‘To plant or not to plant’, even if fighting stops, yields could suffer as concerns over inputs loom

David L. Stern, Joby Warrick, Kareem Fahim, Dan Lamothe, and Missy Ryan reported on the front page of today’s Washington Post that, “Russian forces pounded key airfields in central Ukraine and launched a new assault on the beleaguered port city of Mariupol on Sunday.Russian and Ukrainian officials said, as Moscow continued its invasion in defiance of new Western economic threats and fierce resistance Ukrainian defenders outgunned.

Financial Times writer Emiko Terazono reported last week that “Russia and Ukraine supply almost a third of global wheat exports and since Russia’s assault on neighboring Black Sea ports are practically paralyzed. As a result, wheat price reached record levels, surpassing the levels seen during the food crisis of 2007-2008”.

“Food Crisis Looms as Ukrainian Wheat Shipments Halt”, by Emiko Terazono. The Financial Times (March 5, 2022).

The FT article stated that ““If Ukrainian farmers do not start planting soon, food security will be seriously threatened”. If Ukraine’s food production drops in the next season, the price of wheat could double or triple,” said [Kees Huizinga] the Dutch national, who has been farming for two decades in Cherkasy, 200 km south of Kiev. He is part of a farmers’ union, whose 1,100 members cover just under 10% of the country’s farmland.

“While well-stored wheat, like that from the Huizinga farm, can last for several months, agricultural experts and policy makers have notified of the impact of delayed shipments on the countries that depend on the region for wheat, cereals, sunflower oil and barley.

“Food Crisis Looms as Ukrainian Wheat Shipments Halt”, by Emiko Terazono. The Financial Times (March 5, 2022).

Terazono said that “sitting in his friend’s house in Siret, near the Romanian-Ukrainian border, Huizinga said that the main question raised during a call with 75 fellow Ukrainian farmers was to plant or not to plant. They may find it difficult to obtain fertilizers and crop protection products and it is unclear if they could actually harvest and ship the crop. “The supply chain is broken,” he said.

Bloomberg writers Megan Durisin and James Poole reported on Monday that “Wheat prices approached record highs as Russia’s escalating war in Ukraine cuts off supplies to one of the world’s major breadbaskets.

“Chicago futures have exceeded the daily limit for the sixth consecutive session, up 7% to $12.94 a bushel. This is based on a massive wave of 41% last weekthe most data spanning six decades, and puts prices at their highest since 2008. The Paris contract violated one all-time high after jumping up to 11%.”

“Wheat nears record as war cripples supply to Ukraine”, by Megan Durisin and James Poole. Bloomberg News (March 7, 2022).

The Bloomberg article stated that “” serious disorders‘, the Agricultural Market Information System said in a report on Monday. “Any serious disruption to production and exports from these suppliers will undoubtedly drive up prices further and erode the food security of millions of people.”

“Food costs have already reached an all-time high, according to the United Nations, and are expected to rise further, compounding the woes of importers,” the article said.

And Patrick Thomas and Alistair MacDonald reported on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Ukrainian farmers are supposed to plant their spring crops soon. Yet even if the fighting stops, they may not have enough fertilizers and pesticides. Agriculture industry leaders warn of small yields in Ukraine, which normally has some of the most productive fields in the world.

“‘Depending on the crop you’re considering, it could have pretty serious impacts already in the first growing season,’ said Svein Tore Holsether, managing director of Norway’s Yara International AS A, one of Norway’s largest manufacturers of fertilizer in the world. . ‘Yields could fall by 50%.’”

“War pinches supply chain, driving up prices globally”, by Patrick Thomas and Alistair MacDonald. The Wall Street Journal (front page, March 7, 2022).

More generally, Thomas and MacDonald pointed out that “fertilizer supplies were already tight and prices were at record highs. This adds pressure on farmers, who pay significantly more for fuel, weed killing chemicals, seeds and seasonal labour.

“If fertilizer supplies run out or become too expensive, some farmers may move acres to less fertilizer-intensive crops like soybeans. Others could reduce fertilizerpotentially slimming cropsanalysts said.

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