The Ukraine Report: Seed companies struggle to meet deadlines

Ukraine’s harvest is making progress, but war is still ongoing within the country. We are getting an update on their seed harvest as they try to make ends meet.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

MAS Seeds Ukraine is a French seed producer subsidiary operating in Ukraine for 16 years. Like all other companies, it is struggling to adapt to the realities of war.

MAS Seeds Ukraine runs one of the three largest seed plants in Ukraine and specializes primarily in hybrid corn and sunflower.

To discuss the forecasts for the spring planting season coming up in four weeks, we speak to Serhiy Tymoshenko, Director of MAS Seeds Ukraine.

The first thing we ask is whether producers will plant most of the area with sunflower or other crops instead of corn, as many experts say. Serhiy assumes not.

You can’t plant sunflower everywhere. Firstly, there is not enough sunflower seeds, and secondly, it is technologically incorrect. Is it possible to plant 10 million acres with niche crops? It’s nonsense. We will collapse the market. There were such precedents with chickpeas. Hence, corn will be planted.”

Although companies have not yet made a final decision on their crop rotation, the expert believes that growers will still choose corn. Serhiy expects corn acreage to reach 8.5-10 million. However, many experts believe that it won’t cross 7 million acres

“Corn seeds are available. Compared to European countries, the production plan is about 100% completed. We even export some of the seeds intended for Ukraine. Since the prices are more favourable and the situation with the acreage in Ukraine is unclear.”

The expert supports the forecast that the sunflower area will grow dramatically. This crop’s margins are higher and at the same time it requires less nitrogen fertilizer than corn.

By the way, most of the areas where sunflower was previously grown are currently occupied, specifically Zaporizhzhia and Luhansk regions.

“Kherson region comes third in sunflower production. All in all, we have lost a lot of sunflower. If we take this year’s forecasts and add the occupied regions, we could plant a record 13.5 million acres.”

MAS Seeds, along with other seed producers, is trying to meet deadlines to provide growers with seed before the planting season begins.

Obviously, this year we have reduced the capacity because the hybridization area decreased. Accordingly, the plant’s current capacity is, I think, about 70 percent. Next year we aim to increase it. First of all, it is exports. We also plan to resume cooperation with partners. We are looking for 100% utilization of the plant.

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.