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Ukraine remains a formidable corn producer, despite ongoing conflict

DES MOINES and MARION, Iowa – Farmers here in the U.S. contend with rainfall or crusted soil as major hindrances during the planting season. But what about trying to plant corn with an armed conflict in the making?

Earlier this year, Ukraine’s ability to secure imports of farm inputs was of significant concern. Last year, the eastern European nation grew more than 30,000 metric tons of corn, securing its position as the world’s third-largest corn producer.

Market analyst Rich Balvanz with AMS Commodities in Marion says his sources indicate Ukraine is on track to keep that distinction again this year.

“They had a reasonably good start to their growing season,” observes Balvanz. “They had some areas that did not receive all of the inputs that they would like to because of the continued disruption in that part of the world, but all in all, their new crop appears to be off to a fairly decent start.”

USDA World Ag Outlook Board Chairman Seth Meyer says Ukrainian farmers also have a good shot at improving yields this year too.

“One thing we would keep an eye on is fertilizer as well,” Meyer explains. “Historically, they’ve been a fertilizer producer, and now some of the inputs into fertilizer production are more expensive, or less available, to them. So we’d like to watch that, because you’d like to have this complement of the other inputs that go along with hybrid seed in order to get the most out of them. So we’ll be continuing to pay attention, but so far, the things we’ve seen have said planting progress is good, hybrid seed importation is up, so we moved up corn yields for the Ukraine.”

USDA has pegged Ukraine’s production for this marketing year at 27,000 metric tons. 16,000 metric tons of that figure are expected to be exported, as compared to 20,000 metric tons of last year’s 30,900 metric ton crop. Balvanz points out that the old crop Ukrainian corn has been largely successful in avoiding any interruptions in trade.

“They have continued to be strong exporters of grains during this entire crisis period,” says Balvanz, “exporting above last year’s levels and continuing shipments throughout this period. So Ukraine, while at several weeks ago we thought it might turn into a basketcase as far as its agricultural economy goes, that’s not been the case up to this point, and they continue to be a player in the world market.”

Gary Crawford with USDA contributed to this report.