Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Latest USDA weather update

Western FSU

Cool, showery weather maintained overall excellent prospects for reproductive summer crops, while winter wheat harvesting was able to proceed without significant delay in southern growing areas.

A strong storm system and its attendant cold front swept through the region early in the period, accompanied by widespread showers and below-normal temperatures (1-4°C below normal).

Rain totalled 10 to 60 mm (locally more) from central and northern Ukraine into central and northern Russia, maintaining good to excellent yield prospects for reproductive corn as well as heading to filling small grains.

However, the wet conditions hampered winter wheat dry down and harvesting, particularly in the more northerly growing areas.

In southern Russia, light to moderate showers (3-25 mm) maintained favourable conditions for reproductive corn and sunflowers, though there were sufficient breaks in the rainfall to promote winter wheat harvesting.

(nb. grain harvest area currently behind by around 30% on 2014)

Eastern FSU

Showery weather in western spring wheat areas contrasted with increasingly dry conditions farther east.

An approaching cold front triggered moderate to heavy showers (10-50 mm) from Russia’s Urals District into northwestern Kazakhstan, benefiting reproductive spring wheat.

Meanwhile, mostly sunny skies prevailed in the Siberia District, though subsoil moisture remained mostly favourable for reproductive spring wheat following timely early-July rainfall.

Ahead of the cold front, temperatures averaged up to 3°C above normal, with some heat stress possible in the western Siberia District (33-37°C).

Farther south, excessive heat (highs at or above 40°C, with weekly average temperatures above 30°C) likely caused stress to irrigated cotton in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Volga tour findings now available

Last Wednesday we set off on a planned four day trip through southern Russia to take a look at the Volga region crop condition.

Reports had been suggesting there was a problem with 160,000 hectares of crop dead in the heat and drought.

In the end it took us five days and we covered 3,000km taking in Kursk, Voronezh, Rostov, Stavropol and Volga before turning for home.

We found a few issues along the way that are not currently being reported, at least I've not read anything yet and we added to our wider understanding of the state of the Black Sea crop.

Since April we have driven 13,000km across the whole of Ukraine and western Russia, we have made 1,400 rapid field appraisals and  carried out 125 detailed fields assessments.

All in I reckon we have the best, completely independent view on Black Sea crop condition that there is and we are still planning more for this year.

But we need funding, if you would like to support us in developing this independent service and secure a copy of the latest 800 word report for £100 then send me an email or tweet.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Latest USDA weather update

Western FSU

Widespread, locally heavy showers lingered over key western and southern growing areas and ended the recent spell of excessive heat in eastern portions of the region.

A weak cool front generated 5 to 50 mm of rain (locally more) from Moldova and central Ukraine into western and southern Russia, further benefiting vegetative to reproductive corn and sunflowers but hampering winter wheat dry-down and harvesting.

However, drier weather by week’s end allowed winter crop harvesting to resume.

Meanwhile, lingering heat (35-38°C) stressed late developing winter wheat and vegetative summer crops in the southern Volga District, though widespread showers (10-50 mm) signalled the arrival of cooler air during the latter half of the period.

Eastern FSU

A return of showers to the region’s spring wheat areas contrasted with seasonably dry, hot conditions in southern cotton-growing areas.

Following last week’s warmth and dryness, widespread showers and thunderstorms (10-70 mm) boosted soil moisture for vegetative to reproductive spring wheat in northern Kazakhstan and neighbouring portions of central Russia.

Showers (10-35 mm) also boosted soil moisture for spring grains in the Siberia District, though western-most portions of the District were mostly dry (less than 5 mm).

Across the southern tier, seasonably dry, hot weather promoted cotton development over Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, though daytime highs above 40°C heightened irrigation requirements.

Volga crop losses continue to increase

Reports from the Volga region are now suggesting drought and heat have killed 160,000ha of crop and the regional government has announced a state of emergency.

The official government announcement fails to mention which crops have been affected so later this week I'm driving there to investigate.

I will write up a report of our findings available to anyone who contributes to our overheads.

The Volga region grows about 6% of Russia’s wheat crop so any losses here could be significant and I doubt if the effect is limited to the oblast borders so we will go further south towards Stavropol and east in to Rostov to see what the conditions are like there.

