Ukraine Forecasts 4.5% Drop in Corn Sowing Area for 2024
Ukraine Forecasts 4.5% Drop in Corn Sowing Area for 2024

Ukraine Forecasts 4.5% Drop in Corn Sowing Area for 2024

  • 18-Mar-2024 6:15 PM
  • Journalist: Jacob Kutchner

The Ukrainian agricultural landscape is poised for a 4.5% reduction in corn sowing area for the year 2024, with estimates projecting a decrease from 4.043 million hectares sown in 2023 to 3.863 million hectares. Additionally, the ministry's data indicates potential declines in the area dedicated to spring wheat and sunflower cultivation, while spring barley and soybean acreage may see an uptick.

This outlook is a slight improvement from February's government expectations, where initial surveys suggested a steeper 9% year-on-year decline for 2024. Farmers have been revising their planting strategies following significant losses incurred due to low corn prices last year. However, the transition to more lucrative soybean cultivation is hindered by limited funding availability.

In the midst of ongoing conflict, farmers across most regions have commenced spring sowing activities for barley and other early grains. However, the decision to sow corn, which has been yielding losses exceeding $50 per ton for producers, remains pending.

Ukraine has witnessed a substantial rise in corn production over the past century, surging from a modest 3.8 million metric tons in 2000 to approximately 42 million tons in 2021. Despite the impact of Russia's invasion, corn continues to reign as Ukraine's leading grain crop, with production reaching 30 million tons in 2023, followed closely by wheat at 22 million tons. Forecasts suggest a potential decrease in the 2024 corn harvest to 26.3 million tons from 29.6 million tons in 2023, with corn exports also expected to decline to 20.5 million tons in the 2024/25 period from 26 million tons in 2023/24.

Notably, the ministry's projections indicate a substantial surge in soybean cultivation area for the year, potentially reaching 2.199 million hectares compared to 1.780 million hectares in 2023. This trend is attributed to soybeans emerging as one of the few profitable crops in 2023.

While Ukraine has historically been a dominant global producer and exporter of sunflower oil, a downturn in sunoil prices may prompt producers to scale back sunflower cultivation. Projections suggest a marginal decrease in sunflower sowing area to 5.292 million hectares from 5.307 million hectares in 2023.

Furthermore, the ministry anticipates minimal spring rapeseed cultivation, with only 62,000 hectares projected for this year. The overall rapeseed area is expected to be dominated by winter rapeseed cultivation. Despite potential constraints on Ukrainian white sugar exports to the European Union in 2024, a significant increase in sugar beet cultivation area is anticipated for the year.

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