KYIV, UKRAINE — Ukraine has finished 92% of its winter grain sowing, 4.4 million hectares as of Nov. 15, even as war with Russia rages across the country, Reuters reported, citing agriculture ministry data.

The acreage included 3.7 million hectares of winter wheat, accounting for 93% of the expected area, ministry data showed. Farmers sowed 6.2 million hectares of winter wheat by Nov. 19, 2021. Farmers have also sown 600,000 hectares of winter barley and 79,100 hectares of rye.

The ministry said six regions had already completed the 2022-23 winter sowing.

Ukraine sowed more than 6 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2022 harvest, but a large area has been occupied by Russian troops who invaded Ukraine in February, and only 4.6 million hectares were harvested.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskiy told Reuters in October that the ministry was keeping its forecast for the winter wheat sowing area for the 2023 harvest unchanged at 3.8 million hectares despite weather delays.

Ukraine traditionally plants winter wheat which accounts more than 95% of overall wheat output. 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report for November sees Ukraine producing a total of 20.5 million tonnes of wheat for marketing year 2022-23, compared to an estimate of 33.01 million tonnes in 2021-22.

Among the world’s major grain exporters, the USDA projects Ukraine will ship 11 million tonnes of wheat in 2022-23, a significant drop from an estimate of 18.84 million tonnes in 2021-22.

Ukraine’s grain shipments were stymied for much of 2022 following Russia’s invasion and blockade of Black Sea ports. The Black Sea Gain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Turkey with Ukraine and Russia in late July allowed exports to resume as the world grappled with higher grain prices and a gathering hunger crisis, particularly in less developed nations.

The grain deal, which has moved more than 9 million tonnes of grain and other food exports in the past three months, is due to expire Nov. 19.  A UN statement on Nov. 11 said the participants “remain engaged in the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and held constructive discussions on its continuation.”