KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) – Winter sowing has resumed on farms in Ukraine and Russia in a spell of dry weather, analysts and officials said on Tuesday, easing fears of a drastic drop in the winter grain crop in 2014.
Taking advantage of good weather after heavy and prolonged rain, Ukrainian farms have speeded up sowing to reach 73 percent of the planned area, according to agricultural ministry data.
Farms in neighbouring Russia have sown 64 percent of the planned area as of Oct. 14.
Continuous rain across most of Ukraine and the European part of Russia had slowed winter grain sowing in the region, and analysts had said the delay could cut their harvest by up to 17 million tonnes next year.
The current dry weather is likely to give farmers a chance to complete sowing with minimum losses.
Russian farmers have sown a total of 25.9 million acres of winter grain as of Oct. 14, compared with 35.3 million at the same date a year ago, according to ministry data.
Its Southern Federal District and North-Caucasus Federal District, crucial for Russian wheat exports via the Black Sea, speeded up sowing last week.
The Southern Federal District has sown 7.4 million acres, or 57 percent of the planned winter grains, as of Oct. 14, while the North-Caucasus District has finished about 18 percent of its plan with about one million acres sown, data showed.
That’s up from the Oct. 9 district figures of 35 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. Usually Russia’s south finishes its sowing campaign around mid-October, but rain pushed back the schedule to Nov. 1 this year.
Mainly dry, warm and sunny weather is expected in the main growing regions of these districts during the next seven days, state weather forecasts showed.
Ukraine, which plans to sow 20.3 million acres of winter grains this year, had sown 14.6 million as of Oct. 14 versus 17.8 million on the same date in 2012, the ministry’s data showed.
“Because of wet weather during the optimum period for winter crop planting, farmers across the entire country failed to sow on time all the projected areas to winter crops and are completing this work with some delay,” analyst UkrAgroConsult said in a report.
“Experience of late winter crop planting indicates that this results in somewhat lower grain yields than when planted in the optimum time, but these yields are nevertheless higher than those of (spring seeded) grains,” it added.
Ukraine traditionally grows winter wheat, which accounts for more than 90 percent of its overall wheat output.
Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk has said a possible fall in winter wheat area could cause a decrease in the 2014 wheat output by a third to 15 million tonnes from 22 million this year.
He said more extensive planting of corn could compensate for the fall in the winter grains sowing area and that the corn area could reach an all-time-high of 14.1 million acres.