It has been estimated that up to 25 million tonnes of maize remains in Ukrainian feed stores. This is crop that was harvested last autumn.

Approximately one million tonnes of grain was exported from that country last month.

While this figure may seem impressive, this is down from the 15-million-tonne average in monthly export sales, which Ukraine would normally notch-up throughout the year.

Phelim Dolan, from the Irish grain import/export business, Comex McKinnon, discussed these matters at length with Teagasc’s Michael Hennessy on the most recent edition of the Tillage Edge podcast.

He explained that the Ukrainian maize harvest usually takes place during the months of October and November.

“The war kicked-in towards the end of February, which meant there was little opportunity to offload the vast bulk of last year’s crops,” he stated.

“So, most of last year’s grain is still sitting there.”

According to Dolan, logistics within Ukraine will improve as time passes, improving the availability of feed.

“April was the first month that the authorities in the country had an opportunity to do something constructive, where the coordination of grain exports was concerned,” Dolan added.

“This capacity will improve over the coming weeks. But the prospect of Ukraine becoming the force on world grain markets that it once was, will not happen any time soon.

“But there are other pressures coming on world grain markets at the present time. China, e.g., is reporting the worst winter wheat crops in many years.

“It’s very hard to know what’s fact and what’s fiction where the Chinese market is concerned,” said Dolan.

Feed production

“Current global estimates put wheat production figures to be slightly down on last year,” Dolan said.

It turned out that 2021 was a record year in terms of grain output around the world.

“But demand has been increasing in tandem with this. China is a major producer of wheat, but that economy is facing into a number of head winds at the present time,” Dolan explained.

“These include the state of the country’s property market and the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

“Where North America is concerned, it is too early to make any firm predictions, in terms of this year’s grain harvest. Parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas are suffering drought conditions.

“But other parts of the country have received significant rainfall. We don’t need a poor harvest in any part of the world this year. Extremely high grain prices do not suit tillage farmers in that very general sense.

“For one thing, such a scenario only encourages high input costs,” Dolan concluded.