Dry weather in Russia triggers upgrades to grain crop forecasts

Moscow|Reuters — Dry weather in Russia has accelerated the 2014 harvest, prompting the agriculture ministry and two key analysts to upgrade their forecasts for the annual grain crop on Wednesday.

Russia’s agriculture ministry boosted its 2014 grain harvest forecast to 100 million tonnes, up 3 per cent compared to a previous estimate, it said in a statement.

The projection is the most optimistic provided so far by grain harvest forecasters for one of the world’s main wheat exporters via the Black Sea.

“Russia can pass the 100 million mark for the grain harvest,” the ministry quoted Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov as saying in a meeting with officials.

Russia’s two leading agriculture consultancies, IKAR and SovEcon, also said they had upgraded their 2014 grain crop forecasts.

IKAR has increased its 2014 grain crop forecast by 2 million tonnes to 98 million tonnes, while SovEcon upgraded its estimate to between 92 million and 93 million tonnes from about 89 million previously expected, they told Reuters.

IKAR expects Russia to export 29 million tonnes of grains in the 2014/15 marketing year, which started on July 1, while SovEcon sees exports at 25 million tonnes for the period. Russia exported 25.4 million tonnes of grains in 2013/14.

The country has harvested 20.1 million tonnes of grains so far in bunker weight from 12 per cent of the planned area with yields of 3.55 tonnes per hectare, according to the ministry.

This compares with 25.3 million tonnes of grains and yields of 3.08 tonnes per hectare on the same date a year ago.

The Crimea region, annexed by Russia from Ukraine earlier this year, has harvested more than 1 million tonnes of grains from 87 per cent of the area, the ministry said.

As for quality, there are concerns that new-crop barley has lower specific weights, a measure of grain density, than last year, while wheat in some regions has lower gluten protein levels, SovEcon head Andrey Sizov said.

According to Prozerno, another local consultancy, 84 per cent of wheat harvested in the Krasnodar region has milling quality, compared with 73 per cent a year ago. In Stavropol, 81 per cent of wheat has milling quality, it added in a note.

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