Ukraine corn farm claims 300-bushels-per-acre crop

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Move over Midwest.

Ukraine, which is already rattling Chicago nerves by taking US export trade in corn, is showing pre-eminence in growing the grain too, with one producer claiming a 300-bushel-an-acre yield.

The mean US yield this year, even at a disappointing 146.7 bushels per acre according to latest official estimates, is far better than the average Ukraine farmer can manage, at 6.3 tonnes per hectare (100 bushels per acre) on Kiev forecasts.

But MHP’s harvest so far from its 110,000 hectares of the crop, out of its 250,000 hectares of arable land, ranks favourably against both comparators, coming in at an average of 9.8 tonnes per hectare (156 bushels per acre) so far, with some 20% yet to complete.

And its best farm came in with a knock-out 19 tonnes per hectare, equivalent to 300 bushels per acre, still a relatively rare occurrence even in the US, let alone in Europe.

Indeed, the achievement was a European record for the genetically modified seed involved (BCS 5143), supplied by Monsanto, the US seed giant, which said it was "impressed by the level of technology at [MHP’s] enterprise, and the quality of its application at all levels from soil preparation, planting, protection to harvesting".

Export surge

The crop will leave MHP some 400,000 tonnes of corn to spare, beyond the feed needs of its poultry operations, to bolster Ukraine’s export campaign, which is gaining increasing traction, backed by a record harvest pegged by the farm ministry on Wednesday at "at least 20m tonnes".

Ukraine, which exported some 5m tonnes of corn in the whole of last season, shipped 1.0m tonnes in the first two weeks of this month alone, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation industry group said on Thursday.

Demand is being encouraged by prices which are "continuing to fall", the confederation said, pegging them at $170-175 a tonne ($4.32-4.45 a bushel) in central Ukraine.

Ukraine is said to be picking up increasing trade from historic US customers including Japan, the top corn importer, which is believed to have bought 800,000 tonnes of corn for shipment up to March.

"If correct, it reportedly will be the largest amount of corn purchased outside of the US for the past decade," Jon Michalscheck at Minneapolis-based Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Profits double

MHP revealed the corn result as it unveiled a doubling to $115m in earnings for the July-to-September quarter, on revenues up 39% at $352m, lifted by higher grain and poultry prices.

"We have seen a strong rise in the price of poultry in Ukraine, in line with world poultry price dynamics," Yuriy Kosiuk, the MHP chief executive, said.

While the high grain prices bit into poultry segment earnings, which eased 6% at the ebitda level, profits in the grain operations tripled, to $65m.

MHP depositary receipts, a proxy for shares, rose 1.3% to $11.00 in London.–3859.html

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