Favorable weather conditions in the first weeks of spring create the prerequisites for another record harvest in the country, experts of the August company believe. However, this may be hindered by economic factors and the June drought. Specialists are wary of a number of identified plant diseases and potential outbreaks of lepidoptera pests. The main circumstance, which in the future should somewhat limit the development of the Russian agro-industrial complex, will be the impossibility of updating the agricultural machinery fleet at the same pace.
Overwintering of winter crops in the spring of 2023 in Russia is considered good, moreover, for winter wheat, the estimates of many experts turned out to be even better than at the beginning of the last agricultural season. As noted by Dmitry Belov, head of the product development department of JSC Firm "August", Dmitry Belov, the situation has developed successfully in the southern regions, while in the Central Federal District and the Central Black Earth Region there are problems in some places, however, in the Voronezh, Lipetsk, and Belgorod regions, wheat and rye also generally overwintered well. Meanwhile, the state of winter rapeseed can seriously differ in different regions, as well as depending on the manufacturability of the farms where it is cultivated: where the sowing was carried out in compliance with all the rules and the culture had enough moisture, it develops perfectly - in particular, in the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories, in the Crimea. August experts note that a typical problem in the Kuban, Stavropol and Central Chernozem regions is when, due to the intensive growth of winter rapeseed, farmers are late with weed treatments: at the usual time planned for them, the crop is already at the stage of budding. Therefore, it is now recommended for plant growers to postpone the main herbicide protection measures to autumn, and also to use growth regulators.
“In general, the spring of 2023 can be called normal for farmers. In particular, the conditions for the Southern Federal District are very favorable,” says Dmitry Belov. - In April, warm sunny weather with wind often reigns here, contributing to the drying of the upper layers of the soil. And in 2023, it has been raining since the beginning of this month, sometimes with sleet. We see that the top fertile soil layer is saturated with moisture and the plants receive additional nutrition. The sowing campaign started on time, peas were sown, by the second decade of April they started sowing sugar beet and sunflower, so there are enough prerequisites for a good harvest in the key agricultural regions of Russia. However, the situation is not so favorable everywhere: for example, in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan we observe a lack of moisture.”
According to August experts, precipitation will not only lead to an increase in crop yields, but also to the spread of weeds that compete with them for resources. Nevertheless, more friendly seedlings of weeds, due to moisture, will also contribute to greater effectiveness of preventive planned herbicide treatments of fields.
In addition, rainy weather contributes to the spread of phomosis and peronosporosis (downy mildew) on rapeseed, septoria is fixed on well-developed winter cereals since autumn, and Rosselkhoznadzor revealed gibellinosis in several districts of the Stavropol Territory at once, a dangerous fungal disease that can deprive farmers of up to 50% of the crop wheat due to the defeat and death of the stems, as well as a decrease in the mass of grain. The situation with Fusarium of cereal crops will depend on the weather during their flowering period: if conditions are dry at this time, the risk of developing this disease will be low, and vice versa - if precipitation at this time is intense. As for pests, in August, based on weather conditions, the accumulation of the meadow moth population is expected in a number of areas, in addition, during the season there may be outbreaks of pests such as cotton bollworm and cabbage moth, for which farmers should prepare.
In any case, the starting conditions for farmers in 2023 were generally no worse than in 2022, and under favorable weather conditions, it is possible to harvest over 150 million tons of grain during the summer and even repeat the record of the past season in terms of harvest. However, even more usual volumes - 120-130 million tons - with the available carry-over stocks will be quite enough for the country's food security and export trade. At the same time, the main factors that will determine the efficiency of agricultural enterprises in 2023 will not be climatic, but economic. If fertilizers and plant protection products produced in Russia are available to farmers, then maintenance of the fleet of equipment, especially Western ones, and the possibility of continuing technical re-equipment at the same pace that were set in the previous decade, raise big questions.
“The means of production needed to increase crops and increase labor productivity in the countryside will be limited. The fall in prices for agricultural products in the context of last year's record harvest, the slowdown in shipments and export duties do not allow farmers to earn enough money to replace imported equipment with domestic ones, - Dmitry Belov notes. - For a number of crops, with the exception of cereals, there are already problems with seeds. The “new reality” is forcing some farmers to change their crop rotation structure towards higher-margin crops, such as soybeans, chickpeas, flax, or niche crops. A difficult situation may arise for farmers in regions where the agricultural sector is sensitive to external factors, for example, in Eastern Siberia, where logistics becomes the main problem. Not all agricultural producers in the context of a shrinking market are able to ensure the rapid transfer of their products to new directions, in particular, through China. But even if it succeeds, there is a great chance, as they say, to work to zero, which is now observed with the sale of the 2022 grain harvest.”
Nevertheless, the expert notes, it is not worth waiting for the growth of abandoned lands and the reduction of sown areas in 2023, since with the availability of technical support, it is more profitable for farmers to still get a crop from each available hectare. Even with the bankruptcy of individual small legal entities, their land will still remain in circulation, since the accumulation and consolidation of the land bank by Russian companies is a global process that does not depend on momentary market conditions.