Ukraine’s rapeseed exports could hit their highest in years in 2018-19, thanks to a resurgence in the popularity of the oilseed among farmers, which has put the strongest harvest in a decade on the cards too.
UkrAgroConsult, which last week pegged Ukraine’s rapeseed harvest this year at 2.11m tonnes, on Tuesday lifted the forecast by 383,000 tonnes to just short of 2.50m tonnes.
The upgrade took the estimate above last year’s crop of 2.30m tonnes, and would represent the largest harvest since 2008-09, before crop losses to a series of harsh winters spurred farmers to seek alternative crops.
"At the moment, the prospects for the next season 2018-19 look quite optimistic in view of a large area seeded to winter rape and the current meteorological situation,” Kiev-based UkrAgroConsult said.
The increase raises the prospect of a rise in exports to 2.25m tonnes, from 2.08m tonnes last season, UkrAgroConsult said, with the country – unlike in sunseed - processing very little of its own harvest.
That would extend the recovery in volumes from a nine-year low of 1.04m tonnes reached in 2016-17, after a particularly weak harvest.
However, it looks a pressure on prospects for prices of the oilseed in the European Union, the top importer of Ukrainian rapeseed.
Paris rapeseed futures for May eased 0.6% to E346.50 a tonne on Tuesday, taking to 10.9% their decline from an early November high, with weaker prices of palm oil – a rival to rapeseed oil in some uses – and worries over European Union support for biofuels among other factors weighing on values.
Rapeseed oil, like palm oil and soyoil, is used largely to make biodiesel.
The improved rapeseed hopes follow a seeding campaign which exceed expectations, taking plantings above 1m hectares, according to UkrAgroConsult, although a large allowance is made for crop not making it to harvest.
Last week, the International Grains Council reported that Ukraine winter rapeseed sowings for the 2018 harvest “exceeded expectations”, prompting it to forecast a harvested area of 890,000 hectares, up from 778,000 hectares in 2017.
“However, temperatures are currently higher than is typical for this stage of the growing season,” the council added.
This “could render plants susceptible to winterkill in the event of a shift to much colder conditions”.