“it isn’t a time of plenty in the breadbasket of Europe, and not only because Russia, for now, says it won’t continue the arrangement it made with the United Nations and Turkey that for a year permitted 32 million tons of Ukrainian grain to be exported from the country’s massive southern ports. The present war has stunted Ukraine’s grain industry at every stage, beginning months before harvest time.
Though blessed with an abundance of wheat-friendly chernozem — the Russian term for “black earth” — most Ukrainians fertilize their soil. “There’s a great shortage of nitrogen fertilizers,” says Denis Tkachenko,who helps run a trade association of Odesa region farms including about 12,000 acres. Fertilization means more grain enriched with the proteins enabling wheat to be baked into bread; poorer crops can be sold more cheaply for animal feed.”
“there are many fewer fields. More than a quarter of Ukraine’s grain country lies east of the Dnieper River, and has been controlled or threatened by Russia since the February 2022 invasion. Even in the relatively safe southwest, the Ukrainian military has commandeered — thereby disabling — a lot of farmland. Tkachenko says that about 3 to 5 percent of the fields in his region were fortified early in the war against a possible Russian sea invasion. Another farmer in the area tells me that a third of his nearly 10,000 acres have been used for trenches, mining and the like.”