Photo: ©Kazbek Basaev location: Volgograd Oblast, Russia
by Karen Braun, Senior Analyst, agriculture and weather, Thomson Reuters. Karen focuses primarily on European and Black Sea grain and oilseed production for the Lanworth team at Thomson Reuters. She is a meteorologist by training and also leads Lanworth’s climate research efforts.
Back in late 2014, I was tasked with designing a European crop tour for Thomson Reuters. We wanted to get into the fields and talk with industry participants in key grain regions, and then translate that information into actionable insight for the market. Problems had been reported in Russia since winter grains had been sown into dry soil last fall, and the market was quite concerned that the crop would not recover. Many groups, including US Department of Agriculture (USDA), had not planned to travel to Russia this year, so the demand was particularly high. France was also a target as the leading grain-producing nation in the European Union. Prolonged dryness began to set in a few weeks before our trip and by the time we departed for France, the market became glued to the tour. I spent four days in both Russia and France traveling with a Reuters agriculture correspondent, conducting interviews and field surveys along the way. This tour was intended to be far more than data collection. We wanted to equip a wide audience with a wealth of knowledge about these regions that could only be obtained on the ground. Not only did we get a handle on current crop conditions, we have shed some light on the current status and future of Russian and French grain production. Russia, May 25 – May 28, 2015 We spent four days traveling through Krasnodar, Rostov, and southern Volgograd in Russia’s Southern grain belt. Everyone always has an eye on this area since one-third of Russian wheat production and the majority of Russia’s wheat exports originate here.
76 | September 2015 - Milling and Grain