Russia’s Grain Crop to be Damaged by Drought

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Jul. 18 – Russian Agriculture Ministry estimates that some 28.3 million hectares of spring sowing and 16.1 million hectares of winter crops all over the country will be damaged by the current drought. That’s 3.4 percent of the total sown area, according to preliminary estimates on the ministry’s website.

Droughts have hit 16 of Russia’s 83 regional areas this year, the ministry said. It is still affecting nine regions including Rostov, Volgograd, Stavropol and Kalmyk Republic in the country’s south, Saratov, Orenburg in the Volga federal district, Kurgan, Chelyabinsk in the Ural area, and Siberia’s Altai region.

Altai was the fifth-biggest grain growing region in Russia last year after it harvested 3.9 million tons, state statistics show.

Krasnodar, Russia’s biggest grain grower last year, reaped crops from 79 percent of the planted fields and collected 4.4 million metric tons, the regional Agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Stavropol, the second biggest crop grower last year, harvested grains and legumes from more than 71 percent of the planted area and got more than 3 million tons of grains, the region’s agriculture ministry said. That compares with 8.2 million tons of grains and legumes from all of the sown area last year, or 8.7 percent of the national crop, according to the state statistics data.

“The grains harvest is forecast to be below 80 million metric tons in the season that started July 1 because of drought and other factors,” Pavel Skurikhin, president of the country’s Grain Producers’ Union said at a news conference in Moscow.

The expert’s figure is way off the bumper crop of more than 100 million tons which Russia harvested in 2007 and still less than the 90 million to 95 million tons that is typical for the country.

Wheat for September delivery rose 0.9 percent to US$8.925 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

“Other reasons for a lesser crop include the high cost of loans for farmers, aging agricultural machines and limited use of fertilizers and pesticides,” Skurikhin said. The crop will meet domestic demand of about 73 million tons, he added.

According to some estimations, grain prices were up in southern Russia by 56 percent, while in neighboring Ukraine, which is also having a bad harvest and predicted that it will produce 15 million tons less than normal, prices went up by 34 percent.

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