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The scheme of the walnut production in Ukraine. Part 1

The majority of all walnuts harvested in Ukraine are produced by individuals or small private family farms, harvesting trees on their land or in the vicinity of their farms. This category of producers is not typically concerned with the application of fertilizers and agrochemicals and uses manual labor for harvesting and shelling of walnuts.

Harvested walnuts are typically sold to intermediaries, who assemble batches designated for export. The production area farmed in this manner has decreased in the last several years. For CY2015, over 95 percent of the Ukrainian total walnut production area was on small, private, family farms. These farms represented around only 72 percent of total Ukrainian walnut production area for CY2020. Post predicts this downward trend in walnut production on family farms will continue in the medium to long-term due to a growing interest in commercial production. However, it should be noted that family farms still enjoy a dominant position in terms of production volumes as they hold an absolute majority of the bearing trees at the time of Post’s report writing.

Walnuts in Ukraine: increasing commercial orchards.
Walnuts in Ukraine: increasing commercial orchards.

Since 2009, Ukrainian farmers began developing walnut orchards for commercial purposes. The average size of these commercial orchards ranges from 20 ha to 50 ha. Some regions, especially in central and southern Ukraine, require irrigation to secure expected yields, while orchards in the northern part of Ukraine may experience lower yields because of the cooler climate. The current growth in commercial production farms can be attributed to continued state financial support for orchard and berry producers and opening up of the agricultural land market in Ukraine. Industry reports confirm this growth trend in commercial farms for walnut production.

Farmers are investing in the development of high-yield commercial orchards consisting of multiple walnut varieties, are installing irrigation systems, and are applying fertilizers. Commercial growers planted around 800 ha of walnut orchards for CY2020. In southern Ukraine, seedlings could be planted in autumn, but in northern Ukraine, it is still advisable to plant in spring to avoid winter frost damage for newly planted trees. Walnuts are normally harvested from the end of September through the end of October. The initial investment required to establish an orchard ranges from $1,200 to $1,800 per ha. The production area of commercially grown walnut trees was 5.2 thousand ha for CY2020. This is over seven percent decrease against production area (5.6 thousand ha) in CY2019 . Given a limited number of legal entities involved in walnut production in Ukraine, this might have happened due to two reasons. First, one or two producers may have gone out of business or changed their ownership, which resulted in discontinued submission of statistical data on their production areas as well as production volumes. Second, some of the producers may have decided to refresh their existing orchards.

According to the industry experts, the main body of existing industrial walnut orchards were planted 8-12 years ago with seedlings that would reach the full potential after 10 years since they have been planted. New walnut orchards can be expected to come at full production from four to five years after initial planting. Improvements of plant genetics may make walnut production more appealing for new companies that are currently considering entry into this business.

Source : USDA

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