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By DANIEL GRANT
Spring planting continues in Ukraine where possible.
But fuel shortages are among the latest set of challenges Ukrainian farmers face as they attempt to plant crops amid the ongoing Russian invasion.
“Diesel has been really, really in short supply,” Gordie Siebring, who moved to Ukraine to farm in the 1990s after operating a dairy with his wife in Iowa from 1981 to 1993, told the RFD Radio Network. “As of (April 30), most every fuel station was out.”
The Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA) reported farmers there planted 4.7 million hectares of spring grain and oilseeds as of May 2, which is only 60% of the seeded area on that same date last year.
The target for spring is about 11.45 million hectares, according to UGA, which would be down about 3.5 to 4 million hectares from a year ago due to the Russian invasion, occupation and land mines. The main crops being planted in Ukraine this spring include corn, sunflowers, soybeans, barley and wheat.
Total corn plantings are projected to decline about 1.5 million hectares in the war-torn country this spring compared to last year.
“We’ve made some slow progress,” Siebring said. “The weather has been thankfully a little wetter than the last two years. The last two years in our area were really dry.
“But, when you’re fighting with diesel fuel on a daily basis, it’s been very slow getting crops in the ground..”
How desperate are the diesel fuel shortages for some Ukrainian farmers?
Siebring was fortunate to receive a 400-gallon shipment last month but has since gone from station to station attempting to fill small containers with fuel.
“I have a minivan that I’ll fill up with 5-gallon jugs and go from station to station,” he said. “And, so you wait in line, get 5 gallons, go the next station, wait for 5 gallons.. So, it gives you an idea how short we are on fuel.”
Tight crop supplies remain a major concern worldwide due to the war in the Black Sea region along with drought-reduced crops in South America and major planting delays so far in the U.S. Corn Belt.
May futures recently rallied to $8.04 per bushel for corn, $16.71 for soybeans and $10.53 for wheat.
Overall, U.S. farmers intend to plant a record 91 million acres of soybeans this season but 4% fewer corn acres. Brazilian farmers also could raise soy plantings by 1.5% next season, which starts in September, Agrinvest Commodities told Reuters.
Meanwhile, condition of second-crop, safrinha corn in Brazil so far is generally off to a favorable start with 92% rated in good condition in Parana compared to 96% the previous week.
This story was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.