Resumed seeding eases weather risk to Black Sea harvest

Seeding conditions improve after wet start

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KIEV (Reuters) — Thanks to drier weather, seeding of winter crops has resumed on farms in Ukraine and Russia, easing fears of a drastic drop in the winter crop in the region in 2014.

Ukraine will only lose up to 1.2 million acres of winter grain sowings for 2014, sharply down from its previous estimate of 3.7 million acres, agriculture minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said on Oct. 17.

The improved seeding conditions have also helped Russia’s farmers progress with seeding after a wet start to the campaign.

Prysyazhnyuk said earlier this month that the winter grain area sown for 2014 harvest could shrink by about 20 percent because of excess autumn rainfall. He said winter wheat area could fall to 15.5 million acres against an initially anticipated 17 million.

“We had 10 days of dry weather and we had used them in full (for sowing). The losses of 980,000-1.2 million acres are not critical because next spring we will increase the area sown for spring grains,” he said.

In late September, Ukraine’s grain lobby UAC shocked wheat markets when it said winter wheat area might drop as much as 30 percent because of wet weather.

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Prysyazhnyuk said thanks to drier weather this month the acreage of winter wheat likely won’t fall significantly. Most of the decline will likely come at the expense of winter barley.

Farmers had sown 15 million acres of winter grains, 73 percent of the forecast area by Oct. 14, ministry data showed.

The area included 12.6 million acres of winter wheat, or 76 percent of the initially expected sowing area. Ukraine traditionally grows winter wheat, which accounts for more than 90 percent of its overall wheat output.

In Russia, winter grain for the 2014 crop was sown on 29.9 million acres, or 73.9 percent of the planned area as of Oct. 17, compared with 37.3 million acres a year earlier, the agriculture ministry said.

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