Spring planting was underway in 21 regions under Ukraine’s control, AgriCensus reported the country’s agriculture ministry as saying.

At the time of the 1 April report, a total of 603,000 ha had been planted, around just under 4.5% of the projected total area for main spring crops, which the ministry estimated at 13.4M ha – 3.5M ha less than last year.

The planting included 81,000 ha of spring wheat, 327,300 ha of spring barley, 7,600 ha of spring rapeseed, 50,100 ha of oats, 62,300 ha of peas, 30,600 ha of sugar beet, 33,700 ha hectares of sunflowers, and 10,400 ha of soyabeans.

According to information provided by Ukraine's regions, the ministry said the sowing of winter crops for the 2022 harvest covered an area of ​​7.7M ha, including 6.5M ha of winter wheat, 159,000 ha of rye and 1M ha of barley.

Ukraine has around 30M hectares of agricultural land, but many areas could not currently be used due to occupation by Russian forces or active fighting in the area.

As a result, the ministry had lowered its forecast for the total area to be planted with spring crops by 20% earlier this week, AgriCensus wrote, although how much would be harvested was still uncertain due to the ongoing conflict.

In addition, the ministry has said this year’s focus will be on simpler, easier to grow crops rather than high-margin crops for export, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Grain Association (UGA) has appealed to the country’s agriculture and economy ministries to restart wheat exports, which had effectively been halted due to a licence system introduced following Russia’s invasion, AgriCensus wrote on 5 April.

In a statement, the UGA said Ukraine had “surplus transitional stocks from last year's harvest and grain exports are hampered by blocking Ukrainian seaports,” UGA said.

“Revoking the export licence will simplify the mechanism of wheat exports and free up storage capacity for the new crop.”

The Ukrainian government had banned the export of basic products - including sunflower oil and barley - and restricted grain exports, in an official decree on 5 March.

It then lifted the ban on corn and sunflower oil exports, although the wheat licence system had been retained.

AgriCensus wrote that the export of wheat was limited by government-issued licenses, which trade sources said were difficult to obtain and therefore made wheat exports almost impossible.