As previously reported Rostov is already suggesting yields will be down 20% on last year due to the dry autumn and if that is compounded by dry hot weather it could go lower still.

Rostov grows about 17% of the countries wheat crop so that would be significant.

If you think this would be of use to you and are willing to contribute say £100 (or less or more depending on how you value the information) then drop me a line to discuss and I’ll arrange an invoice and sign you up.

Thanks to those who have already pledged their support so far.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Volga yields downgraded?

With the Russian harvest under way reports are coming in from the southern Volga District of persistent heat, stressed wheat and summer crops and yield forecasts downgraded.

Let me know if you would like me to go and take a look and send you a brief report on my findings.

Its a 3,000km round trip so I would need some help with petrol money and a few nights accommodation.

Drop me a line and I'll send you a payment request for £100, then I'll hit the road to the Volga District, take pictures, some yield measurements, chat to a few locals and write up a brief report within a day of the trip.

It'll be cheaper and quicker than organising a visa, popping one of your guys on a plane, finding a translator, hiring a car and paying their expenses.

Latest USDA weather update

Western FSU

Widespread, locally heavy showers over key western and southern growing areas contrasted with persistent heat and dryness in eastern portions of the region. 

A stationary upper-air disturbance was the focus for additional showers and thunderstorms (10-60 mm, locally more than 100 mm) over Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus, and much of western Russia, benefiting reproductive to filling winter wheat as well as vegetative to reproductive corn and sunflowers. 

Farther south, heavy downpours (30-100 mm, locally more) sustained adequate to abundant soil moisture for reproductive corn and sunflowers in central and southern portions of Russia’s Southern District, though the rain hampered winter wheat dry down and harvesting. 

In contrast, persistent heat (35-40°C) stressed late developing winter wheat and summer crops in the southern Volga District, where yield prospects for winter wheat, spring wheat, and summer crops are notably worse than last year.

Eastern FSU

Dry weather returned to the north, while seasonably dry, hot conditions prevailed in southern portions of the region. 

Following last week’s showers, sunny, warm weather (1- 3°C above normal) promoted the development of vegetative to reproductive spring wheat in northern Kazakhstan and neighbouring portions of central Russia. 

Despite the warmth, there was little - if any - heat stress due to a surplus of soil moisture and daytime highs at or below 34°C. 

In the region’s southern tier, seasonably dry, hot weather promoted the development of recently
planted cotton across Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, while additional showers (5-30 mm) provided supplemental moisture to irrigated summer crops in the more easterly growing areas of Kyrgyzstan.

Crop Tour II report now available

After 4,000km, eight days, half a dozen ice-creams and a couple of chats with the local traffic cops the second full Ukraine Russia Crop Tour came to a successful end.

The 3,000 word report is now available for a reasonable price of £75, €100 or $115 and can be sent direct to your inbox or a link so you can download it yourself.

We can also provide you with the raw data that we collected should you wish to make your own calculations.

It covers an assessment of the condition of the cereal crops as harvest kicks off in the south and an assessment of the condition and yield assessment of the recently established corn, sunflower and soya crops.

As well as the report you will gain access to a Twitter account which is full of pictures and commentary posted during this tour and the previous tours.

As far as we know we are the only independent, in country, technically experienced tour that is taking place in Ukraine and Russia, we spend up to 16 hours a day on the road, we cover 500km each day, we walk right in to crops and not just peek in from the road, we dig holes and look at the soil and root development and we rarely change our shirts; we are the only Black Sea Crop Tour you need.

We are continuing to develop our Crop Tour service and will make it bigger and better, we are listening to our partners who are providing us with excellent feedback so we can supply the very best independent and objective information on the Black Sea crops throughout the year.

We are currently looking at setting up an annual subscription which will provide four crop tours at key points through the growing season with further additional mini-tours, regular written updates, opinion and commentary, pictures, videos and our availability to answer questions and have discussions.  

Essentially an annual fee to get your very own man-on-the-ground available all year round.

If you think this might be of interest to you then drop me a line and we can discuss how we can help you gain a better insight into what is taking place on the ground from an honest, independent and technically capable source.

Thanks to those who have already provided support in getting us this far.