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Ship Departs Ukrainian Port With Wheat, “Further Testing” Black Sea Blockade; U.S. Soybean Ratings Lowest “At This Time of Year Since 2013”

New York Times writer Matthew Mpoke Bigg reported today that, “A commercial ship loaded with wheat left a Ukrainian port on Tuesday, becoming the first vessel with cargo to use a new Black Sea route out of the country aimed at avoiding Russian naval threats.

“The vessel, the Resilient Africa, sailing under the flag of Palau, left the port of Chornomorsk at 6:45 a.m local time, and was heading southwest toward Romanian waters, according to the Marine Traffic website.”

“A second ship that arrived at the port on Saturday has yet to set sail,” the Times article said.

Also today, Financial Times writer Roman Olearchyk reported that,

Ukraine has further tested Russia’s blockade of its Black Sea coast, as the first of two ships sent to collect grain set sail on Tuesday.

The FT article explained that, “Kyiv this summer announced a corridor hugging the coasts of Romania and Bulgaria, its southern neighbours and Nato members, for ships stranded after Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. Five vessels have so far passed through the corridor.”

Bloomberg writers Keira Wright and Aine Quinn reported today that, “It’s too early to know if Kyiv’s efforts to open a corridor will significantly aid exports. The market is watching for Russia’s response, which has said it would treat any ships headed to Ukraine’s ports as potentially carrying weapons. In August, the Russian navy fired on a vessel to force it to stop for checks.”

“Wheat Extends Drop as First Ship Leaves Ukraine’s Black Sea Port,” by Keira Wright and Aine Quinn. Bloomberg News (September 19, 2023).

Meanwhile, Reuters writers Emma Farge and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber reported today that, “The World Trade Organization confirmed on Tuesday that Ukraine had taken the first step in a trade dispute by filing a complaint to the global trade body over bans on food imports from Ukraine.”

Alice Hancock, Marton Dunai and Raphael Minder reported yesterday at The Financial Times Online that, “Germany has led condemnation of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia’s unilateral curbs on grain imports from Ukraine, accusing the countries of cherry-picking EU policies and putting their own interests over Ukraine.”

France and Spain also criticised the move as in breach of core EU rules, which has granted the commission oversight of common trade policy since the 1970s,” the FT article said.

Elsewhere, Reuters writer Julie Ingwersen reported yesterday that, “The U.S. corn harvest was 9% complete by Sunday and the soybean harvest 5% complete, government data showed on Monday, both ahead of five-year averages, however crop condition ratings hovered at their lowest in a decade, reflecting dry conditions in much of the Midwest.

“Corn supplies were less of a concern after the government projected the second-largest corn crop on record at 15.1 billion bushels.”

Ingwersen pointed out that, “The USDA in a weekly crop progress report rated 51% of the corn crop in good to excellent condition, down 1 percentage point from a week ago, in line with trade expectations and the lowest for this time of year since 2012, a major drought year.

2023 Crop Progress and Conditions. Charts and Maps. USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service (September 18, 2023).

Soybean ratings were unchanged with 52% of the crop rated as good to excellent. Ten analysts surveyed by Reuters on average had expected a decline of 1 percentage point. Still, the ratings were the lowest for soybeans at this time of year since 2013.”

2023 Crop Progress and Conditions. Charts and Maps. USDA- National Agricultural Statistics Service (September 18, 2023).

The Reuters article added that, “The share of U.S. corn production located in a drought area had risen to 54% by Sept. 12, from 49% in the prior week, the USDA said in a separate report.

“A year earlier, only 30% of the crop was located in an area experiencing drought.”

“Meanwhile, farmers have begun seeding the U.S. winter wheat crop that will be harvested in 2024. The USDA reported winter wheat plantings as 15% complete, in line with trade expectations and just behind the five-year average of 16%,” the Reuters article said.

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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