A small army of combine harvesters rolled across an endless farm field, kicking dust clouds into the blue sky as the machines gathered in a sea of golden wheat. There will be a lot of soy and corn in the next few weeks. There is a 20-million-ton backlog of grain that has been trapped in Ukraine.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal last week that would end Moscow's blockade of Ukrainian grain shipments through the Black Sea. A ship loaded with grain will sail from a Ukrainian port in the next few days, releasing harvests from a major breadbasket to a hungry world.
The accord is being welcomed cautiously in the field of Ukraine. Farmers who have lived for months under the threat of Russian missiles are skeptical that a deal will hold.
This time of year, the roar of the combines on these fields is a familiar sound, but most of the harvest will be put into storage.
The opening of the Black Sea ports isn't the only answer according to the chief executive of Continental Farmers Group. The deal is definitely a step forward, but we can't assume that it will bring the country back to where it was before the war.
The cost of transporting crops has gone up as a result of the blocked arteries. Many people are scrambling for solutions because of the storage shortage.
A missile strike on Saturday that hit Odesa, Ukraine's biggest Black Sea port, was a blow to confidence in the deal.
Vasyl Levko is the director of grain storage at MHP, one of the largest agricultural produce companies in the country.
The White House welcomed the accord, as well as the United Nations and international aid organizations, which have warned of potential famine and political unrest if the grain isn't released.
The hunger crisis brought on by Russia's aggression is not expected to be alleviated by freeing the grain for shipment, but because more supplies can help bring down prices, which have been falling recently. The head of the Ukrainian Grain Association thinks it is positive. There is a way to find it.
The Black Sea ports are expected to operate at half their prewar capacity when they reopen. The path that ships will steer through is cleared of Ukrainian mines used to prevent Russian ships from entering.
It is not certain how many ships will come back. The shipping companies that used to operate in the Black Sea have moved on. No one will ship if they don't have insurance.
Ukraine's farmers are dealing with a lot of trapped grain from last year. Grain elevators were used before the war to move new crops from harvest to export. The Black Sea was blocked by Russia.
40 million tons of wheat, rapeseed, barley, soy, corn and sunflower seeds are expected to be Harvested in the Coming months. Storage facilities that weren't damaged by Russian shelling are filling up, and room is getting harder to find.
A truck filled with freshly harvested rapeseed was dumped into a sifter at an MHP grain processing center. The seed was put into a silo that had some room for it. The silo was filled with beans from the previous harvest.
Mr. Levko's company uses the wheat to make feed for chicken farms it owns in Ukranian, as well as grain for export. The wheat will need to be stuffed into long plastic sheaths for temporary storage at the site.
The only Ukrainian factory that made sheaths was destroyed by Russian rockets, and European manufacturers are swamped with orders, Mr. Levko said.
The corn harvest begins. Mr. Levko said that it would have to be piled onto the ground and covered with a tarp to protect it from the crows and pigeons.
He said the crops would have to be stored all over the place. It could take months for Odesa's shipping capacity to help ease the grain pileup if the deal to unblock the Black Sea doesn't work.
Since the outbreak of the war, farmers have created alternative transport routes across Europe.
Up to seven million tons of grain a month was exported fromUkraine before Russia blockaded it. Since then, the country has only been able to get out two million tons per month.
Mr. von Nolcken said that harvests used to be exported through the Black Sea. The Middle East and North Africa can be delivered in as little as six days.
The blockade forced the company to put some of its grain on a circuitous path that involved making a circle around Europe on trucks, trains, barges and ships via Poland, the North Sea and the English Channel.
Mr. von Nolcken said that the cost of transporting grain out of Ukranian has gone up to about $230 a ton from about $35 before the war. The blockade left farmers with too much grain, which led to a two-thirds plunge in the price of grain.
One of the biggest challenges of transporting grain by rail is being solved. Ukrainian grain cars run on Soviet-era tracks that don't match Europe's, but they used to carry crops to Black Sea ports. Once they reach the border, rail shipments must be moved to other trains.
There is a chance to scale up exports with trucks. Roman Slaston said his group wanted to get 40,000 tons of grain per day by truck. By June, trucks were getting out a lot.
Only a small part of Ukraine's backlog is relieved by that. There are a lot of traffic on the road. Before the war, it took four hours for grain trucks to cross fromUkraine toPoland. It takes ten days to get over the Serbian border. Fast-track border permits are being used by the EU to ease backups.
How long is this going to last? Mr. Von Nolcken said something. It was assumed that this would be a one week exercise. We are talking about opening ports again.
There is still a harsh reality facingUkraine. This year's harvest has been large despite the war.
Mr. von Nolcken said that they were building up a wave of grain. We will continue to sit on crops that won't leave.
Solomon reported from Ukraine.