KYIV, UKRAINE — Based on the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukraine is now expected to export 4.2 million tonnes of grain in the next four months, up from 1.8 million tonnes in a previous estimate, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).  

The initiative was extended at the end of November for an additional 120 days. For the first five months following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a Russian naval blockade prevented Ukraine from exporting any grain out of its Black Sea ports. A deal originally brokered by the United Nations and Turkey at the end of July, and extended in November, has allowed grain to move from the ports.

The USDA said it now expects in 2022-23 that Ukraine will export 15.1 million tonnes of wheat, 2.8 million tonnes of barley and 20.2 million tonnes of corn. The USDA export estimates from March 2023 onwards are still based on the conservative assumptions that the grain initiative will not be extended again in March.

Based on the updated export estimates, the USDA said Ukraine will be able to deplete its ending stocks of wheat and barley to pre-conflict levels. Corn likely will stay on the high side at 8.3 million tonnes. 

The USDA also said that as of early December, about 40% of the corn areas were unharvested. The delay can be attributed to financial strain for some farmers due to the direct and indirect losses caused by the war with Russia; high moisture in corn ears; low farm-gate prices making corn drying economically unviable; and blackouts caused by Russian strikes that disrupt the operation of grain silos. 

Corn production estimates dropped to 23.1 million tonnes from the previous estimate of 25.8 million tonnes.