The co-author of a recently published book on the grain industry in the former Soviet Union paints a picture disturbing to Canadian grain growers.
“We got some huge competition coming, especially from these regions,” says Professor Andy Schmitz of the University of Florida.
The former Central Butte resident says the three countries — Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine — have developed formidable grain production with continually increasing yields.
Russia has mostly converted large state farms into privatized farms using modern agricultural practices.
Driving on one of these farms is like driving onto a Canadian farm with modern John Deere, International, and New Holland tractors.
The old cumbersome Russian-made Don combines are in machinery graveyards.
“I was quite surprised to see how much soil testing they do and how much fertilizer they use. Part of that explains why they got the increase in yields.”
These farms have their own soil testing labs analyzing six samples from each half-section of land.
Nothing matches the wheat production graph for Ukraine, which has one-third of the world’s best land.
“I think the Ukraine has unlimited potential to increase yield,” Schmitz said.
“You can make some tremendous predictions about where the world grain trade is headed. If you’re a farmer, you’ll shake your head and say: ‘I hope you’re not right.’
“In terms of the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) commodity forecasts they actually argue that three countries together — Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine — will actually have more wheat exports than the U.S. production is going to be.
“They're forecasting almost 40 per cent of the world share of wheat and 36 or 37 per cent of total grains” production from these countries.
Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org