask the President of Ukraine, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych when they meet tomorrow, about the general lack of support for agriculture in
Well I thought if Kyiv is going to be in lock down and the streets closed to traffic I thought I would try and get a question asked for my inconvenience.
I will let you know if I receive an answer but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
"A report on the condition and readiness of machinery and buildings prior to the start of harvest."
With the risk of banging the same old drum, my question is “what’s it got to do with you?”
If we say that we haven’t sufficient trucks to keep up with the combines, will they supply us with more? If we say our buildings are porous, rat infested derelict wrecks are they going to help us fix them? I’m guessing here but I think the answer is a resounding no.
So why the blessed report?