Romanian harvest starts well

“The yields are the best I‘ve seen since I first came out here in 1998,” he says.

These are 1.5-3t/ha (0.6-1.2t/acre) with the rape and 5-7t/ha (2-2.8t/acre) with the wheat.

Farming near Constanza on the Black Sea coast, cropping includes wheat, sunflower, genetically-modified soya, rape, grain maize and potatoes.

“Crops are sold to mainly internal market users. A bit like France there is only one category of wheat, i.e. milling,” says Mr Price.

“The only thing is if insect damage or wet weather turn it in to feed spec. This is more difficult to sell as there is very little usage.”

Export markets are in Northern Africa, middle East, and also include Turkey, Iran and India.

“Due to our shipping distances we are competitive.”

But Prices are not looking good, with rape trading at €200/t (£133/t) delivered and milling wheat at around €109/t (£73/t).

The Romanian government has put import taxes on wheat since July 1 to stop cheap imports from other Black Sea producers.

But it is the EU that poses possibly the biggest threat, he says.

“The closer the EU gets to us the more difficult exports become due to its protectionist nature.

“I, as many others, do not want EU membership – countries wishing to join have to give the EU unrestrictive access to its markets, but has quotas imposed for agricultural products into the EU.”

It is subsidy-free farming, he says, apart from a small subsidy of £10-15/ha which will be paid to farmers of 5ha total size and below.

“This is probably the vast majority – these are really subsistence farmers with no sellable surpluses.

“Around 50% of the population are involved in agriculture in one way or another.”

And it is not only the population mix, cropping and varieties that vary hugely from the UK: “Climate goes from -20°C in winter to +40°C in summer.”

If you are interested in Stephen Price‘s experiences in Romania and wish to know more, you can e-mail him, but bear in mind he will be busy during the harvest period (June to October).