KIEV (Reuters) — Heavy rain across Ukraine, which has already slowed winter grain sowing, may slash the area under winter grains sown for 2014 to about 7.4 million acres from 20 million as originally expected, Ukrainian grain lobby UAC said on Friday.
Leonid Kozachenko, president of the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation, told reporters that fields were too wet for seeding machines and the optimum time for sowing had passed.
Kozachenko amended the estimate he initially gave on Friday, saying that the total grain area, sowing for 2014, was likely to include six million acres of winter wheat. That is compared with the government plan of sowing about 17 million acres of winter wheat this year.
Earlier he said he expected the area under winter wheat to fall by around five million acres.
Winter wheat accounts for about 90 percent of the country’s overall wheat output.
“About 20-25 percent (of the originally expected area) is sown as of today. Even if we have favourable weather there is no reason to sow because plants will (be) unlikely to sprout,” he said.
He said a substantial delay in sowing could cause a fall in grain yields because plants would not have enough time to develop before the cold sets in.
Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said on Friday farms had sown a total of five million acres of winter grains, including 4.5 million acres of winter wheat, as of Sept.29. Farms had sown 11 million acres of winter grains, including 10 million acres of winter wheat, at the same date in 2012.
Ukrainian weather forecasters said they expected more rain in the near future.
“The first half of October is expected to be rainy,” Tatyana Adamenko, the head the state weather forecasting centre’s agriculture department, told Reuters.
“We could lose a serious area of winter grains.”
Adamenko said that the window for wheat sowing had been missed in northern and central parts of Ukraine, while southern regions had ‘no more than one week’ left to complete the sowing.
She said the Kiev region had completed five percent of wheat sowing, while Cherkasy region, one of Ukraine’s leading wheat producers, sowed 13 percent of the originally expected area.
A serious loss in the 2014 wheat area, which could reduce the harvest sharply, might force the government to consider imposing some export restrictions for wheat in the 2013-14 season, Kozachenko forecast.
“These problems (with the winter sowing) could be used by authorities to introduce restrictions (for exports) in a bid to retain ending stocks,” he said.
Ukraine, which harvested about 22 million tonnes of wheat this year, has exported 3.1 million tones of wheat between July 1 and Sept.20 compared with 2.2 million tonnes exported in the same period in the 2012-13 season, official data showed.
Ukraine imposed export duties in the first four months of the 2011-12 season, and the move kept at least three million tonnes of grain inside the country.