USDA's Foreign Ag Service (FAS) says after traveling through central, eastern and southern Ukraine to examine winter-crop prospects, the majority of wheat fields in eastern and southern Ukraine showed signs of poor germination and establishment from excessive fall dryness.
"Evidence of frost damage was evident in some fields, but damage was localized and limited largely to areas within fields where strong wind had removed snow cover and dormant crops were left unprotected from low temperatures. Early-spring conditions were beneficial for the development of winter crops as they broke dormancy and resumed vegetative growth in March, with cool weather and adequate surface-soil moisture," says FAS. "The favorable spring weather, however, is unlikely to fully compensate for the weak winter-crop conditions that resulted from the severe fall drought."
USDA currently estimates Ukraine's 2012-13 wheat crop at 13.0 million metric tons (MMT) -- a 40% drop from last season.
"A vegetative map of the region indicates winter-crop conditions in late November were significantly worse than normal throughout the main winter-wheat production region of north-central, southern, and eastern Ukraine," says FAS. "December temperatures were generally above normal, which enabled winter crops to continue vegetative growth later than usual, but temperatures dropped suddenly and sharply in January and winter crops entered dormancy in unusually weak condition."