If Ukraine Has No Harvest in 2022

Spring has arrived on farms across Ukraine. It is time to plant corn, soybeans, millet, barley, rapeseed, and sunflowers. Winter wheat was planted in September and October of 2021. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has caused a humanitarian crisis not seen in Europe since the Second World War. A second crisis of major proportions will follow if Ukraine has no harvest in 2022. Ukraine is a major producer or several foodstuffs and if there are not enough farmers to plant, not enough fertilizer, not enough fuel to run equipment, fighting that interferes with the eventual harvest, or damage to storage and export facilities the effects will be felt no only with higher commodity prices but in social unrest and food riots across the globe.

Ukraine Corn Production and Exports

Ukraine is the 7th leading producer of corn and the 4th leading exporter at 13% of total exports behind the USA, Argentina, and Brazil according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. There is a substantial overlap in the north of Ukraine of areas occupied by Russian forces and areas where Ukraine produces much of its corn. Even if farmers can get their corn planted they will have problems getting fertilizer, fuel cultivating, fertilizing, and harvesting and then there will be the twin issues of transporting corn across a nation at war to the port of Odessa and across the Black Sea controlled by Russian ships.

If Ukraine Has No Harvest in 2022 - Russian Control
Areas of Ukraine Controlled by Russia, End of March 2022
If Ukraine Has No Harvest in 2022 - Corn
Corn Producing Areas of Ukraine

Ukraine Wheat Production and Exports

Ukraine is the 8th leading wheat producer and the 6th leading exporter at 8% of the world total. There is more of a problem with wheat than with corn in that so much wheat is grown in the south and east of Ukraine where the Russians control almost all of the Black Sea coast and southeast. Winter wheat has already been planted so the issues will be the ability to harvest, store, and ship. As we noted in our article about the economic impact of war, Ukraine accounts for forty percent of Africa’s grain imports and 55% of Asian grain imports. Turkey, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, and Yemen will suffer food shortages to the extent that Ukraine has no harvest in 2022.

If Ukraine Has No Harvest in 2022 - Wheat Regions
Wheat Growing Regions of Ukraine

Ukraine Is the Biggest Producer and Exporter of Sunflower Seed Products

Ukraine dominated world exports of sunflower seeds and products like cooking oil at 47%. Unfortunately, much of the production is centered in eastern part of the nation where Russia has had more success with its invasion. Both the April to May planting season and the September to October harvest are at risk from fighting, lack of manpower, and shortages of fuel and fertilizer as well as difficulty navigating a nation at war to arrive at the port of Odessa and cross the Black Sea.

If Ukraine Has No Harvest in 2022 - Sunflower regions
Sunflower Growing Regions of Ukraine

Shortages of Fertilizers in Ukraine

Even before the invasion there were problems with getting enough fertilizers to farmers all over the world due to the supply chain crisis. Russia is a major fertilizer producer and they are not only at war with Ukraine but also largely cut off from much of the world financial system due to sanctions. Add to this mess the global competition for fertilizers and we see that Ukraine’s harvest of many crops is at risk.

Shortages of Fuel in Ukraine

When Putin invaded Crimea and then sent irregulars into the southeast of the country he took Ukraine’s oil-rich region. Ukraine is a transit point for oil and natural gas but getting refined fuels to farmers in war zones will be an issue so long as there is fighting. With so many men fighting the Russians, those still on the farms will need to rely solely on mechanization to get crops planted, cultivated, and harvested. The risk is high that Ukraine will have no harvest in much of the country unless the war miraculously ends soon.

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