Snow may delay Black Sea seeding

KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) — Recent heavy snowfall over parts of Ukraine and Russia may jeopardize this year’s spring barley crop if the two countries are forced to delay seeding.

The condition of fall seeded crops is generally good and production is expected to bounce back from last year, but spring crops could suffer if seeding is delayed.

Record levels of snow fell on northern and western Ukraine on the March 23-24 weekend, leaving 60 to 80 centimetres of cover. The snow layer in Moscow reached 70 centi-metres in depth March 25, which is a record for this winter.

Ukraine’s spring barley yields could be reduced by as much as 18 percent if seeding is significantly delayed, forecasters said. The country is a traditional producer of barley and one of the world’s leading exporters.

“There’s a lot of snow, and it takes time to start the sowing,” said Mykola Kulbida, the head of Ukraine’s state weather centre.

“The delay may last two to three weeks and this could reduce the yield of spring barley by 15 to 18 percent.”

Analysts had said earlier this month, before the recent snowfall, that Ukraine’s barley harvest was likely to increase to 8.2 million tonnes in 2013 from 6.5 million tonnes in 2012.

Agriculture consultancy UkrAgroConsult said barley exports might rise to 2.8 million tonnes in the 2013-14 July-June season from 2.1 million tonnes in 2012-13.

As for Russia, heavy snowfall will push back spring seeding for early grain such as barley and oats in Russia’s central and Volga regions, said Andrey Sizov, head of agriculture analysts SovEcon.

“Russia’s regions, which coped with the weather during winter, received the fourth month of winter as a gift,” he said jokingly.

Russia’s central and Volga regions, which accounted for 37 and 30 percent of Russia’s 2012 barley harvest, respectively, have not yet started seeding spring barley, Sizov said. Seeding in the central region should ideally be over by late April.

Snow was expected to continue to fall in many parts of Russia’s central and Volga regions March 25-26, while the daily average temperature in the central region is likely to be below the standard level by 7 to 11 C.

Russia harvested almost 14 million tonnes of barley in 2012.

Forecasters and SovEcon analysts saw no significant risk to the country’s wheat crop, which is its main grain export.

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