Insight to Ukraine’s sunflowers, soy and sugar beet

Ukraine is one of the world’s most fertile countries and, alongside cereals, it excels in growing three vital crops. We interview crop managers Olena Mikhieieva and Roman Gorban for the inside story

Sunflower

The total Ukrainian arable area is 24 million hectares, with sunflower accounting for more than 20% of that area. Ukraine is the world’s largest exporter of sunflower oil, shipping 4.4 million tonnes a year. The Ukraine is also one of the world’s leading producers of high-oleic sunflower oil, with 98% of production of this in-demand healthy oil exported.

The use of modern varieties, crop protection products and fertiliser has meant that average sunflower yields have increased by 57% to 2.6 tonnes/hectare over the last 20 years. However, a fifth of farmers achieve 3.5 tonnes/hectare.

Soy beans

Ukraine grows 1.9 million hectares of soy a year, with the crop accounting for around 7% of the national arable area. More than 80% of Ukrainian soy is exported, with the country shipping 1.8 million tonnes or 45% of its production in the last year.

In line with other crops, there has been a massive increase in Ukrainian soy yields over the last 20 years, with yields more than doubling to 2.3 tonnes/hectare since 1995. There is still a lot of potential for the crop as 15% of farmers deliver yields of 3.2 tonne/hectare.

Sugar beet

The Ukrainian sugar beet industry is largely aimed at producing sugar for the home market, but the country does export 20% of the sugar it produces. Every year 310,000 hectares of sugar beet are grown, around 1% of the total arable area in the country. In the last 20 years sugar beet yields have increased by a third to 60 tonnes a hectare, although a quarter of farmers get yields of 70 tonnes/hectare. It is mainly grown in the higher rainfall regions of Western and Central Ukraine.

Ideal growing conditions

Ukraine has the perfect weather and soil conditions to grow sunflower and soy crops with the right mix of sunshine and rain plus some of the world’s most fertile soil. Sunflower was established more than 100 years ago and remains popular despite other countries now focusing on oilseed rape.

Sugar beet is also of historical importance, with the country supplying the old Soviet Union with sugar in the past.

Modern agriculture transforms production

Plant protection is a very important part of agricultural development in Ukraine. Most farmers recognize that without crop protection it is impossible to get good results. Multinational chemical and seed companies have played an important role in the development of agriculture in Ukraine, helping farmers to achieve higher yields. More and more farmers are also using organic fertilisers and micro and macro elements to care for and enhance their precious soils.

Adama works closely with Ukrainian farmers. Sales representatives are in close contact with farmers spending plenty of time in the field. The company also has a strong technical team that uses the knowledge fed back from farmers to offer products that meet their needs. We offer them additional services. There is also the Adama Lab service that farmers can use to check the problem they have and find the best solution.

There is a strong future for Ukrainian farmers, with the world needing the crops that it grows. In the next few years is not likely to see an increase in the agricultural area, but it can be expected that through constantly improving techniques, seeds and crop protection that yields will continue to increase.

Roman Gorban (Crop Manager Corn, Soya, sugar beet, Adama Ukraine) in field of Sugar beet
Soya field - Tov “Apogey Agro”, Lvivska oblast (district), Western Ukraine
Soya field - Tov “Apogey Agro”, Lvivska oblast (district), Western Ukraine
Sunflower from TOV “Rost Agro”, Poltavska oblast (district)