Ukrainian farmers plan to increase the sown area of winter rape for 2024 to a record 1.9 million hectares but may cut the sown area of winter wheat, an agriculture ministry survey showed on Monday.

The survey said that 45% of farmers did not plan to reduce the winter sowing area while 38% would increase it and 14% would not sow winter crops, the ministry said in a statement.

“The overwhelming majority of farmers do not plan to significantly change their winter crops acreage compared to last season,” the ministry said.

Earlier this month, Ukraine, facing difficulties in exporting its grain, asked farmers to report their sowing plans for 2024 to form preliminary estimates for the 2024/25 season.

It said 2,403 farmers and agricultural producers participated in the survey.

The ministry said the composition of winter crops might change and producers could reduce the share of wheat and barley, but increase the area under winter rape.

According to the survey, winter barley area may decrease most significantly - by 5.4%.

It said the overall winter crop area could rise by 0.5 million hectares, or 8%, compared to the previous season.

“Rapeseed remains the key factor in the expansion of the sown areas, with the planted area under it expected to increase by almost 40% to a record 1.9 million hectares,” the ministry said.

Ukraine, a major global oilseed grower, sowed a total of 1.4 million hectares of both spring and winter rape for the 2023 harvest and farmers have already threshed 3.99 million metric tons of rapeseed so far in 2023.

Ukraine has also completed the 2023 wheat harvest, 95% of which is winter wheat. Farmers harvested 21.9 million tons of wheat from 4.6 million hectares.

A major grain grower and exporter, Ukraine’s output is seen rising to around 56 million metric tons in 2023 from 53 million in 2022 thanks to a higher yield.

Ukraine consumes only about 17 million tons of grain per season and needs to export the remainder but shipments have been affected by a blockade of its major seaports since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

A deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey which had allowed such exports collapsed last month as Russia walked away from it, saying its demands to ease sanctions on its own grain and fertilizer exports had not been met.

Ukraine can currently export limited volumes through small river ports on the Danube and via its western land border with the European Union.

That has forced Ukrainian producers to adjust their sowing plans and switch from grain crops to oilseeds, which are more expensive but produce less volume.

Ukraine has already reduced its sowing area for corn in favor of sunflowers. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter)