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War-Hit Crop Superpower Ukraine Faces Struggle to Even Sow

  • Invasion may upend sunflower sowing and curb grain harvests
  • Crop prices have already soared as Black Sea exports dry up
A cargo vessel is loaded with grain at a terminal at the Port of Mariupol in January.

A cargo vessel is loaded with grain at a terminal at the Port of Mariupol in January.

Photographer: Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg

As Ukraine’s vast farmlands get caught up in war, there’s a real risk that the top sunflower grower will struggle to plant seeds this year and that harvests of other crops already sown will suffer.

From fields to processing plants to ports, Russia’s invasion is paralyzing Ukrainian agriculture, an industry that produces tens of millions of tons of grains and oilseeds and ships crops across the globe. The sector is so core to Ukraine’s identity that its flag depicts blue skies blanketing yellow farm fields.