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Spring News from Ukraine

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Spring 2009


This springs challenge is how to fight the finance issues. Chemicals are available on a 20% down payment and 80% in August system but diesel and fertilizer are cash only. We are concentrating on minimizing costs and getting the farm to harvest with sensible inputs.


Grain futures in the Ukraine are trading well below London and most dealers are very cautious about committing to anything. The US dollar is now devaluing slightly against the Hryvnia but I think this is a temporary rest bight and much of our financel security is in the hands of the currency markets.


The new farm is taking shape with much work done on four of the 4000 ton flat stores. A weighbridge, office and tractor shed are also progressing. The real challenge is getting the dryer working by second week of July.


After a prolonged winter we finally started work on 1st April. Most of the farm was cultivated in early winter creating well frost acted seedbeds and easing our spring work load. We drilled 1000ha of spring wheat followed by 900ha spring rape and 300ha of mustard. It is now very dry and the later crops will need rain


The winter crops in the majority have survived well with only pockets of frost kill. Winter wheat is healthy and relatively clean this year with much of the couch removed. Even the winter barleys showing that it may not be a bad alternative to second wheat’s. Rye leaves a lot of trash and is slow to combine and Oats are a problem here due to high summer temperatures. Spring Barley is worthless if it does not grade for human uses.


The WOSR is looking healthy and is just starting to flower on the first drilled. The continued lack of rain has dried much of the phoma / leaf spot issues up and I hope to only use one fungicide pass mid flowering. Last year Alternaria was a big problem in most of our rape and we will be spraying for it this year along with Sclerotinia. Pollen Beetles are rife and will also need our attention.


The plan going forward is to complete all the footings for the dryer next month, keep the sprayers running and build some bridges to aide combine access round the farms.

News from Ryan in Hungary

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Spring is finally here allowing  field work to begin.  The winter seemed to drag on and on, with temperatures dropping below  -15 ºC.  The winter crops do not look to have been affected by the cold weather even though there was little snow coverage to protect them over the cold period.  All fertiliser has now been applied to the cereal crops and the first chemical application is well under way.


The new packing  store is now fully operational. There have been a few teething problems along the way but nothing serious.  The new packing store has simplifed the packing procedure and improved the working environment.  There are still some 2000 tonnes of potatoes in store to be packed, so the packing staff will be kept busy for the next few months. 


Over the winter months we finally finished moving all of the machinery and spare parts to the new site.  All that is left to do now is the landscaping around the site, work on this is under way  and should be completed shortly. 


The spring drilling is well under way, with the spring barley drilled first, the focus has now turned to potato planting.  To date we have planted 80 hectares, leaving 25 hectares to plant.  As soon as the potato planting is completed maize drilling will start, once this is finished we will move on to drilling the sunflowers.  In total, maize and sunflowers combined there are 1600 hectares to drill, this should keep us busy until the next update.